Everything was planned so well, project and schedule planning was discussed over the course of many meetings. Milestones were defined. The PowerPoint presentation had great graphics. Management prepared a motivational speech.

And then the inevitable happened: The change project didn’t work as planned. Completely unforeseen situations occur that no one is prepared for. Employees are unhappy and feel poorly informed. And so the culprits are sought and crisis meetings are called.

Experience shows us that most companies try to control change projects through structure, planning, and milestones. That is, however, the biggest mistake in the change process and often ends up as described above.

What is the recipe for success for change?

The first step to successful change is to throw these types of approaches overboard. As an executive, promote unconventional approaches and solutions. Be bold, show a desire to experiment and create flow. At many companies, however, these are still quite foreign concepts.

So how can you successfully implement change projects?

  • Only define the start and goal of the change project, the path between is completely open.
  • Be agile, i.e. be flexible at all times and only define what the next steps will be for the next 1-2 weeks.
  • If the approach doesn’t work, then try another one.
  • It often takes several attempts before the right approach is found. Trust that the right path will open up through your experimentation.
  • Change is trial & error. Change projects that aren’t enjoyable rarely succeed.
  • The creation of schedule and project planning is a complete waste of time in the change process. Instead try to regularly talk with your employees who know exactly what they need.
  • The goal often changes along the way. Don’t hold on to outdated goals.
  • If you hear the phrase “But we planned it differently,” then you’re on the wrong path.
  • More important is the question “what do the employees need right now and how can we implement it?”

Great leaders break the rules. That’s how you’ll form the basis for successful change projects. Get involved with your organization and your employees. This is much more important than following rigid project and schedule planning. Your employees will thank you.

Yours, Heidi Hofer.


About Heidi Hofer

Heidi Hofer is a consultant for leadership teams who want to make their organization fit for the future. She supports, provides orientation, and develops strategies for a working environment characterized by human-centric leadership, individual development, and meaningful structures. This working environment then serves as the basis for healthy growth, full potential development, and sustainable success. She has profound industry expertise in the areas of tech, e-commerce, and digital.