Archiv der Kategorie: Change management

Here you find all about change management.

Mirror neurons – Auto start for change

Opposed to storing data in a computer, our learning is the accumulation of experience, which increasingly anchors through the linking of neurons in the brain in consequence of similar insights. The more we know, the easier it becomes to learn something new. The thrilling question is how the activation of the first neurons starts, as long as there are no connection points yet. Perhaps these are the mirror neurons that make the first storing possible, even if there is no activation so far.

The mirror neurons provide the reflexes that a baby has shortly after birth. If you take a baby into your arms minutes after birth and stick your tongue out, something amazing happens: the baby also sticks its tongue out. This capability could be the genetic prerequisite for our learning. What does that mean for us?

  • We can learn something completely new
    Whoever has learned a completely different language knows the effect. For people accustomed to letters, the learning of character-based calligraphy, such as Chinese or Japanese, becomes an additional hurdle – the „illegible“ signs, whose pronunciation cannot be derived from the writing, but must be learned. However, after the foundation has been created in the interconnection of the neurons through regular imitation and practice, it becomes steadily easier to expand the network of neurons with additional signs.
    The same applies to all other areas of life. As soon as we are to adopt a new way of working, it is difficult that we break away from the old patterns and accept and understand the new. Those affected have to reconnect their existing networks. In these cases, you need examples that learners can imitate. Stories or role-plays that are told that are presented help – or articles, books, podcasts, or videos. These start impulses make it easier to learn for those affected.
  • Joint learning is more productive
    The food for the mirror neurons is found in the personal environment. It needs a source to which one can orientate oneself and which one can imitate. In primary school, students used to learn how to paint by standing around the teacher and watching him paint a tree full of white flowers with opaque white. That way the mirror neurons were supplied with behavior patterns which were then further strengthened during painting yourself. In addition one had the possibility to look at further tricks from the neighbors.
    In business such learning situations are created through exercises in which the participants solve tasks in a team. This kind of dynamic learning in Business Exercises builds on the pre-existing experience of the participants and exploits the opportunity to learn from each other.
  • Prohibition on thinking is counterproductive.
    Since it is a largely subconscious activity to learn, all kinds of thought restrictions are detrimental to progress. There must be no prohibitions on thinking, criticism, evaluations or the like while learning. Quite the contrary. The participants should be encouraged to follow their intuitions, to toy around thoughts of others and to be able to contribute the unthinkable, the impossible and the absurd, because this uses the existing linkages in the brain of the participants, which are to be broadened. In this way the attendees create something bigger than they would have achieved on their own.
    All it takes are rules that allow knowledge, experience and opinions – e.g. like the rules in brainstorming or design thinking.
  • Allow spontaneity
    If the baby sticks out its tongue after birth when it sees someone sticking out its tongue, it is not a conscious activity of the baby but the appearance of a congenital reflex. As adults, we’ve gotten used to living with restrictions. This means that we are no longer spontaneous – because we have learned to avoid criticism and reprimands. If you wish to make great progress, you should allow the natural impulses of those present, which are produced by the mirror neurons.
    In everyday life, teams limit themselves by slowing down or confirming each other, by following the opinion of the majority and by holding back their ideas for fear of bad feedback. For this reason, the participants of an event should be encouraged to communicate openly. In addition, anonymous techniques, such as written statements on meta plan cards that are collected and then discussed, can lower the hurdle for participants.
  • But … watch out for cognitive biases
    Working mirror neurons are not only an advantage. They also cause automatisms to creep into our daily decisions – the so-called biases. For example, groups tend to make worse decisions, because they adapt to opinions of the group although they know better. Or the halo effect, where you derive your expectations from familiar characteristics of a person, although these inferences can be misleading. Mirror neurons work, even if it is not always advantageous.
    In practice, this requires sensitive listening into the situation. With targeted disturbances, for example by throwing an antithesis into the room, it is possible to reduce such group effects.

Bottom line: We learn best in a group. Mirror neurons help us to adapt subconsciously to people, who are in a similar situation around us. This happens in meetings, workshops and other events. It allows us to overcome the initial difficulties that arise when you are exposed to something new that you cannot relate to your experience yet. Our mirror neurons turn team learning into a highway of change. There must be no restrictions on thinking and spontaneous ideas that are not yet common property should be encouraged and valued and not suppressed with killer phrases. However, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the unwanted biases that occur. Our mirror neurons should be used for far-reaching innovations, because they enable an auto start for change.

Time of radical change

In everyday life we benefit from the facts we know and for which we have developed a repertoire of behaviors. Depending on our disposition, changes unsettle us more or less. In order not to be too surprised by upcoming events, we try to foresee the future and prepare ourselves for it. For this purpose, we consider correcting variables that we otherwise perceive rather randomly. This foresight establishes connections that consist of smallest influences. These ideas suggest accuracy due to their fine granularity. However, there are times when the changes are not only visible in the subtleties, but in the major upheavals. If then many far-reaching transformations happen at the same time, we are in a time of radical change.

We now seem to have arrived in such a time. Therefore we take a brief look at the PEST effects, wherein simultaneous changes become visible.

  • Political effects
    The virtualization of the world has made political borders disappear. The delimitation is no longer between left and right, but between extremes and normals or between different religions or between cultures. The old motto is simple: We are right, the others are wrong. From any point in the world, it takes one click into a region, where completely different rules and laws apply. The view through the window of the screen feels actually harmless, since you still seem to be in your own legal sphere. So you can order something abroad, but as soon as the delivery crosses the border, your national laws apply. As a result, certain goods are no longer allowed or additional customs duties are incurred. In addition, between countries and within regulated economic zones, other regulations are applied which can only be understood by experts. Although such rules affect everyone, they are negotiated and adopted behind closed doors, as TTIP has shown (thanks to Trump, negotiations should pause at the moment). Besides the economy, politics has far-reaching authorities, which are justified by nothing more than an election. As long as the power blocks of the world are in competition with each other, autocrats can question and terminate the agreements at any time. What is needed is a recognized, contemporary, global coordination center.
  • Economic effects
    Since the photo Earthrise that was taken by William Anders on December 24, 1968, we should be aware that we live in a finite system. Such a closed system cannot grow without supplying energy from its environment or another system. And yet today, decision-makers are still trying to exploit other countries by levying taxes, influencing exchange rates or playing all kinds of restrictions as trumps. The national pride that is abused for it, which drives the population into competition with the rest of the world, endangers peace and revives old conflicts. If economic success is based on the loss of others, decision-makers should be aware that there are no others in ONE world. This means that the monetary system gets unified, the distribution of labor and income ensures the survival of all, and that the reasons for making business are rearranged. Growth is not a real goal for a closed system, but viability.
  • Socio-cultural effects
    The world has become more comprehensible and accessible. At the same time, this proximity creates a new diversity with often contradictory perspectives. The forces that dominated world affairs for a long time have gradually shifted towards the emerging regions of Asia and Africa. A simple example is the new Silk Road, which is in the process of replacing the established routes of the economy. It enables China to globally position its well-educated people, who are held together by a value system that has been proven over thousands of years and who are equipped with a historically founded self-confidence. This upheaval, which has been visible for years, is shifting the focus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, replacing the fabric of the last seventy years. The societies that have been exploited for centuries for the benefit of the old world are breaking away from old habits and swinging the pendulum towards the south and east. We are experiencing the first socio-cultural effects with the increasing revival of the nation and the hysterical measures to seal oneself off with trade barriers to the outside. The existing rules no longer apply and the new ones will be made elsewhere. Companies, NPOs and NGOs as well as global institutions have to reorient themselves.
  • Technological effects
    Forty years after the introduction of the PC, information technology (IT) has permeated all areas. Simultaneously, a network was created that allows us to be connected to any point on earth with a single click – as long as the required electricity and access to the network are available. The current wave of digital transformation is nothing more than an additional attempt to increase the importance of IT – Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Intelligence, Automation, Robotics, 3D Printing, etc. Whereas in the past it was lamented that the workforce was forced to work under inhumane conditions, today the same groups complain that automation in the production of goods and services robs them of their livelihoods. The new designs are too concerned with the tools, instead of creating holistic solutions, which continue to provide people with opportunities to make a living. Virtualization, i.e. the representation of the material world in the computer, creates completely new possibilities for doing business. Above all, easy access to markets for everyone, wherever they are, needs a new understanding of work. Old skills are replaced by previously little-known ones – from executing an activity to monitoring; from processing knowledge to generating it; from evaluating data to interpreting it. This upheaval affects everybody. The skills and abilities need to be re-educated so that everyone can be involved in this upheaval.

