- Trends & Technology
Things change – how iCon accompanies change processes
Back when I first started, one thing always seemed obvious to me – that in-house consulting meant traditional strategy and management consulting. Then I came to innogy Consulting and realised that the cliché wasn’t always true. In addition to traditional consulting, iCon has had a range of established specialised practices for many years: our Change Practice, our Operations Practice and, recently founded, our Digital Practice. These specialised units enable us to help our clients by posing ever more relevant questions – and they also open up exciting new perspectives for our own development.
I found out about the Change Practice when I started at innogy Consulting last year. I joined innogy at the same time as Anna Witzel, who was the Change Team’s most recent member at the time. We got to know each other in the orientation days, and that’s how I first learnt about the Change team. Since then, I have been in regular contact with the Change Practice in my daily work. Even back then, the Change Practice made an immediate impression on me by complementing traditional projects with other lines of enquiry and strategies. The Change consulting branch has gained in influence, especially during the so-called Change Journey in the last few years, when innogy was establishing its unique consulting culture after the re-launch. This prompted me to interview Anna Witzel in detail about her work and to find out more about our change experts.
Björn Selzer: Back then, how did you find out about the Change Practice at innogy Consulting?
Anna Witzel: I ended up here by a very lucky coincidence. I started out working for a small external Change consultancy and supported the Change Practice at iCon as an external consultant. From the get-go, I was impressed by the importance innogy attaches to issues related to change and by the company’s awareness of the importance of the question “HOW do we work together?”, complementing “WHAT do we want to achieve?” I was also impressed by the cooperation and mutual support in its projects. So, after about a year as an external consultant, I decided to make the move to the Change Practice at innogy Consulting.
Björn Selzer: Can you give a brief insight into what your job entails? How would you describe the role of a typical change consultant?
Anna Witzel: In general, we support people in organisations that are undergoing change. Sometimes we support individuals, for example through coaching or individual mentoring. We also support teams by helping them cooperate better. By holding up a mirror to them, we can show them their team dynamics and their communication patterns and thereby help them to identify their challenges. We also accompany transformations on an organisational level.
Our team uses a systemic approach that is based on analysing interactions between people and their environment. This means, for example, that we don’t make sweeping assumptions when evaluating behavioural patterns. Instead, together with our clients, we determine which behaviours are functional or dysfunctional in a given context. This way of thinking – paired with education plus further training in communication techniques, and knowledge of methods – helps us to offer holistic advice about systems in the customer’s company and to break through behaviour patterns that inhibit change.
Björn Selzer: How do you ensure that the strategies you present to companies take long-term root and flourish?
Anna Witzel: In order to anchor change, we initially focus on the structural approach of the projects. The most significant difference to traditional consulting projects is that we guide the customer closely through a moderated process and let them find their own solutions. On the whole, this tends to lead to longer projects. However, customers need a lot of time for testing and reflection, so we don’t always support them full-time for the entire duration of the project. For us, it’s important that ideas are implemented sustainably. Questions and challenges should be addressed directly so that a functional approach can be found together.
An important element of our work is to find out what prevents an individual, a team or an organisation from changing. During this process, our goal is to get to the core of the problem through comprehensive analyses. We reflect on the underlying thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour that are responsible for the state of stagnation.
Björn Selzer: How successful are you in exchanging ideas with the other consulting practices? What do you pay particular attention to when working with colleagues from innogy Consulting, such as during the selection process for the training portfolio?
Anna Witzel: It’s not just our customers that can benefit from our expertise, so can our colleagues at innogy. As part of the in-house training portfolio, we give courses on change, resilience and coaching techniques. We can also provide coaching to colleagues or support innogy Consulting project teams to improve their collaborative skills.
Björn Selzer: How do you feel about the current challenges in the energy industry and especially those facing innogy?
Anna Witzel: The energy sector is undergoing massive change, and one of the companies most affected by the changes in Germany is innogy. Both the innogy re-launch two years ago and the ongoing negotiations with E.ON have created major challenges for our employees. Our task is to support our employees in times of uncertainty and to ensure the efficiency of the organisation.