The 6 important factors that ensure change success: can you tick these off?

The 6 factors that ensure change success

The 6 important factors that ensure change success

How to ensure successful change – change management

Change management – The 6 important factors that ensure change success. We know that the claim that 70% of change programmes fail is false. However learning what can make change a better and more positive experience in organisations can only be a good thing. All too often organisations launch into change programmes with little investigation or research.  Looking at what other organisations have learnt from their change experiences. Many organisations start change events with little if any recourse to any research at all. In effect the biggest failure is that people and organisations are often ill-prepared to undergo change. A new study finds that there are 6 failings of most organisational change programmes. 

This briefing looks at a paper published in the new peer reviewed journal the International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy and Research.

From failings to success factors

The paper has some useful messages about the causes of failure in change and highlights the 6 important factors that ensure change success. However, it starts with the assumption that 70% of all organisational change programmes fail, which as members will know isn’t actually true. Anyway regardless of this problem, the paper does have some interesting insights into organisational change.  Whilst the paper focuses on why change fails it is in essence showing the success factions. From these we can find the 6 important factors that ensure change success.

change management


The researcher cites examples of change failure like DHL experiencing a crisis as a direct result of such programmes failing to achieve their aims. They include stories of senior management being fired or resigning as a result of the change programmes not working.


They all inevitably conclude by making suggestions as to how  better to manage the change / or help employees better handle the situation. The author of this paper, Bob Hamlin from the University of Wolverhampton, argues that organisations do something different. That they research other change programmes and their own organisations before taking the leap into a major change initiative.


He also argues that that Human Resources Development teams carry out the research and then work closely with management at all levels to bring about the change in a considered, timely fashion. This use of a research based solution and the use of HR to carry out the research is what caught my eye, as it is a novel approach, even though the author really needs to check his sources and assumptions a bit more closely.


Evidence-Based Human Resource Development



Human Resources teams frequently have a poor image among management. Their Learning and Development partners (the Human Resource Development practitioners) are often tarred with the same brush. As a result their suggestions carry less weight among management than they should, Hamlin argues. Further change management often sidelines these functionsThe paper calls for the Human Resource Development practitioners to gain more expertise in the business in which they work. The paper suggests, “to become truly expert, HRD practitioners need to use the findings of high quality management-related and HRD-related research to inform, shape and evaluate the effectiveness of their consultancy and change agency practice.”

3 sources for evidence-based change and human resource development

For evidence based human resource development to be most effective, the practitioner, Hamlin argues, should use the following three  sources for evidence-based change:


  1. Mode 1 research which is about testing theory and generating conceptual knowledge,
  2. Mode 2 research which is about generating instrumental knowledge to resolve real-life/work-based problems, and in some cases developing mid-range theory and
  3. Use descriptive studies or the consensus view of a body of field experts.”

In building up the evidence base, HRDs are much more likely to improve their image within the company or department in which they are working and as a result will be in a much better position to help the management create change.


The 6 Failings


Hamlin found that there are 6 major failings which contribute to change failure. most of these failings centre around change management problems:

  1. Leaders and managers not knowing the fundamental principles of change management.
  2. Succumbing to the temptations of the ‘quick  fix’ or ‘simple solution.
  3. Managers not fully appreciating the significance of the leadership and cultural aspects of change.
  4. Leaders and managers not appreciating sufficiently the significance of the people issues.
  5. Managers not knowing the critical contribution that the HRD function can make to the management of change.
  6. Trainers and developers lacking credibility in the eyes of line managers.

Commissioning Specific Research assessing the organisation



The author goes a step further. Rather than just using existing research ahead of the organisational change programme he suggests they go further. That change management needs to include dedicated, deliberate research into the organisation  to make an assessment of the position of the company as it stands.

The author states, “When conducted with academic rigour, such organisation related research can lead to deep seated fundamental issues about the running of the organisation being surfaced and confronted. Examples might include those ineffective aspects of managerial/organisational culture, or specific managerial and employee behaviour that impedes or blocks innovation and change.”


Ultimately, Hamlin concludes, “both managers and non-managerial employees are more likely to accept the evidence of ineffective features of organisational life that impact negatively, or are likely to impact negatively, on the OC (organisational change) process, including their own individual performance or behavioural deficiencies. Additionally, they are more likely to advance personal opinions, reactions, and ‘theories’ that would otherwise not be revealed.”


Conclusions – how to ensure successful change

Empirical research on previous situations can show the strengths and weaknesses of a proposed new change programme. Far too few organisations use the learning from other organisations to inform their change, usually from a “but we are different” perspective. It is always better to make an error in a new way than in a way countless others have done before. Further using an evidence based approach is much more likely to reduce errors and help to speed change up.

The overarching theme of the paper is to use evidence-based practices. From this paper we can extrapolate the 6 important factors that ensure change success:

The 6 important factors that ensure change success

How to ensure successful change

 Therefore the 6 important factors that ensure change success:
  1. Find out what research exists about the areas of change you are about to undergo. If necessary or if you don’t have the time or capability use outside sources like The Oxford Review to conduct a literature review for you.
  2. Conduct research inside the organisation to discover what real-life/work-based problems there are that need solving by the change programme.
  3. Create theories and test them
  4. Get the managers to a place where they understand the fundamentals of organisational change including cultural change
  5. Have the leadership and management understand the significance of the people issues involved in change
  6. Leverage the expertise in functions like HR and L&D.

Reference – available to members

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Evidence-based practice makes people more flexible and adaptable


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David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page