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When Personal Development Grinds to a Halt

Steinbeis Consulting Center helps with change initiatives by providing a transformation map

If you want to set up a business, you need to make changes. But at some point the company is set up and things settle down at home, too. Then for many, at some point the change processes grind to a halt. People start to settle in and get comfortable and more often than not, they only make new changes if something starts to feel wrong. A new instrument is now available that helps firms introduce continual development processes that are quick and easy to use: the Transformation Map. Dr. Lars Öhler, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Entrepreneur Excellence, frequently uses it for his projects.

Franziska M had been self-employed for years and was a successful communications specialist and provider of systemic business coaching services. She wanted to move forward, both on a professional and a personal level. Franziska had a good idea of the direction she would like her life to go in, but somehow she couldn’t quite translate her ideas into everyday actions. Things were in a rut, stuck at the current planning stage. Well what was wrong with that? Business was flourishing. But as a mentor of managers herself, Franziska knew it was not enough to just let a company develop as it is. So for once, she needed advice herself.

In many cases, entrepreneurs only go back to the drawing board when their startup is no longer meeting their expectations, or those of others. But when it comes to things at home, issues simply get sidelined. “I don’t have time to think about that as well. The most important thing is the business; that’s what pays the bills” – this is a common thought, but if you want the company to move forward, you have to move forward yourself. This is because work is just one of several areas in life. Entrepreneurs are also parents, partners, members of a family, friends, and so on. And each part of your life is intrinsically linked to all others. As a result, any area of life has an impact on all the others.

“With a development process, the challenge is to take responsibility again for all areas of your life and not just the company. The only question is, how,” explains Ohler. It’s not easy making a “continual development process” a fixed part of your everyday life. In fact, few manage to do it properly. It was this that motivated the Steinbeis expert to develop instruments that can be used to set achievable goals in a way that the goals you select feel more enjoyable to you and less daunting.

One important tool is the Transformation Map. It can be used by clients to examine personal values, because even the most appealing goals will remain unfulfilled if they are irreconcilable with your own values. By using one element called the resource cloud, important personal values, feelings, and needs can be identified along with their specific importance. For example, Franziska’s values were Independence, Tolerance, and Authenticity. These personal values have to be the yardstick for all of her goals.

The next step in the development journey for Franziska was to define areas of her life where change needed to happen. She decided her goals should be set in Vocation, Spirituality and Physical Wellbeing. The next part involves making goals understandable, so a key question that is posed is “What do I want to achieve?” For Franziska’s Vocation area, that translated into: effective time at work, coaching skills that fuel personal growth, joy and fulfillment, a good income.

The object of change is now put through quality checks by asking a question: Does my goal support my personal values? To do this, goals are compared and contrasted with each individual value. If a goal works well with less than two values, it is not deemed suitable for the personal values overall. The next step is to transform the understandable goals into specific targets that need to be achieved. Again, focusing just on the area of Vocation, for Franziska, this meant:

  • Effective working hours: three work days per week as a business coach, two as an entrepreneur
  • Coaching skills that fuel personal growth: investing half an hour in myself five times per week; a new, instilled format per month
  • Good income: 5,000 euros earned as an entrepreneur per month after taxes

The next stage is to establish a starting point for achieving these goals. The question here is: What have I done today that helps with my goal? Franziska took the status quo and entered this into a table as her starting point, allowing her to see at a glance how far she was on the journey to achieving her goals. She regularly entered her achievements into this table, plus things she had failed to achieve. This kept her time investment to a minimum, thus lowering any barriers that needed to be overcome to make a change. The same approach can be taken to defining and working through any other possible goals. Following the project, Franziska now uses her Transformation Map by herself. She has already made one adjustment to her personal values and has traveled a long way on her journey. As she has passed each milestone, she has set new targets. Franziska M was won over by the concept: “I’ve finally found a tool that helps me develop as a person and is really easy to integrate into my everyday life.“


Dr. Lars Öhler
Steinbeis Consulting Center Entrepreneur Excellence (Stuttgart)