January 2020
5 minutes

Modern Change Management

How you can increase the willingness of your employees to change

Change processes need a goal, even if this can only be sketched out vaguely at the beginning of the change. (Image: nd3000/istockphoto.com)

When discussing the requirements of modern change management, one is sometimes confronted with the sentence "Everything flows". It is intended to characterize the dynamics of change in companies, to make it clear that companies and their employees must be able and willing to change if they want to survive economically in the future.

First theses are being voiced in which the classic models of Kurt Lewin or Edgar Schein with their phases of "Unfreeze – Move – Freeze" are put on hold and devalued as outdated in view of the obviously permanent change. Instead, one must get used to the fact that everything is in a constant flow. One lives in Move and has to accept that Freeze is history. A view that should be contradicted from a systemic and motivation-theoretical perspective.

Allow employees to develop themselves effectively

From a systemic perspective, all systems – including companies – strive for a stable state. Without this stability, the goal of economic productivity is a long way off. Change processes from a systemic perspective characterize the transition from a productive system after a disruption to a new productive system. The disruption, for example triggered by a change in the general conditions, calls into question what has been done so far. Business models, products and services as well as processes are adapted. Employees recognize that their previous skills are no longer sufficient, realign themselves, learn to find their way around, adapt. Management shapes the framework for this transition. Employees can develop themselves further in this process in a supported but self-organized manner. They learn, overcome the disruption and experience that they can master the challenge in interaction with the partners in the system and emerge from it stronger. They raise their competence to a new level. If this process succeeds, the desired state of change is achieved and with it the new productive system, the employees experience themselves as self-effective. They develop the conviction that they can also master future system transitions.

However, the prerequisite for this is that a new stable system state will be achieved. Living and working in a permanent move prevents this experience. Instead, employees learn that initiated projects are not completed, but are replaced by new ideas early on. Goal orientation and a spirit of optimism are overlaid by non-commitment and erosion of trust. The willingness to get excited about new things decreases. Employees in such systems, lose confidence in their own performance, lose self-confidence and self-assurance. When everything flows, the systems begin to drift aimlessly. Uncertainty arises among those involved. Sustainability and economic success cannot be expected from these systems.

Leading successfully – shaping transitions with courage and structure

Despite all the explainable urge for decentralization, self-responsibility and self-organization, the need for leadership that shapes the transition to a new, productive system after a disruption seems greater than ever from this perspective. Leadership must provide the framework for achieving new stable system states. It should be able to provoke necessary disturbances. Leadership also needs the courage to accept the pain of the transition and it should finally have a clear perspective of a new system of order for the company that allows economic success to be expected in the future.

Provoke disturbances

It is undisputed that companies are exposed to a wealth of changed conditions. Management must enable the system to identify the significance of these changes for its own company and to present them transparently. Either it must itself emphasize and communicate the urgency of necessary adjustments or it delegates this task to employees in a decentralized manner. Management must provoke necessary disruptions or allow disruptive provocations.
Ideally, employees at all levels are given the freedom to set disturbing accents if they see from their role the business model being attacked. Open innovation or processes in which intrapreneurs can contribute their ideas provide a suitable organizational framework for this.

Dare the pain of transition

If a company accepts changes, this process is associated with pain. Disrupting a system also means accepting losses in productivity for the time of change. Leadership should be able to see these pains of transition as an investment and to convey them to employees as a price to pay for the better system they are striving for.
This phase can be supported constructively if leadership establishes a process of reflection and learning appropriate to the change. Mistakes become learning impulses and employees are encouraged to actively promote change. Reflecting together teaches to process setbacks and to think constructively forwards.  

Showing perspectives of functioning systems of order

Change processes need a goal, even if this can only be sketched out vaguely at the beginning of the change. Employees will be able to bear the pain of change when they have the "what for" in front of them and when this "what for" seems sufficiently attractive to them.

Management must be able to show this perspective. Ideally, this idea is developed jointly by the new system at the beginning with the involvement of all those affected. Leadership should create a framework in which the team members mutually assure each other of the common goal orientation. Once changes have been mastered, it is the responsibility of management to let employees experience that a new, sustainable system has been achieved.

It is possible that economic goals are missed. But even then, and especially then, leadership is called upon to give recognition to the employees for what they have achieved in the change. Without recognition or the feeling of having mastered a system failure in the best possible way, there is no self-efficacy. Without self-efficacy there is no willingness to change. Without willingness to change, a company will go under - especially in times when everything seems to be flowing.


Our mission at Evolutionizer is to support strategic management in companies with innovative software. Learn here more about our platform Solyp 4.0 – Enterprise Cloud for Strategy and how our technology can support you in the strategic decision-making process and implementation.

Our mission at Evolutionizer is to support strategic management with innovative software.

Learn more here about our platform, Solyp 4.0 – Enterprise Cloud for Strategy, and how our technology can support you in the strategic decision-making process and implementation.

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