Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator website Kirsten Schrick – Rocket salad with chocolate
Rocket salad with chocolate

Rocket salad with chocolate

Why change process­es are not every­one’s cup of tea — but are healthy nevertheless.

Who­ev­er ini­ti­ates change process­es in a com­pa­ny, nature puts him or her in a tricky posi­tion. On the one hand, we know since Dar­win that devel­op­ment can only take place through con­stant adap­ta­tion to new envi­ron­ments. In the ani­mal world, adopt or die” some­times applies lit­er­al­ly. For com­pa­nies, the decline is usu­al­ly con­fined to declin­ing sales and returns. Any­one who wants to move for­ward must change and adapt.

But the human brain isn’t too enthu­si­as­tic about change. Neu­ro-psy­chol­o­gy and images from com­put­er tomo­graphs show how much we depend on com­mon, famil­iar things. Sci­en­tists call them pat­terns”. This refers to pret­ty much every­thing that is com­mon or usu­al, from the smell of one’s moth­er to the design of a car and the but­tons of a web­site to the coor­di­na­tion process­es in a com­pa­ny. What is usu­al and famil­iar, is trust­wor­thy. New is fright­en­ing. Famil­iar is good.

This ambiva­lence between Dar­win and famil­iar pat­terns must be tak­en into account in change process­es in man­age­ment. We can get some ori­en­ta­tion in this uncer­tain tran­si­tion­al phase when we uncov­er the pur­pose or mean­ing of the change. When we com­mu­ni­cate and under­stand which beliefs and val­ues​under­lie a change. When we rec­og­nize why it can be worth­while to accept uncer­tain­ty and risk. 

The pur­pose is not lim­it­ed to only num­bers, data or facts. Change process­es are not like tables in Excel sheets. They go much deep­er — down to the lim­bic sys­tem, which con­trols our moti­va­tions. Change process­es affect needs such as auton­o­my and free­dom, con­trol and pow­er, secu­ri­ty and sta­tus. The answers to the why of the change process are there­fore to be found pri­mar­i­ly in the emo­tions and needs of the peo­ple affect­ed by it. 

Change needs strength and sensitivity

Change needs strong shoul­ders, which we invari­ably find in orga­ni­za­tions at the mid­dle man­age­ment lev­el. With its dogged pres­ence, mid­dle man­age­ment can get themes mov­ing and is at the same time close to the employ­ees on a dai­ly basis. Mid­dle man­age­ment main­tains the change process and imple­ments it when cor­po­rate man­age­ment already moves on to the next goals. The team leader lev­el must there­fore be involved, tak­en seri­ous­ly, mobi­lized and strength­ened. Anoth­er key fac­tor for suc­cess­ful change is fair­ness. All of us are ready to accept dif­fi­cul­ties in life. But only if we feel that the deci­sion-mak­ing process­es are fair. A respect­ful approach to the par­tic­i­pants and a prop­er exchange of infor­ma­tion is indis­pens­able. The employ­ees must be giv­en a voice”. And a voice does not imme­di­ate­ly mean co-deter­mi­na­tion. More impor­tant is the pos­si­bil­i­ty to explain one’s own posi­tion and be heard. 

Change process­es require tact and sen­si­tiv­i­ty, empa­thy and also dis­ci­pline and sta­mi­na from the man­age­ment team. Above all, it takes brave clients. Exec­u­tives who pro­mote cre­ativ­i­ty and open-mind­ed­ness towards results in the var­i­ous phas­es of the change process. 

All these ele­ments help build con­fi­dence. Con­fi­dence is the cat­a­lyst for a vibrant change process, help­ing orga­ni­za­tions to move out of their com­fort zones and tran­si­tion into a new, excit­ing stage. Con­fi­dence makes one open to embrac­ing new pat­terns”. Con­fi­dence is the link between rejec­tion and neces­si­ty. Between lethar­gy and Darwin. 

Dur­ing a recent sem­i­nar, I asked my clients what a change process tastes like. Bit­ter­sweet!” was the unan­i­mous answer. Like rock­et sal­ad with chocolate. 


Pro­fes­sor Axel Koch (author), Pro­fes­sor Myr­i­am Bech­toldt (epi­logue)

  • Change mich am Arsch: Wie Unternehmen ihre Mitar­beit­er und sich selb­st kaputtverän­dern, Econ, 2nd edi­tion (Feb­ru­ary 232018)

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