More than 70 per cent of the large-scale change initiatives implemented by businesses fail, and despite pressure to innovate this statistic has not changed in 25 years.

These were the facts presented by Kotter International Europe managing director Graham Scivener in his speech at The Lawyer’s Business Leadership Summit this morning, in front of an audience of more than a hundred management level lawyers.

According to Scivener’s figures, only 25 per cent of change projects show any type of successful implementation. This leaves only 5 per cent of projects that exceed the expectations of their companies. So what are the successful innovators doing differently?

“When you communicate change within your organisation people are influenced by their bias,” he explained. Leaders who want to implement change should also to bear in mind that people’s first reaction to any change tends to be negative.

According to Scivener’s research, there are four principles that can make a difference between change management succeeding or failing.

  1. Understanding the difference between leadership and management. According to Sciveener, the challenge is to make sure that not only management are leaders. “Leadership can happen anywhere in your organisation,” he said. “Management needs to find out how to motivate people, create direction and remove barriers.”
  2. Avoid change cascading from the top of the business. “You cannot rely on a few people. You have to create meaning from opportunities. Get people urgent. Success breeds complacency.”
  3. Create a winning culture. Scivener pointed out that the achievements of all members of the team should be recognised. If a receptionist spearheads a change in the welcome area of the company to provide a better experience to clients is equally as important as a change in client management. All successes should be celebrated.”There are many little wins and we should not focus on the one big prize,” he said. “Little wins are the oxygen of change.”
  4. Control the business pressure. Scivener argues that although teams can work under pressure, companies should avoid implementing a false sense of urgency. It’s not sustainable, he argued. He also claims that the larger level of diverse opinions, the better the change programme. There are three stress tests to creating a winning culture: Recognise,Communicate and Celebrate.

More than 100 managing partners, CMOS, COOs, CFOs and general counsel were in attendance on the first day of The Lawyer’s Business Leadership Summit at The Brewery in London.

Keynote speaker Dr Nicola Millard, head of customer insight and futures at the BT Global Services Innovation team, reinforced a positive message about the impact of technology on the legal profession. She claimed that there may be a hollowing out of the legal profession with some roles likely to become automated, but maintains that lawyers are not going to be replaced by robots.

“I’m a positive futurologist I don’t think that the machines are going to rise up against us,” Millard said. She calls it the “Terminator versus Iron Man”- instead of machines replacing lawyers, she believes that it is more likely to be used as a tool to transform what lawyers have to offer to clients.