Bottom line: We don’t need fine-tuned measuring points to recognize that we are in a time of upheaval that is turning everything upside down. The large upheavals are visible to the naked eye. The new division of the world no longer suits the given societies. The computer and networking make the foundations of the old economic activity obsolete. This changes the way the economy operates and the masses of workers are worried about how they will earn their money tomorrow. At the same time, politicians get stuck in the dilemma of global or national politics, which makes the right wings to lure out from behind the stove. The Every-man-for-himself will evoke the danger of international conflicts, which can even destroy the idyll of the Western world. The First World War brought weapons of mass destruction. The Second World War brought nukes. The Third World War is probably happening for a while in virtuality – who would believe that only Russia uses computers to destabilize? What else does it take to notice the upheaval? This means for ALL participants that they have to deal with these changes. Companies that currently have no answers to these radical changes and do not actively prepare for them, act irresponsibly. New approaches are needed for politics, economics, society, and the use of technology.
Now  I S  the time of radical change.

Finding your own rhythm

How much change requires respect from somebody is different for everyone. It begins with the small fluctuations which deflect the internalized routine. The desk that somebody cleaned up. The daily way to work that is blocked by a construction site. It is the modifications that make accustomed habits impossible. The introduction of a new IT system or the reallocation of tasks that require another approach, because the old ones are no longer valid. And then there are the fundamental upheavals which affect all aspects of life. The withdrawal from the current life, when one emigrates or leaves a previous career path. Notwithstanding of how strong the upheavals are, everyone has to react to the flux with a personal rhythm.

Since you get constantly challenged with different intensity, it is helpful to develop a routine that maintains the momentum of change until you get used to the new routine. You can use the following approaches and celebrate each with something special.

  • The first step
    Change only begins when you actually set yourself in motion. The first step towards the new is crucial in order to start the change. Even if this first step seems small and insignificant, this quantum leap is the beginning, no matter how long the path is.
  • The first day
    It is worthwhile to celebrate the first day you have got through after the first step. Not having given up the ghost makes the first day an important step towards change. When you then recognize the first results, the continuation on the following day is guaranteed.
  • The first week
    After a week the first signs of the new routine arise. The new one has already been applied several times, even though it has not yet become second nature. The devil is often in the detail that is subsequently recognized and mastered.
  • The first month
    Depending on the scope, many aspects of the change are already known after one month. The road blocks of the first day are forgotten. A lot has been practiced, which can be recognized by the fact that the acquired abilities are no longer consciously perceived.
  • The first quarter
    After three months one is already in the everyday flow. The tasks are carried out routinely. The consistency of earlier procedures is replaced by the new skills and conclusions that now are available.
  • The first half-year
    After half a year one is completely acquainted. The own values and beliefs have been adjusted. The surprises that now appear out of nowhere, take place in any case, no matter how well prepared somebody is. Prior approaches become difficult to handle, because you can no longer get into the old shoes.
  • The first year
    After a year, the memories of the old have faded away. Old processes are difficult to reconstruct. The memories create an unpleasant feeling, because the new has proven itself. The next change is already apparent on the horizon.

Everyone has its own personal approach to transformation. This goes from just doing nothing differently, to any change is welcome. The rituals that you come up with to cope with change determine the difficulties you have to deal with. Since change takes primarily place in the mind, it is sufficient just to change your perspective. If one does not manage this, then the transition costs more energy than if one openly accepts the new.

Bottom line: The implementation of changes creates resistance by nature. Especially when those affected do not have the opportunity to engage mentally. It is helpful for individual patients to celebrate the metamorphosis. And not just once, but over and over again. In order to anchor the innovations in your mind in an appealing way, it is best to find you’re your rhythm: the first step; the first day; the first week; the first month; the first quarter; the first half-year; the first year. Over time, deviations become normal.

 

When the old is gone and the new is not yet available

After IT has been promising for years to change the world of work, it seems to be really taking off – networks cover almost every location, software is running barrier-free on various types of devices and huge amounts of data can be processed. The final attack on jobs with affinity to IT is taking place under the flag of digitization. Who actually gets hit slowly becomes clear. The probability is high that ALL „simple“ activities are now actively moved into computers. Affected are

  • Workers, who perform recurring fabrication and transport work,
  • Service providers, who take over simple tasks from customers,
  • Examiners, who only determine and key in a status,
  • Retailers, offering goods that are cheaper on the Internet and are even delivered to one’s home,
  • Clerks, who sift through, categorize and store documents,
  • Employees, transferring data to a computer,
  • Sellers, who advise customers in mega-stores,
  • and much more.

We are no longer standing in line to stamp our working hours.

Business models, processes and activities are digitized. During the transition it becomes unpleasant for many, as old doors are closing and the new doors have not yet opened. We must adapt our abilities and our thinking to the new conditions. In 2013, the OECD has described three essential skills of adults in working age for processing information.

