Conduct a little experiment. Write your own personal user manual, trying to answer the following: “What do others have to do to make me change? What desires do they have to address in me? How can I be hurt? What inspires me and makes me use all my energy? Do I have any deep wounds that make me static?”

Do you find this easy or difficult?

Organizations also have user manuals that have been built up over years, but which are not accessible to anyone. Therefore, long experiments are often carried out when one attempts to change an organization. Tools are introduced at great expense, ‘broad-spectrum antibiotics’ are administered, people are sent to training courses, and severe surgical interventions are often performed. Not that some radical treatments are wrong, but often they are not applied at the right places.

The high art of change management is to find the neuralgic point for the respective change situation, to find the point at which the resulting effect is the greatest. It is never the one right point that always works but only the most favorable point at the respective time. This is where one has to make an ‘artful intervention’ to make the organization set off in the right direction. This can be a point of pain or pleasure. Finding these points requires a qualified diagnosis and the capability to create hypotheses instead of taking immediate action. And it requires managers brave enough to approach this tipping point.


  1. Conduct a compact all-round diagnosis before planning your change project. Possible aspects include: identity, strategies, people, interests, resources, organization and embedding in the environment (market, trends and stakeholders).
  2. Together with your key individuals, imagine your organization like an exhibition piece and describe its user manual. Every-one for themselves at first. After that, collect similarities and differences.
  3. Collect all ‘sacred cows’. These can be personal constellations, problem areas considered taboo or special dysfunctions in processes, structures or rules that no one has ever been brave enough to challenge.