We now know that the successful realisation of complex processes, structures and projects cannot be achieved with simplification alone. In respect of complex plans in particular, simplification means professionalisation right from the start. One of my current projects deals with an extensive and complex process of change. In the course of project management and the active support provided for this change process, various tools that make it possible to assess the current status and the actual success using well-founded methods are applied. This confirms very clearly that a considerable success factor for the sustainable implementation of such projects lies in the targeted dovetailing of project and change management.
Although changes at companies in the healthcare sector are manifold, anyone who does not steer the process of change proactively at the factual and team levels will sooner or later be swept away by the wave of change. In the course of this process, the team level is where most of the change projects founder.
The factual level can be compared to the task of bringing a boat to its destination on a safe route. The installation of this task and the individual stages on the way to the destination are steered using professional project management. Moreover, it guarantees the clarification of the starting situation and the objective, as well as the establishment of a suitable project organisation with which stable general conditions for the project’s development are created.
Processes at team level, however, decide whether their team remains on board rowing – or whether they go on strike at the halfway stage and abandon the boat. For situations like this, change management provides – as a supplement to project management – the tools for reaching a new target situation from an existing starting situation. As a result, the comprehensive implementation and the sustainable use of the new methods as well as their positive influence are ensured. In this procedure the needs of the people involved, their behaviour and their reactions are the focal point and a working environment is created in which unavoidable changes are accepted by everyone involved in a constructive and committed manner.
Changes cost time, strength and money. That’s why it is important and advisable to dovetail project and change management with each other. This makes possible a situation in which strategy and measures are experienced and perceived seamlessly by those involved, with the result that their project can be implemented successfully and sustainably.
The range of change-management models on offer is a varied one. I’d like to introduce you to three methods that are proving to be particularly adept in the practical sphere:
The 6 phases of the change cycle
Rick Mauer, a renowned change management expert, speaker and best-selling author, carried out investigations more than 20 years ago on the subject of why people in organisations resist changes. He recognised the cycle of change with its six procedural phases and their respective characteristics:
Table 1: The 6 phases of the change cycle
With this model as our foundation, we can jointly identify and visualise the phase that your stakeholders have reached in the change process, as well as recognising any grounds for resistance. From this we can also derive appropriate options for action.
2. The 3 levels of resistance
Many change projects fail because of active and passive resistance in their respective teams. It is therefore of existential importance to understand why the people involved are resisting the proposed changes. A useful approach is to classify the people involved in every procedural phase according to their resistance in the three groups “I don’t understand that …!”, “I don’t like that …!” and “I don’t trust you …!”.
Resistance level one “I don’t understand that …!”
Typical statements and reactions are often to be heard on the “grapevine”, during the coffee breaks and in the smokers’ corner: “I don’t understand that.” “I don’t understand why another change is needed so soon. The old idea hasn’t even been implemented yet.” Address this actively as a manager, because it often conceals a different need: “Please explain it to me.” or “I’m already fully stretched. What’s the use of my taking on this additional burden?”.
Resistance level two “I don’t like that …!”
It may well be the case that a project and its objective have been understood but are not wanted. The persons affected react to the change – often unconsciously – with strong negative emotions and the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this state of mind, those involved stop listening not because they want to ignore you but because their own survival is now the only thing that counts.
As organisations do not usually encourage employees to react emotionally, the employees frequently restrict themselves to asking critical questions about the change process at resistance level one. A special challenge in the implementation of the change project is to discern the fears between the lines and address them accordingly.
Resistance level three “I don’t trust you …!”
In addition to the rational factual level and the emotional feelings level, the third form of resistance is also possible at the level of personal relationships. The participants at this resistance level three support your idea but oppose you and/or the person who you represent and/or who has given you your instructions.
With the right understanding of the phase in which, and the resistance level at which, your employees are currently located, we in the team can develop suitable measures for taking as many of the relevant stakeholders as possible along with us on our journey of change.
3. The 8 steps to successful change
In 1995, the Harvard professor John Kotter published a groundbreaking article in which he analysed the typical obstacles and the reasons why change projects fail. His core statements were:
Change proceeds in eight defined steps that cannot be skipped or shortened.
In every step, errors can lead to the failure of the entire project.
Table 2: 8 steps to change
Change projects within the respective company will be successful only when all eight steps of whatever change is being proposed have been completed and guided intensively by the management.
Thanks to the utilisation and the targeted dovetailing of these three change-management methods with the project management, your team will maintain the necessary degree of attention for the duration of such change and your managers will understand their role and responsibility within the change better, and as a result they will bring it more effectively to life. At the same time, the project’s progress and the progress of change are brought to an equilibrium and, as a consequence of that, you will secure the progress of implementation and the success of the change.
Do you know which phase of the change process you are currently in? Let’s talk about it and find a common language for assessing the situation in your company. I look forward to hearing from you.
 http://extension.missouri.edu/staff/sdeteams/Documents/ChangeW-outMigraraines.pdf http://extension.missouri.edu/staff/sdeteams/Documents/ChangeW-outMigraraines.pdf  https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/resources/marketing/docs/95204f2.pdf