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Making change happen, and making it stick: Delivering sustainable organizational change

Executive summary

Few organizations have escaped the need for major change in the past decade as new technologies and global crises have reshaped entire industries. If anything, the pace of organizational change has accelerated and its magnitude has amplified. Restructuring, cost cutting, post-merger integration, geographic expansion, new product rollouts, IT transformation — all require people to fundamentally change the way they work.

However, the fact that change has become more frequent does not mean that it is easier. To deliver the business objectives of a major change program, people need to adopt and sustain new ways of working — and this is as challenging as ever.

The good news is that it can be done, and it has been done at numerous organizations. Despite the inherent challenges, most people will change if they believe that doing so will make a real and positive difference in their lives and those of their customers. So, how do leaders tap into that underlying drive and achieve sustainable change in their organizations?

At Strategy&, we have seen organizations develop approaches to change management — the people side of business transformation — that address change comprehensively. What these approaches have in common is that they balance formal and informal levers in a change program, addressing both the “boxes and lines” of the organizational structure and the “unwritten rules” of how decisions are made and what creates pride in the organization.


Success factors in designing and implementing any change management program include:

  • Understanding and spelling out the impact of the change on people;
  • Building the emotional and rational case for change;
  • “Role modeling” the change as a leadership team;
  • Mobilizing your people to own and accelerate the change; and
  • Embedding the change in the fabric of the organization.