With the positive aim of wanting to help business avoid Big Change failures, in this blog we identify some of the invisible costs associated with them, providing tips along the way to help avoid a big Change fail in the first place (or to help get past a failed project to go on to have successful projects).

3 hidden costs of Big Change failure...

1. Let’s face it, any failed project is expensive

Think of how much any big project has cost in terms of actual operating margin, 20%, or perhaps more like 40%? Given that many failed programmes drag on for much longer than intended, that’s quite a cost to a business. Section III in our Big Change Report features extensive tips on how to plan to guard against project failure, and how to measure success along the way.

For example, did you know that you can minimise the risk of project failure by learning from and auctioning any of the small scale project failures that happen along the way? Executive Leadership has the key role to play here. Create a culture that welcomes people reporting ‘Red’ rather than crucifying them. Question the Green status reports and welcome the Red, so as long as you learn from them. Track lessons from Reds, risks and issues as you go – don’t wait until the end. Share, learn and unlock.

2. Losing key employees can be expensive

When projects begin to go pear-shaped or ultimately fail, businesses should be concerned with low morale or any conflict amongst groups that may lead to a “blame culture.” After all, it is highly unlikely that the failure of a project is down to one individual. As identified in our Big Change Report, project failure is usually down to a number of factors – the top identified by our respondents as lack of clarity of purpose and scope, poor planning and problems with communication.

Disaster recovery is certainly possible and we’ve become involved in dozens of projects at this stage and have been able to set both project and morale back on track. However, if the worst does happen and a project is cancelled because it is too far off track, or, if a project completes but doesn’t meet its objectives, it’s important to assess the reasons for failure in a constructive way, particularly when it comes to the teams involved.

Businesses may find doing a “post mortem” both at a team and individual level is very helpful. At the end of the day, if businesses lose vital employees because of failed change programmes, the result is a huge loss of expertise and a sizeable recruitment bill to replace resource.

3. Losing clients is expensive

Many Big Change programmes may be focused on internal change, such as a move to the cloud to improve infrastructure and use of resources. However, it’s not unheard of for a Big Change programme to affect a business so much that it begins to impact on day to day operations, drawing in executives and taking up time that should be spent focusing on clients. If Big Change is negatively impacting your business too much, you could find clients losing trust and exiting. The reputational damage a failed project could be very costly over the long term, and may impact your organisation’s ability to acquire new clients as well.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out our Big Change Report, which discusses the top factors contributing to change programme success, as well as the top reasons our respondents thought change programmes fail. To learn more about ways to avoid Big Change failure, join our Big Change LinkedIn Board.

To learn more about ways to avoid Big Change failure, join our Big Change LinkedIn Board