Our new Breaking Through page is designed to share the real facts behind commonly held views, models and tools that abound in the world of work and people development.
We are kicking off with what we think is a really good example of the kind of information that gets very authoritatively established and which in fact is incorrect.
In 2011 a study by researcher Mark Hughes looked into this. Following a thorough review of all published material, he found no empirical evidence to support this at all. In fact he didn't even find evidence that half of them fail.
To date there don't appear to be any authoritative or consistent studies that examine the success or failure rate of change programmes. A 2009 McKinsey study suggests that only around 10% of change programmes are considered to be complete failures. Given that change programme outcomes is unlikely ever to be a binary matter of success or failure, the McKinsey work suggests that the remainder probably fall around 30-40% completely or largely successful, 30% to be somewhat successful and the rest more unsuccessful than successful.
This illustrates the need to apply critical thinking to the information we are being fed. If the issue seems important and we are going to take some form of action in relation to it, we should always first check where those numbers come from!