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CEO at T.A. Cook.

“It should be one hour with man-

agement to set goals, ten hours of process analysis and

one hundred hours to implement changes with staff in

practice,”

he continues. There are essentially five key

aspects to making implementation projects successful,

he claims.

“A management team which works proac-

tively and makes fast decisions; a culture in which mis-

takes are used constructively to support learning and

change opportunities; the provision of permanent feed-

back, as well as the viewpoint that a lot of small steps

are better than one big step,”

he summarizes from his

20-year experience.

Proactive Management – Walk The Talk

Management teams need to be personally engaged in

the change processes. Proactive management means

setting realistic goals, getting hands dirty, speaking

clearly and sometimes, cleansing the culture and

being a good example to others. “Walk the talk” – as

Hess and his colleagues call it – means exactly that:

doing what you say you are going to do. Only when

management stop paying lip service to action and in-

stead support projects actively, do they empower the

department and team leaders to implement operative

changes successfully. Obviously, from the view of em-

ployees, it is not easy to be a good boss all of the time,

unless managers do exactly what their employees ex-

pect from them. But that doesn’t always fit with what

senior managers require.

“Being honest and clear with

people is extremely important,”

says Treiber. Commu-

nication encourages trust, just as not communicating

causes fear and mistrust. Teaching a child to ride a

bike is similar, because we communicate very inten-

sively then. The child keeps falling over because he

can’t ride quickly enough and doesn’t have the right

feel for how to balance. We know that we have to be

proactive and be ready to reach out to stop our child

falling over and hurting themselves. Only professional

track cyclists or “stayer-racers” can master balance

and speed simultaneously.

Often, information and communication are seen equal-

ly. However, the more one is informed, the more ques-

tions one provokes, which can’t always immediately be

answered. This is known as the information paradox.

It’s not about communicating as much as possible, but

giving information in a goal-orientated manner. That

means explaining which goals we have, why they

make sense and how we are going to reach those goals.

A change (project) manager who lacks communication

skills and gives too much information causes mistrust

among employees. It may seem simple, but it is often

the key cause of failure.

Freedom To Fail

“Trust means that team members do things without

permanently asking their managers about them,”

says

Bernd Zanger, Director at T.A. Cook and active in the

process industry for over twenty years. Neverthe-

less, trust is one of the things that is often lacking in

change management projects: it’s hard enough when

the change manager is “external” and many different

aspects of trust, such as reliability, empathy and com-

mitment are involved. Trust is a very subjective term

which is based on individual experience and where it

exists, individuals operate as autonomously as possi-

ble according to their best knowledge and conscience,

and everyone believes in what they do. But when trust

is replaced by mistrust, the costs will be high. A cul-

ture of mistrust will always ask about blame:

“that

is Management by Complaining,”

adds Zanger. While

during implementation mistakes happen, often perfor-

mance dips and time will be needed until everything

is functioning at 100% again.

German management consultant and author Peter Kreuz

highlights the important of having the courage to fail

via juggling. Instead of trying to juggle three balls in the

air at the same time, he begins by asking participants

to throw one ball high into the air and letting it fall to

the ground. The idea behind it is as good as it is simple:

the fear of failure cripples success. He who learns not to

try to prevent every setback, that is, allows the ball to

drop to the floor, is less disappointed when it happens.

Without the fear of making another mistake, he will get

better more quickly. The Indian conglomerate Tata has

taken this approach one step further. The “Dare To Try”

award is regularly given to teams or employees who

have groundbreaking ideas but which have essentially

failed during implementation. By actively rewarding a

constructive culture of failure, the intention is that it is

easier to actually get things done.

Being honest and clear with people is extremely important.”