What are the key elements of successful change? How can it be achieved? Let’s explore this topic in more detail. 

Nearly all organisations undergo changes in one way or another. They do so in various degrees of complexity and magnitude, spending millions of pounds each year. Failure in this regard can have a significant impact on organisations and the people within them. For this reason, it is essential to understand the success factors to improve the outcome and optimise return on investment. 

What are success factors? They are management practices that when applied, increase the chances of success for change initiatives. Their presence does not alone guarantee success. However, the absence of success factors will contribute to potential failure. 

Success factors form a framework that describes the environment within organisations that is vital for the success of change initiatives. They also provide a mechanism to facilitate organisational improvement. The degree to which these practices are established and used within an organisation is indicative of its maturity and capability. 

Why Change is Important 

Change is pervasive in our society and is a fact of life within organisations. Changes may involve making alterations to an organisation’s purpose, culture, structure and processes in response to seen or anticipated changes in the environment. Change can also aid prosperity and growth even in the most volatile, uncertain and complex environments. 

Most effective strategic marketing leaders recognise that change is part of the continuous improvement process. 

But how do you manage change? What factors are known to contribute to the success of change initiatives? 

A Clear Vision and Strategy 

A key element of successful change is a clear vision and strategy. Not everyone likes change. However, people are more likely to welcome change when they understand why the change is happening, what it will entail and how it will affect them. Individual development projects and programmes should be aligned with the overall strategy of the business as well as coordinated to present a manageable picture of change. 

The best approach here is to take a bottom-up and a top-down approach, involving people in defining the vision and clearly selecting the drivers of change. It is also best to articulate why the change is happening and the desired outcomes. 

Make sure people recognise how the vision differs from business-as-usual and review on a regular basis in order to maintain relevance. Well-defined benefits and outcomes provide tangible benchmarks to understand and aim to measure for how successful change has been made. 

Strong Leadership and Sponsorship 

An additional key element of successful change is strong leadership and sponsorship. As the old saying goes, action speaks louder than words. It is essential that senior leaders and sponsors advocate and act as role models for change. They also need the time available and the key attributes to deliver. These attributes include; listening skills, integrity, the ability to engage and inspire, trust, emotional intelligence and gravitas. 

You should make sure that all relevant parties are involved in order to drive and support change. This will ensure that there is real ownership of the change from the wider business. Additionally, having feedback mechanisms in place will ensure that vital improvements can be made. 

Supporting Stakeholders 

Often, stakeholders will perceive and respond to change differently. Thus it is essential to understand, engage with and build commitment from these stakeholders through the entire lifecycle of your growth. You should make sure to identify stakeholders early within your programme, carry out a potential impact assessment, develop an engagement and communication strategy to build commitment.  

It is important to remember that communication on its own will not guarantee engagement. You should take time to really understand your stakeholders. You should consider what their perspectives are as well as their motivations.

It goes without saying that nurturing your stakeholders will build trust ensuring they are willing to help make the change and feel supported throughout the process. 

Building Your Team 

You should build and nurture your team that are implementing new strategies, in order to combine a clear focus on tasks with strong interpersonal relationships. Clearly define the purpose or remit of your team as well as in relation to other teams including project and programme teams. Equip team members with the necessary change process and people capabilities to bring forward successful change. 

Ensure that you have the right people in the team, that it is diverse and multidisciplinary, that roles and responsibilities are well defined, and that there are recognition and reward mechanisms in place. 

Key Elements Of Successful Change (2)

Understand people’s motivations within the team to help develop understanding and ensure that you play to people’s strengths. It helps if team members have strong relationships with stakeholders, communicate well and have a passion and energy for their remit.

Defining an Integrated Approach 

Should your company not include a defined and structured method of managing change then consider adopting one of many well-documented change methodologies and standards. You should make sure that in all instances, you take a holistic and integrated approach that covers each aspect and fits your initiative and environment. This is important to ensure everyone in the change team is aligned, to ensure consistency of delivery, improve capability and maturity for greater success. 

The key is to be structured but not dogmatic. You should be flexible in your approach to match the nature of change. Manage your project interdependencies across the whole organisation and include regular review and feedback loops. This creates a way of continuously improving your approach for further success. 

Measure the Success of the Change Initiative

Organisational change is usually a non-linear, evolutionary discovery process and it’s not always possible to know absolutely everything at the beginning. Internal and external organisational environments can change during the process. Additionally, it is often very difficult to evaluate change initiatives in a similar way as other aspects of the business such as operations. 

Measures can serve as an extremely useful tool for engaging and communicating with the wider company and stakeholders on the effectiveness and impact of the change over time and in order to seek feedback. 

Make sure that you have a baseline and success criteria from the get-go, and relate measures to the originally defined vision, outcomes and benefits. You should have both qualitative and quantitative measures th78at are relevant and pay attention to measurability, ease of collecting data as well as analysis and presentation. 

Remember that Change Takes Time  

It does not matter the size of your company or industry. It is often easy to forget or underestimate the effort required to bring about change. Often people will hope for an easy and fast solution to change but this is rarely how change occurs. 

In order to introduce change effectively within an organisation, you need to be patient. You need to have faith in your change team and clearly measure the success of the change initiative over time in order to fully recognise whether the change is providing the effect you had hoped. You need to be mentally prepared for the adjustment period and any pitfalls that may arise during the initiative. 


Most organisations go through changes as a necessity in order to improve and grow. However, it is important that change initiatives are carried out effectively as the cost of failure can significantly impact organisations and the people within them. This is why it is of utmost importance to understand and implement success factors that will improve the outcome and optimise return on investment. 

You should ensure that you have a clear vision and strategy. Change is not always welcomed with open arms so you need to understand why the change is happening as well as what it will entail and how it will affect people within the organisation. Individual change projects and programmes should be aligned with the overall strategy of the business. 

Strong leadership is also essential. Leaders and sponsors should act as role models for change. Sponsors particularly need to have a sphere of influence and the key attributes to deliver. 

Change initiatives need to also be clearly measured. Organisational change is often a non-linear process and you will often run into unexpected hurdles. Additionally, both internal and external organisational environments can change during the course of the initiative. 

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