Schlagwort-Archive: Cooperation

ProCons of networks

Increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) can no longer be mastered with the rigid structures of the past. Collaboration takes place across borders, wherever you look. The related structures are constantly changing and subsist on self-organizing actors who build, use and eventually resolve the necessary relationships. The result is a more or less dense network. Aside from today’s needs, where everything is just one click away, there are some arguments in favor of and against the use of networks.

The following ProCons affect not only networks but all types of communities.


The benefits cover more than just the economic interests of the companies.

  • Competence advantages
    The network draws its strength from the purposeful connection of resources and capabilities. The participants‘ intrinsic motivation provides the network with a long-term advantage ahead of other forms, which on the one hand require a lot of setup time and on the other hand never have comparable access to this amount of competencies.
  • Information advantages
    The actors provide a lot of information. This includes experience and knowledge about different markets, customers, products, technologies and, above all, business processes. By sharing this information (push vs. pull), they reach all network participants at a relatively high speed.
  • Resource advantages
    The actors already provide a variety of resources – material and immaterial goods and especially people. Contrary to other forms of organization, the network offers an adjustable openness that makes it possible to expand resources faster. Just the use of these resources of the actors provide means that otherwise would have to be procured with much effort. In addition, this tool is usually better suited that is brought by the craftsman.
  • Social advantages
    Getting to know like-minded people is a huge advantage for the actors. The sense of community offers an environment in which you can expect more pleasant working conditions and a trustworthy cooperation due to the same interests.
  • Economic advantages
    Looking at the entire network, there are many savings for the company. Cost advantages arise when the actors already bring additionally to their commitment many resources that do not need to be purchased. The combined competence accelerates the business and reduces the risks. Practicing self-organization in a network avoids delays caused by a hierarchical structure with its long decision-making and communication paths.


Against networks speak especially apparent extra efforts, unpredictability and the difficult control.

  • Time
    Even with all the advantages, networking requires active involvement of its members. The open procedures and the lack of centralized control require other efforts of the participants, which are perceived at first glance as additional expenses. However, much higher overall savings can be made for the company.
  • Redundancies
    Even with a lot of engagement in disseminating information, there can be more double work in the self-organized network than in a tayloristic organization. The lack of control can lead to a competition for the best idea that would be wasteful.
  • Increased communication effort
    The multiplicity of actors increases the coordination effort, which can even not be avoided with agile approaches. New insights and experiences simply have to be shared, absorbed and processed. This effort is the price for a lot of advantages.
  • Cooperation issues
    Of course, because of the variety of characters, there will not only be sympathy, but also antipathies that can burden collaboration and trust and eventually lead to an increased need for mediation. This makes team building an important exercise.
  • Lack of control
    A strong driver for the formation of a network is the intrinsic appeal for each participant. Leadership could quickly disturb. At the same time, a network also needs a direction. Without centralized control, the network might take longer to reach an agreement.
  • Information loss
    The open structure of a network and the frequent participation of individual members in different networks automatically lead to the leakage of information. Lack of secrecy could endanger the network.

Bottom line: Although many aspects speak against creation and participation in a network, you have to face the fact that a VUCA world creates new conditions that function in a way that cannot be covered by traditional approaches. The competence, information, resource social, and economic advantages are arguments for the use of networks. At the same time, appropriate measures have to minimize the risks.

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 conductor does not only set the beat

The Berlin Philharmonics consist of more than one hundred twenty musicians, who are led by Sir Simon Rattle. This is an enormous manager-to-staff span compared to business managers. Even if you divide the symphony orchestra in 16 instrument groups with the respective concertmasters, still the conductor has to lead each and every musician directly within the rehearsals and concerts. At the latest, when we think about Igor Stravinsky, we will recognize that the conductor makes more, than setting the beat.


Executives should also not only be limited to the beat. The following aspects have an important role in leadership, independently of the leadership style that one exerts.

