Harald Schirmer - es kommt nicht nur darauf an, was wir tun, sondern WIE wir es tun!

A new Change Management concept

Connecting power
Connecting power
Within the last 3 years, I spend a lot of time with the theory and practical use of „Organizational Change Management“. Many discussions (private and business), conferences, own pilots, many days coaching from a great person of Deloitte, learnings by observing outstanding „leaders in change“, participation in the inspiring „Change Agents Worldwide“ network and education by the great ISB (Institut für systemische Beratung)?

It made me rise the question:

Is Change Management – as we know it –
still the best way to „drive change“?

In my concept, I combined a new approach on organizational change management with the possibilities of socialbusiness and the lessons learned of culture development in a global environment

Why sharing this? Because we all can make a difference by sharing (and questioning) our experience – and find like-minded people to exchange!

Learning from each other
is a great way to improve.


Reading great books from authors like John P. KotterPeter SengeWilliam Bridges or theories of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the famous MBTI (Myers & Briggs) and many other valuable sources for most common approach on Change Management – I see a focus on:

  • Management“ (as initiators and drivers),
  • Involvement“ (as a success criteria) and
  • Control“ (to ensure sustainability)

It looks great in theory (I am coming from the practical perspective) – when we see the simplified stages of a change process: „Stability“ – „managed change“ – „Stability“ …I would already question this to a certain extend.

managed change


Yes we all (most people) love stability, making our life’s easier to predict and plan as well as giving security.

But looking at all those massive, simultanious changes all around us – combined with it’s speed and impact to more and more people, I find it a better approach to call it „permanent beta“ or „work in progress“, „draft mode“, or in private life… „we are on a way


… or isn’t a „stable final“ just a compromise
to make us feel good, or to report fulfillment?

final 2 draft


Differences in todays „Change Management“

(some authors already re-named it to „leading change“)

Change Management as known Leading Change (as desired in my eyes)
Organization form: made for hierarchical, disciplinary driven Top-Down Organizations (networking or transparency did not really exist) hierarchical + network organizations, agile Scrum-Teams, dynamic and responsive Interest groups, Entrepreneurs (also within companies)
Target group / actors: Management All
Main attributes: Managing, Steering, control listen respect, engage, participate, learn, do, share
Scope of tools & methods: less than 20 persons (small groups), except surveys (which I do not consider real involvement) today we can reach and involve huge amounts of people (via direct, transparent communication & collaboration Social Media/Social Business) – also with new formats like fishbowlinformation market, future conference, fedex-daysopen spaceshangoutsMOOCs


Hierarchy versus Network:

After learning about all those theories of Change Management – I was missing this, in my eyes important movement of collaborative networks, transparency and respect in people – most of all the acknowledgement of our various perspective and cultures. It made me very happy to find Mr John Kotter to come up with his update „accelerate“ (Harvard Business Review) of  adding „networking“ as a second „operating system“ to his concept…



You can imagine, that I really like this valuable update coming from one of the most experienced and influential Change Experts worldwide.

I might be excused to have a small critic here – in my eyes only his picture of two Operating Systems is not ideal. (again coming from the practical use) Operating Systems mostly only „co-exist“ (we really see this problem in many companies today – but that is not the goal – as Kotter mentions – it is about allowing and highly integrating both: As written 2 years ago: Hierarchy and Networks). My picture would be more hierarchy as operating system and networks as „Apps“: connected, topic or interest driven, time and goal relevant… mash-ups, sparks, need- and goal driven collaborations.

Management fears loosing power by highly connected influencers and transparency, Networks are missing the „OK we want and need you“ from leaders and being recognized, asked and appreciated. This is causing a lot of energy being lost, since networks still need to „prove their benefit“… Besides we are not seeing only one network, but many of them – very different, in all means – makes it hard to classify or putting a „profit-tag“ on them.

Not only in big companies we still need hierarchy (vertical) AND networks (horizontal)… for quite some time (Hierarchy provides a reliable decision processes, continuity and security)



… this is only a small fraction of an article I am writing on for a while – more coming up 😉

Still I would love to hear from you and get your opinion – do you experience something similar, do you have thoughts to add or questions we could include?

just add your comment, please! (that would encourage me to write more sooner 😉

Update: Feedback from other sources:




Dein Feedback:

16 Antworten

  1. […] meinen früheren Beiträgen: A new change Management concept und Change – Values – One Size fits all? habe ich bereits von den Anforderungen an eine […]

  2. […] meinen früheren Beiträgen: A new change Management concept und Change – Values – One Size fits all? habe ich bereits von den Anforderungen an […]

  3. […] – differentiates very passionately between Management and Leadership (for example here and here). In his eyes, the management of companies is therefore no longer sustainable because it does not […]

