Real Research: 9 Enablers of Change

As a business leader, how would you feel if you were told today that there is only a 30% success rate amongst all change initiatives carried out in your organisation?

This was what the guru of contemporary change, John Kotter, found out. Intrigued by this data, Dr. Lily Cheng decided to find out how leaders can raise the successful implementation of change initiatives so that there is a positive momentum in this process.

Based on her study, there are 9 enablers that positively impact the success of organisational change across three different dimensions of content, context and process.

Enablers are factors that positively impact the success of organisational change. They remove the factors restraining organisational change, and usually counter pose ‘inhibitors’.

Content factors together explain the “why’ and “what” of a change initiative.

Context factors involve the overall feeling or pulse within the organisation, and are largely affected by the collective community consisting of people and people’s interactions, and the antecedents or history of the organisation.

Process factors are about how change is implemented, which greatly influences the reactions of employees.

  1. Perceived Gap: Raising dissatisfaction with the present state, either by realising the organisation is poorly aligned with its environment, or by identifying opportunities that are being forfeited. Provide a sound reason for the need to change.
  2. Desired State: Articulating the desired state by picturing a compelling vision, in order to help people envision the exciting future possibilities, broadening their perspectives with regard to the purpose and benefits of the change.
  3. Consistency of Change Message: Maintaining the consistency of the message being conveyed throughout the entire change process, thus minimising ambiguity and confusion. Ensuring alignment across the change team, making sure that only “one voice” or “ same language” is being spoken. Sustaining an unchanging core or a handle for people to grab within an organisation, thus providing psychological safety and stability during turbulent times.
  4. Trust and Credibility: Establishing credibility by practicing what is being preached. Building and developing an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, thus reducing barriers and restraints to achieving goals, and to maintain extraordinary efforts.
  5. Address Emotional Responses:  Acknowledging, appreciating and respecting the efforts and feelings of individuals. Allowing the time for people to disengage from and grieve the loss of the present state. Mitigating negative feelings and instilling a sense of positivity.
  6. Transformational Change Agent: Gaining commitment and support from the CEOs and senior managers to the change. Building a spirited team of evangelists to spread the words, to inspire and convince, to drive and persist.
  7. Involve and Engage: Identifying all stakeholder groups and working towards good participation from an early stage to build commitment. Encouraging broad-based and genuine participation in the change process.
  8. Communicate: Communicating what will and will not change, clarifying expectations of the change project. Encouraging open communication so that individuals, units and organisations can build on the successes of others. Providing effective two-way channels for a wide range of ideas and perspectives.  
  9. Monitor Change Initiatives: Actively seeking opportunities to move project forward. Establishing key milestones, providing feedback and updates to people regarding progress made. Maintaining the momentum of change by continuous monitoring.

Which enabler do you think might be most effective in your organisation’s change journey? We would love to hear from you at!