Ein Artikel, der in seiner Bedeutung unterschätzt worden ist, denn er kommt trotz der markanten Überschrift relativ harmlos daher. Mir jedenfalls hat er um so mehr gebracht, je sorgfältiger ich ihn gelesen habe.
Kernthese der Autoren ist, dass umfangreiche Veränderungen nicht von oben verordnet und vorgeplant werden können; diesen verbreiteten Glauben nennen die Autoren "The Fallacy of Programmatic Change". Stattdessen empfehlen sie "grass-root change" unter intensiver Beteiligung der Mitarbeiter und auf konkrete Geschäftsprobleme bezogen: "By aligning employee roles, responsibilities and relationships to address the organization's most important competitive task - a process we call 'task alignment' - they focussed energy for change on the work itself, not on abstractions like 'participation' or culture." (S. 159)
Nach einer Untersuchung von zwölf Unternehmen kommen sie zu der Auffassung, dass erfolgreiche Veränderungen häufiger von der Peripherie, also einem Geschäftsbereich oder einer Niederlassung ausgehen: "We believe that an approach to change based on task alignment, starting at the periphery and moving steadily toward the corporate core, is the most effective way to achieve enduring organizational change. This is not to say that change can never start at the top, but it is uncommon and too risky as a deliberate strategy. Change is about learning. It is a rare CEO who knows in advance the fine-grained details of organizational change that the many diverse units of a large corporation demand." (S. 159).
Die Rolle des Top Management besteht nicht darin, die Veränderungen vorauszuplanen und zu steuern, sondern sie anzustoßen, ihnen Richtung zu geben und sie in Gang zu halten: "Grass-root change presents senior managers with a paradox: directing a 'nondirective' change process. The most effective senior managers in our study recognized their limeted power to mandate corporate renewal from the top. Instead, they defined their roles as creating a climate for change, then spreading the lessons of both successes and failures. Put another way, they specified the general direction in which the company should move without insisting on specific solutions." (S. 159)
Dieser Ansatz ist die Konsequenz aus einem anderen Erklärungsmodell von Verhalten und Verhaltensänderung: Während häufig angenommen wird, dass Voraussetzung für Verhaltensänderungen die Veränderung von Einstellungen sei, ziehen die Autoren dies in Zweifel; für sie sind es die organisatorischen Rahmenbedingungen und Rollenerwartungen, die das Verhalten weit mehr prägen als individuelle Einstellungen: "In fact, individual behavior is powerfully shaped by the organizational roles that people play. The most effective way to change behavior, therefore, is to put people into a new organizationqal context, which imposes new roles, responsibilities, and relationships on them. This creates a situation that, in a sense, 'forces' new attitudes and behaviors on people." (S. 159)
Der Versuch der Veränderung von oben bleibe häufig wirkungslos. Noch schlimmer werde die Situation, wenn Vorstände darauf mit der verbreiteten Strategie "Mehr von demselben" reagieren: "When one program doesn't work, senior managers often try another, instituting a rapid progression of programs. But this only exacerbates the problem. Because they are designed to cover everyone and everything, programs end up covering nobody and nothing particularly well. They are so general and standardized that they don't speak to the day-to-day realities of particular units. Buzzwords like 'quality', 'participation', 'excellence', 'empowerment', and 'leadership' become a substitute for detailed understanding of the business. And all these change programs also undermine the credibility of the change effort." (S. 161)
Stattdessen empfehlen die Autoren "Six Steps for Effective Change":
1. "Mobilize commitment to change through joint diagnosis of business problems. As the term task alignment suggests, the starting point of any effective change effort is a clearly defined business problem. By helping people develop a shared diagnosis of what is wrong in an organization and what can and must be improved, a general manager mobilizes the initial commitment that is necessary to begin the change process." (S. 161/162)
2. "Develop a shared vision of how to organize and manage for competitiveness. Once a core group of people is committed to a particular analysis of the problem, the general manager can lead employees toward a task-aligned vision of the organization that defines new roles and responsibilities." (S. 162) Eine so erarbeitete Vision sei ungleich wirksamer als jede von oben verordnete, "because it grew out of the organization's own analysis of real business problems. And it was built on a model for solving those problems that key stakeholders believed would work." (S. 162)
3. "Foster consensus for the new vision, competence to enact it, and cohesion to move it along. Simply letting employees help develop a new vision is not enough to overcome resistance to change - or to foster the skills needed to make the new organization work. Not everyone can help in the design, and even those who do participate often do not fully appreciate what renewal will require until the new organization is actually in place. This is when strong leadership from the general manager is crucial. Commitment to change is always uneven." (S. 162/163)
