Cannibalisation of change and how to stop it

‘Change doesn’t fail, it mostly gets cannibalized

Something that I mentioned in my last blog post. I have been trying think of a way to avoid this phenomenon and here is what I have come up with

Here is my thought process behind the proposed strategy matrix.

  • There are always multiple changes happening alongside your change at any point of time
  • These changes are not always aligned with your change
  • Not all of these changes are high impact. Some of them might not even register for your target users
  • If you can identify the impact and alignment for all these changes, you can successfully prevent cannibalization


Let’s now look at the matrix quadrant by quadrant

High Impact, High Alignment – Synergise

All changes in this quadrant are pulling the users in the same generic direction as your change project.  These projects present a great chance to find synergies. The onus is on you to find the synergies and create situations where both the projects can be mutually benefited

High Impact, Low Alignment – Align/ Abstain

You got 2 choices here – align or abstain. Given that this will be a high impact change, if your particular change is not aligned then that might mean failure. The challenge is to find any possible alignment to ensure that your change project is not coming across as an obstacle to the other change. If that is impossible, then you are better of pausing your initiative till the other change initiative is in it’s prime. You will most probably fail to get the users’ mind-share so it is better that you take a pause, regroup and relaunch your initiative.

Low impact, Low alignment – Inform

These changes although a deterrent, will not cause a lot of trouble as long as you are informed about them. If completely ignored, these changes can cause irritation to your change initiative so it is imperative that you are aware of these changes. Users every-now and then will have queries around these small changes which will need answers.

Low impact, High alignment – Leverage

Although these are small changes, you can leverage them to your program’s benefit as the alignment is high.  All change programs in this quadrant are worth collaborating with. Individually they might have low impact but the overall impact on your change program’s effectiveness can be high if these are strategically leveraged.

I am proposing that every change initiative should have a matrix that reflects the project’s view of the change landscape. I am sure every change manager does this subconsciously  but I believe that putting this on paper helps. I am not suggesting that this is a perfect way of doing it, this is just my way of understanding change landscape. Your’s might be different !


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