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Failed Management Programmes


Has anyone any research findings or experience of managment programmes that have been forced in quickly or brought in with a lot of thought, that have either failed or been dismissed by the delegates as a waste of time.

Preferrably public sector please.

I am currently studying towards a level 5 Exec Diploma in Management and need some information around this are please for my thesis.
Phill Blackmore

5 Responses

  1. management lead failure
    In my experience management lead change always fails because it is lead by management.
    The workforce have a system forced onto them that they have not been consulted about and are expected to adopt because they have been told to.
    In a social situation we almost never try to get something done by telling other people what to do but because of the false hierarchy of the workplace we feel that we can get away with it.
    We are then surprised when human beings react like human beings and resist another “good idea” from management.
    The failure is not necessarily the management programme, it is the way that the programme is implemented that is the problem.

  2. Wipe away the blood or put in stitches?
    Peter makes a good point about change and involvement. Equally I have experienced a programme that had a huge input from the workforce on what leadership development should look like. The result was a good personal development programme, not necessarily a good leadership development programme.


    Two reasons:

    One, and the minor reason – when you have a programme overly influenced by well-meaning but never the less non-expert people, with perhaps some baggage to bring with them, the results will not be quite what is expected – I have seen this first hand, and…

    Two, the major reason for programme failure – not identifying the root causes of the current situation that has led to call for a management or leadership development programme.

    If you are cut badly, and wipe away the blood, in no time you will have more blood to wipe away. You could be wiping away blood for some time (or until you run out of the stuff!) – you are dealing with the symptom (blood keeps appearing).

    If you go for the stitches option, the bleeding will be stopped much sooner, you will lose less of it, and can then get on with other things. The root cause has been addressed (you had a bad cut).

    So even programmes with lots of employee engagement and involvement can still end in failure.

    Further, I’ve recently repeated some research originally carried out by Bill Jensen ( that suggests people are not so much resistant to change as resistant to the way change is brought in – Peter’s point I think – but specifically

    1 – Resistant to change without context – how does it affect me/my job?
    2 – Resitant to change without clear goals – what am I expected to do about this change?
    3 – Resistant to poorly organised change – how am I to do all this, and still do my day job? In fact, do I still do my day job, or just part of it? If so which part?
    4 – Resistant to change where the raw materials needed to deliver the change are not available – specifically easy to access, easy to understand, complete and correct information to help me make as quickly and as easily as possible the decisions that lead to success.

    I have recently been involved in this within the public sector and happy to discuss further.

  3. John Kotters got the answer
    There are a couple of remarkable books on this (or similar) topics by John P Kotter (Harvard Business School Press). His excellent book “Leading Change” cites 8 reasons that initiatives of all types fail within organisations and I can highly recommend that you read his book (and the follow-up one crammed with examples, “The Heart of Change”).

    The steps are thus:
    1) establishing a sense of urgency
    2) creating a guiding coalition
    3) developing a vision and strategy
    4) communicating the change vision
    5) empowering employees for broad-based action
    6) generating short term wins
    7) consolidating gains and producing more change
    8) anchoring new approaches in the new culture

    I have used this model time and again to explain to organisations why previous changes/ initiatives have failed and therefore what they can do to ensure it doesn’t next time

    If you want a summary document of these 8 stages, email me on [email protected]

    good luck

  4. It’s about attitudes and habits!
    The starting place for management development is knowledge and skills, but these don’t guarantee changes in practice. Knowing the theories doesn’t mean we consistently put them into practice. Things get in the way despite our best intentions and this is our interference. (Performance = Potential – Interference Timothy Galway) The most effective results I find are through including a strong focus on emotional intelligence for individual and team effectiveness. This enables each person to develop their attitudes and habits in the way they would choose. E.g. I may know how to be assertive but if I feel fearful of addressing difficult issues with senior management, something is blocking my assertiveness skills. How do I manage myself to communicate the issues effectively whilst respecting all the parties involved. The model I work to has been produced by the Centre for Applied Emotional Intelligence and JCA (Occupational Psychologists) Ltd
    They have 2 diagnostic tools for Individual Effectiveness and Team Effectiveness.
    You may also find my website of interest. (Click on emotional intelligence.)
    The theory I’m referring to is the KASH model – Knowledge Attitude Skills Habits.
    If you reflect on your life, when have you successfully changed your behaviour? What contributed to that? It’s not just knowledge and skills is it?
    In my view management development needs much more emphasis on here’s how, go away and have a go, come back with the results, what was difficult / what got in the way, what are you prepared to do about that?
    In other words, theory, practical application, self awareness, self assessment and 360, coaching, sharing, practising new habits and delivering on action plans/review.
    Hope this is helpful.


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