A Board Needs Diversity

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Intro

A tweet of the Hamburg company Engels und Völkers (a big german Real Estate Company) haunted the media during these days:

Five men talk About Diversity

Reason for the criticism and a small shitstorm on Twitter: International Women’s Day and five men in top management talk about it. Where is the mistake? Can you see it on this Picture?

A Board needs Diversity

An executive Committee or a board in today’s world should and must set a good example for the whole organization: It is understandable that it is not always possible to adhere to 50/50. However, it is difficult for younger clients in particular to comprehend that a board of directors is 100% made up of only one gender (usually men).


In order to achieve a balanced relationship, the management levels of the Executive Board and Supervisory Board must set an example and send out a Signal for the whole company.


However, this should not be done for proportional or even legal reasons. Rather, it should be recognised that a mixed management body is more successful on average. Many countries, including Germany, for example, can learn a lot from Scandinavian countries or Iceland. Quotas can only be a tool and a temporary aid. All in all, everyone needs to rethink their thinking, not just at management level, but at all levels.


In order to promote the goals of diversity, I can recommend the FidAR. Here you will find a petition for all those who are committed to the topic.


There are now also forums and opportunities for networking among TOP women in business. One would be the Global Female Leaders Summit, which takes place every year, currently again in May in Berlin.

Supplement

In the discussion Engel und Völkers is only exemplarily at the pillory. The posted picture also seemed rather cynical with the text and was a steep template for the reactions.


However, Engel and Völkers reacted correctly (at least from a social media point of view):

Not erasing the tweet, not sticking one’s head in the sand, but facing the discussion on Twitter. No one demands to rebuild the board in the next days. But if the realization has prevailed to work on it and to notice the problem at all, already some was achieved.

London Big Ben House of Parlament

Agile Micromanagement

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Intro

Today I wanted to deal with my (admittedly empirically not relevant) experience about new leadership styles. Especially with young executives I increasingly experience that the style is more authoritarian, but agility and NewWork tries to shape the external image. This is the pendant of pseudo agile for Management styles.

Agile micromanagement?

What is striking? Individual elements from the agile environment are taken up and consciously communicated to the outside world. However, central conditions are not fulfilled. The most important of these is trust.

For NewWork it is not enough to include

😘

in the work instructions

When dealing with new working conditions, it is not enough to just set up a table football table or to use the new “Duzen” [german] to pretend a closeness that is not lived.
Newwork for me (I unfortunately don’t know a central definition) means, among other things, creating new freedom for employees. There are still goals for this, but it is no longer checked on a step-by-step basis what the status is like. The boss (manager…) is there to avoid problems. Conversely, this also means that employees have confidence in their manager.


Newwork also means checking process steps for meaningfulness. Especially in large corporations, measurements and excelsheets have established themselves where nobody knows what they are good for anymore. A manager who has understood this actively questions whether everything always has to be right. A pointless work instruction remains pointless, even if you garnished the mail with “…… that would be totally sweet” during forwarden.

Every organization gets the leadership it deserves

Let’s come back to the entry mentioned “Agile Micromanagement”. In many cases, managers are conditioned in this way: On the one hand, there is the expectation that managers, especially from middle management, are always meaningful. But this is where the will to change lies with top management: this trust must be lived from the highest hierarchies.


The middle management reacts with the hybrid model quasi out of self-defense: On the one hand micromanagement is expected, on the other hand one wants to be agile. Often, by the way, the same management encourages this through some kind of innovation. I would be careful to point out the senselessness as an evangelist: As a rule, you can’t change organizational structures from one day to the next.


Agile methods and NewWork require New Management: The executive as mentor and coach in mutual agreement with the employees. And the epicentre is trust, which can and must only be lived from above. And this can only be exemplified slowly by top management. Top managers have just been deprived of empathic traits and what do we do with toxic executives?

How to handle High Performer

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Intro

Last week I wrote about “Low Performer”. Again as a delimitation: Especially topics that have to do with leadership are complex and individual case studies. In my blog, I just want to aim for a discussion about the topics. I can’t offer solutions that are generally valid.


About High Performer

Even the demarcation is difficult for me. What exactly is a “high performer”? A Google search doesn’t bring any clarity. For me these are people who deliver results disproportionately to the team. But here you have to clearly define the workaholic: Anyone who constantly achieves more because he only works overtime is therefore not a “high performer”.