  • Literacy
    Since Gutenberg enabled for many the access to printed matters, reading has become a fundamental skill. The aim is to understand, evaluate and use all kinds of text. This means the decoding of written words and sentences, their clarification and the interpretation of complex texts – but not their generation. Reading literacy is a basic pre-requisite in business and private contexts.
  • Numeracy
    The occurrence of numbers in the form of notches can be traced back over 30,000 years. The first interpretable signs in Mesopotamia, 6,000 years ago, were agricultural lists and tables. Mathematics has evolved over thousands of years. Already the ancient Greeks hoped to derive the explanations of the world from conclusive algorithms. Today, mathematical skills are indispensable when solving problems. It takes a natural handling of numbers and their mathematical connections as well as the talent to use, interpret and communicate the results. Computational skills are mandatory in business and private environments.
  • Problem solving in technology-rich environments (Digital Literacy)
    In the eighties of the last century, home computers started an unforeseeable development. As late as 1981, Bill Gates thought that a computer would never need more than 640 KB (0.64 MB) of main memory. Today Windows10 needs eight GB (8000 MB) or even 16 GB to be on the safe side. More than half of the world’s population, who also have access to electricity, have a computer. 2.8 billion are using social media and 1.6 billion are shopping online. This requires the ability to operate the corresponding hardware and software as well as the basic functions. This begins with the dial-in to the network, continues with the operation of the user interface and the processing of the information found, to the execution of practical tasks – both business and private. Typical applications are online banking, e-business, social networking, e-government, online training, online travel bookings or Car2Go bookings.

The present handiwork and the current jobs, especially simple tasks, will be taken over by robots and automated systems. This means that the new „thinking“ skills become important – reading and digital skills, numeracy skills, academic and technical expertise, problem-solving skills, critical thinking and creativity, cooperation and communication skills as well as coordination and leadership skills. But: the lack of craftsmen will greatly valorize these vital craft professions in the foreseeable future – possibly even make them more profitable than the new skills.

Bottom line: Without being able to read, calculate or operate the computer, today’s decisive channels and activities remain barred to you. No television program that does not refer to the expanded offers on the Internet. More and more transactions with the government have to be processed online. Only a few bank counters that are staffed and cost nothing. It is not surprising that many traditional professions and jobs are disappearing in this context. The future digital society and its new employment opportunities can only be guessed. When the old is gone and the new is not yet available, every man/woman for itself. In this situation it is important to actualize its reading skills, numeracy and digital literacy, since whatever comes up is based on it. Maybe we can have in the near future a look at those emerging new jobs.

P.S.: Nonetheless, the more manually gifted should not be tempted to strive for the unloved STEM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), because most crafts will still be needed in the future. No one lives in a virtual castle or shower with a shower app or update his stuck window.

Following the familiar into the niche or better doing something else

In the meantime the speed of change is so high that several cycles take place within a lifetime – different political systems; or remember shellac, vinyl, CD, Blu-Ray, mp3; or the fire place, gas, oil, geothermal, solar heating. In the working world, workers have made a living for a long time within the industry and the resulting mass production. And suddenly machines take over the simple tasks. Or think about the cabmen, who eventually had to accept that they no longer needed to feed their vehicle, but to refuel. Although this did not mean that coachmen have completely disappeared, but today they only fill a niche in tourism.

Everyone is talking about disruption. That sounds fancier and not as threatening as destruction. But the meant change is anything but sudden, volatile or unexpected – albeit disturbing and ripping. Even the small improvements that take place over the years lead to a profound change over time. What options are there for dealing with change?

  • Head-in-the-sand policy
    The most passive reaction is to stick your head in the sand and to wait the change passes unnoticed. You are loosing valuable time that you could use to re-position yourself. This approach is believed to be the legacy of the early days of the biosphere, when fear threw somebody into paralysis and one could hope to survive despite the thread.
    Nowadays, this is the worst possible reaction to respond to menacing innovations. The changes in the world of work do not pass by, but they roll over you. In any case, one of the following approaches is better.
  • Resign to your fate
    Also in this case it is a matter of passive action. It’s like fighting against the current in a rowboat – as soon as you stop rowing, you’re drifting off. You lose all control of where to end up. The accompanying shrugging of the shoulders and blaming are a typical reaction when somebody is thrown off track. Only those who continue to row have a chance to dominate their destiny.
    Such a fate is bad. However, it’s just one of the many risks you face in everyday life – accidents, illnesses, losses of all kinds. It is smarter to use the opportunities offered to find your new track. In any case, one of the following approaches is better.
  • Fighting
    If you are confronted with drastic change, it is not immediately clear, whether it is a conclusive disruption. Nevertheless, most people start resisting – some do not understand, what is happening; others do not know, how to react to it; some do not accept the new on principle or for other reasons; and sometimes they are not even allowed to follow.
    The battle for the familiar is the fastest, active reflex. Barriers emerge, which have nothing to do with the actual innovation – antipathies; repressed problem areas; personal sensitivities. In any case, the following approach is better
  • Toward new shores
    Almost all changes also affect the decision makers who initiated the transformation. The frontline is not between the decision makers and the affected people, but between yesterday and tomorrow. Much more effective is constructively dealing with the new – What is actually changing? What is being replaced? What do you lose? What do you win? What can you contribute? What does that mean for you?
    The transition rarely takes place abruptly – with a reason why the word disruptive unnecessarily frightens. All changes need their time. The phone took over sixty years to be installed in 80% of the households in the US. Even if the computer took only about ten years, these are still ten years, in which one could adjust to the new possibilities of networking – using existing skills in a new way; realign; learn the new. In any case, the past shows that development is unstoppable. Even if it sounds banal, the only thing that is constant is the change. There is nothing left for us to do but to continually adapt.

Bottom line: The cabmen had suddenly no horses and had to deal with a new technology. At the same time, they were able to reuse their core competencies – local knowledge; dealing with customers; waiting patiently for a load. When the tsunami of the turnaround reaches you, the worst reaction is putting the head in the sand and the second worst to resign to your fate. The fight is an active, even so destructive action. It is best to face change and seek your place on the new wave – even if you follow the familiar into the niche.

 

The digital on the Business Model Canvas

With the Z1 of Konrad Zuse in the early forties of the last century, the first electronic computer was created. However, the fifth Kondratiev that announced the information technology as a disruptive change in the economy and society started not before the 1970s. The access to the global network is possible anytime, anywhere with mobile devices of all kinds. Together with the gigantic computing power of today’s computers, a big wave to implement well-known concepts is being piled up: the automation of processes, embedded systems in all moving and unmoved objects, data management in the cloud as well as the processing of unimaginably huge amounts of data with Big Data. But what do all these approaches mean for the commercial Canvas ?

Every business can be depicted on the Business Model Canvas. In the following bullet points, the momentum of the digital transformation is considered.

