Change Management – An Interview About Tools and Human Nature

July 17, 2014


Change. Why is Change Management that important nowadays – but not only nowadays. Why is and was Change Management always important and essential in business and in the private life?! Lets ask two members of our consulting team: Patrick Fähling [PF] and Sandra Brückner [SB].

[PF] This is really a complex topic and can’t be answered in one blog post. Let’s focus our point of view on the Change of the business culture – especially in terms of being a Social Business. The development of the culture is never finished. If you think your company is “perfect” you will fail. It is an ongoing process of change. Even if you already know how to face the challenges of a change process it is not sure that you will be successful because the conditions also have changed. That tells us that the old methods maybe don’t work anymore and the amount of challenges are rising on nearly every level be it financial, economic or political nature.

[SB] That’s true. For a company it is important to see every change as a new one. I mean if you change your sports life by external motivation (partner, friends) it doesn’t work automatically for other changes like moving in together or get a baby, right? Every change process need an own analysis and actions. Of course, if it fits you can use the same methods again but first you have to analyze the change in a strategic concept.

[Pokeshot///SMZ] But how is it possible to get your daily business done as well as identify threats, define creative initiatives and implement them very fast?

[SB] First you have to be aware of a change. Don’t think “That will never happen to me!”. It will. Then you need to identify change potentials in your company. It is not always easy to get this potentials. Sometimes they are obvious for example the external conditions have been changed. But sometimes you have to go a little deeper in the minds of your customers and employees. Furthermore, be aware of the change costs.

[PF] Right Sandra! In addition to that you have to be aware that beside the hierarchical structure of your company to be successful in your daily business you also need a network-like structure, e.g. Social Business Tool like Jive to be flexible and where volunteers within your company are invited to have a look for new ideas and solution to be more successful than your competitors. To get more information about how to get the synergies from those two worlds please read the very inspiring book “Leading Change” from John P. Kotter. He described a process of eight steps and improved this model from the 90s by adding another eight accelerator to let the network be efficient and accept the change. That aimed at exactly the adressed challenge. Get your work done but don’t loose sight of your environment.

[Pokeshot///SMZ] Within this process there is another component. The human being. How important is the human nature in a change process?

[SB] In my opinion the human nature is the most important component in a change process. Lets get back to my sports life changing example. Lets say on one day there is somebody who forced you to do sports every day instead of once per week. He where just there, came out of nowhere and you can’t go back. How would you feel? And the same happens to your employees. Therefore think about possible fears and prejudices in advance. Make a strategy and define suitable actions.

[PF] You have to respect the human nature. Sometimes “it is easy to forget that at the far side of an app, a Tweet, an anything, there’s a person” – “Velocity” p. 148 written by Ajaz Ahmed & Stefan Orlander. You see is not all about technology, it is more about to understand the environment and the need of the implemented technology like a collaboration tool. If you understand the need and the organisation respectively the environment with all their stakeholders you are able to start to develop a culture – but not any culture, companies have to create their own culture. This can last months, years or even centuries. It is nothing you can get out of the box. The complexity of creating a e.g. collaborative company culture is the result of the different human beings who take part on this approach. The more people participating in this approach the more complex and difficult is it to create a in this case specific collaborative company culture. And it is nothing you can duplicate. Companies are maybe similar in what they produce or offer to their customers but not in their kind of working together, sharing knowledge and communicating with each other. You can try to use some basics but only for getting a foundation.

[Pokeshot///SMZ] Ok I want to summarize your answers: First, it is important that every change has its own character. The same measures which fit to the first change did not automatically do that at the second one. Identify change potentials by analyzing your Business Processes and your employees thoughts by using the right tools (Social Business Software). Then think about your change make a strategy and find suitable measures and most important: Think about your employees as human beings with own ideas and wishes.

Is there something more you want to say?

[SB] Finally there is only one more thing to say. Even if the change management activities sound trivial and not worth thinking about to implement them think about every little thing you can do to engage your employees or your customers – and DO IT.

[PF] I would like to end with a quote from another great book I’ve red loads of times because it fits to nearly every life situation and describes the difficulty of life as well as business – “Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again. Keep moving with the cheese.” – “Who moved my cheese” written by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

About the authors

Sandra Brückner, who studied business informatics at the Technical University of Dresden, has worked as social business consultant since 2012. She recently joined the Berlin-based social business consultancy and technology provider Pokeshot///SMZ, where she leverages her extensive intranet and community expertise to consult organizations on how to optimize their change management and community management processes.
Patrick Fähling graduated with a master’s degree in business informatics at the beginning of 2013 and then spent a half-year-long stint working as a social business consultant at a large digital solutions agency in the UK. He has returned to Berlin to strengthen the Pokeshot///SMZ team as a Junior Consultant for Social Business Strategy.