No worriers


A further differentiation are the consequent doubters, who are often very good in technical terms. They often think about themselves, that without them everything would go down the drain, because they also think about the last red ribbon. These people are often just good, but exhausting for the team.

High performers with social skills…


A dream is the combination of high perception, fast implementation speed and the ability to work with the team. I have such a stroke of luck: A colleague, highly intelligent, extremely fast and takes time without complaint for all colleagues to pass things on.


These are actually the dream of a team member. The only problem is often that these people tend to be “super-solvers” or independently solve other problems at the same time without having to worry about all the implications. But these are actually rather luxury problems.


…and others


Now we come to the more problematic cases: Extremely intelligent people who work fast but don’t just establish themselves in the team. Communicative skills are required here:

The team is crucial: it must be conveyed that the overall result is supported by all. One person alone cannot do everything today

You’re better, that’s all right: It’s absolutely necessary to acknowledge these people that they achieve more. These people also want to be praised.

Encourage sharing: Even if the communicative abilities are not so high, you can tap into the knowledge. Especially if you put young colleagues at their side and involve the high performers as “tutor”, useful structures can develop (However, you have to observe this closely so that the young colleagues are not demotivated).

About “Low Performer”

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intro

I wanted to deal with the topic of team performance today. If you have a team of different people, there is usually a distribution: from “geniuses” to “normal” to real brakes. You can’t escape the normal distribution here. The decisive factor, however, is the overall result, often not the result of the individual, to which everyone contributes.

Low Performer (?)

What exactly is a “low performer”? For me, these are project members who do not deliver frequently expected results. This is often coupled with recriminations and reasons for not delivering. What is important here is that I am not necessarily talking about “shortfalls” in the legal sense, but about people who disturb the team. I personally find the caste of those who refuse to accept change particularly difficult (“We have never done this before”, “Actually, we have to do it first…”).

What to do?

For me, the decisive factor is always the team, not the manager in the first place (that one, too, but that one further on): Is the team prepared to support the work of the person in question or are there already many refuseniks here? If the team stands behind the member, the manager is challenged to relieve and support the person.

If the team does not stand behind the person, which is more often the case, it becomes more difficult: At this moment the leader is also in demand. A way must be found for this person to establish himself or herself. Here it is helpful to look at the overall result, which can only be achieved if everyone is present. Here you can also make it clear that not everyone has an equal share in the result, and that this is not bad either. Team building must be driven forward significantly.

The team must be sensitized to the extent that all team members are accepted, regardless of their individual performance. Especially these low performers need a lot of support and even praise (perhaps proportionally more than they deserve).

However, there will be an end to this at some point. A central question: When is this point reached? Usually much later than most people are able to believe. Nevertheless, I don’t want to rule out the possibility that in a few individual cases the point of separation will be reached.

It`s all About agile?

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intro

The days I noticed a tweet from Christian Müller (who is on Twitter: #FF!). Discussing on Twitter is sometimes difficult, therefore my “answer” here. Trigger:


Area manager introduces “agility”: – the team leaders additionally take over the function of a product owner – dailies take place once a week – Scrum Master is scheduled with 25% time – tasks are distributed by the team leaders How would you deal with it?

Provocative – but what does it look like?


Pseudo Agile?

The experiences that Christian Müller briefly summarizes here are often repeated in reality. Particularly in large corporate structures, attempts are made to pack agility into old-fashioned release cycles. This is a contradiction in terms. Some companies also experiment with “hubs” and the like.


Agility isn’t just about establishing a table tennis table and flocking together under the cover of a “dailies”.

But how do you establish new ideas and procedures in a large corporate culture? The pragmatic approach of “somehow” then ends precisely in the regulations cited above. One is agile. Somehow.


Often these procedures are not due to the fact that the introducer was stupid or did not understand agile procedures. They are rather actions of self-defense (some exceptions may exist). The attempt to establish new ideas without damaging old structures or established mechanisms.


But why is it? Transformation can only succeed if a culture of trust is established. And that must be lived by senior management. New techniques (be it Scrum or something else) can only work if a culture of trust exists. And this cannot flourish if top management expects every department head to be able to provide information on every detail every second. It is often these expectations that have established micromanagement.


But are the pseudo Agile attempts at re-assembly really only bad? The evangelists will say: Then you can leave it alone. But I think that a cultural revolution can only succeed gradually. And that includes mistakes like misunderstood agility. But they also offer the possibility of the door opener.


