Guest commentary: Change Management – Successfully Implement Change

May 21, 2012 // By Dr. Christof Ebert
Companies and entire industries are changing very fast at this time. Hardly any year has changed our lives with technological breakthroughs as strong as the last twelve months have done. In 2012 change will determine your daily business. So the need for change management is constantly growing.

There is a simple rule: Only those who professionally control and communicate change processes will achieve sustainable results and succeed in the future. Famous Robert Bosch already had recognized this and once observed: "Without exception, our aim must be to improve the current status; and instead of being satisfied with what has been achieved, we must always strive to do our job even better."

Change is inevitable to improve and stay ahead of competition, both in terms of innovative products and people. We recommend the following three rules to successfully and sustainably implement changes.

1) Approach change in a sufficiently large context. Small changes might at first glance seem easier to implement, but they will not attract employees. Change needs a strong vision, which emotionally attracts people and encourages them to join the effort. Small changes do not appeal and will not convince people to put energy into it. They immediately feel that it is not thought through, and will not last. Embed change, technically and organizationally, in an increasingly corporate context. Design and communicate the change as a whole. Divide it into increments – as we practice in agile development.

2) Implement changes in short cycles. Improvements need to deliver concrete value within three to six months for practical use. Use appropriate techniques to deliver value, such as CMMI, Scrum or Lean. Measure your product development with performance indicators, such as cycle time, rework, or budget and time deviations, and evaluate where you need to improve. Target with a specific change a concrete improvement result. Connect pilots and roll-out to your overall product plans so that improvements will be tangible in daily life.

3) Professionally manage change. Change requires strong leadership and intensive change management in order to attract people and sustainably change the culture. Use the experiences and the impact of a partner, as a constant reminder and change advocate. His core competence is to streamline processes and