June 2019: Leadership in Change Management – designing a journey

Ideas for necessary changes and optimizations are often quickly identified, the great danger of failure often lies in the question of how to get the people affected by these changes to accept the change.

A central role in these change processes takes over the executive. Every manager will now say „of course“, but the path is the most important thing here. „Leaders don’t force people to follow – they invite them to a journey“ Charles S. Lauer once said aptly.  Changes can only be enforced to a certain degree or enforced through sanctions. In such cases, however, ways out of the changed situation are sought at the first opportunity, especially if the affected person does not see any personal advantage or even a disadvantage in the change.

If a journey for the change is lining up, there are three topics, which it applies to convert in the best possible way: Planning, a good travel guide and communication. As a company, I have to identify key people during the planning phase, affected managers or other key players who need to be involved at an early stage. The objective of the change must be clear: What is the overriding corporate objective of the change or what is the effect of the change? Global presence, customer orientation, innovation, agility/flexibility or sustainability? By when should it be implemented? How can we measure the success of change?

The tour guide, i.e. the manager, is the key person in this change process. In an uncertain situation, managers offer stability and security; they are a stable factor in an unknown new situation. Just as the manager reacts to a change, many employees will also react to the change (external effect of their own behaviour) and thus they decisively determine the course for the implementation of the change.

The manager is usually the first communicator of change: Imagine the following communications and which manager has awakened your desire for change?

„In your annual strategy, the management decided that there are opportunities for process efficiency in my area of responsibility and that we need to work faster. I don’t know how yet but we’ll find out and I’m sure there will be some changes“.

„Our core theme for the coming year is efficiency and as an important pillar of this company we should set a shining example and face the many opportunities that some of you have identified to improve. Together, we can certainly find ways to make our process more efficient and productive, and I look forward to our first workshop.“

A good tour guide should take up suggestions, discuss possibilities seriously and give reasons for the possible non-implement ability.

Especially in digitization projects there is a hatred for change management. Digitalization is not a magic bullet and if you have digitized an inefficient process you have an inefficient digital process, so before digitizing you should check what you should change in the process. Concept development should be part of the project work for the employee and key users should be identified early and supported in the project. The fear of employees to become superfluous must not be ignored.

In our digitization projects, the involvement of managers is a constant component and we provide you with all the tools you need to accompany your employees through the change process and take them with you on their journey.


Rainer den Ouden