  • Self management
    The largest task before you lead others is to steer yourself. A natural bias makes the neutral look at the own mental states and actions difficult. Only considering the own roles and the associated aspects, like convictions, abilities and actions, enable you to demand and promote the employees.
  • Conception
    The idea that leadership is a task independent of contents does not fit any longer into current times. The leader has to take care of the development of new approaches. The efficacy of the employees is determined by the basic conditions, like consistent goals and the clear description of the tasks. For this purpose it is critical that the executives have a content-related mental map of their field.
  • Coordination
    Leadership that reduces itself to practicing a given power does not fit any longer into today’s business reality. The actual control of organizations takes place through a positive harmonization of the interests of the involved people. Besides the applied mechanisms (e.g. agreements, result orientation, Linking pin) a structured change management and a lean control system (Governance) determine success or failure of the initiatives. Coordination works best at eye level.
  • Communication
    The dissemination and the mutual exchange of information within the nervous system of the organization are the basis for a viable and flexible business. This is where you can experience the real communication culture – the speed and preciseness of the information flow. Knowledge that is power, does not exist any more in an open information society, since the employees can get more information, than bosses could ever stockpile for their personal advantage.
  • Cooperation
    The biggest effect leaders achieve with the design of the internal and cross-functional cooperation. It becomes especially crucial, when the dedication of many people is needed, in order to achieve a joint target. Workshops are the framework for developing integrated strategies and business models as well as improving the culture of the enterprise. Without an appropriate infrastructure (e.g. meeting corners, beamers, whiteboards, on-line forums, video conferences) the breeding area for the work is missing.

The additional aspects of leadership, like the performance review, the employee interview, and the job description also have to be fulfilled. The classical HR instruments set the beat. However, effective leadership needs more (see above).

Bottom line: The current dynamics and the fast pace require more than the application of the classical controls. The appropriate self-awareness, paired with a level of conceptual imagination, the employment of the right coordination mechanisms and a reasonable openness in communications create the perfect place for business. It is crucial that the conductor does not only set the beat.

The biggest mistake in Change management

The world changes the Homo sapiens and the Homo sapiens changes the world. And for sure these alterations happened with pain. Who really knows how many people burned their fingers with the discovery of the fire or struck their fingers painfully in the invention of hand axes. Innumerable humans paid with their life the spreading and the changing of religions and political systems. If today enterprises introduce huge changes, many employees are concerned. Nevertheless the leading team makes again and again the largest error in Change management.


Everything starts with change pressure. This results from the will for change or the psychological strain of the management team. Depending on whether the decision makers want to new or away from unwanted procedures and behavior, they have to overcome different hurdles.

Heading for new shores contains much positive energy. This eases the definition of the direction. The way out of problematic routines has to overcome more negative energy, in order to find its way. In both cases it is important to bring the strategy into a structure, so that the concerned people of the involved areas understand what has to be achieved.

The participation is an important pre-requisite, so that the new ideas have at all an opportunity to be realized. For this purpose, the integration of the people, who have to change, is crucial at an as early as possible stage. The transformation, in which the target group participates in the development, can be easier realized.

Change always happens in the mind of individual people. The proverbial „Nuremberg funnel” unfortunately does not exist. Everybody has to achieve the transformation by themselves. Managers have no other chance than ensuring attractive perspectives for all people.

Some management teams believe that it is sufficient to define the direction. The employees have no other choice than going along with the change. Unfortunately this is not the way it goes. The resistances that unfold unnoticed in the daily business can prevent the complete initiative.

Many limit themselves to lavish marketing and communication measures. They hope that the prepared messages convince the employees to join in. For an inexplicable reason, they however avoid the direct contact to the target group. Therefore it is important to establish feedback channels that allow determining difficulties before they grow and than will only be dissolved with very large expenditure.

Effective Change management worries about the smooth operational sequence of the activities. For this purpose the direct contact to the working groups and the target people is important. The biggest mistake in Change management that the leadership team can make is to stay away from the target group during the changes by only involving representatives. That way you do not get the necessary feedback that would facilitate to adapt oneself to the new world for all involved people.

The following aspects lead to hurdles and abysses that overload needlessly the transformation.

  • Too little information,
  • Too little participation,
  • Too little cooperation and
  • Too little listening to the concerned people.

Bottom line: The biggest mistake in the Change management is not to consider the target areas. Frequent publications and official endorsement by the decision makers as well as an intact mutual exchange of opinions and mental states are the basis for successful changes.

The too tightly held egg breaks

Every time I take an egg in my hand, I pay attention that it does not slip out and breaks on the ground. At the same time, I avoid making a too strong grasp, so that I do not break it. I am aware that the shell is stable, but nevertheless the careless pressure could crack it.
Aren’t executives not in a similar situation? They lead the employees and ensure that they adhere to the sets of rules that result from the laws, the corporate guidelines, contracts and other arrangements. As with the egg, the leaders have to create the balance between a too loose and a too tight guidance. If results are missing or the employees withdraw their respect, then the leader forfeits his authority. If the manager controls too pedantic, then he risks the staff commitment and loses employees through fluctuation in the mid-term. In any case the danger exists that the basis for cooperation will be broken.


