“The change will set you free, but first it will piss you off …”

Typically, this is how transitions begin. This is true whether the transition is private or professional. That may explain why many business projects that can be classified as “change management” fail. A negative experience cycle is not a good starting point for change projects.

In order for these projects to have been successful, what would have been needed? On this subject, opinions differ, but one aspect is becoming increasingly united: “strong” management. While this may sound like it is a collective board, it isn’t.

Behind this management there are also individuals who are shaped by their own expectations, their own personality patterns, and their own experiences.

These aspects do not make up good or bad management in projects, but there may be a common denominator that describes good management in change projects: The ability to cope with change.

Thus, it would be beneficial to have a clearer understanding of what change competence is, especially on a personal level. An article by Antje Freyth explores this topic and describes the “7-V model”. As for those of you who think: “I already know enough about process models like Kotter’s 8-phase model or Lewin’s 3 phasis”, we can assure you that the 7-V model goes back to the competency of change (management) intelligence. The ability to reflect on one’s own limitations, challenges, and strengths during a process of change indicates a strong change intelligence competence. “Strong” managers (to remain in the wording) are responsible for recognizing the resources and potential of their employees and determining what actions they should take. A real change performance can emerge from a change impulse when the presence of a change intelligence, a clear expectation management strategy, and a consistent communication methodology are present. Thus, the 7-V model assumes that positive change experiences generate a positive cycle after change initiation.

As a result, the change performance is determined by the source of change, the willingness to change (i.e., the openness to let go of the old and accept the new), the willingness to accept change, and the expectations, motives, opportunities, and competencies related to change. 

Understanding what can be changed and what cannot be changed requires an interpretive effort on the part of all project participants in order to generate precisely this positive change attitude. It is not necessarily that each moment of a change project is positive. Positive attitudes are therefore necessary to overcome negative moments. There is no question about who on the team is responsible for this. It’s everyone. It also becomes clear that a pronounced hierarchical thinking is out of place in change management projects. Hierarchical thinking hinders open communication, which is important for responding to the different expectations.

Hence, change projects are a collective effort that indeed requires a great deal of optimism.

My learning could be your learning:

  1. A positive & successful change management approach is dependent on the competency of change management intelligence.
  2. Change management approaches need to be rethinked. Thinking and acting more heterarchically instead of hierarchically.
  3. Positive experiences with change management projects will reduce prejudices against other change management projects.

Would you like to know more about this? Here’s the book to read: Freyth, Antje (2019): Persönliche Veränderungskompetenz und Agilität stärken. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-658-22848-4

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