3 Change Management Myths

In the ever-evolving business landscape, change management is a critical competency, yet it’s shrouded in misconceptions. LaMarsh Global is all too familiar with the myths that can undermine the effectiveness of change initiatives. Let’s address the three most common change management myths and clarify them with real-world examples.

Change Management Myth 1: People Will Always Adapt to Change

One of the most pervasive myths is the assumption that people are inherently adaptable to change. This belief overlooks the human aspect of change management – the resistance, the fear, and the learning curve involved. A classic example is the introduction of New Coke in 1985.

New Coke was the unofficial name for the reformulation of Coca-Cola, which was introduced in April 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company. The company developed a new, sweeter soda formula to reinvigorate the brand in the face of declining market share and competition from Pepsi. Market research and taste tests suggested that consumers preferred the new formulation’s sweeter taste over the original and the competitor’s products.

change management myth

However, the public’s reaction to the change was overwhelmingly negative. Loyal customers began hoarding the original formula, and there was a significant backlash against New Coke. The company received thousands of letters and phone calls, including one letter addressed to “Chief Dodo, The Coca-Cola Company” delivered to Coca-Cola’s headquarters. Even protests were held against the change. The negative response was so strong that the company was compelled to revert to the original formula, which they rebranded as “Coca-Cola Classic.”

This incident highlights the need for understanding and addressing people’s attachment to the status quo.

Change Management Myth 2: Managers Automatically Know How to Manage Change

Next, there’s a belief that managers inherently know how to manage change because it’s their job. However, without the right training and tools, even experienced managers can struggle. Blockbuster’s fall to Netflix is a stark illustration.

Blockbuster’s decline in the face of Netflix’s rise is often cited as a classic example of a market leader failing to adapt to disruptive technological change. Blockbuster was the dominant movie rental service with a vast network of physical stores. However, as the internet became more accessible and bandwidth increased, the way people consumed media began to shift.

Netflix capitalized on this shift by offering DVD rentals by mail with no late fees, a significant departure from Blockbuster’s model, which relied heavily on late fees for revenue. Netflix’s model resonated with customers who appreciated the convenience and cost savings. Furthermore, Netflix made a visionary pivot to streaming video on demand, recognizing the potential of delivering content over the Internet.

On the other hand, Blockbuster was slow to recognize the threat posed by Netflix and the broader shift toward digital consumption. Their initial response to Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service was to launch a competing service, but more was needed to halt Netflix’s momentum. Blockbuster’s hesitation to fully embrace the online model was partly due to its investment in physical retail outlets and the late fee revenue model. When they finally launched an online streaming service, it was too late—Netflix had already established itself as the leader in streaming, and Blockbuster’s brand was still associated with physical rentals and late fees.

change management myth

The key failure of Blockbuster’s management was not recognizing and acting on the change in consumer behavior and the new business model introduced by Netflix early enough. Their delay in responding to market changes, a reluctance to let go of a once-profitable but now outdated business model, and a lack of vision for the future of media consumption were all factors that contributed to Blockbuster’s downfall.

Therefore, despite having the resources, Blockbuster’s leadership failed to steer the company through the digital revolution, primarily because they did not understand how to manage such a disruptive change.

Change Management Myth 3: Change Doesn’t Need to Be Managed

Lastly, some believe that change will just happen naturally and doesn’t need to be managed. This myth is debunked by the numerous failed IT projects that didn’t consider the full scope of change management, leading to wasted investments and unmet objectives. For instance, the FBI’s Virtual Case File (VCF) system was abandoned after years of development and nearly $170 million spent, primarily because the change wasn’t managed with a clear plan and process in place.

The FBI’s VCF system was intended to be a state-of-the-art electronic system for managing the FBI’s case files, replacing the antiquated paper-based system. Launched in the early 2000s, the VCF project faced numerous challenges from the onset. One of the primary reasons for its failure was a lack of clear vision and planning. There was no effective change management strategy in place to guide the transition from the old system to the new one. The VCF project also suffered from constantly changing requirements, and there was a disconnect between the technology developers and the FBI agents who would ultimately use the system. This resulted in a product that did not meet the actual needs of its users.

Additionally, the project was hindered by a lack of oversight and accountability. There were reports of insufficient testing, insufficient training for the agents, and a lack of involvement by the end-users in the development process. As a result, the system was plagued with technical issues that made it virtually unusable (pun intended).

The failure of the VCF project exemplifies the importance of comprehensive change management. In reality, change management is an intentional, structured process. It’s not just about the technical side of implementing new systems or processes; it’s about leading people through the change. Successful change management requires a strategy that encompasses communication, training, and support tailored to the organization’s unique context.


As we’ve seen, myths can significantly hinder the progress of change initiatives. By understanding and addressing these change management myths, leaders can better prepare their organizations for successful transformations. LaMarsh Global emphasizes that effective change management is about proactive planning, skilled execution, and, most importantly, the human side of change. By embracing these principles, organizations hope to thrive in an ever-changing business world.

We Can Help

LaMarsh Global’s change management model is designed to guide organizations through this complex process, ensuring that change is implemented and embraced by those it impacts.

Check out LaMarsh’s transformation management training and certification opportunities. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

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