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?
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.
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.
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.
Let’s start with a disclaimer: Who expects to receive a patent recipe from me, should close the article immediately again: I can’t offer a master plan either. Generational problems are becoming increasingly apparent in project work.
What exactly is Generation Y? Even if Wikipedia tries, I describe you as “Millenials”. Anyone who has experienced this in project work does not know how to assess this generation. On the one hand, new values are maintained: Leisure time is more important, dependence on the employer (or better the loyalty) is less and this is also expressed.
On the other hand, I personally feel (attention: empirically not proven!) that this generation is very formalistic and rule-oriented: Give a Millenial an Excellist to unhook, and sheer luck is apparent.
For me, these contrasts are completely disturbing. What is disturbing about the project work: This generation seems less solution-oriented and less pragmatic to me. If a project goes well, everything is fine. When the first disturbance occurs, the “old” are increasingly looked at.
Tolerance is required
I had to learn to handle it myself. Often one is irritated when the priorities are set differently by the Millenials. But: Is the young generation always wrong? Shouldn’t priorities be set differently? Does the client die if a release is not completed on a fixed date in line with the acquisition?
On the other hand, generation Y tolerance is also in demand: not everything that the old generation has done is really bad. This behaviour (in sum) has brought us to where we are today.
As I said before, I cannot offer a panacea. But: We were the ones who moved us forward. Generation Y are the ones who will continue it. And as I see it, not necessarily worse, only different.
Tolerance is demanded of the “old”, but also of the younger.
Tradition is not preserving the old, but preserving and transforming the good. However, we “old people” must press ahead with the transformation. The boys have yet to learn.
At present time, the term digitization is used everywhere. It is often used as a driving force. Sometimes a personal view of the status quo.
What means digitization exactly ? I do not know an exact, general and valid definition. In many cases the terms are combined (therefore it is harder to separate them in order to get a definition.
Digitalization means that everything becomes “agile”? Now is the time you should take a look at the terminology. First of all, what does “agile” mean? There are two interpretations:
Agile: Simply from the Latin, in the sense of “mobile”.
Agil (2): Derived from the agile scheme: In this point AGIL is standing for the terms adaptation, goal attainment, integration and latency: This AGIL describes the system of values which depends on every organization (including companies) who is in order to their own existence.
If the term agile is used, it has to be specified, in which context it is referred to.
It is often read that digitization will only work with the advancement of equality of all. In my view, this is a false correlation: gender equality in particular is a very important issue. Even if it remains unchanged: For new ideas and creativity it is beneficial to think about the groups and to put them together anew. From my point of view, this is a possible side condition, but not a compelling one.
New working conditions
The same applies to the topic of “NewWork”, i.e. new working conditions: It might be helpful if you want to break new ground. But in my opinion, this is not mandatory either. The best examples are American companies such as Apple and LinkedIn: These companies have a very strict hierarchical structure and therefore would be prime examples of living micromanagement.
What digitalization means
As already written, I don’t know a general definition either and I’m not here to present It. It is certain that it is not necessary when talking about technology, but when looking at entire processes from the customer’s perspective: the best example would be AirBnB or Uber: these have also started as rather bad homepages. What did they do? They took care of old processes, generated new customer benefits and took advantage of valuable margins.
For me, digitization means thinking in new concepts, questioning business processes and placing the customer benefit in the foreground and to set prioritys in this kind of direction.
Our Director Stephan Werhahn on a panel discussion about business ethics in family companies
Today I read an interesting article in the Handelsblatt: “Super election year on supervisory boards – but there is a lack of suitable experts”. That aroused my interest: A comment.
How does it look?
According to the Handelsblatt, 190 Supervisory Board positions will be filled by DAX and M-DAX companies alone in 2018. Tenor: There is a lack of experts. Is that really the case? There is a lack of supervisory boards according to the classic definition. But is the classic definition of the supervisory board what should be sought?
There are skills that are as important in the past as they are today: A supervisory board must be able to understand a balance sheet and approve the actions of the management board. Otherwise, however, the portfolio of skills that a supervisory board has to bring with it today has changed dramatically. Within the scope of digitisation, a supervisory board must have the classic skills (the selection and monitoring of the management board must be given priority), but must also be open to new ideas and approaches. This currently means: to admit errors, to experiment, to forgive a failure:
This hurts: errors include losses and possibly short-term (up to medium-term) loss of income among stakeholders. But: We are in a state of upheaval: AirBnB is the best example to illustrate this in a striking way: AirBnB has not invented anything new (rentals are one of the oldest business models at all), but with a comparatively simple idea into an existing business model heroingegrätscht and by generation of additional customer use valuable margin picked up.
Is there a shortage of candidates? No, but you have to abandon the classical patterns of thought and look for test persons who bring along a modern composition of abilities. The focus is on skills that are related to empathy: Bringing the organisation forward, in the long term.
Shareholders also need to learn and sometimes turn a blind eye to a quarterly profit to ensure that the organisation has a long-term presence in the market. We (the German IoD) have learned this in recent years: Suddenly supervisory boards are being sought that no longer correspond to the classical networker as Achleitner or Cromme, but have different skills.
The Digitisation or Digital Disruption (What exactly does that mean now?) requires a rethinking of management structures. New ideas need creativity. And in order to do this, employees must be given more of them. But that also means letting go and turning away from micromanagement. For many executives, this means a change, and some of them will fail.
How to handle “toxic” Leaders
On Twitter I once asked: How should you deal with toxic executives: The micromanaging choleric man who spreads fear and terror among his co-workers. The answer I received from different quarters was clear: Disposal. But could this the right solution?
With the same implicitness as NewWork and trust is propagated, I was made clear to me: Out with such people. However, most of these executives have not earned their position because they have a bad management style, but nevertheless. This means that these people have qualifications. In addition, there is the empathy paradox: the focus is on skills that have been conditioned away in the hierarchies for years. Even if the management style is to be criticized, a new way of thinking also requires new solutions.
If I want to build a new culture of trust, a bad start is to catapult out people, who have been doing a job for years: Then don’t I lead the claim ad absurdum? Trust cannot be earned by a brutal start.
First, I need to identify these toxic executives. There are various possibilities for this (employee surveys, fluctuation measurements, etc.), but often it is enough to stay in the coffee or smoking area.
The following is the interview with the toxic leader: How can I use the human being, meaningfully and without snubbing him/her: There are solutions, often in the staff area. This is something to remember: Just because there is a lack of leadership, these people almost always have excellent skills that should be used. “Disposal” is only one last option….. which should have taken place even before the organisation had been converted and transistioned.
A credible reorganization of an organizational structure is only possible if you take all, really all, employees with you. And no one should be left behind.