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.

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About fhabermann

My life in a nutshell: No thoughts about economics before my apprenticeship at Mercedes Benz, the car manufacturer. Got enthusiastic when I saw the first impacts of PCs and the Internet in corporations. Could almost smell that this was something revolutionary and thus decided to learn more about it. Graduated in Business, found my mentor (Professor A.-W. Scheer) and spent the next years as a researcher at his Institute for Information Systems. Went to Dublin as a Visiting Professor at Michael Smurfit Business School, which established my still enduring love affair with Ireland. Then the year 2000: Ph.D. for a lot of words about organizational learning and the end of the first part of my academic career – time to face business reality! Moved to Germany’s capital city of Berlin for freshly founded IMC, a spin-off from my university institute. Led the consulting unit, built up their international business and had a hell of fun with an awesome team of highly intelligent and passionate people. Found my cause in identifying young business talent, developing it and bringing it into positions where esprit, wit and knowledge can create innovation and excellence. This is why I founded Becota - The Berlin Consulting and Talent Association. And this is why I returned to academia, becoming a Professor of Business Process Management at Berlin School of Economics and Law.

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