Purpose – This article explains why organizational change is anything but a mechanistic process. Instead, people, psychology, and organizational dynamics are the catalysts for and ultimate drivers of any successful change initiative. Ignoring the primacy of people is the central reason for the low success rate of enterprise‐wide change efforts over 20 years. Design/methodology/approach – The article examines reasons for the low success rate of change initiatives, the role of leadership over mechanics, values required as a platform for change and the primary need to focus on the “human factor” to develop committed stakeholders throughout the organization. All are building blocks to a six‐phase process to effect maximum change and commitment. Findings – Taking an organization through a rigorous change process requires finding and using various sources of organizational leverage, not the least of which is its people. Mastering the process is about identifying an array of levers and taking advantage of those levers' multiplier effects. Practical implications – Leaders will learn that neither the sheer force of executive will nor the organization's processes will be substantial or significant enough to implement change. Rather, only by motivating the workforce (and “leader‐force”) to commit to vision, values and mission, rather than dictating change by management edict will be successful. Originality/value – Executives can create an environment of commitment to underpin the change process by making strategy implementation a truly human endeavor and using methods and metrics to complement it.
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