In dieser Phase ist mit Widerständen zu rechnen, die beseitigt und notfalls gebrochen werden müssen: "Some people, of course, just cannot or will not change, despite all the direction and support in the world. Step three is the appropriate time to replace those managers who cannot function in the new organization - after they have had a chance to prove themselves." (S. 163)
4. "Spread revitalization to all departments without pushing it from the top. With the new ad hoc organization for the unit, it is time to turn to the functional and staff departments that must interact with it. Members of the team cannot be effective unless the department from which they come is organized and managed in a way that supports their roles as full-fledged participants in team decisions. What this often means is that these departments will have to rethink their roles and authority in the organization." (S. 163)
Dieser Prozeß dürfe jedoch nicht zu sehr von oben forciert werden, mahnen die Autoren: "The impulse of many general managers faced with such a situation would be to force the issue - to annouce, for example, that now all parts of the organization must manage by teams. The temptation to force newfound insight on the rest of the organization can be great, particularly when rapid change is needed, but it would be the same mistake that senior managers make when they try to push programmatic change throughout a company. It short-circuits the change process. It's better to let each department 'reinvent the wheel'." (S. 163/164)
5. "Institutionalize revitalization through formal policies, systems, and structure. There comes a time where general managers have to consider how to institutionalize change so the process continues even after they've moved on to other responsibilities." (S. 164)
Der Aufbau von Systemen dürfe nicht zu früh im Veränderungsprozeß angegangen werden, weil sonst möglicherweise suboptimale Lösungen festgeschrieben würden: "Any formal system is going to have some disadvantages; none is perfect. These imperfections can be minimized, however, once people have worked in an ad hoc team structure and learned what interdependencies are necessary. The empoleyees will commit to them." (S. 164)
6. "Monitor and adjust strategies in response to problems in the revitalization period. The purpose of change is to create an asset that didn't exist before - a learning organization capable of adapting to a changing competitive environment. The organization has to know how to continually monitor its behavior - in effect, to learn how to learn. Some might say that this is the general manager's responsibility. But monitoring the change process needs to be shared, just as analyzing the organization's key business problems does." (S. 164)
Abschließend beschreiben die Autoren, wie das Top Management dazu beitragen könne, den Veränderungsprozeß zu fördern und voranzutreiben:
* "Create a market for change". Nur wenn die Standards hoch sind und Erfolg wahrgenommen und anerkannt wird, haben Mitarbeiter aller Ebenen genügend Anreiz, sich zu engagieren.
* "Use successfully revitalized units as organizational models for the entire company" (S. 165)
* "Develop career paths that encourage leadership development. Without strong leaders, units cannot make the necessary organizational changes, yet the scarcest resource available for revitalizing corporations is leadership." (S. 165) Die Förderung geigneter Personen erfolgt am besten dadurch, daß dieses Kriterium zum Maßstab für Beförderungen und Karrieren gemacht wird: "The only way to develop the kind of leaders a changing organization needs is to make leadership an important criterion for promotion, and then manage people's careers towards it." (S. 166) Zum Beispiel können erfolgversprechende Führungskräfte in die Einheiten versetzt werden, in denen der Veränderungsbedarf besonders groß ist.
* Konsistentes Handeln des Top Management. In der Anfangsphase sehen die Autoren diesen Punkt als noch nicht so wichtig an; hier gehe es primär darum, die in den Bereichen laufenden Veränderungen nicht zu behindern: "Senior managers can create a climate for grass-root change without paying to much attention to how they themselves operate and manage. And unit managers will tolerate this inconsistencies so long as they can freely make changes in their own units in order to compete more effectively.
There comes a point, however, when addressing the inconsistencies becomes crucial. ... At this point, corporate organizations must be aligned with corporate strategy, and coordination between related but hitherto independent businesses improved for the benefit of the whole corporation. ...
This last step in the process of corporate renewal is probably the most important. If the CEO and his or her management team do not ultimately apply to themselves what they have been encouraging their general managers to do, then the whole process can break down." (S. 166)