For over a decade, CCG has been driven to understand why up to 70% of change initiatives either fail entirely, or fail to deliver on their intended ROI (John Kotter, 1995; McKinsey & Company, 2006). 

We believe that there are three factors (Leadership, Programme Structure, and Commitment to Clear Outcomes) that are critical to ensuring a successful outcome for a change management programme.  If we can consistently provide solutions to these challenges, the process of strategy implementation would add far more value to organisational stakeholders.

1. Leadership

Committed leadership is the most critical factor to ensuring the successful initiation and implementation of a strategic programme.  At a sponsorship level, and particularly with respect to programmes that are focused on enterprise transformation, it is advisable to have eyes-on, sign-off and oversight from the highest operational structure in the organization (“Exco”).

At the level of strategic programme oversight and decision-making, it is good practice to involve the functional head of the business area accountable for programme deliverables (a GM or equivalent).  This role of Programme Lead typically takes the form of having sight of and sign off of the Programme Brief, chairing the Programme Board, and receiving regular feedback from the Programme Manager.  This structure should ensure an “unbroken line” of accountability from the delivery teams on the ground, through the Programme Board (that has general oversight of and responsibility for, the entire programme), up into Exco.

Questions to ask in this regard are: “Who are key individuals that we should engage with early in the programme initiation phase?”, “How might appropriate linkages be forged between the Programme Board and Exco?”, “How might we ensure that the Programme Lead is able to regularly provide updates to Exco and make requests for assistance?”, and “How do we build a programme leadership structure that ensures we are able to influence all key areas of the company affected by the programme?”.

Key take-out: Ensure that you complete a comprehensive stakeholder analysis during the programme initiation phase and that key influencers are sitting around the table when you kick the programme off.

2. Programme Structure

“Programme management” is loosely used to describe the structure thrown around a programme in order to ensure that deadlines are met within allocated budgets.  A key challenge is determining how much structure is appropriate for a particular programme.

What might work best is to have a high level of structure at a senior programme management level, so that key players like the Programme Lead, Programme Manager, and Delivery Team Leads have a very clear idea of what their day-to-day programme responsibilities are.  Within this arrangement you can then find the flexibility to build appropriate programme solutions as the need arises during the life cycle of a programme.

Questions to ask in this regard are: “Who should sit on the Programme Board?”, “How often should it meet?”, and “How does this entity engage with various programme stakeholders?”

Key take-out: It is important to build the right level of programme structure, which simultaneously provides sufficient organisation to ensure programme cohesion and yet does not stifle day-to-day delivery. 

3. Commitment to Clear Outcomes

A successful programme plan clearly describes the specific goals and outcomes the programme seeks to achieve.   The most effective way to do this is by facilitating a programme planning process at a Programme Board level (all senior level programme members would sit on this structure).  Through this process you would document a set of end-goals for the programme, identify areas of potential risk, and identify where uncertainty or disagreement exists within that organisation that requires resolution before a programme can commence.

Questions to ask in this regard are: “What is the ideal outcome that we wish to see from this programme, and do all stakeholders agree with the answer?”,  “What are the linkages to existing projects/programmes in the business and how might we dovetail with these in order to both share resources and enable outcomes?”,  “What are the timelines we believe are appropriate for the programme and are these realistic?”, and “What are some of the difficult relationships and/or dynamics within our organization that might prove difficult to manage in the context of our programme”.

Key take-out: It is imperative to spend enough time in documenting a Programme Brief that all stakeholders buy into and accept, prior to the start of implementation.  The quality of the thinking we apply at the start of a programme will very often determine the quality of the result that follows.


In conclusion, successful strategy implementation requires committed leadership, appropriate programme structure and documented programme outcomes that are brought together within an integrated programme methodology in order to achieve success.  Change Implementation as a methodology provides a positive response to an area of management studies that has a poor track record and allows us to feel more confident about the future of our professional practice.

Please call us on +27 21 461 0802 to learn more about our proprietary change and strategy implementation methodology System7™.