4 Autopsies of Big Change Management Failures

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

Autopsies of Big Change Management Failures Can Provide Great Insights
If you resist learning and change, your career and your company are probably not set up for success. Here are a few examples from decades of change management consulting projects of now-defunct organizations whose big change management failures show they did not adequately:

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

Change Management Autopsy #1 – Borders Bookstore
The first of our autopsies of big change management failures focuses on Borders Bookstore.

  • 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.

Change Management Autopsy #2 – Hummer
Hummer, the out-sized, 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.

Change Management Autopsy #3 – Blockbuster Video
Blockbuster 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.
  • Then Netflix began to erode Blockbuster clients with a “no late fee” policy.

Blockbuster wasn’t paying attention to what mattered to their customers…one of the devastating change management failures to make with internal or external stakeholders.

Change Management Autopsy #4 – Kodak
A company that was founded in 1888, Kodak made multiple missteps over its century-long life. Kodak:

  • Was famously sued by Polaroid when Kodak’s version of an instant developing camera was deemed an illegal knock-off
  • Did not stay price competitive against low-cost mass distributors
  • Lost their film market in good part to Fuji
  • Bought into the pharmaceutical industry with little idea of how the 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.

What Do These Big Change Management Failures Have in Common?
All different industries…all eventual failures. Do they have anything in common?  One could say that they were ineffective at foreseeing and adapting to major changes.

  • They were caught unawares because they were overconfident, neglectful or just wrong.
  • 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.

The Bottom Line
Maybe not all of these big change management failures 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.

To learn more about avoiding big change management failures, download A New Way to Think About Change – The Agile organization

Comments are closed.

I have worked with LSA Global at previous companies and welcomed the opportunity to bring them in to support my new organization. We worked closely with LSA to design a solution for our Client Partner Teams and Management Training on both coasts. LSA designed a customized solution for our business and organizational culture. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner that makes an impact.

Laurie Torres
Chief People Officer

I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

Maya Paul
HR Director

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

Jeff Coon
Director of Human Resources

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

I consistently look to LSA Global when I need custom programs put together for my client groups. I can always count on LSA to do a thorough needs analysis and to put together spectacular programs that are well received. Their management development and performance management expertise and professionalism make them one of my top-rated learning and development partners.

Stephanie Webb
HR Program Manager

Rambus

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 have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

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

In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training Manager

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