Change Management: Why the First 100 Days Targets are a Myth ?

How often we hear of business leaders and CEO’s who have just taken over proclaim that they would undertake radical change in the first 100 days? How often do we also hear politicians and other personalities promising the moon within the first 100 days? Of course, we don’t get to know how many of these changes have transpired in reality since by the time the first 100 days are over, we would have moved on to other matters.

The point here is that in this 24/7 culture of constant change, the temptation to set ambitious targets to achieve the goals within a short time is indeed something that even the most realistic of leaders cannot resist. However, there is a certain limit to which such announcements and agendas for change can be actualized as real world problems, be it in business or governance, are hardly going to be solved within short periods.

The misconceptions surrounding the first 100 days achievements for change and realization of goals should be rightly called so as it is often difficult to actualize change within such a short period of time.

For instance, it takes time to build a team that would be in consonance with the CEO’s vision and mission. Often, building a team with those who are comfortable with the CEO and vice versa takes time. Next, the on the job performance of any CEO cannot be measured within the first 100 days as the lingering issues from the past leaders or the previous CEO would continue to cast a shadow over the CEO’s performance. Though in politics, it is easy to blame the previous dispensation, it is not often the case that we hear CEO’s blaming the previous management since there is certain continuity in the business world in the transition process.

The other aspect or the myth is that CEO’s can get down to business the moment they take over. It takes months and even years of patient effort for the fruits to ripen and show results and hence, new CEO’s often have to prove their mettle. This means that they need to have an extended run in their position for them to actualize change.

The reason for the 100 days myth is that business leaders like politicians have a “honeymoon” period once they take over where their employees and constituents are willing to tolerate them during this time and hence, give them a breather before they become demanding. Therefore, it is often tempting for the business leaders to set ambitious targets for the first 100 days. Without discounting the importance of this imperative, it needs to be mentioned that having unrealistic expectations from the new CEO would be self-defeating.

Finally, change is glacial and the profound slowness with which change is actualized means that there has to be a mutual communication between the CEO and the employees that is grounded in base expectations and is contextual in nature. Only then would the floors of the company not be littered with the broken glass from the ceilings of euphoria and hyperbole.


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Change Management