My Cultural Reflections:The Legacy of the 70% cultural change failures

A failure to appreciate the cultural dimension and in particular both the processes and performances that produce; re-produce and protect management culture are fundamental as to why 70% of change programmes fail in their objectives . This change fact is by no means trivial because the most damaging part of a cultural change programme is the legacy it leaves if it fails. The activities of cultural change pioneers will be deeply ingrained in the cultural memory of the organization and will form a compelling barrier to future cultural change efforts. This legacy of failure can hinder future OD efforts for a whole future generation of managers. Efforts to introduce Management Information Systems, Customer Care Programmes, Management Development Initiatives or whatever will face a far steeper resistance gradient if cultural participants experienced, or are told stories of the times when the “last big change initiative failed around here“. Andrew Pettigrew of Oxford University sums this problem up quite succinctly when he states that:

Change processes can also be reversible and regressive.  Public failures may mean not just the end of a change initiative or goal but its sidelining for a managerial generation and the loss of a receptive context for change which may have taken a whole generation of management effort to build. Professor Andrew Pettigrew PMO Change Report Public Sector Reform 2002.”