Would you let the architect and master builder of your choice plan and build your house on their own? And then take it over in a turnkey condition? The house would not have any of the special features that your family and you like and need in order to live there comfortably and happily. The situation is very similar with change projects. You will only be successful if the top management not only gives the go-ahead for the change goals and the order to work in this direction, but is also constantly involved. Staff has to be able to feel that this change and the achievement of the target vision is really important to the top management and that they actively contribute to decisions, the control of the change process, as well as the communication and the dialog with managers and employees.

External consultants can provide valuable support and contribute their experience, tools, methods and moderation services. Consultants, however, leave once the project is completed – just like the architect in the example above. They can provide extensive support in the phase of change but cannot replace the management as sustainable agents of the project.

In the context of many projects, high-profile project managers are employed to bear responsibility for and implement the project by proxy, so to speak. The top management specifies the goals and gives the starting signal – time constraints and priorities often don’t allow for more than that. The project is then usually driven with a lot of energy and a strong focus on content. Just like the steadfast master builder, the participants put their trust in old and familiar approaches. The often foreign methods of change management cost time at first, prevent them from making progress in terms of content and possibly deter the people needed to work on the content. Even with all the movement that is taking place in the company, the extraordinary opportunity to change the mindset and come up with new solutions with more potential is never fully exploited.


  1. If you absolutely have to delegate responsibility to internal project owners they have to be committed to the content-related target vision and the mindset together with the top management.
  2. Plan meetings dedicated to steering the change process. In these meetings, you don’t talk about content-related coordination; there are other meetings and workshops for that.
  3. As early as project start, agree on who will be the ‘agent’ of the implementation and development of the target vision. This should not be a single individual.
  4. Despite time constraints, make the top management visible to strengthen those who drive the project and to give the employees security.