Beyond Platitudes: 5 Tools for Driving Real Change

By Erik Van Slyke Managing Director, Solleva | July 24, 2010

To go beyond platitudes and achieve the operational benefits of broader behavioral change, project leaders can apply five tools that will enable project teams to more rapidly identify adaptive solutions and create more comprehensive success.

Leading change is hard no matter how much experience a change manager brings to the table. Managing change in the hospitality sector is especially challenging because the close interactions and relationships between employees and managers adds complexity that requires extra attention to sustain performance during the transition. Successful change leaders have learned that to achieve desired success, they must use adaptive capability to more effectively work through these project challenges.

Countless studies across a range of organizations have reported that change fails at an alarming rate:

  • Researchers at the Ken Blanchard Companies report that 70% of change initiatives fail or get derailed (includes projects such as implementing new technology, rebranding after an acquisition, and launching new customer service programs, among others)
  • The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey on Current Program and Project Management Practices found that 50% of all change initiatives fail based on measures of customer satisfaction, business value, schedules, budgets, and quality, among other factors
  • The Standish Group's Chaos Report reports 44% of projects are challenged (late, over budget, and/or less-than-expected results) and 24% fail (cancelled prior to completion)
  • A survey by CIO magazine reports that 62% of IT projects fail to meet their schedules, 49% suffer budget overruns, and 41% fail to deliver business value.

Even when there is a formal plan to manage the human side of change, efforts can fall short. Organizations may "complete the project," but often miss opportunities for broader operational improvement and customer satisfaction. This point was underscored in a conversation with Margaret, a human resources executive for an international hotelier and the project sponsor for an HR technology implementation. The project was over budget, behind schedule and receiving poor reviews from executives, line managers, and employees.

"We started this implementation using a well-established change methodology and built a plan we thought would support the project. We were really caught off guard, however, by the volume of issues that came up that were not directly related to the project. Many of them were more about organizational politics than the technology. And since we thought those things were out of our control, we just put our heads down, focused on the immediate scope and executed our plan. By not knowing how to get underneath the issues, and prioritize and identify solutions, we limited our impact and the problems just kept growing."

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.