So: Do it! Join in, get better!

About the efforts of “innovation hubs”

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Intro

In the meantime, “innovation hubs” have become fashionable among large german corporations: Whether (for example at banks and savings banks) Deutsche Bank with its “Deutsche Bank Innovation Labs”, Siemens with the iHub or Postbank with the “Idea Lab”. Almost every other DAX company joins the ranks here with a department / branch or spin-off. What are the benefits of innovation hubs?

What do “Innoavtion Hubs” bring?

The facilities look at least visually similar: Young people, no dress code, table football or table tennis tables are integrated into the office landscape. The objective is always similar: to develop new perspectives in the product landscape, detached from bureaucratic constraints or generally from the organisational structures that finance the hubs. I have listed a few arguments.

Pros

By releasing organizational constraints, rather unrealistic scenarios are also illuminated, and completely new ideas can emerge. The employees there work without fear: Anyone who has run up against the wall with a good idea in an old hierarchy will hardly be able to comment on something new. The hubs work under the same working conditions as the parent company. Social security helps employees to develop.

Contras

Old employees do not take work results seriously The transfer of ideas into the old world is difficult or even impossible to integrate and the support does not lead to a transfer.

And now?

So there are some ideas for and against such hubs. Should you be established? Some results would also be possible without such spin-offs. But this would require much more personal responsibility to be transferred to the employees and fears of making mistakes to be reduced. For this, however, a new management philosophy is needed, away from micromanagement towards more trust. If this should be possible, the spin-off of the hubs would take care of itself. The long-term success of a hub lies in the fact that the results grow out of the “proof of concept” stage and are also transferred into the real world of the organization. To this end, the support must not only lie in the founding of the Hub, but also in the interlocking of the Hub and the Old World.

Added value of Digitaltransformation

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Today I stumbled across a tweet by Christian Müller which I found very exciting:

Executive, female, late 50s: You: “The whole digital world, where is there still value added?” Me: “What do you mean by added value?” You: “Well, produce something that can be touched.” – That, too, is a subjective reality in times of digitalization.

(Tweet by @CMueller80)

Does digitalization bring added value?

Does digitalization bring added value?
I can understand the thoughts in the first step: The biggest “winners” of digitization to date are AirBnB or Uber, for example. However, it is precisely such companies that have taken existing business processes and generated added value for the customer with smart applications. The process itself is the same, but exactly these new market participants are participating and taking margins.


In my opinion, however, these success stories are only the tip of the iceberg and do not symbolize the actual upheavals associated with digitization:

Digitisation is accompanied by a number of new technologies which not only affect the end customer but also enter production. Here are a few examples

IoT: Internet of Things: This is about networking all kinds of things. This includes not only everyday objects, but also machines and shelves. Logistics can thus be optimized considerably. In production, maintenance can be improved.

Big Data and AI: Networked with the point before, a lot of data can be collected, but also analyzed. Techniques such as neurological networks help to process the data and draw conclusions from it.

3D Printing: 3D printing can also be mentioned in the context of digitization. It still has the charm of a gimmick for nerds. However, the technology is developing rapidly. There are many conceivable areas of application in production, up to “Just in Time Printing”, i.e. the time-accurate production of components. This technology has so much potential that production could again become more attractive in high-price wage locations such as Germany.

What is reflected in the tweet is the perception. The best-known companies do not produce anything, but only use familiar business processes. However, these best-known examples are not representative of what digitization means for companies. There are also many possibilities in production that are not always so well known.


It is highly recommended for every company to deal with digitization: So not just apps, but: Where can we use new technologies and how can we use it?

Different was yesterday – the german petition for equal opportunities!

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Intro

Recently I came across a good and worthy petition from Elke Benning-Rohnke and the FidAR Süddeutschland (the german non Profit Organisation for more women in boards): “Unequal was yesterday“. Time not only to deal with it, but also to set an example.

Different was yesterday

The last celebrations of 100 years of women’s suffrage are just fading away. A lot has happened in the last 100 years. But enough? A change in society does not happen overnight. Not even in a year. But a lot can be achieved in one generation. But it also means that the conviction is carried out externally by everyone.

