Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

4 Processes of Sustainable Change

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Change Management Strategy (24-slide PowerPoint presentation). Seventy percent of change programs fail, according to the April 2001 Harvard Business Review article, "Cracking the Code of Change". According to Bain & Company, businesses that implement fast, focused, and simultaneous change programs can create enormous and long-lasting shareholder [read more]

Also, if you are interested in becoming an expert on Change Management, take a look at Flevy's Change Management Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

* * * *

Initiatives aimed at improving performance are often launched with great uproar, costing an organization significant investments.  Such initiatives necessitate extensive changes in the Organizational Culture and the way the enterprise systems and processes function.

However, most initiatives fall short of realizing success.  Decades of scholarly research on Change Management reveals that the issues that contribute the most to the failure of strategic initiatives are:

  • Incompetence in sustaining process improvement.
  • Lack of trust on senior leadership.
  • Failure to embrace new ways of doing business.
  • Performance relapse.
  • Inability of the initiative to produce any positive financial returns.
  • Skepticism towards the desired behaviors and return of impractical employee behaviors.

Researchers have carried out scores of studies to isolate the drivers of lasting change.  Research published in MIT SMR in 2005 discusses how leadership can design and execute Transformation initiatives that bring lasting changes in the organization.  The study entailed in-depth analysis of the strategic Customer Service Enhancement (CSE) initiative undertaken by a large clothing retailer, having franchises in multiple geographic locations.

The researchers conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with leaders, in-store operations and support function managers.  Detailed notes of the interviews were shared amongst the researchers alongside an exhaustive literature review.  A case study of the initiative was prepared using independent research to have an unprejudiced viewpoint, free from any bias.  Feedback from the organization’s management was gathered and incorporated throughout the study to seek clarifications or corrections.  Data analysis was carried out employing a coding scheme developed using Atlas.ti tool.  Comparative analysis was conducted and similarities and differences in conclusions were discussed.

The study brought to light 4 key processes necessary for change to stick in an organization.   These key processes assist in laying the foundation for successful institutionalization of change initiatives by creating a company-wide culture that encourages enduring change:

  1. Chartering
  2. Learning
  3. Mobilizing
  4. Realigning

Let’s delve deeper into the first 2 processes.


Chartering is a process through which an enterprise classifies the purpose, scope, and the way people interact with each other on a strategic initiative.  Clear delineation of project boundaries, resources, responsibilities, and reporting lines are the elements integral for the success of a change initiative.

The Chartering process entails 2 critical components:

  • Boundary Setting
  • Team Design

Boundary Setting involves the key steps a team takes for accurate definition of change initiative’s scope.

The project team should clearly outline the problem(s) that the project is, and isn’t, going to tackle.  Ideally, while designing and executing a change initiative, the focus of the engagement should be on confronting the most crucial problem area.  The leadership should ensure not to confuse the core team by eyeing too many priorities to deal with through the strategic initiative.

The Team Design element of Chartering involves ascertaining the roles, accountabilities, and guiding principles for team’s collaboration.  Team design entails creating ground rules for team members to interact, devising mechanisms to manage conflicts.  The leadership needs to not only maintain diversity of the project team’s expertise, but also ensure they complement each other, and inculcate a standardized approach to decision making in project teams.  There needs to be fostered a culture of positive discourse and testing ideas amongst the team members.  Incorporating these guidelines helps spark thinking, learning, and decision making.


Learning aids in anticipating and dealing with hurdles during implementation of Transformation initiatives.  Learning enables the managers to improve the quality of the new processes.  it is a process through which managers develop, test, and refine ideas before full-scale implementation.  The process entails 2 critical components:

  • Discovery
  • Experimentation
For more information on Learning and Development and how to elevate your organization into a Learning Organization, check out the frameworks and tools on Flevy here: https://flevy.com/business-toolkit/learning-organization

The discovery element involves gathering data to identify the objectives of the change initiative and outlining ways to achieve those objectives.  Before rolling out a complete implementation of a change initiative, testing and refining the individual elements of the initiative immensely assists in the success of the initiative.  Gathering adequate information relevant to the initiative, setting up baseline metrics to measure performance, and identifying issues hampering customer satisfactions are the key aspects of this phase.  The team should learn from the failures of prior initiatives, introduce change in a systemic fashion rather than piecemeal, and encourage people to change rationally as well as emotionally.

Interested in learning more about the other processes critical for change to stick?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on 4 Processes of Sustainable Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Did You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.  Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over!  The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

280-slide PowerPoint presentation
Unlocking Transformational Leadership: The Complete Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) Business Toolkit In the ever-evolving landscape of modern business, staying competitive and relevant is not merely a choice--it's a necessity. With the rapid pace of technological advancements, [read more]

Want to Achieve Excellence in Change Management?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Change Management. Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. Click here for full details.

"The only constant in life is change." – Heraclitus

Such is true for life, as it is for business. The entire ecosystem our organization operates in—our customers, competitors, suppliers, partners, the company itself, etc.—is constantly changing and evolving. Change can be driven by emerging technology, regulation, leadership change, crisis, changing consumer behavior, new business entrants, M&A activity, organizational restructuring, and so forth.

Thus, the understanding of, dealing with, and mastery of the Change Management process is one of the most critical capabilities for our organization to develop. Excellence in Change Management should be viewed as a source of Competitive Advantage.

Learn about our Change Management Best Practice Frameworks here.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

50-slide PowerPoint presentation
Change Readiness Assessments are crucial tools used during the planning stage of a Change Management initiative. They help in gauging an organization's preparedness to embrace, implement, and sustain Change effectively. These assessments can be utilized before major transitions or [read more]

286-slide PowerPoint presentation
73-slide PowerPoint presentation

About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.