Change management: Definition, procedure, implementation

What is Change Management: A Definition

Organisations sometimes reach a point where it makes no sense to continue in the same way. When even incremental changes would not be enough to lead to a better result, fundamental changes need to be considered and implemented. In such cases of significant change, we speak of change management. Change management thus leads to far-reaching changes in the business model, target markets, approach, processes and/or organisational structure in order to achieve a defined goal. Change is not an end in itself.

The process of change: the different phases

A process model consisting of a “defreezing” phase, a “move” phase and a “refreezing” phase has proven itself for changes.

The defreezing phase is about dissolving the existing structures that do not work well and are to be changed. To do this, it is important to trigger a discrepancy experience that makes the problem clearly visible by contrasting the current inadequacies with a target situation in which the problem is solved. From this discrepancy experience comes the relevance of a change project. Now bring about responsibilities for this transformation. Break up inappropriate routines and dissolve inappropriate structures so that a return to the previous situation is no longer possible. You must overcome the perception of loss that then arises through good communicative accompaniment of the change.

In the following move phase you have to use the momentum that has been released by the dissolution of well-rehearsed mechanisms. Encourage your staff and colleagues to take the initiative by turning those affected into participants. Develop and prioritise solutions together and decide formally on future processes and structures. In the Move phase, the Design Thinking process can support, into which creativity techniques can flow. Design thinking should be oriented towards the current and future expected environmental conditions. A Foresight - Dialogue can be used for this purpose.

In the third phase, the refreezing phase, you document and implement the decided solution option. It is important that you review the effectiveness of this new way of working and check whether fine-tuning or corrections are necessary. Have identified corrections implemented. This is not an admission that the jointly found solution was bad; rather, you learn “as you go”. The willingness to implement further adjustments underlines your sovereignty.

Implementing change management: the concrete procedure and success factors

People’s willingness to change results from the perceived benefit of the change. This benefit is, to put it bluntly, the product of three factors:

The first factor is dissatisfaction with the current situation, i.e. displeasure with current disadvantages for those involved, the resulting loss of motivation and the problem awareness that has been worked out.

The second factor is the attractiveness of the target situation, which is made up of the meaningfulness and concrete benefits for those involved. If these benefits are perceived as greater than the time, financial and personal effort and the fears associated with the change, there is a willingness to change. It is a leadership task to communicate this benefit to those involved.

The third factor is very important: if you make sure that the new solution does not become cemented like the situation before the change project, you not only create an improvement with the change, but at the same time you increase the ability to change and adapt, so that your organisation can more easily produce further new solutions when the environment changes or new difficulties arise in the future.

Conclusion: How to make change management work

Win your organisation over to necessary change by both building the pressure for change and putting a rewarding perspective in place.

Implement change with high momentum and leave no room for retreat to the past.

Once the change project is implemented, remain vigilant because changes in an organisation are usually initially met with a reaction towards previous patterns when the pressure for change subsides. Therefore, accompany change projects well into the stabilisation phase.


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