When I wrote the book, ALL THE MOVING PARTS: ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT, I included Siemens among the case studies, primarily because of the organizational change difficulties that the company was encountering at the time.
Klaus Kleinfeld had been hired as CEO with the expectation that he would shake things up. At the time of his hiring, Siemens was a company tied to strict traditions and made up of both employees and managerial staff who were adverse to change. You can well imagine how this story ended. But, during his 2-year tenure, Kleinfeld was able to make inroads into the change processes that would be necessary for the company’s future well-being. In fact, back in 2005 – the time of Kleinfeld’s organizational change management interactions at Siemens – he looked with admiration at the calm organizational change successes that Jack Welch had accomplished during his long tenure at General Electric. Thirteen years later, the tables have been turned. During that time interval, Siemens has faced many of the same problems that GE has, including investor pressure to streamline its operations and a declining power business, among others. But, in recent years, the company has been faster and more successful at addressing the business issues that it faced. And it has been relying on early advantages of its restructuring effort to back additional changes. Siemens’ current CEO, Joe Kaeser, says that the company has accomplished a lot with its “Vision 2020,” referring to its profitability program. At a recent press conference, Kaeser remarked: “We have a clear plan that we are implementing consistently and carefully.” What a novel approach – something that GE has lacked during the same intervening years. Interesting to see how well-planned change processes work out.