Change Is in the Air - Senior Executives Focus on Growth in 2011

Despite a 44 percent failure rate, companies are using change management initiatives to increase revenue and prepare for the future, Celerant study finds

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Lexington, MA — February 2, 2011 — Many experts agree that in 2011 a self-sustaining economic recovery will slowly continue to take hold. However, executives at many companies are looking to accelerate the process, according to new research published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by Celerant Consulting, which found that senior executives are shifting their priorities towards growth and the future and away from cost reduction and other survival mode strategies.

Of the 288 senior executives surveyed this year from around the world, the top two objectives for change management initiatives were increasing revenue (55 percent) and preparing their organizations for the future (52 percent). Last year, 66 percent of respondents cited cost reduction as the primary goal.

"Companies are now able to think ahead and more strategically look at how to best position themselves for top and bottom-line growth," said Allen Friedman (LinkedIn), Americas president at Celerant. "Most companies and executives have realized that as much of the excess costs as possible have been squeezed out and future improvement is dependent on a return to growth now."

To ensure success, companies are planning to increase both the amount of time and overall spending devoted to change management. In the survey, 63 percent of respondents reported that more senior executive time was devoted to change management initiatives this past year, and 47 percent said that their organizations increased spending on change management. Only 7 percent and 11 percent stated that executive time and spending decreased, respectively.

Shockingly, despite an increase in both time and resources, businesses are simply not that good at implementing change, failing nearly half of the time (44 percent), according to the survey.

"No two initiatives are the same. Companies need to realize that change programs differ from company to company and across market sectors," said William Hendrickson (LinkedIn), executive vice president with Celerant. "We believe that successful change management must be based on implementation and engagement, from the technical and logistical aspects all the way through winning the hearts and minds of everyone across the organization, from the C-suite to the frontline worker."

Why are companies emphasizing change now? A Celerant-commissioned report from the EIU entitled "Leaders of Change: Companies Prepare for a Stronger Future" and published alongside the survey, reveals that companies are increasingly turning to change management initiatives to stay ahead of external pressures and challenges.

In fact, 60 percent of the survey respondents stated that the main forces driving change at their company were competitive and cost pressures (60 percent) and customer demands for better quality and service or different products (36 percent).

The full report is available here.

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