Today‘s companies have to go more and more often trhrough massive change. It can take the form of reorganizations, roll-outs of new IT systems, cost reductions, strategic turns or cultural change programs. But, although companies have many experiences with change, implementation results are often disappointing.

The danger of centralized thinking

How is change typically implemented? Almost all initiatives are orchestrated centrally by a small group or taskforce, and this certainly makes a lot of sense. Still, we observe that such central groups show a strong tendency to manage the activities mechanically and by numbers. The strong focus on quantitative results leads almost always to unintendend negative developments. Actions suddenly become absurd because they ignore the specific context.

Change Management easily falls into the same trap

Interestingly, the use of change management techniques often doesn‘t really improved the situation. This is because change management programs falls easily into the same trap: They are treated as any other large initiative, i.e. in a centralized and mechanical way. We see this when large number of people are lead through standarized workshops with the belief that this will cause a dramatic change. Most often it leads just to cynicism.

The role of leadership in change

A consequence of central-driven implementations is that the maintain a divide between management and employees. Both parties often do not feel understood and recognized by each other. To bridge this divide is clearly a leadership task. One starting point is to place a high priority on the quality of conversations and meetings. This in itself can be seen as cultural change.