The Myths of Change Management

The benefits of organizational change management are well documented, and well understood. The same is true for the methods and tools which are available for planning and communicating organizational transformation. And, if we ask a top manager in an international firm, we will most likely hear, that (s)he spends a lot of money on change initiatives. That is one part of the truth. The other, quite in contrast, is actually organizational behaviour and everyday corporate practice. It appears that senior management still prefers to invest in ad-hoc activities and external consultants rather than developing sustainable structures and systematic processes.

The big question is why we see such an enormous gap between broadly acknowledged importance and poor practical implementation of organizational change management.

At first sight, this gap appears to be a paradox. On second thought, we can put this phenomenon down to current leadership approaches and so-called “rational” behaviour. This is something, which can be learnt from taking a look back into management history and studying similar stories: Management approaches which are quickly hyped up after public announcement, but then take a long and stressful period to eventually prove valuable. Prominent members of this group are quality management, customer relationship management, performance management and talent management.

If management disciplines show comparable characteristics like change management, their lifecycle features analog challenges, setbacks, and frustrations. In the same way, we can search for aspects which finally led to their breakthrough. Doing this, we can identify four common myths in management. Understanding and overcoming those myths can be seen as a major milestone for eventually institutionalizing organizational change management.

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The full article will be published in zfo – Zeitschrift für Führung und Organistion (in German), available from December 2, 2010. For requesting an english copy please comment on this blog post.