The FidAR has set itself the goal of diversifying the supervision of companies, better to achieve an equal number of men and women. A quota here can only be a means of achieving promotion in the short term. But a long-term approach is more likely to be achieved through other values. And we must all carry these values forward.
But these values can only apply if all of them carry them on: #Diversity does not have to disappear again as a buzzword and be replaced by self-evidence. I would therefore be delighted if individuals, companies, organisations and/or other institutions would all take part in the (german) Petition.

Diversity is done, when we don`t have to talk About it

The Basic Law, Article 2, in the German Constitution:

Everyone has the right to the free development of his personality.

However, this sentence does not refer exclusively to women, but extends to all perspectives of life: religion, sexual orientation, physical characteristics, personal and political views (okay: limited to constitutional conformity), all aspects that should no longer have any influence on career in the future. Diversity is achieved when all these aspects simply don’t matter. According to normal reason a matter of course, unfortunately not the rule. And this will only get better if we all communicate these values to the outside world and to our children. But that also means strengthening the community and trying to discard old paradigms. If the child is ill, it should be taken for granted that not only the mother stays at home and that nobody turns up their nose at it.

New Book: Newwork

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Recently I received the book “NewWork“. The book is by Christiane Brandes-Visbeck and Susanne Thielecke. Recently, I wrote a contribution to Generation Y that was very well received: On the one hand, there was a lot of criticism, but also a lot of approval from people like me who have had a similar experience with the changes. Time to deal more intensively with the topic of New Work. At the weekend I finally had time to do so. A short statement:

I have the feeling that the book is written exactly for me as a target group:

New forms of work are described without claiming to be feasible in any form of organization. Topics such as CoWorking, Design Sprints or Business Modell You are introduced more objectively. The reader is not shown that the different forms are a “must have” for everyone.

What critical people quickly notice is that different scenarios would not be feasible. I think that for many companies I know, this would also be true for the current management. The authors Christiane and Susanne make no secret of the fact that support from senior management would be indispensable for the introduction of new models and new Work Settings in a modern Business World. But they go one step further: examples by Thomas Sattelberger (Telekom) or Fabian Kienbaum (Kienbaum) illustrate how a transformation process is implemented in practice. I personally found these sections even more exciting than the sober presentation of the various techniques. Not only agile and/or aspects of the modern toolset (“Design Thinking”) are considered, but also well-known tools such as “Home Office” are put to the test and their modern integration into everyday work is presented. This tools are even known, but not in  best practice in every company used.

The myth “work-life-balance” is cleared up: work is a part of life and no balance has to be created, but it has to be integrated in a way that is compatible for all participants. Classic career paths are broken down: Not every career today is as linear and plannable as it was 30 years ago.

The book is in German, has 224 pages, published in the Redline and here buyable. The book is great for all people, who are interested to learn something new.

 

New Work

Must be a CEO on LinkedIn?

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intro

Today I read an interesting article by Carmen Hentschel on LinkedIn: “How important is it for CEOs to be visible in social media? The whole thing is linked to ifs and buts, so I prefer to deal with it in a blog article instead of just in a commentary.

Does a CEO or board member have to be on LinkedIn?

This Question is objectively easy to answer: “Yes, of course”. Reasons for this are quickly counted:

In a modern world, it’s the executives who hold the brand of your company in high esteem.
Employer branding is not just a job for the human resources department, but the job of everyone in a company. Senior management in particular is called upon to set a good example.
An emotional closeness to a company is more likely to be established if everyone is reachable there. This applies not only to normal employees, but especially to senior management.
Does every CEO or board member now have to be represented on LinkedIn (Twitter, Facebook, whatever…)? The answer is not that simple. Although there are objective reasons for this (see above), there are also some against it. First and foremost, the time factor: Can an exposed person in senior management spend hours every day in social media? Is it possible to spend time on this? But it’s also a very pragmatic problem: Do I really want to spend hours as a senior manager on Twitter, LinkedIn or anything else? Can I even afford that?

The thing with authenticity

Very important: Authenticity. One sees again and again profiles of persons from the senior management, whose profiles are recognizable also for outsiders fast as agency service. However, the profiles are only effective if they are authentic.

The best examples are Tim Höttges from Telekom AG, Dieter Zetsche from Daimler, and Janina Kugel from Siemens. These people also seem to operate their social media presence themselves. The topic of authenticity is important when it comes to operating an agency: operating an agency quickly conveys a lack of authenticity. This can be counterproductive.

So if people from senior management operate social media, please do so authentically and in such a way that outsiders believe in it.