  • Customer
    Already in the course of e-business more than twenty years ago, three customer areas were identified: business, consumer and government. Business describes the commercial enterprises, consumer the private customers and government the state/public institutions. In the beginning ventures should explore the digital reality of their own clientele. How digital are the customer areas? Where and when are the customers active? What do the customers want?
  • Customer relationships
    E-business already elaborated the possible customer relationships at an early stage: namely, all possible combinations of the axes business, consumer and government (i.e. B2B, B2C, B2G, C2B, C2C, C2G, G2B, G2C, and G2G). For most fields famous examples are available, like Amazon (B2C), eBay (C2C). A look at one’s own relationship structures and the degree of its digitization provides initial starting points for the digital transformation. What relationships exist or are possible? How, when and where does the customer wants to get in contact with the provider? What kind of digitization is needed?
  • Channels
    The path through which the participants get in contact with each other is determined by the previous routine. These channels range from personal visits, telephone calls, publications, trade shows, to the Internet. It is an advantage to use all possible channels. Which media is already used? Which channels should be developed?
  • Propositions
    The proposals are split into two groups. 1) Physical products and on-site services as well as 2) digitizable products and remote services. While the second group comprises purely digital propositions, the first group can be extended with digital building blocks, e.g. the remote maintenance of a machine, the 24-hour hotline, online training. The digital opportunities of the propositions are often not clear. Which parts of the assortment can be digitized? Which new digital services fit into the product range?
  • Revenue streams
    In addition to the core business, the accumulated knowledge and contacts provide additional sources of revenue. The digital transformation opens up these information-rich opportunities. Which digital sources of income are available in the field of the propositions? What else can one earn with the existing knowledge? What can you do with the contacts?
  • Activities
    It is always surprising how far or how little the internal possibilities of the IT are used. Thus, value creation continues to take place with traditional, paper-based practices. At the latest when the customers are no longer satisfied with the slow, manual processes and if a closer involvement is desired, nothing else remains but adapting digitally. The affected activities can be derived from the digitizable proposals. Which processes are partly or fully automatable? How does the transformation take place?
  • Resources
    Digital companies have virtual resources, i.e. the IT with its networks. A look at the degree of internal digitization, the already automated processes, the data landscape and the applications quickly shows the need for action. Which processes are already IT-based? What data is available? Which applications have a digital future?
  • Partners
    The participants in the provision of deliverables are the internal and external co-workers. They need new skills in the digital world, such as strong customer focus, lifelong learning, teamwork, change management as well as IT-specific knowledge of computer literacy, data security, data analysis, the Internet, etc. Who are the internal and external partners? Which skill profiles are there or are required? Which skills are missing?
  • Cost structure
    The digital transformation is not free of charge. The savings in expenditure and the increases in sales can not be realized overnight. Looking at Amazon, sales are growing steadily, but profits are not developing in the same way. Before you start with the digital transformation, you need an honest commitment concerning the costs. Where do the expenses arise? How long may the digital transformation take? What is the cost of not digitizing?

Bottom line: The complete Business Model Canvas is affected by the digital transformation. The already achieved digital penetration and readiness of all components determine the expected effort. The first step into the digital future is the conscious decision of all involved people for the necessary efforts. The Business Model Canvas provides the required overview.

The dimensions of the digital transformation

The search for digital transformation affects many areas of the business. In the context of  the delivery of goods and services as well as in the generation of  revenue and income, traditional notions of the business world dissolve – the size no longer determines the range; Knowledge is not only available to the financially strong ones; Collaboration does not  need the common roof of a company. The society and the politics no longer provide the sense of belonging and social security to citizens – opinions are controlled with new resources, the new normal is the loud otherness; ethical principles are reinforced by the own filter bubble. A look at the dimensions of digital transformation shows that we are already in the middle of change.

The following dimensions require rethinking in business as well as in politics – now. Digital transformation will be possible, as soon as obsolete conditions are abandoned – e.g. Preference of long-term frame contracts, high entry barriers for small businesses by purchasing departments, lack of access to financial means and bureaucratic overload through institutional requirements.

  • Scaling for all
    The use of economies of scale was previously reserved for large companies. In order to keep the price for the means of production low, large quantities had to be accepted. Digital components cost almost nothing. This will make even small businesses competitive. Now these new entrepreneurs still have to be freed from the bureaucratic burden of the old economy. Purchasing departments and HR departments need new terms and conditions for these micro-business partners.
  • Limitless cooperation
    The services are complex today, since they are composed of many building blocks. The differences in local or national circumstances that have to be taken into account are made possible by modules and interfaces that fit together because they are standardized. The mandatory cooperation and the distribution of income need new business models.
  • Increasing acceleration
    The virtual proximity of all those involved, who are only one click away, leads to a staggering speed. Established approaches and formal decision-making can no longer compete. This gives unbureaucratic, agile companies a head start. It can only be achieved, if the legal and internal framework conditions are correspondingly debureaucratized.
  • „Soft“ capital
    Since physical assets no longer count in digital markets, „soft“ capital comes to the fore – data, knowledge, software, relationships. The critical key players are the computers, networks and above all the employees, who can be located anywhere in the world. This requires the replacement of a rigid corporate concept with networks that are able to quickly come together and to dissolve again.
  • Homeless values
    The values of a company are situated in the cyber-wonderland. There are no national boundaries or affiliations. Since national laws and regulations lose their effectiveness, we need in the medium term supranational legislatures and tax authorities to take over these tasks. In the meantime, the values are moving back and forth in the twilight zone. Assets are no longer determined by an objective financial value, but by the ability to create something new.
  • Network for everyone
    The minimal effort that is needed to set up a network enables everyone to open their own bubble of information. Over time, there will be powerful creative clouds due to the participants and their networking. This wisdom of the crowd, which is available for free, means the end of many, expensive research sites.
  • Multi-sided business models
    Due to the diverse market, it is increasingly difficult to find the right partner. For this reason, business models will evolve that specialize in the mediation between producers, their suppliers and customers. Proven, close cooperation’s will dissolve in favor of spontaneous, time-limited projects that are needs-oriented. The mediator role can be exercised by all those, who can bring together the relevant partners and will be able to earn a living from it.
  • Site loss
    The classic location and headquarters will disappear. The company headquarters will be located where the founder is currently living without being officially registered, because the business takes place in cyberspace (see above). Accordingly, there will no longer be the workforce with their representatives and regulated employment relationships. Legislation, state power and jurisdiction need to be adapted to international challenges in order to prevent location nomads, who are constantly on the run from responsibility and other duties.

The point in time, when the digital transformation is over, depends on how quickly and skillfully large companies can respond to these new developments. At the same time, government agencies are challenged to create the appropriate framework conditions to support these new developments. It is not the question whether, but when the parties act. In the meantime, the pioneers of these developments will find their way in the Internet and implement their business models.

Bottom line: The digital transformation is happening for years. Like the frog in the Boiling Frog Syndrome, the world is heating up due to increasing digitalization and networking. The dimensions are the scaling for all, the limitless collaboration, the increasing acceleration, the „soft“ capital, the homeless values, the network for everyone, the multi-sided business models and the loss of the site. For the sectors of the economy and the society this requires an immediate rethinking, in order to get the control over the used free space, so far unregulated by enterprises. This applies to tax havens as well as to the providers of illegal businesses in the Darknet. The dimensions of digital transformation are the basis.

