Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Do Good Programs Fail?

We have so many programs at work.  The list is long and varied...

1) Change Management Programs
2) Employee Engagement Programs
3) Team Building Programs
4) Customer Service Programs
5) Six Sigma Programs
6) Pay for Performance Programs
7) Putting Customers First Programs
8) Going Green Programs
9) Casual Day Friday Programs (attempt at humor, not serious about this one)
10) Wellness Programs
12) Process Improvement Programs

And so on.....and so on.

I have to ask myself, why do well intentioned programs like the ones above fail to deliver on their original promises?  In case there is some skepticism about my premise, consider the following:

  • One-third of all change management programs fail
  • One half of customers leave within a five year period
  • At least 50% of surveyed employees report being disengaged or ACTIVELY disengaged at work
In our experience, programs fail due to failure to execute.  But why do we fail to execute?  In my experience we have very detailed procedures that go with our programs, there is usually quite a lot of effort and expense associated with them, we may have training around the programs and we often times have a lot of hoopla and excitement.  We buy t-shirts and coffee mugs.  What is the problem?

So to restate the question, Why do we fail to execute on well intentioned programs?

I have some ideas on this, but would LOVE to hear from you on why you think programs fail.  To incent you to participate, I am announcing ICC's Blog Commenting Program.  It is very easy, the 1st, 10th and 25th person to comment will win a very cool prize.  (to be mailed to you)

To start you off, here is a reason why I think we have failure to execute:

1) Employees are unsure of the reason for the program to start with

Now it's your turn!


Anonymous said...

Employee don't believe the program will work so why invest in the program with time, effort or energy.


Anonymous said...

Employees typically are not invested in the program, nor rewarded highly for the program in the first place.


Anonymous said...

The employee typicaly does not understand nor desires to put full effort into the program or has a strong fear factor and does not want to show his or ger fellow employees there flaws nor talk about it, so they just fail or fall behind with a lack luster negative behavior.


Bill Murray said...

They aren't designed properly to reach the team member that is targeted by the program...

Unknown said...

Great comments and hartd48 wins the first prize. Please send me your address at and I will send you the prize. The employee is key to the program as they are the ones that have to actuallu execute the program. So, to your points they need to understand the program and it should be designed with the that audience in mind. Thanks!

Ann said...

I think programs fail because they are either left to higher levels to execute who usually end up delegating the duties and the last thing we at the bottom want is another thing to execute or the program as seen as useless to the individual. I don't want a team building program, I want challenging work, a visible career path, more money.

Feeling a little cranky today =)

Unknown said...


Such a good example regarding team building. So, what if the employees know that the team building PROGRAM is actually designed to enhance skills that will make them more productive (positive for company) and marketable,(positive for employees) so then maybe there would be more buy in.

Not cranky at all!!! Good point.