NewWork: Deconstruction of the safety net

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Intro

In the past I have already dealt several times with the topic “NewWork”. My focus here is on how new ideas and concepts can be established in organizational structures. Phrases like “always focusing on customer benefit” are not very helpful if you are established in a company with several 1,000 employees.

Decisions without safety net

Both in projects and in middle management it is becoming increasingly evident that decisions are not only made, but also that a lot of capacity is “burned” in the justification of a decision. This culture of justification (the “backups” in the slide sets) may seem helpful to the project managers and division managers. But they only help the decision maker in case he has really made the wrong decision. And then other mechanisms are needed, not the questioning of the original decision making.

This discipline is due to the organisational structure. The project and division managers have been conditioned over years to act in this way. And so the justification system was optimized over a long period of time.

The dismantling of this culture must take place across all hierarchies: Every form of approaching new working structures must have a stable size: Trust. Without this, it is not possible. In the vast majority of cases, employees at all levels are in a position to make their own decisions in their field of work. A manager or project manager should be able to assess this area. If a wrong decision is made, everyone should work together on the solution and not on the search for the cause. With this one can then go new ways, be it only partially (in projects / in the area) or also generally. Executives and project managers who cannot deal with this are a problem that can only be solved by top management.

The safety nets must be dismantled across all hierarchical levels. This includes senior management as well as other levels such as division managers and project managers. Trust must once again become the centre of work in an organisation. Without trust, we remain in the old models.

Disclaimer: In this article I refer to having to justify everything exactly in advance. I do not question the sense of a functioning risk management system. I still believe that a functioning risk management system is not only sensible, but also vital for survival.

German version here.

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?

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

Digitization – Not putting everything in one pot

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intro

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.

Digitization and…..

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.

agility

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.

Diversity

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.

How to handle toxic Leaders

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Intro

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.

Micromanagement is the dead of innovation

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Innovation and Culture

At the moment we have a fast changing world in business context. New player come and displace old companies. How fast the world in economics has changed can seen by the big five in the last 20 years.

Biggest five companies with market capitalization 2006 - 2016

You see, the biggest five companies are all in technology settled. Only five years ago it was only one. To expand in this economic environment means, finding new products or services.

Why Micromanagement is the dead of Innovation

In many companies has established a new kind of manager: The Micromanager. That is a person, who hasn’t`t any priorities and try to control all activities of their colleagues. If this person has disciplinary responsibility, he is starting to restrict all project activities on his horizon. He wants to understand all items of work und is wanting to be reportable in all concerns.

So the colleagues aren`t able, trying new things. They always work on old modes, alway be reportable and avoid responsibilities.

Who think, this is always a problem of big companies should take a look at the German Post, DHL: They started searching a producer for an electric van for delivery. No one of the German Car Producers seem to be able, to produce such a van. So they started a StartUp with an University, the RWTH in Aachen, and now you can see their own build Vans in german streets:

DHL eScooter in HamelnFor a big Company it is not so easy, being creative. But it is possible. The most important asset are the employees: They have new ideas and are creative… if the management let them. With Micromanagement and a closely corset of reportings, they will do exactly, what is expected.

In my example of the German dhl,  the problem (finding an eScooter for transport of parcels) was in the point of view: No limits, a solution must be created.

You see, such creative solutions are for big companies possible, too. But you invest in your employees and has to trust them. Controlling every step of their doing will killing all creativity. This behavior has to be lived by the Top Management. If the senior management expect all times reportings about every step in the processes, the middle management will carry on.

Trust your employees, the most of them will thank such a behavior!

 

Digital Transformation requires a new mindset

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I read often articles about the digital transformation and changes in Leadership. But why is this topic so important? In the moment, services and products are in change. The digital transformation dominates the discussion about the future of all topics of business.

Why is this important for Leadership? For understanding take a look for some newcomer: AirBnB and Uber: This companies don`t start with great techniques, Apps or Pages: They start with an idea. The services aren`t new. The ideas were bringing a value to the customers. This both companies doesn’t start with a complete new idea. They found business processes, which weren’t optimal and used them, to dig margins.

Leadership and business processes

No more bosses are needed: The age of Micromanagement has ended. New business models arises by creative employees. Managers but cannot command creativity. They have to install a framework, that supports new ideas. Failures are part of this new culture. This mindset has to be part of the common Leadership.