(More here: OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017)

The two pillars of the digital transformation

The dream of all entrepreneurs is the generation of more and more – large quantities without additional effort, worldwide reach with almost no transport expenses, real-time transactions 24/7, subjectively determined prices at opaque costs. In the material world, this is only possible to a limited extent. A physical product consists of matter that needs to be procured, processed and assembled. In order to get the product to the customer, it has to be delivered by carriers. A contract is only concluded when the point-of-sales is open. The value is based on the raw materials and the processing steps as well as the premium that the customer is willing to pay for the item and the attached reputation. With 4.0, we are now in the age of digital transformation.

After steam power, electrical energy and the computer, the combination of digitization and interconnectedness into cyber-physical systems is now creating for the fourth time worldwide tectonic shifts in the economy and the society. The two pillars benefit from the tremendous progress of IT.

  • Digitization
    The conversion of analog signals into ones and zeros is one side of the new coin. Texts, images, sounds and soon fragrances are digitalized to binary data that can be duplicated, stored, searched, filtered, processed and transmitted. Anything that can be digitized will be directly affected by this change. For the rest of the physical things and individuals a virtual aura is created, the data cloud that makes everything and everyone trackable, assessable, and controllable.
  • Interconnectedness
    The other side of the coin is the interconnectedness. It began with the cables that enabled telegraphy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The foundation for the computer networks were laid later in the sixties of the last century. In 1993, only 1% of the data flowed through the telecommunication networks. In 2000 it reached 51%. Already in 2007, 97% of the bytes worldwide were exchanged over these networks.

Digitization and interconnectedness are creating a whole new ecosystem that offers multiple applications: Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Smart robots, Virtual Reality (VR), Grid computing, Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 3D-Printing (see also). Some people will benefit more from these changes than others. In any case, answers to the following questions should be found.

  • Which products and services, parts of value creation, and areas of the business model can be digitized?
  • Do we have the right number of employees, the skills needed, the right infrastructure, and enough financial resources to make these changes happen?
  • Are employees and management ready to commit to these changes?
  • Does the environment (i.e. social, technological, economic, environmental, political, and legal factors) provide appropriate basic conditions?

If there are favorable answers to the questions, you do not have to immediately digitize by hook or crook the whole business. Where to start is determined on an individual basis. The processes will continuously be based on the needs of the customers and the working style of the employees. In any case, a plan for digital transformation should be developed and consistently implemented. The decisive factor is the earliest possible execution of value adding in the digital network. The earlier the digital transformation is realized in the value chain, the higher your benefit.

Bottom line: Digital transformation is based on two pillars: digitization and interconnectedness. Many aspects can not be replaced by digitized data. However, the informational aura that surrounds things and individuals becomes ever larger – even if the refrigerator still keeps physical products fresh with noticeable cold, some features can be added that let the refrigerator become a “thinking” part of the cyberspace by counting the stock, ordering things, and suggesting healthy food. The users should not plunge like the Lemmings into the digital abyss, but to consciously find their personal starting point. The foundations are the two pillars of the digital transformation: the digitization and the interconnectedness

From nothing simply nothing comes

Common sense tells us that anything adapts to what already is there. Spheres, not cubes, come out of a sphere. In closed systems, it is unlikely that something new will emerge on its own. Except: energy is added from outside. The same is the case in human communities – working groups, departments, and firms. If something has to be changed, it needs a push to get momentum. From nothing simply nothing comes.

The following aspects outline some stimuli that the leaders can give in terms of energy supply.

  • Adaptability
    The persistence in the existing of individual people needs a framework that provides the necessary space for the new. In an appropriate atmosphere that gives employees the chance to make things flexibly on their own, to cooperate across borders and to apply new ideas without any effort changes happen. The customer’s needs are adequately addressed that way. If then the willingness to try new things is encouraged by stress-free, fault-tolerant attitudes and openness, collaborative learning takes place. Thus, all are able to adapt.
  • Participation
    Once you understand that the group creates many more opportunities than individual geniuses, you have to take care to put the team in the position to make decisions at the point of action. This requires that the relevant information is available and that, at the same time, all know that they can and are allowed to contribute positively as well as to plan jointly. This puts the team at the center – with all its objectives, distributed balance of power and group processes. The development of appropriate skills is crucial for the employees, as well as for the leaders, who must give up part of their ego. The contributions through participation of all members cumulate to a larger sum than the sum of individual results.
  • Consistency
    The interaction of many interests leads naturally to a wide range of solutions, which even contradict each other in the worst case. For this reason, conditions have to be created that reduce the divergence of the parties to a healthy degree. The well-known fish that stinks from the head has an important exemplary function. Above all, the desired manners have to be put on paper. This applies to the culture with its convictions, values ​​and the collaboration styles, as well as for the established ways of making decisions and agreeing. To ensure that the described behavior is also put into practice, the executives have the responsibility to take ownership of their expectations and to continuously act accordingly. In addition, they affect personally the employees by consistently expressing the common perspective and by coordinating the involved people accordingly. The consistency of statements, behavior and decisions prevent resistance.
  • Mission
    Eventually the clarification of the mission is the formal element in order to be able to cross the door to the new. The formulated snapshot of the future that describes the targeted final stations, shows the raison d’être of the company. Everyone will then develop its idea of the way to the destination. In the interest of joint collaboration, concrete milestones define reference points, which will again and again realign the forces to the common goal. The more the vision, the mission and the strategy are sharpened for the target group, the clearer they lead the employees. The formulated and accessible mission reduces the interpretation space to a minimum.

Bottom line: Even if the world seems to alter on one way or the other, change that is to be done more quickly or more fundamentally, needs efforts in advance. All those affected people must be able and be permitted to adapt themselves. Platforms for participation have to be created. All aspects of the business must be harmonized in a way that uncertainties concerning the right approach are avoided. And above all, a clear direction must be given. However, this has changed nothing yet. But without these aspects changes are almost impossible. Responsible for creating these basic conditions, which are an effort in advance, is the leadership team. Thereafter the actual change follows. From nothing simply nothing comes.

Clearer through scaled quantum leap

Changes happen in any form and magnitude. If the look at the world changes from a flat disc to a sphere, from creationism to evolution, or from verification to falsification, you call it paradigm shift. Progress can be seen, for example, in the replacement of the Super 8 film by the video cassette, which in turn became obsolete due to today’s digital recording. Immediately people speak of a quantum leap, i.e. a real difference. But the action quantum is unimaginably small! Compared with effects of our everyday world it is only 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000 or 10-34 effect units. If nature makes real leaps, in reality these are only very small differences. There is no explanation for this yet (and perhaps it will never be provided). The changes that we perceive consist in the end of an unimaginably large number of invisible adaptations that sum up to our perceptible changes.

