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Stop improvising change management!

Hans Henrik Jørgensen (Associate Partner in IBM Global Business Services (hans‐
Lawrence Owen (Global Leader of IBM's Organization and Change Strategy Practice within IBM Global Business Services (
Andreas Neus (Senior Managing Consultant with the Strategy and Change practice of IBM Global Business Services and leads the service innovation research at the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute (

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 6 March 2009




A major IBM consulting survey finds that most CEOs consider themselves and their organizations to be executing change poorly. In contrast, there are a few out‐performers (top 20 percent) who are the change masters. The paper seeks to analyze why most companies are managing change poorly while those few are doing it well.


The IBM Global Making Change Work Study explored differences in how change was implemented by over 1,500 practitioners worldwide. IBM conducted surveys and face‐to‐face interviews with project leaders, sponsors, project managers and change managers from many of the world's leading organizations.


The study finds that change management is at a turning point: from an art to a professional discussion; from improvisation to a richer, more systematic approach, based on clear empirical perspectives on what works and what does not.

Practical implications

Although many practical insights – about closing the “change gap” – were identified, the real message is that companies can no longer justify or afford an improvised approach to change management.


The Making Change Work study shows that executing change well remains the exception, though it is certainly an achievable goal. The research with practitioners revealed practical insights about closing the change gap – including the insight that “soft,” people‐related factors typically present greater challenges than hard, technology‐related factors that are generally easier to identify and measure.



Henrik Jørgensen, H., Owen, L. and Neus, A. (2009), "Stop improvising change management!", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 38-44.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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