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How to Save Your Change Management Program From Cancellation September 21 2011 4 responses

Tvcar60sEarlier this week, I was leading a workshop for a group of leaders in a company that’s been around for a long time. They’re at the beginning of an enterprise wide, top to bottom reimagining of the business. There’s a mix of excitement, ambiguity and uncertainty in the air. Everyone knows that big changes are needed. What’s not clear is whether or not, after years of success doing things a certain way, the necessary changes will take root.

As luck would have it, I’d just heard a story on NPR that offers a lot of clues about why change management programs fail so I shared it with the group. The story was about the annual Fall premiere week on the television networks. The Variety TV editor, Andrew Wallenstein, pointed out that every year dozens of new shows are launched in the same week and every year more than 75 percent of them are cancelled after the first season. It’s not so much a program quality program as it is a math problem. This year, for example, 58 new shows are launching during premiere week. Given that most people only have so many hours a week that they can dedicate to watching TV, most of the new shows never gain an audience.

It costs a lot of money to produce a TV show. You’d think that the networks and producers would want to improve the odds of a return on their investments by spreading out the premieres over the course of the year and giving more people a chance to actually watch more of the shows. Pretty simple fix, right? So why have they been doing the same thing every year for the past 50 years? Wallenstein offered the answer.