More than 70% of transformation efforts fail, according to data reported in Harvard Business Review. John Kotter, one of the most prominent leaders in the business transformation industry, spent 15 years studying why change initiatives fail, which led to the development of his 8-step process. In part one of this series on Why Business Transformation Efforts Fail: Climate, we discussed the first three steps in the process. We’ll take it to the next level in this article by discussing the next three steps focused on engaging and enabling the entire organization.

Communicating the Vision for Buy-In

Uniting the entire organization to a common vision is no easy thing. Even harder is communicating effectively that some type of “painful change” everyone must undergo is actually worth it. Getting this buy-in can only be accomplished through consistent, persistent, and authentic communications. To be consistent, your communications must be clear as to the objectives and simple as to the benefits each stakeholder group will realize as a result of the change. To be persistent, your communications must be constant and occur across multiple channels (training, staff meetings, newsletters, web content, one-on-one exchanges, reports).

Ensuring that your communications are authentic is the most important. This means that the leadership team is willing to not insulate themselves and to endure the “pain” of change right along with the workforce. It means that the behaviors of management align with the vision. In essence, you need to “walk the talk” to convince everyone in the company that you are genuinely committed to seeing this through all the way.

Empowering Broad-Based Action

For many reasons, people simply don’t believe that change is possible. In some cases, the existing systems and structures will hinder the change process. In other cases, the management team, by word or action, actually discourages employees from changing their behavior.

So, as part of this process, it is important to recognize that there will be silent doubters and vocal critics. The silent doubters can be tough to identify and win over, so focus your attention on the vocal critics. Invite them to be part of the process. Engage them. Get them to be a part of the solution, which will gain the buy-in of others.

Generating Short-Term Wins

To build excitement and firmly convince the doubters that the transformation effort will work, quickly delivering some compelling evidence to support your case is essential. The evidence for these short-term wins must be visible, relevant, and unambiguous. To heighten the impact, the successes must be communicated and celebrated across the organization as a glimpse of what the transformation program can mean when it is completed. This helps those making sacrifices and dealing with the most amount of change feel like it is all worthwhile. It also serves to silence the nay-sayers and build momentum across the company. For the leadership team, it also enables a fine-tuning of the vision and the change program.

80% There

If you can effectively navigate your organization through the first six steps of the transformation process, you’re way ahead of what most companies achieve and well on your way to having a success. However, don’t stop here (and I won’t either). There are a few more steps to follow to ensure that the change is lasting.

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Ines LeBow is the CEO, Transformation Executive for ETS. She is a known catalyst for business operations, bringing 30+ years of hands-on experience. Ines has a long history of being recruited into senior executive roles to improve the execution of business operations and to drive revenue growth. You can see her LinkedIn Profile at, view the ETS website at, or email her directly at