For this reason you should simplify the presentation, by coarsening the scale in order to clarify the changes. For example in the following cases:

  • Object of change
    Material and spiritual objects can change. In general, material objects consist of any kind of stuff. These material things can be measured (e.g. mass, length/width/depth, or temperature) and have a form. They are gigantic or incredibly small. For our perception, only the part that we can directly perceive is comprehensible.
    In contrast, spiritual things are found in the minds of people or in artefacts (i.e. man-made objects, such as books, CDs or commodities). The ideas behind are communicated by the senders (for example, through words, pictures, sounds), but the recipients create their own understanding. This comes from the fact that these mental things are not measurable – apart from their physical „storage media“ (e.g., 258 pages, 1 MB of data, 1 hour of music). Changes can be shown more easily in material than in spiritual objects. Since the actual change can not always be perceived with our senses, a comprehensible object classification is necessary, in order to clarify the changes – e.g. the biosystematics (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species).
  • Procedure of change
    Changes occur in roughly defined steps (discrete), in very many small steps (quasi-continuous) or smoothly (continuous). Step by step gradations are often called digital and flowing ones analog. Due to the clear grouping, discrete changes can be more easily described. In the case of continuous progressions, artificially created steps have to be set up, in order to show the change. Changes become more and more subtle, the more they flow. The clear definition of the observation timeframe determines whether changes are noticeable or substantial, e.g. operational controlling measures quarterly and annually, instead of hourly.
  • Extent of change
    The magnitude of change determines how much something diverges. Depending on the object and the process, changes are perceived as improvement or revolution. If the universe expands by a few light years, this is nothing compared with its 78 billion light years. As soon as a wooden door is subjected to great temperature changes, it can expand a millimeter and therefore no longer fit into the doorframe. Changes always depend on the overall context. It should be described in such a way that a meaningful statement about the changes is possible – e.g. economic changes are more understandable per inhabitant, instead on country base.
  • Duration of the change
    Homo sapiens has not changed significantly in the last 200,000 years. On the basis of findings you can observe that the brain, the physics, and the physical abilities are very similar. Besides a great cultural development took place for the last 5000 years. Over the past twenty years, the Internet has dramatically changed the lives of most people – although we are still the Stone Age people of thousands of years ago. We often call it development, transition, or paradigm shift. Changes always depend on the timeframe. The considered period should be in a reasonable ratio to the change, e.g. the impact of the strategy can not be seen the following month.
  • Place of change
    The context describes the location of the change. This involves, on the one hand, the current change of location, from A to B. But, on the other hand, also changes in the existing object context. If you move an unchanged object into a new environment, this might have an impact on the object – for example, when a computer is used at the south pole, at minus 60 degrees. If the computer remains in the local area and its local context changes, e.g. if the power fails, then this also has serious effects. Changes result from the context. The environment should be described in a way that the change can be correctly classified – e.g. an increased milk production of 50 liters per day means something different on a little farm than in factory farming.

Bottom line: The real change, the quantum leap, often takes place outside our perception. For this reason, you should define the basic conditions of the change. This includes the objects, the procedure, the extent, the duration and the place of the change. On this basis and with the respective scaling, changes will become more comprehensible, comparable and easier to classify.

Transition is the overlay of all modifications

Heraclitus already recognized that everything is changing incessantly – everything flows. Thus you cannot step twice into the same river. That is valid today. The microphone and the phonograph were put together lately in the 19th Century. At the end of the development of many enhancements stood the tape recorder with an integrated microphone that allowed the recording of many parallel channels. A large change came with the analog digital converter. It made it possible to store sounds digitally. A fundamental transformation was created by the miniaturization of the components. Nowadays microphones are available with integrated recording devices. Transition is in the end the overlay of all enhancements, changes and transformations.

The various degrees of changes can be represented by overlaying waves. The frequencies may vary thereby. Others appear out of nowhere, as for example the World Wide Web. At the end it is impossible to predict future circumstances due to the complexity of the overlays. On closer look you find the following differences.

  • Enhancement
    The rework of an existing part makes the greater good better. For this purpose the component is not replaced, but simply refined through post-processing, adjustment or the strengthening of its components. If you use for example more effective oil, the machine runs smoother. As long as nothing changes in the basic build and/or the interferences are very small, it is called enhancement. We learned from Japan the word Kaizen for the enhancements in small steps, the western CIP. A large quantity of these small adjustments results on a long-term basis in changes.
  • Change
    If you replace individual parts with new ones, we speak of change. In this case a component is completely replaced by inserting a revised, reshaped or completely reconceived component. A good example is the invention of the transistor that replaces the error-prone tubes in radios. The larger good is improved, but remains in its essential structure. If all components are replaced over time with new ones, you get in the mid-term an imperceptible transformation.
  • Transformation
    When a fundamental conversion of a complex system takes place, it changes all parameters – parts, components, bearing elements and above all the handling, the purpose and the impact. Good examples are the Kondratjev waves, which show the cyclic developments of the economy based on new technology. The structure changes so drastically that the future users have to be prepared, introduced and trained for the radical change. Usually in the beginning the understanding for the meaningfulness, the necessity and the usages is missing. Transformations have an extensive influence on the transition.
  • Transition
    Out of all enhancements, changes and transformations arise the transition. In the course of time new ideas are put one on the other and lead at some point to a paradigm shift. These are very large changes, which take a long time. Eventually a very large area is affected. The digitization is such a change. It results from the interaction of the information technology and the communication infrastructure, the Internet.

More or less rethinking is required from the involved people depending on the degree of the change. The enhancement and change, which refer to clear structures and mechanical systems, are often overseen. They are hidden in internal technical matters and even unnoticeable, or just a little, in the operation.

The transformation and the change go beyond. They change many aspects at the same time and require a reorientation of the users, which leads naturally to resistances. At first the involved people have to become acquainted to the new. Then introductions are necessary, which convey the appropriate usage. When all is said and done such innovations need also new regulations, which ensure the safe application.

Bottom line: Changes happens in different degrees. The transition results eventually from the overlay of the different modifications. The stronger the modification, the more you have to strive for the understanding of the users with the help of change management.

Change is more than an “Oh, I see”

The misbelief of managers and consultants that change is nothing else than a button, which is simply switched and the change is already accomplished, leads to wrong expectations. In their own life, they obviously could not yet learn that all extensive transformations take time. They believe being able to cause a desired behavior. Changing not only individual employees, but the whole staff, through clear, quick measures, although changes take more time than an “Oh, I see”.

Change begins long before the crucial point can be seen. The following steps describe the time before (recognizing), the moment of enlightenment (understanding), and the definition of the new (designing) and the pain of the conversion (rethinking).

