By: Sandi Verrecchia @satoriinsight

It’s a new year and everyone I speak to is busy making New Year’s resolutions. The resolutions for the most part are personal and focused on getting healthy through diet and exercise or by finding more work life balance or something similar. According to only 64% of New Year’s resolutions last past one month and less than 50% make it to the 6-month mark.

I find this interesting as these resolutions are deeply personal and, I would expect, that they are meaningful enough to want to make the change effort stick to see the results. But, as the survey results suggest, desire for results may not be enough to put in effort for the long haul. I suspect that although reasons for change may be compelling there are two things keeping people from following through. The first is a lack of accountability and the second is syndrome that I like to call ‘the new and shiny’ syndrome.

When I think about accountability and the ‘new and shiny’ syndrome in organizations as a Business Therapist I believe that the same two culprits are responsible for the of 50%-70% of change initiatives that fail to accomplish their goals (Katzenbach Center).

First let’s tackle accountability. The Merriam Webster definition of accountability is ‘an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions’. The concept seems simple enough but what I see time and time again are organizations that identify the need for change, investigate options and create plans but fail to hold people accountable for the change and results. Change is hard, and human nature in business is similar to New Year’s resolutions whereby change tends to be easily forgotten if accountability is not anchored to results. Thinking through and answering questions in advance of rolling out change can help better align an organization and ensure accountability that will drive results.

Some questions to answer are:

  • What does accountability look like?
  • How do we hold people accountable?
  • What are the consequences if staff members don’t buy in?
    • For the organization?
    • For the staff?
  • What is the organizational tolerance or risk level?
  • What is the cost to the organization (monetarily, reputational and culturally) if this change initiative doesn’t work?

The second culprit is the “new and shiny’ syndrome. Simply put a new and shiny idea comes along and the organizational focus shifts. While the staff are busy rolling out change initiative A, someone comes along, spots another problem or identifies a new initiative and attention shifts. This tends to happen quite often leaving staff wondering how much effort they should put into something as, quite likely, it won’t be around for long. The ‘new and shiny’ syndrome can also be referred to as the flavour of the day. As a result, staff engagement can be low when it comes to change.

The ‘new and shiny’ syndrome can be avoided or at least mitigated by vetting all change efforts against the company strategy and the vision. Ask and answer the following questions:

  • Does the new idea fit into the overall corporate strategy?
  • Does the idea move the organization closer to, or further from the corporate vision?
  • What is at risk by moving on the idea at this time?

Although change seems to be constant it needs to fit into an overall strategy and if it fits it needs to be important enough to hold people accountable to make it happen. To avoid change efforts that mirror the people who vow to get in shape in January and slide into old habits in by February, anchor change through accountability and follow through and vet all change initiatives against the ‘new and shiny’ syndrome test.

How does your organization anchor accountability and avoid the ‘new and shiny’ syndrome?


Sandi VerrecchiaSandi Verrecchia

Sandi Verrecchia is a Certified Management Consultant, holds a Masters degree and is a professional Leadership Coach. With over 20 years of experience in the financial services, academic and not for profit sectors, her diverse background of consulting, operations, marketing and sales is a wonderful compliment to her passion for coaching.