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Managing new worlds

Managing Transformations – Developing Organizations

Everybody’s talking about transformation. Has it maybe even become a buzzword?

The German business dictionary "Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon" defines the term as follows:

“A fundamental change in a company’s relationship with individuals and its economic and social environment. In a business transformation, all the company’s relationships are redefined."

And wherever fundamental change is involved, the focus is on people, not just on technology. 

This aspect and, consequently, the business organization are often forgotten. Both are often overwhelmed by the speed and scale of change. Projects are set up in an agile and dynamic manner, and cultures are changed so rapidly that the organization quite literally loses sight of what’s happening. Today, the innovation cycle continues to accelerate, upping the psychological strain for many companies – and not least for many employees.

If the focus is on implementing a new IT solution, the move to the new world is more or less automatic.

The trap: technological modernization

And this is where misconceptions arise: If you want to make transformations sustainable, and if you also want to develop a culture, it’s essential to involve the stakeholders. This means not only those members of the company management who continually ensure that the key aspects of the corporate strategy are factored into the project, but also the managers who will have to support, maintain, and steer the future organization. And last but not least, the users who need to quickly come to terms with a totally new routine.

Right from the outset, the aim is to turn projects involving technical solutions into business projects and to think them through and steer them from a business perspective. Dialogue between managers with market and business connections and their colleagues who focus more on technology is key to achieving this.

WYSIWYG... making changes tangible rapidly

Where are there hidden pitfalls? What do we experience over and over again? What makes successful projects successful? These are the questions we intend to address in this blog.

Take the following example: By starting work on the new system at a very early stage (for instance, with an initial release), by using the system directly with the most important customers in the departments customers (key users) as part of project formats such as Shoulder Views or SWTs (Structured Walkthroughs), the business organization completes a learning curve in good time and almost without knowing it.

Of course, adopting the opposite approach also has consequences: If user departments are not involved, this not only jeopardizes acceptance of the new solution, but also increases the risk of features for business requirements not being considered.
And it’s at this point that the realization finally dawns: We should have placed more importance on managing the change aspects of the transformation. But by then, it’s often too late and unnecessarily expensive.
More about this in my next issue!


Further information:


Survey: What are the effects of digitization?

Employees’ concerns and uncertainties relate to real factors that should be taken seriously from the outset. In a survey conducted by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) in 2017, 1,800 German companies were polled about changes caused by digital transformation.

The necessary further training, the increased flexibility at work, and many problems caused by a lack of standards are characteristic of the considerable effort employees have to make to adapt. These challenges, which have to be mastered by employees and companies alike, make it clear that the quality of management is pivotal in transformations.


of those surveyed assume
more chances
by new
business models.

87 %

of the respondents suspect more
training measures
and increased demand
in investments.

Sources: DIHK. (December 19, 2017) In Statista. Accessed October 31, 2019, IHK-Unternehmensbarometer zur Digitalisierung 2017, page 9

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