4 Autopsies of Big Change Management Failures

outline of a dead man on the road with a sign that reads, "Resisted Change"

To perform and thrive, you have to be able to adapt to an ever changing environment. If you resist and defy change, your company is not long for this world. Here are a few examples from decades of change management consulting projects of now-defunct organizations that, in order to avoid disaster did not

  • foresee the necessity for change soon enough or
  • adapt in a way that made good business sense.

Autopsy #1 – Borders
Borders began as a standard bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Michigan in 1971 and grew to employ almost 20,000 workers before it ceased operations in 2011. The company failed on multiple fronts. Yes, the “old fashioned” bookstores all struggle to compete with online book sales but Borders had additional challenges they failed to meet. For one, instead of establishing their own online sales site, they partnered with Amazon, a formidable rival. And then, they continued to pour money into expanding their physical facilities. The third and final nail on the coffin was that they didn’t read their market right – a fatal change management mistake. Their customers would have used them for books from small publishers, not CD or DVDs and not books from large presses to the exclusion of small.

Autopsy #2 – Hummer
This outsized, rugged, status-symbol of a GM product failed to see the writing on the wall. They received early success because of the early American desire for big vehicles that could travel over any terrain in the world. But tastes change and, as they did, Hummer didn’t pay attention. Consumers no longer believed that big was good. They began to worry about the impact of gas guzzlers on the environment and the rising expense of fuel. Hummer lost its brand desirability because they did not change or adapt to the external environment.

Autopsy #3 – Blockbuster
This company was doing great as the leader in video rentals. Viacom purchased them for a whopping $8.4 billion in 1991. Then they seemed to lose their way. They began to charge stiff late fees and alienated their customers. And then Netflix began to erode Blockbuster clients with a “no late fee” policy.  Blockbuster wasn’t paying attention to what mattered to their customers…a devastating change management mistake to make with internal or external stakeholders.

Autopsy #4 – Kodak
A company that was founded in 1888, Kodak made multiple missteps over its century-long life. They were famously sued by Polaroid when Kodak’s version of an instant developing camera was deemed an illegal knock-off; they did not stay price competitive against low-cost mass distributors; they lost their film market in good part to Fuji; and they bought into the pharmaceutical industry with little idea of how the pharma business works. But many would say that Kodak failed because they didn’t foresee how quickly and completely digital cameras would take over the industry that depended on film sales. They were caught behind the times.

All different industries…all eventual failures. Do they have anything in common?

One could say that they were ineffective at managing change. They were caught unawares because they were overconfident or neglectful. They didn’t keep their eye on where their core business was heading. They didn’t pay attention to what consumers wanted. They were not agile enough.

Maybe not all of these disasters could have been averted. But had they been better at foreseeing and adapting to change, we might have enjoyed a Borders website for specialty books; or a smaller, more fuel-efficient version of the Hummer;  or a more user-friendly source for videos; or the kind of quality camera Kodak was famous for now in digital format.

What do you think?

Download Change Management Toolkit to Learn More About Managing Organizational Change

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn
Files under:  

Comments are closed.

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

Cam Greig
Associate Director

Roche

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More