Authors and Context

Harold L. Sirkin, Perry Keenan, and Alan Jackson contribute significantly to the discourse on change management by emphasizing the need to balance the soft aspects of change (like culture and motivation) with the hard, often overlooked factors. Drawing from their extensive research and practical experience, they offer a pragmatic approach to enhancing the success rates of transformation initiatives.

Core Thesis

The authors argue that while the soft elements of change management are crucial, they are not sufficient on their own. To successfully implement change, organizations must also rigorously focus on hard factors, which are measurable, communicable, and directly influential on the outcome of change projects. They identify four critical hard factors—Duration, Integrity, Commitment, and Effort (DICE)—and demonstrate how managing these can significantly tilt the odds in favor of successful transformations.

The DICE Framework

  1. Duration: The time necessary to complete the change initiative, with emphasis on the importance of frequent reviews rather than the total length of the project.
  2. Integrity: The capability of teams executing the change, stressing the need for skilled, cohesive, and motivated project teams.
  3. Commitment: The level of support from both senior executives and those affected by the change, underlining the importance of visible and active sponsorship.
  4. Effort: The additional work the change demands from employees, highlighting the necessity of keeping this within manageable limits to avoid resistance and burnout.

Research and Applications

The authors back their framework with research spanning over a decade, involving more than 1,000 change initiatives globally. They report a consistent correlation between these four factors and the outcome of change programs, with no other factors or combinations thereof predicting outcomes as accurately. The practical applicability of the DICE framework is further illustrated through various case studies, demonstrating its effectiveness in predicting and guiding the success of change initiatives.

Contributions to Change Management

Sirkin, Keenan, and Jackson’s work stands out for its clear, actionable approach to a complex issue. By distilling a vast array of potential success factors into four manageable elements, they offer leaders a tool for systematically assessing and addressing the challenges of change management. Their emphasis on the hard side of change provides a much-needed counterbalance to the predominant focus on soft aspects, enriching the toolkit available to managers dealing with transformation.


The “Hard Side of Change Management” significantly advances our understanding of why change initiatives succeed or fail. By advocating for a balanced focus on both hard and soft factors, and providing a straightforward, empirically supported framework for managing the former, Sirkin, Keenan, and Jackson equip leaders with the means to more reliably steer their organizations through the turbulent waters of change.

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
8 February 2024

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