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Changing Software Development: Learning to Become Agile by Allan Kelly

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7.6. Charting a Course

Given the 70 % failure rate for change programmes, it may seem illogical for anyone to embark on such a programme. Radical change seems the most risky, but the alternatives aren't risk free either. Faced with such odds, it's hardly surprising that many managers choose to do nothing. Yet not changing also involves risks; these risks are just less obvious.

Undoubtedly, radical change is sometimes necessary. Sometimes things are just so bad that something has to be done. Companies sometimes get themselves into a position where the only option is to lay off thousands of workers, to restructure divisions, axe departments and so on.

The bad news seems to be: if you face the need to change radically, you're most likely going to fail in your attempts. No wonder so many people put off changing and try to avoid it. Given the statistics, sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the need to change is almost the rational thing to do.

The answer to this problem is not to get in this position in the first place. Faced with the question 'How do I save my organization from impending doom?' no wonder the answer is so often 'You don't want to start from here.'

Individuals and organizations need to take proactive action to avoid getting into situations in which risky radical change is required. The consistent application of continual change and learning can help avoid the need for radical change, and help reduce the disruption when radical change is needed. This means taking ...

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