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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.


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According to research by McKinsey, about 70% of all changes in all organizations fail. After almost two decades of intense change from corporate reorganizations, new software systems, and quality-improvement projects, the failure rate remains at 70%.

Rick Maurer, describes four major reasons why changes fail, and sums up some key ideas from three significant business books:

1. Knowing-doing gap. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton coined the phrase “the knowing-doing gap” in their compelling book by the same title. They found that there’s a huge gap between what people know and what they do. All that knowledge not being applied, all that talent not being used costs organizations billions of dollars every year.


It’s like owning a high-performance racing car—but only using it to drive a few blocks to pick up groceries. Many leaders know most of what it takes to lead change well. But there’s a huge gap between what they know and what they actually do. Leaders often make the mistake of thinking that the basic problem is a lack of knowledge.

You’ve probably thought that yourself. You’ve probably sent your managers and project leaders to training, bought them books, brought in guest speakers to motivate them… but did all that really make a lasting difference? You’ve probably learned by now that the problems of leading change can’t be solved simply by piling up more knowledge. The real trick is to apply what you already know more effectively.

2.Hidden conflicts working against change. Some leaders know how to lead change, but they don’t put that knowledge into action. They continue to lead ineffectively. They make the same mistakes over and over. They never improve their game. Something powerful must be getting in their way. But what? In their book “Immunity to Change,” authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey suggest that even when we set goals for ourselves, we still harbor conflicting goals.

And we often don’t recognize these traps or hidden commitments for what they are. For example, we all know what a good diet should include and how much exercise someone our age should get. We know how to eat salad, and we likely know how to use the machines at the gym. But do we do it? Not always. At lunch, a lot of us order fries instead of salad. After work, a lot of us skip going to the gym. We don’t act on what we know is clearly in our own best interests. Something blocks us from taking action to protect our own health and vitality. But what?

The same thing happens in organizations. Most executives would say that their number one goal is to help their organization survive and flourish. But does every executive act that way? Here are some things: leaders don’t share information for fear that employees “can’t handle the truth”, leaders feel it takes too long to involve others or even some leaders believe delegating is a sign of weakness.

Self-limiting beliefs like these create conflicts between what a leader knows they should do, and what they actually do. Without realizing why, they undermine their own plans. This can lead executives to develop change management strategies that look good on paper, only to find they’ve unconsciously set up barriers that block their organizations from getting where they want to go.

3.Culture working against change. Research shows that leaders of successful changes get people at all levels deeply involved by keeping them in the loop, listening to their ideas, and encouraging them to take ownership for their part of the change. Sadly, many organizations punish (or at least fail to recognize) the very behaviors that lead to success.

It’s as though there are two sets of rules. The “official” set of rules is posted on your walls, listed on your company website, and printed in your employee handbook. You know that list. That’s the one where your organization says that it respects individuals, teamwork, diversity, innovative thinking, and so on. Who wouldn’t say that?

Then there’s the “real” set of rules. That’s the one you hear whispered about in hallways… the one you run into when you make the mistake of speaking candidly in a meeting… the one that actually governs how your organization works. One junior executive referred that he always warned new managers never to criticize the owner’s ideas in a meeting; anyone who did could find themselves out of a job. So when that leader claimed to be “open to different views” he was only giving “the party line…” and not dealing with the underlying reality.

It’s important to know the real rules that govern your people’s actions, and then see if those unwritten rules support or hinder the way your organization handles change.