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Description Change and Transition Management

Transformation projects differ from projects of reproductive change, which are more part of everyday work, in that they now involve new strategies and skills as well as fundamental decisions about the company's self-image and course. These are not purely 'factual problems', and in this respect management of change is not just management of factual issues. The transformation goals and the ways to achieve them are difficult to determine clearly due to lack of experience. Thus, it is rarely a matter of decisions that can be proven to be right or wrong. Only when all those involved are firmly convinced of the irrefutability and correctness, when everyone does everything possible to move forward in the direction taken, will the desired results actually occur. Conversely, many a 'brilliant plan' has failed because nobody really believed in it or because it was only half-heartedly pursued. Success 'does not happen', just like a surprising visitor. The success of an enterprise is based on the totality of emphatic and sustainable activities. This is precisely what transformation processes are needed for.

For those responsible for transformation, this means that special attention must be paid to the personal dimension of what is happening. On the one hand, an awareness of the necessity and urgency of change must be created, and in the further course of the process, new attitudes and convictions of those involved may have to emerge. In this respect, change management is cognitive management, here referred to as management of awareness. On the other hand, it is necessary to activate and maintain the necessary support and process energy throughout the entire process so that change does not trickle away and silting up. Opponents and objections must be overcome. Change management is influence management.

The various published process models differ significantly in the coverage of the management tasks explained, among other things. One model that stands out particularly positively is the eight-stage model of Kotter (cf. 1996). From a critical examination of Kotter's argumentation and based on his own experiences and surveys, the process description used in the further course of the study was developed (see figure). It describes the process of profound and far-reaching change by means of five phases: Initialisation, conception, mobilisation, implementation and perpetuation.

The five phases form the framework for an analysis of the tasks of change management. The two most important tasks of each phase are identified. This is possible with a high degree of selectivity and provides clear differences in the task contents. There are ten tasks, ranging from determining the need for change in the conception phase to ensuring the willingness and ability to change in the stabilization phase. They can be further broken down into subtasks for those responsible for change.


Characteristics: The identification and binding determination of a factually necessary change (Task 1: Determining the need for change) and the activation of the change agents (Task 2) are activities of process initiation. Task 1 must clarify the factual necessity of the change, task 2 must explore the constellation of forces and do the necessary persuasion work in the management circle in order to subsequently initiate the further process.

Conceptual design

Characteristics: The impetus for change is followed by the conception of the change project. This includes determining the directions of the change (Task 3: Defining change objectives) and the design and evaluation of suitable alternative solutions to meet the need for change (Task 4: Developing programmes of measures). Consideration must also be given to the implementation of these projects in terms of material, time, institutions and personnel. This means nothing other than planning the organisation of change. As a result of this phase, it must be determined where and in what form 'dismantling, restructuring, rebuilding' should take place.


Characteristics: Following the conception, the change management must adjust the circle of participants and affected persons to the intended changes or confront them with the change. How this happens is again a question of the change situation and the constellation of forces. The scale ranges from 'creating a fait accompli' to extensive participation and delegation. This is a complex of tasks which seems to be appropriately characterised by the term 'mobilisation' - a term which sets a substantially different accent than terms such as 'introduction', 'enforcement' or 'implementation'. Two tasks can be clearly distinguished: Task 5 (communicating the concept of change) is primarily aimed at the readiness to change and thus at overcoming barriers of will; task 6 (creating conditions for change) tends to focus on the ability to change, i.e. it serves to reduce barriers of ability. The development of programmes of measures (task 4) is still largely a factual issue, their implementation within the framework of mobilisation has the main emphasis in the area of influence management and cognitive leadership.


Characteristics: The implementation of priority projects (Task 7) and, above all, the subsequent follow-up projects (Task 8) together make up the process stage of implementation. During the concept development phase, only a small group of employees is regularly involved; in borderline cases, all employees are affected by the implementation of the concept. Accordingly, this phase is of decisive importance for the success of the project. Implementation can only begin once the necessary co-determination results have been achieved. Since not all problems can be solved or tackled at the same time, priorities among the various (sub)projects must be established. This leads to the distinction between priority projects (basic projects) and follow-up projects. With the realization of these projects, the need for change is covered step by step (evolutionarily) and the change goals are achieved.


Characteristics: At the end of the implementation phase, the transformation programme comes to an end, but by no means the end of the company's development. The achieved target state is not a 'final state'. Change must be made a permanent topic. The importance of continuous change in management is also reflected in Capgemini's survey of European managers. 86% of those surveyed said: "business transformation has become a central way of working" (Capgemini 2008, p. 7). Therefore, the process model of change on which this study is based does not end with a 'refreezing' of the achieved transformation result, as in the famous Lewin model (cf. 1947), but with a perpetuation in the sense of continuous development.

The first prerequisite for this is that the achieved results of change are maintained and that there is no relapse into old conditions and bad habits.

The second prerequisite is not to let the acquired ability to transform and the ability to change become paralyzed or obsolete. Continuous, active further development of a system inevitably requires the maintenance of the ability to change and the care of the mutability of the participants.

Source and further information: Krüger W. (2009) Strategic Renewal: Programmes, Processes, Problems. In: Excellence in Change. uniscope. The SGO Foundation for Practical Management Research. Gabler, S. 70-82