  • Recognizing – Oops
    Even practitioners of the head-in-the-sand practice cannot avoid the feeling of the uncertainty. Something is not OK and develops pressure over time that cannot be located easily. Eventually it becomes so unpleasant that the psychological strain forces you to face the problem and to have a closer look at it. It can take years without regular mutual exchange of opinions and feelings, until the participants get to this point. This step ends with a formulated problem that should be solved.
  • Understanding – “Oh, I see”
    The changes are preceded by a convinced “Oh, I see”. The recognized problem and the need of change are understood by the involved people. It is, as if a knot dissolves, as if the knotting would have never been there. The Greeks called it “Eureka”. In Japan the German „Ach so” is even part of the everyday language, outdone only by the Japanese なるほど (naruhodo). This internal conviction is the prerequisite for real change. For changing the whole enterprise, each individual must have gone through the lock of a personal “Oh, I see”.
  • Designing – That’s the way it goes
    With the conviction that something should be changed, it still remains unclear, what and how. An undesired condition has immeasurably many, different solutions. These new ways lead everyone in another direction and need therefore a joint adjustment to each other. The new behavior can be designed with this desired future state. It goes from new business models, operational sequences and IT-programs, to new rules, up to new values that affect the happening. The designing of the future ensures the proof that the new reality is better at all than the old and the current situation will not only be disimproved. Thereafter the actual change begins.
  • Rethinking – Ouch
    The disconnecting from old behavior requires that it will be discussed, judged, rejected and eventually forgotten. This procedure is painful, since all create unpleasant and pleasant feelings in different places. Only, if the old instinctive reflexes are replaced by new, you are in the new pattern of behavior. Thus you are at the end of the change and at the beginning of the development of new routines. It continues until the whole restarts from the beginning.

A study examined the time for changing meal behaviors. The participants needed on average 66 days (from 16 to 254 days), in order to change their behavior. The changes in an enterprise are more comprehensive and concern many differently deeply anchored behavior. This means that change takes time, depending on, where you begin to measure. In extreme cases it takes years. However, after the step “Oh, I see”, it should not last longer than six months, since otherwise you might never leave the uncertain change mode. If the changes are too comprehensive, the measures should be portioned into smaller initiatives that can be mastered within six months.

Bottom line: Change takes time. This begins long before the problems are recognized. A personal “Oh, I see” is crucial for the convinced change. With the designing of the new, it is guaranteed that you will get to the desired condition. The actual change should be finalized within half a year.

The pendulum – the ideal metaphor for framework

The provision of energy is crucial for the movement of the pendulum. It occurs immediately by pushing the plummet. It is also possible to move the string, in order to bring the plumb bob in oscillation. If you loosen the plumb bob from the string, it falls on the ground like the Newtonian apple and stops swinging. If you transfer the characteristics of a pendulum to other facts, you get an intuitive understanding of the possibilities that we have in daily life, in the economy, and as society.

pendel

Let’s limit the behavior of a pendulum to the following three characteristics.

  • Engine
    The strength of the provided energy determines the areas that are reachable for the pendulum. A lot of momentum leads to a large amplitude and small pushes result in to close circles. If more and more energy is steadily added, the whole never stops.
  • Unpredictability
    The actual oscillation of the pendulum cannot be predicted, since the influence factors could be so small that they are not purposefully measurable or controllable. This leads to random results.
  • Borders
    At the same time the range, where the pendulum can move, is firmly given by the string. As long as the weight dangles at the end of the thread and is hanging at the same place, the deflection and courses take place within a clearly defined space.

The opportunities that you have personally, or your team, or your company, are likewise determined by the framework that resembles that of a pendulum.

People can do with their life, what they want. How far or close the borders are, is determined above all by the energy that you spend. The more you exert, the more effect is happening. If you stop adding energy, the opportunities will shrink likewise. The incentive for this you find at best within yourself. In advance, of course, it is difficult it to predict, what the outcome will be. But you can affect the direction. If you feel limited by the current options, perhaps you have to overcome your limits, by changing your suspension and find your opportunities somewhere else. The new scope of oscillation offers new starting points, but again limited by new borders.

A work group consists of many individuals, who bring along their possibilities. Depending upon that variety of characters and abilities the team covers a larger or smaller surface. Contrary to the usual approach of putting similar people into a team, it is better to integrate completely different people, in order to get the maximum deflection possible. The driving forces of a group are those which give the other people the energy, so that they keep on moving. Even with best planning it cannot be said in advance, how far the group can get. At least with the right setting the course is aligned. With the appropriate suspension the space of possibilities is determined. If you take it out of the usual environment, the borders dissolve until they are fixed again by appropriate rules. Because of this, besides other things, agile teams are effective.

An enterprise generates advantages from a strong energy source. This does not have to be the ingenious head á la Silicon Valley. This can also be the appropriate culture that loads with large efforts each individual employee, each team and each department with energy – the attracting vision, the intriguing goals for all or the pleasant work environment. It is also valid here: the more varieties that you allow, the larger the possibilities. The future is uncertain, as long as you do not prepare it pro-actively. Who lets oneself drift, falls behind – even if some desire this position. The border for an enterprise is the world. More is not available yet.

The pendulum swings continuously – from centralization to decentralization, from anarchy to dictatorship, from growth to the stagnation, from determined too open. The borders, within which we move, do not simply arise, but are the result of the possibilities of all participants. The pendulum swings again and again back and forth. Actually the patterns should be clear. But it never swings back into the previous position, but into a slightly different one – but nevertheless similar.

Bottom line: On the basis of the pendulum the basic conditions that we have to deal with daily can be clarified. Without continuous provision of energy everything stops. And what will happen is difficult to predict, although it moves within certain borders. Perhaps the pendulum helps us looking further ahead within the search for our possibilities, by finding the required energy sources, by looking ahead more generously and by being aware of the borders.

Who’s afraid of change?

Always the other people – right? Fear is a natural reflex that enables us in the case of danger to react appropriately. We learned in our development as humans to be afraid of snakes, abysses or darkness. Situations that are imminent, intimidate us. There are the uncontrollable moments that frighten us. Not to forget the souvenirs, which are deeply entrenched in our memory. And all these aspects are also in a change – the uncertainty about what happens after the change, which we apparently do not have under control and which created so many negative examples in the past. Who’s afraid of change? We all, as soon as we consider a change as a threat and not as an opportunity.

Angst

This brings us into the vicious circle of change. If we look at the world with open eyes, then there is no area in the society, economy, technology and the nature that is not continuously changing. In business we have today a general division of tasks between the executives and the employees. Surprisingly, both, the one and the other, develop fear, as soon as new products, new markets, new technologies and new procedures change the usual business.

Executives are scared by an uncertain future that they have to steer with their decisions. It begins, if not enough or too many aspects enable contradictory decisions or prevent the look into the future. Eventually the influences change every second and lead to a dramatic volatility of the solutions. The dealing with these risks is a crucial ability of the leaders. The fear increases, if the uncertainties step into the foreground in the case of decision. It even does not emerge, if the risk is classified positively.

