How Long Does Organizational Change Take?

When you’re proposing a new way of working, everyone wants to know two things: 

  • How long will it take to change?  
  • Do we really have to?

“It depends” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, especially if you’re proposing a major shakeup. So this week we investigated notable turnarounds and how long they took. Use these examples to balance your own expectations. 

90 Days. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was brought in to turn around Disney’s Animation Studio in the 1980s, he noted, “You’ve got 90 days to change culture before it starts changing you.” While not everything was fixed immediately, the changes implemented in those first months laid the groundwork for the Disney Renaissance of the 90's. 

1.5 Years. Steve Jobs was reappointed as Apple's CEO in August 1997, when he quickly cancelled the Newton and announced an Apple-Microsoft deal. The iMac was released in August 1998 and returned the company to profitability for the first time in three years. A second generation of new color models followed in January 1999, and a week after, Apple announced that quarterly earnings had increased 3x over the prior year. That, plus the popularity of the iBook, helped send Apple's stock price to $99.

2 Years. Domino’s spent two years developing new sandwich products and improving their staple recipes, using consumers and franchisees as test subjects throughout the process. Once they were confident in their new product, they launched the "Pizza Turnaround" campaign, and needed just one quarter to show a 14% increase in sales.

3 Years. In September 2012, Hubert Joly, Best Buy’s current CEO, came to the rescue by creating a framework for managing a successful corporate turnaround. His transformational leadership helped Best Buy return 154% in three years. 

 
 

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