The Most Common Reasons for Business Changes Failing

Businesses have to go through changes to survive. Why? The business landscape is constantly evolving as new technologies disrupt industries with impacts seen all over the business world. To not change is to resign your business to failure, but many businesses struggle with change, no matter how necessary. Businesses are run by people and people notoriously hate change, but this attitude isn’t necessarily what causes changes to fail. The most common reasons are often more preventable than the human condition. 

Big Bang Adoption

Changemakers can be radical, but when they try to implement a mammoth change all at once, they run the risk of trying to force through a big bang adoption. It’s called a big bang adoption because it’s 0-to-100 – the change is forced through as quickly as the universe popping into existence. This is an issue as the more complex a project, the higher the chance that it’s doomed to fail. It’s possible to force through a complex change with no teething errors at all, but that’s highly improbable. No matter how radical you are, it’s always recommended to incrementally build a bridge – whether that’s by a slow adoption or (if there’s a ground-breaking technological development that needs to be included) extensive training.


People spend most of their lives at work, so when you make changes that turn their business life upside-down, it can have very real impacts on their wellbeing. People want to be as free as possible and will have worked out a way to maximize their freedom in the existing work environment. When this is suddenly changed, employees can react to preserve their freedom – getting miserable when being forced to follow new commands or rules that they aren’t used to. This can cause employee stress, burnout and destroy a healthy corporate culture, especially when employees don’t feel part of the change. Solving the issue of reactance is very difficult as every employee is unique, but monitoring employee engagement or other signs of employee wellbeing and productivity is a company’s best bet at avoiding long-term business damage due to reactance. This sort of monitoring is possible nowadays, with surveys that match with data analytic platforms like and reveal employee attitudes across departments with an easy-to-digest HUD.

Change Fatigue

Sometimes one change isn’t enough and multiple changes are needed. When these changes aren’t entirely successful, change fatigue can creep in and cause serious problems in implementing the change. When a project is poorly managed and ultimately fails, everybody involved becomes stressed. If this happens on a company-wide scale, a history of failed changes can make the workforce increasingly resistant to more changes over time. This is called change fatigue, a term that accurately describes the impact of corporate change on individual employee attitudes.

Changes can wear a unit down and can even permanently damage the company culture. This reason for failure is difficult to combat, as it exacerbates pre-existing damage. The only hope a company has to prevent against change fatigue is to take things slowly, getting small successes that build up and improve the company-wide attitude to change.