Change Management – New Ways!

In December 2010 I was reading the column from Thomas Sattelberger in the magazine “Wirtschaftswoche” titled “Schutzräume für Querdenker”. Abstract available at: WIWO.

He is Head of Human Resources at Deutsche Telekom and one of the proponents of the women’s quota.  In his article he talks about the ‘unconventional thinker’ and why a MNC is supposed to introduce and protect this type of employee as a potential change in management.

In recent lessons given by our lecturer Hans-Erich Mueller we have discovered that many MNC have had a change in their organizational structure, Siemens being one significant example. Siemens adapted to a  M-form in 2007 in order to achieve Number 1 or 2 positions in emerging markets. Thereby, they gave the central authority to exert power to the highest management level. In other words, their environment forced them to change their organizational structure and this meant a change of management.

Thomas Sattelberger also focuses in his article on the pressure caused by a company’s environment. He gives several illustrative examples, one being the case of Siemens again. After it became apparent that the company had several cases of bribing in their global activities the MNC had to take a new approach in management. In this case it was the establishment of a world wide compliance department.

These named findings show one thing: Companies will have to be capable to cope with radical change in their environment. In order to satisfy this criterion they need ‘unconventional thinker’ and new ways of management. In addition, the given point of view supports the implementation of women’s quota as a process of needed change in management we have argued for in this blog, see several posts by Izzy, katjo2010, or thob84.

To sum up, new ways of management will be beneficial for a company in order to adapt to external changes. The implementation of a women’s quota is one of them – but it requires action or as Karl Marx has once famously wrote it down: “The philosophers have only interpreted the wolrd, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.” (Marx, 1970)

6 Responses to “Change Management – New Ways!”
  1. martinjaja says:

    Thank you Thomas for the interesting post about change management – a topic that we have not highlighted that deep during former discussion. I think you are totally right with you outline in the end: firms need to the capacity to constantly adapt their operations as well as their corporate identity and culture to new upcoming changes.

    Denision highlighted that in his model from 2006 – saying that good culture must be capable of adaption. However, this is not a really new issue. Research by Schein from 1984 also highlighted this issue. Maybe it is just a popular issue these days due to the strong media attention and the highly praised topic of CSR or what do you think?

    • thob84 says:

      Thank you Martin your your comprehensive comment! I agree that the concept of Change Management has been known for quite a while.

      However, the named examples of popular MNCs illustrate the gap between theory and practise. Why do MNCs still have issues to adapt properly? I also don`t think that it is merely a topic of CSR but also of Organizational Structure.

      I give you another example: The DB Mobility Logistics AG introduced an international compliance department as Siemens did. They even installed a compliance ressort at the board of management. Nevertheless, the issue has been that they had simply not enough qualified employees to do the job. They had to establish intense training, re-eduacting existing employees, hiring external applicant’s and so on. This process took quite a while due to their very firm and specialized organizational structure which was not suitable for fast and flexble change.

  2. Mary says:

    Nice post, Thomas! I am so with you that companies should support and protect unconventional thinkers!

    I found a nice blog post by Annette Merrit Cummings in which she says that “effective change management is essential for a successful diversity initiative.” She also claims that Change Management in terms of diversities “requires vision and commitment” – take a look at the article here.

    @Martin: You might be right that with the actual high (media) pressure for companies to engage with CSR, change management (e.g. in terms of diversities) has to be become a focus and to be implemented as well. Even if that was the driving force, I think that it might help companies to build up a basic understanding of what a constantly changing (business) world requires in the long run – supporting people to take part in this ongoing change not just ‘in the outside world’, but within the working place.

    Also, I found a nice little video explaining The ‘new’ change mangement.

  3. martinjaja says:

    Thanks for the responses to my comment and I totally agree with both of you regarding the existing gap between theory and practice.

    Of course there is a necessity to constantly adapt changes in the business environment. However, many structural changes can be anticipated. Thus I have to agree with Mary that companies need to built up an understanding for that with regard to long term success.

    So what happened is of course a question of company structures and organizational procedures! However, is it in some cases not just only the failure of the top management? Why is DB Mobility Logistics AG introducing such changes without having the resources for that??

  4. Izzy says:

    I also agree with you, this topic is highly interesting and up-to-date. I lately found the article by Thomas Sattelberger on the Telekom career website without having read it through your post (btw: you have to login to WIWO in order to read it) and I thought it was so great, I had to include it in my post “Who are you?” as well.
    I think the model of Change Management became popular again partly because of the crisis, as well. In fact, this made many companies realize the more that internal communication plans are necessary to react quickly to external threats. In the HBM I read that, according to a study by Burson Marsteller, about 30% of the polled companies even changed their mission, vision and value proposition.
    Telekom has set a very good starting point. We should hope that many companies follow their example.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] We also want to place emphasis here on the illusion and expectation of companies that there are only “perfect young professionals out there” (see Katrin’s post). We find it difficult to expect this on the one hand but have no sound in house qualification on the other hand. We recommend a change of thinking in this area such as to leave room for Unconventional Thinker (see Thomas’ post). […]

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