Innovation - Change Management


Innovations can only be successfully implemented if companies are optimally positioned in terms of working methods, roles and leadership. Targeted change management can trigger the necessary processes.

As "creatures of habit", humans are initially sceptical of change, as it can be associated with uncertainty about the future and thus also with dangers and risks. Often changes are necessary due to external factors - as is currently the case - and cannot be postponed. It is always more beneficial to have a long-term strategy that also takes disruptive changes into account and is not just based on short-term reactions. The fact that the topic of "Change Management" is important for companies was shown by the lively participation in the event "Innovation: Change Management" on March 11, 2021.

According to the participant survey conducted in advance, only a minority of companies have not yet implemented or planned a change project. The event participants came mainly from management, innovation management and human resources - two thirds of the respondents described themselves as "beginners" according to their self-assessment, while one third already counted themselves among the "advanced". The relatively high proportion of participants from the "SME" company size category (70 percent) compared to other events shows that the topic is not only of interest to large companies.

In her keynote speech, Andrea Veerkamp-Walz from the VDMA Business Advisory addressed the theoretical principles of change management. Among other things, she said, it is necessary to develop a sense of urgency for change within the workforce. As pointed out in many similar events, it is difficult to push through change without the involvement of a significant proportion of senior management - so all people in management and almost all other senior managers should be behind the change project. Likewise, at least a third of employees should actively support the change. Of course, these are only indicative values, which may vary depending on the situation. In addition to the actual change process, there are six other basic change processes. With the "diagnosis / problem" process, the current state is first analyzed by involving employees and customers. Another basic process is the "learning / unlearning" process. This serves to train the employees through pilot projects and also to unlearn old processes.

Based on the participant survey conducted in advance and during the workshop, the participants discussed their vision of change and possible success factors for a successful implementation. The results could be grouped into the following success factors:

  • Leadership
  • Employees
  • Staff
  • Addressing critical issues / striving for a culture of error.

Accordingly, a clear commitment to change and a practiced error-friendliness are required from managers. Employees should be involved in an appropriate manner. In the opinion of the participants, it is also important to address and also tackle critical issues - honesty and sincerity on the part of all those involved are indispensable. In addition to the points mentioned, there are other reasons that negatively affect a change process. A change process is often associated with fear and uncertainty on the part of employees and managers: On the one hand, it can be a fundamental fear of new things or of change, but on the other hand, it can also be understandable fears of losing one's own job due to restructuring. Likewise, a lack of resources (time, personnel, infrastructure) can contribute to a change process "coming to nothing".

Another question raised during the event dealt with the aspect of "On what occasion or situation would change management make sense?". According to participant testimony, it can be a useful starting point when a company's organizational structure changes, such as through an internal restructuring or the acquisition of another company). Another good opportunity, according to one participant, is when there is a generational change at the management level.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network for mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is run by the VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).