The employees frequently feel their existence threatened – loss of the work and the routine, the lack of new abilities, and the uncertain future. It starts, if the staff recognizes that something is happening, without knowing what. This includes announced changes without showing the effects on the employees. And it reaches to the implementation when the individuals face the new without being sufficiently informed what to do, what is permitted and what they are accountable for. The fear increases, the less clear the changes are. It does not emerge, if the employees are involved in the transformation from the beginning.

The success of a change depends on, whether the participants get involved in the transformation. However, it would be a too high expectation that all are happy with the upcoming without ifs and buts. The commitment to change is the crucial condition, in order to accomplish the transformation. For this reason, all elements that release fear should be avoided. The following measures defuse the pressure of change.

  • The early participation of the concerned people leads to more readiness for change.
  • The trustful exchange of opinions and facts prevents exaggerated half-truths.
  • The determined structure of contents and the procedure creates orientation.
  • The continuously shown sympathetic endorsement by the decision makers underlines their conviction of where to go.

It remains one hurdle for the executives, i.e. their conviction that the guidance of the employees is their core competency. For this reason they have difficulties to admit that they need support. They do not want to show their bareness of not being able to achieve it by themselves.
Support is available from independent third parties. They are helpful pioneers, who concentrate on the goal and make change possible. They are free from personal dependencies, skeletons in the cupboard and the typical interests of the business unit that make it difficult for the concerned people to go for the new.

Bottom line: The way out of the fear is, not letting emerge anxiety. In the course of this the service providers are helping, who are coming from the outside and are doing change as daily business. Everything that it takes is decision makers, who are not making a fuss to accept external help. They will get thereby a positive perspective and effective measures, which also convince the concerned people. Fear of change is avoided and momentum is brought into the realization of the new through the appropriate initiatives.

Planned transformations need a targeted strategy

Change takes place constantly. As long as you are drifting, you leave your fate to others. If it does not run in the  expected direction, some speak of superior forces that they cannot control. If advantages appear, then they are pleased about the fortune and the divine providence, which gives them benevolently positive results. Of course nobody would get the idea to drive a car, without changing gears and, above all, without steering. But planned transformations need a targeted strategy, even if many are critical.

Strategiezielen

The most important task is setting the direction that provides the framework for the planning in all areas. This sketch consists of

  • an emotionally loaded picture of the future, which encourages the staff,
  • a comprehensible reason, the mission,
  • a set of premises, the critical success factors, the value disciplines and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks,
  • a rough direction that describes growth or contraction and/or first or second order changes,
  • defined general goals that should be reached, and
  • the core of the enterprise that determines the crucial capabilities, processes and deliverables.

Those who consider the individual parts can benefit from it. Nevertheless enterprises and departments allow themselves the luxury to act without a formulated strategy. What is the problem?

  • Above all, many do not understand the components and the application of the plan. It is as if one would have a bow and arrows, but never saw or learned or tried their usage.
  • Without a personal conception of what you want to reach, you cannot provide direction. It is as if you can shoot with the bow, but you do not know, where the target is.
  • Even if some have the picture of the future before their inner eye, they let themselves too much time, in order to translate it in words and representations. It is, as if you direct the bow toward the goal, but you cannot decide of letting the arrow go.
  • Frequently the plan for the future is prepared and published, but the outcome is not determined. As if you would shoot the arrow and you would not be interested in the impact in the target.
  • If planning does not achieve the desired results, then many do not have the ability to readjust. It is as if you would not continue trying to hit the target after the arrow missed the target.
  • If you achieved, what you wanted, then people think that they need the strategy any more. It is as if one would hit in the bull’s eye and would thereafter shoot no more arrows.

BTW, the probability of a hit without shot is equal to zero. After the shot is before the shot. In this sense the development of a strategy is a continuous task that is necessary.

Bottom line: The strategy is a fixed part of everyday business. All parts fulfill their purpose of aligning the employees to a joint goal. Daily practice is burdened by clumsy use of the parts. However, if you want to steer transformation, nothing else remains than a targeted strategy.

New things – younger and older together

The special about new things is the fact that they did not exist before. This includes new products, like phones, with and without cables, as well as new work styles. Some changes take place over a longer period of time. Others happen really fast. The phone, for example, took more than seventy years until five percent of the Germans were connected – the mobile phone needed nine years and Facebook only three. Do you create these innovations better with younger or older people?

Veränderungaltjung bw

Since this topic is a tightrope walk of stereotypes, I want to make clear that the descriptive traits are not valid for all younger or older. Nevertheless, due to the differences in the life stages, there are resulting advantages for the department or the company, as soon as you know how to use them together. Thus the answer is already given: New things you create the best with younger AND older ones. What defines the two groups?

  • Older (Postwar generation, Baby Boomers)
    These are essentially people born before 1966. They are in the second half of their career. The postwar generation is approaching retirement. They are sharpened by the economic recovery and learned that personal employment pays off. They live in order to work and are driven by a positive, future-oriented perspective. Due to their experiences they know that the collection of the relevant information, the development of new things and their implementation need time. It enables them to keep on going during a longer period. Their skepticism towards hierarchies results in the fact that they want to address and solve critical topics actively. They are burdened with experiences that lead quickly to killer phrases, like ‘it never worked’. At the same time these memories provide solutions for basic problems of alignment, realization and implementation. They are thus basic stakes for the application of new things.
  • Younger (generation X Y Z)
    The group of the youths consists of those, who are born after 1966. The GenX is in the center of its career, the GenY at the beginning and the GenZ will start their careers within the next years. They have in common that they are technic-minded and that they care for work life balance. They are used to receive in short intervals much information and alternation. That makes them curious, impatient, short-term-oriented and quickly critical and resistant. However, they are unencumbered and free of self-limitation that enables them to present new ideas. Their education provided them with the most current concepts and solutions. Therefore, they are the crucial driver for new things beyond the established ones.

Based on the descriptions it becomes clear that each style has important, complementary elements. The curiosity and the impatience of the youths offer the substantial momentum that helps older people out of their routine. At the same time the stamina of the older ones creates sufficient time that can be invested into the projects, in order to raise it above the Tipping Point. For a working interaction, time should be invested in workshops, so that the employees can exchange their approaches and better understand and appreciate the approaches of the others. But it needs rules that satisfy all, as well as an agenda that do disconnect anybody by too slow or to fast action.

Bottom line: New things will lead to results in cooperation between younger and older, which benefits all. The correct mix adds effectiveness mutually. On the one hand the older people receive the momentum, in order to be able to think new things. On the other hand the youths profit from the wealth of experience of those, who already brought things on the way several times. For this reason it is important to avoid imbalance in the age structure of their departments and to ensure the advantages of mixed teams through respective training and cooperation models.