“Where the wind of change blows, some walls and other windmills build,” a Chinese proverb says. This article is intended for all those who currently want and/or are responsible for a change in a company. In this article, I would like to focus on the question of motivation for change and explain the appropriate procedure to you, depending on your motivation.

In recent years, I have often been to clients as a consultant and have advised change projects. As a change agent, you can quickly be removed from the position or burned in the company. It is therefore important to categorize the change correctly and to choose the appropriate procedure. I often experience change agents who go to a change full of emotion and passion. This is a good change, but a change should be carried out according to a certain systematics and with a certain distance.

In the past, change managers have often asked me how to enforce certain change. For example, a change agent without support from management and without need to introduce scrum. Unfortunately, however, it is clear that it will not work. It is different for a company that wants to introduce Scrum due to customer pressure. I look closely at this situation and plan how and how much effort I put into the change.

Matrix of change according to my own perception

Four types of change

I believe that there are exactly four types of change in the company. These can be seen in the figure above. I distinguish between the time available and the need, i.e. the urgency of change by e.g. Loss of sales. Depending on the type of change, you need to process a change differently and proceed. See change management as a craft or profession. Unfortunately, I often experience change managers who lack basic theoretical foundation for change management.

Time pressure and a specific need: Incident management

Incident management comes from the ITIL textbook. An incident means that a reactive response to an IT service malfunction is to be addressed. The IT team often solves the problem with a quick solution for the time being.

It’s the same for you as a change manager. bpsw. Companies are losing during this time and cannot stand it for long or an important customer wants to cancel in 6 months if nothing changes. So you have a lot of hardship and also time pressure.

My tip: They don’t have much potential for coaching or building self-organized networks during this time. You need to present quick solutions and take the time pressure out so that you can really develop your organization. So, at this stage, stay more classic and set fast and perhaps unsightly or unspectacular measures. Once the time pressure is out, you can develop the organization. However, the management first demands short-term solutions from you!

No time pressure and specific need: optimization of processes

In my view, this case is the typical case in companies. For example, a company has a problem and employees complain about it and there have been some redundancies.

So we want to want change, but since we are doing well economically, it is not important when it will be ready. You will get some problems, because this change will usually take a long time.

My tip:Try not to seek direct short-term solutions, but gain strong support in management and communicate the need to the employees again and again. You should proceed slowly and iteratively: you have time! You can search slowly build a network and slowly change process by process a bit.

They will not radically overturn anything at this stage or introduce Scurm in its full. Rather, focus on optimizing processes and wait until the need grows.

Reading tip: Change after Rogers and Prank

Time pressure and no specific need: management decision

The third case has often been the typical consultant case of mine. Management wants something specific, e.g. introduction of scrum. However, there is no reason, it has been decided in management and there is often a deadline.

My tip:You can take advantage of the pressure of management and should pay attention to compliance with the new processes rather than to carry out real organizational development. They are actually more likely to carry out a process introduction and can then carry out the organizational development as soon as the time pressure is through and the management has considered e.g. Scrum as established.

Reading tip: Change management according to Kotter

No time pressure and no specific need: Proactive change

The focus here is not on concrete decisions, but rather on radical innovations or employee wishes for e.g. a certain tool such as a confluence instead of the old mediawiki. The change is initiated in a forward-looking manner by employees in the company.

You will notice that in this change you usually don’t have any support from management and no other help. Also, you won’t get any resources or anything else. The change takes place in your overtime.

My tip: The only chance I see is that you can initiate change with certain employees around you and show management by examples that it can take the company forward. It’s often a small chance that you’ll get away with it and it should be well thought out, otherwise you’ll burn yourself.


You notice that change management is still very classic and based on cause action. Without cause, changes are rarely addressed and often not successful. As in my reading tips, these are always linearly planned processes of change.

There is no point in starting the topic without prior knowledge and full of emotions, but with plan and skill to recognize the change and to do as much as possible. For example, you can achieve more if you take the time pressure with quick solutions and then build a meaningful organizational development on it, otherwise you will simply be removed from the position beforehand.

In the end, I would like to call for an open discussion on classic change methods and continuous change management!

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/ver%C3%A4 change-arrow-clouds-sky-948024/

Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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