In the past executives could grow into their tasks by accompanying experienced superiors. Today, after graduating, a few internships and some short professional experiences, one can already get assigned to an executive position. This trend is amplified by HR policies in large companies, which rely more and more on assessments in artificial „lab conditions “. We can recognize these bosses from their work style. They are characterized by their Micro Management, the taking over of project functions and thereby missing out the leading.

The following leadership tasks are crucial, in order to accomplish the guiding role.

  • Communication
    The regular exchange of thoughts, opinions and facts is particularly important and at the same time very time-consuming in groups. The more employees are directly assigned, the more time is needed for the exchange of thoughts and the less time is available for each employee. It takes time for personal talks as well as for different forms of conversation (e.g. fireside chats, coffee talks, powwows). Besides personal discussions the comprehension of the employees is increased by publishing regularly important topics as emails, newsletters or a personal intranet page.
  • Coordination
    The skimpiest alternative of coordination is the command chain with their order and obedience. It is actually clear for most people that this model is no longer workable. Who would like to be led in such a manner! For this reason there are today further mechanisms for coordination, e.g. agreements, targets or the Linking pins. This naturally requires more time, than simply issuing an order. In the long run, however, the involved people learn to act autonomously. Then the remaining effort happens particularly in the information exchange.
  • Cooperation
    Also executives are forced to work together with others. For this purpose an environment should be created, that facilitates teamwork. Apart from the necessary equipment with spaces and media, workshops offer a setting outside of everyday life. In these work groups people coordinate the direction of the area and business models as well as the culture.

In all cases it is crucial to find the right balance between demanding and promoting. It is not a matter of not being able to exert pressure, but to create with the right leadership results AND to keep the acceptance, motivation and commitment of the employees.

Bottom line: Leadership is a critical task, since it has a large influence on the economic well-being of the company. It is an important contribution, in order to keep the teams on track and to provide them with sufficient hold. The same way as the too loosely or too firmly held egg breaks, the efficiency of a team stands and falls with too little or too much leadership.

See also: Out of the liability

The future of leadership

Guidance is one of the oldest roles in societies. And nevertheless executives are continuously looking for the right style of their role. Apart from the tasks and tools of leadership managers are concerned with the following questions.

  1. How much involvement is possible?
  2. How many rules are needed?
  3. How do I distribute tasks, authorities and responsibilities?
  4. How much loyalty do I need? How does it emerge?
  5. How do I promote cooperation?
  6. How to select executives?
  7. How much leadership do we need at all?

Do new systemic concepts like holistic, autonomous units, interconnectedness, participation, and self-organization, pave the way for new, yet not recognizable styles of leadership? How does the future of leadership looks like?


Executives provide goals, organize, decide, evaluate and foster employees by using various tools (e.g. role descriptions, regular communication, performance reviews). They control with it their area, create orientation and take responsibility for the results (You find more about tasks and tools of leadership here:
Without leadership, these aspects have to be developed in the team and consent has to be agreed. Positive examples of self-organizing groups are the agile teams in software development and other creative professions.

Nevertheless, new approaches imply also new answers to the questions of executives.

  1. Involvement results from democratic forms of cooperation, like having a say and participation. These can also be established in connection with hierarchical structures. For a long time, autonomous, self-organizing teams are common practice in the context of bureaucratic structures, like projects, Centers of Competence or Production islands.
  2. Regulations range from chaos to orderliness and from voluntary to mandatory. They are important tools, in order to clarify the desired behavior of the employees. These rules become meaningful with the appropriate level of detail that covers the tension between patronizing and autonomy. The joint agreement of basic guidelines in the governance minimizes the number of regulations.
  3. Task, authority and responsibility (TAR) of a role should be consolidated under one roof. The best example of the distribution of TAR is the subsidiarity principle of the Vatican. It bundles decisions at the point of action. Only if this is no longer possible, the role is established on the next higher level.
  4. The loyalty is an important element of leadership that cannot be directly created. On the one hand, it results from the authoritarian or charismatic attitudes of a leader. On the other hand, it evolves from the indirect stimulation of the commitment with personal, content-wise and formal commitment amplifiers.
  5. Cooperation can be designed in various ways by using the new possibilities of networking and self-organization. The exchange of information can be realized with common intranet sites, discussion groups and blogs. The employees access via mobile PCs or smartphones their necessary data wherever and whenever. The employees meet independently of their whereabout within phone and video conferences.
  6. The selection of executives has an influence on their acceptance. However, democratic approaches like the direct selection or recruiting of leaders by the employees, does not guarantee their effectiveness. Independently of the selection procedure, there will always be some employees, who accept the boss – or not. As you can also see in politics, democratic elections result in a distribution of 51% to 49% – i.e. half of the population does not want the winner.
  7. At the latest, when the number of members of an organization exceeds the magic Dunbar number of 150, we need leadership and an adequate hierarchy. Small organizations, like start-ups, can survive for a certain time without formal structures. We should not to forget that these are also often driven autocratically by a founder.

Bottom line: Like an orchestra will never like to forgo the conductor, we cannot let go the integrating role of leadership in the future. Each undertaking needs the strategic alignment and concluding decisions by executives. The guidance becomes state-of-the-art by using the new possibilities for cooperation.

Penniless managers are worth nothing

After the ghost of planned economy collapsed, large-scale enterprises evolve to huge centralistic administrative bodies. After years of lean management, culture, hierarchies rigidify, which undermine their intended claim for a flat structure with the subordination of equal levels. The return to functional organizations covers the inability to base the organization on processes. The cross charging of deliverables create an internal market in which specific amounts are negotiated and paid with the transfer of budgets – wooden nickels from the left to the right pocket. The degree of bureaucratization can be seen via the necessary reports and guidelines. More and more employees serve an overhead of project, planning and budget reports. At the same time, the guidelines evolve to one entanglement of regulations that cannot be conveyed or obeyed anymore. The crucial error is however the new approach to realize savings, namely to decide right at the top any outward cash flow. Yet it is forgotten that leaders are worth nothing without financial means.


What do doers need in order to fulfill their tasks?

  • Apart from the personal characteristics that constitute leaders, like integrity, decisiveness and customer focus, the following tasks should be fulfilled: Self-management, conception, coordination, communication and cooperation.
  • The tasks, authority and responsibility specify the scope of action. The tasks describe the activities that are to be mastered. The authority determines the decision, directive and action powers. The responsibility obligates the superior on the decided approach and the goals. On this basis the personal evaluation and remuneration are done.
  • The allocation of a cost center and the equipment with sufficient budget is an important part of the authority. Like the fuel tank of a car, the available funds limit the scope that a decision maker can cover. Penniless leaders have actually no chance to contribute value-adding results.
  • Bosses as entrepreneurs in the enterprise need a comprehensible business model. Within the business idea, the target audiences, the deliverable portfolio and the clearly outlined scopes are specified.
  • An important function of the executive is the indication towards a positive future and the measures for reaching it. The strategy should provide the employees a seizable framework for the realization.

As soon as these components are missing, the leaders are worth nothing and it remains noting else than eliminating these positions.

Bottom line: The leadership tasks require a large spectrum of abilities, in order to be able to perform a task meaningfully. However, as soon as the leader is guided on a short leash, without budget, even the best characteristics go pop, because penniless managers are worth anything.

Make room for the collaboration

Meetings are considered large time wasters. The more participants, the more difficult it is to obtain a perceptible benefit for the individuals. The attendees escape into the study of documents, the editing of emails or get busy with other things than the actual topic. In order to regain their attention, make room for the collaboration.


For this purpose, the meetings that require practical cooperation can be prepared as workshops. A fruitful session includes the following aspects.

  • Topics
    The subject of the meeting should be clearly described. This includes a meaningful title of the meeting, the description of the purpose and the goals as well as sufficient information, so that the involved ones know what is at issue.
  • Participants
    The selection of the participants should follow the topic and the contribution of the individuals. The clear tasks, authority and responsibility ensure that the attendees can deliver a decisive contribution to the purpose of the meeting.
  • Process
    The procedure shows in advance, which steps, how long and with what results are intended. With an appropriate planning, the activities and an adequate timeframe are determined, in order to ensure that useful results will be obtained.
  • Prerequisites
    The list of conditions should prevent surprises. If individual conditions are not fulfilled, it is reasonable to delay the workshop, until the ability to work is prepared. That way the number of meetings without results is minimized.
  • Workshop organization
    The preparation of the rooms, the materials and the catering as well as the logistics, the overnight accommodations and the supporting program is an important condition for a frictionless meeting. Depending upon the size of the meeting, it is recommended to form a team that takes care of the event. A checklist ensures that nothing is forgotten.

The effort for the preparation increases exponentially with the duration of the meeting. This ensures that the attention remains high throughout the entire period. Short workshops require relatively little effort for the preparation.

P.S.: In the interest of a better use of time, meetings that do not need the personal appearance should be replaced by other communication channels. Indispensable encounters should be transformed into turbo-workshops that deliver concrete results in one hour.

Further leadership tasks are the self-management, the conception, the coordination and the communication.