  4. […] Wir müssen Veränderung neu denken – Im globalen und komplexen Umfeld reicht es nicht mehr, wenn Einzelne Veränderung managen. Die ursprüngliche Idee von Change Management setzt reine Hierarchie und Stabilität voraus, nimmt zudem auch keine Rücksicht auf Kulturunterschiede, Diversität und beschränkt sich in seinen Methoden auf einen kleinen Beteiligtenkreis. (hier eine früherer Artikel dazu) […]

  5. […] berufenem Munde und vor allem deutlich zwischen Management und Führung (beispielsweise hier und hier). Dabei ist das Management von Unternehmen in seinen Augen deshalb nicht mehr nachhaltig, weil es […]

  6. […] you missed the first part, i suggest to start here: A new change management concept … I will add more and more […]

  7. Avatar von Jodi Olden

    Great piece, and I’m very grateful to @HelenBevan for sharing on Twitter. Unfortunately and somewhat unfairly, hierarchy has become synonymous with control and command, autocracy and bureaucracy. We are just as quick to label any decision, behaviour or system that we disagree with as being ‚hierarchical‘ rather than considering the bigger picture. This renders us ‚helpless‘ and we quickly adopt a passive, victim role where we become fixated on the ‚bad‘ and screen out the ‚positive‘ or opportunities for change. The role of the change activist or organisational rebel is to stay alert and prepared for these opportunistic ‚chinks‘ enabling infiltration to disrupt and dissent to positive effect (NB. positive radical not troublemaker!). I have now worked in organisations that are almost bipolar in their attitude and approach to hierarchy, but whether we like it or not, hierarchy will always exist. In my experience and opinion it is openness, connectivity, compassion and willingness to genuinely embrace thought diversity that distinguishes healthy from dysfunctional hierarchy. I also notice that the most prolific and effective change agents possess all these characteristics and their resulting impact within a hierarchy makes a change-culture contagious.

    1. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      @Jodi I agree, hirachy is still needed and will be for quite some time. Also I know some CEO’s testing already different systems (time based, need focused, base democratic…)
      Openness and connectivity surely are key topics for successful change in the future.
      PS: I am grateful to Helen Bevan too, not only because of her follower reach, but her having an in my eyes very important role / position ( CTO ) – it is so important for companies to have someone creating a digital transformation STRATEGY … not only trying to implement some social tools.

    2. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      Hello Jodi, sorry I missed to reply to your great statement. I fully agree – one of the most important Change Agent capabilities is „Attitude“ (in my eyes) – I think many good change agents are „positive radicals“ in their environment – staying in line, adopted, synchronized… is not going to alter anything. So it is the balance to disrupt, engage and harmonize our actions with the current culture – always having a desired future goal in mind.
      With the GUIDEs in our Social Business Adoption I could show in many things, how this „contagiousness“ works – by creating a „massive positive drive“ – negative influencers put themselves outside the game…
      It keeps being so exciting 😉

  8. Avatar von Andy stevens
    Andy stevens

    Spot on. Seeing this dilemma in leadership ranks… Realization of the power of the network to make „work“ more productive and efficient, but possibly at the expense of their job as it exists today. The reins need to be loosened for the network to be impactful. Looking forward to the longer article.

    1. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      Thx Andy, the leadership issue is a big one – we see big questionmarks on leaders across all companies in Europe, when it comes to networking, socialmedia, virtual teams, flexible time and location (part time, homeoffice…) – We need to give them concrete examples and proof …a better way would be them taking their role seriously and taking small risks in investing into their future…

    2. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      Hello Andy thanks for your feedback – due to so many topics, I am a bit behind 😉
      It is about being honest – and the jobs in may companies will have no future – looking at all this disruptive technology changes. But it is our (Change Agents and HR) duty to react in time, build competence, foster learning processes, open opportunities, cross moves and even complete new work models for those colleagues. We need all our people – and starting to find out, what they like and what they are great in – surely is a good start. (listen and respect)

  9. Avatar von Adam Lawrence

    I agree with your basic thrust. Change, like innovation, needs grass-roots power and C-suite support/vision. We need to meet people where they are, and use the tools they use. And like innovation, change is never over.

    1. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      Thanx a lot @Adam – I really like the connection of change and innovation. Because it adds something, which is misunderstood by many: change is not taking something away, but adding experience and with it options (even so it looks like we have to give up something…)

      1. Avatar von Manfred Meyer

        I think the idea of ​​leading the change is good. It corresponds to what I have experienced over the past four years. A framework was given in which problems were solved through networked learning.

    2. Avatar von haraldschirmer

      Adam – in a church the priest would say „amen“ – all (well) said 😉

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert