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20 Years of Change

This month it is 20 years ago that I started as an independent professional consultant in the field of change management. What happened at the beginning of this period and what is happening today in the field of change management? That is the theme of this 46th edition of the Change Letter; 20 years of change.


Change in 1996

Reflecting and thinking about 20 years of change I still remember what occurred in the year I started with my independent professional consultancy firm. Independency was one of the main drivers to serve clients and to develop myself creatively and meaningfully. In 1996, in the Netherlands, military conscription ended, in the Malaysian Kuala Lumpur the 451.9 meters high Petronas Towers opened, and the Hubble space telescope made the first photographs of planet Pluto. At the same time, the Planned Change Movement (assuming that change could be fully planned in advance) lost momentum, and was followed up by the Organizational Transformation Movement (which proposed a much more incremental approach to change). ‘Hard’ organizational changes such as strategic changes, structural change and systems change got to be combined with ‘soft’ changes, like staff changes, skills improvement, and the development of shared values. No wonder that more than 70% of change projects failed at that time. The human being was seen as an economic man.

However, I believed that change did not always have to be ‘large-scale’, in my experience change processes are more successful and meaningful when the dynamics and social interaction remain manageable: by implementing small-scale change.


Change in 2016

Today changes are following up on one another at an increasing rate. In the past, people could find a permanent job relatively easily; nowadays you have to be lucky to find a job based on a temporary contract. Thereby, young people think differently about the future, and older employees are less likely to find a (new) job. In addition, because of the increasing speed of globalization, digitalization and technology development, people also have to be very flexible, and are obliged to work in often temporary networks and in multidisciplinary and multinational team settings. That requires …. insights in people’s behavior, their motivations, attitudes and their identity; in group dynamics, culture and competences. In short, what is needed nowadays are insights in what I like to call “I and Otherness” relationships. In my opinion, people make up the organization, and therefore have to be the focus of personal and organizational changes. That is the main reason why I have translated my vision on small-scale change into a more people-oriented change philosophy. I have combined this with a results-based change approach, and new instruments and interventions that sustain my philosophy. Small-scale improvement with the unique individual at the heart of change, with emphasis on: the human factor.


Delta Dynamics

I wish to thank everyone who has contributed to my research, consultancy and educational activities in the field of change management in the past 20 years: promotors, tutors, clients, students, and last but not least, my dear family and friends! Hopefully, in the years to come, I can continue developing the beautiful art of change management, starting with a new project: course and book, guiding people and organizations in transition: Delta Dynamics!

If you are interested in more information about Delta Dynamics, or have personal experiences that you would like to share with me, please feel free to let me know. You can mail me or contact me via my LinkedIn account.

Dr. Martin Loeve

More information: see our website or contact us directly.


Dr. Martin Loeve is the founding director of Delta Change Management, an international consultancy firm specializing in research, consultancy and education in the field of change management, with a particular focus on continuous, small-scale improvement and emphasis on the human factor.

Martin has, amongst other things, authored the management book De Change Maker® (Loeve, 2004) on small-scale change processes, and the article Mindset Change in a Cross Cultural Context (Loeve, 2007), which was published in Action Learning: Research and Practice. He was awarded the PhD-degree for his thesis Ander-ing On-Stage Addressing Expatriate Loneliness by the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht in March 2014.


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