How to Tell if Your Organization is Ready for Change

Author: Don Neal       

Don Neal

Don Neal

Change is hard. So hard, in fact, that only around one-quarter of executives reported that their organizational change initiatives were successful, according to a McKinsey report published four years ago.

While that statistic may seem slightly depressing at first, I find it inspiring. It signals to me that there are a healthy number of visionary leaders who still wake up every morning determined to work on successfully transforming their organizations. What’s their secret? Being deliberate, thorough, and consistent in their approach to creating massive, positive change in the world.

Organizations are complex beasts — and there seem to be more in the “but we’ve always done it this way” and “what will the volunteers think about that?” camp than those who fall in the “what if we did this?” group. It takes patience and strategic planning to adjust the culture of an entire organization and therefore its trajectory.

The first step is to determine — before you jump in, make the commitment and the investment, or take a calculated risk — if the conditions for change are favorable. We’ve developed an accurate way to read the tea leaves and find out if you and your organization are ready. Try it for yourself at, by answering 10 critical questions, based on initiatives made by associations and professional societies that have been successful in doing what it takes to make positive changes in their organizations. Those changes have resulted in such positive outcomes as increased event attendance, improved member retention rate, more non-dues revenue from industry partners, and higher ROI.

  • More than 100 association executives have already competed this new assessment, and here’s what we’ve learned from them so far:
  • Most organizations that are seeking change have many — but not all — of the conditions in place. Knowing where you are strong and where you need support is a great first step.
  • Many associations revealed that sunsetting current initiatives, even if they are not performing, might be a challenge.
  • A majority of responses indicate that once a decision to change is made, marshaling internal resources to execute on it will be an obstacle. This suggests looking outside of the organization for advice and support is a necessary step.
  • Most encouraging of all is that a majority of associations see a significant opportunity to increase the impact of their live events and meetings to further their mission.

It’s time for you to find out. The first step is for you to complete the free, three-minute assessment, and see how you score. (You only will need to provide your contact information for access.) From there, ask others in your organization to complete it, including your board of directors. Your will gain insights that enable you to begin to make the changes you need — and those will lead to the improved results you want.

Change is here to stay, so I say get over it and do something about it. Or, as retired Gen. Eric Shinseki was fond of telling his commanders: “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.”

Don Neal is founder and CEO of marketing, strategy, and experience agency 360 Live Media.

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