The Year That Was, 2018 – A Review in Words and Pictures

We live in times in which “many things have changed and change faster and faster”, as the time researcher Karl-Heinz Geißler so apt­ly put it. 2018 was an excit­ing year, and it passed very quick­ly. So it is high time for a big thank you to my read­ers and my com­pan­ions ana­log and dig­i­tal for the vibrant exchange and the inspir­ing dis­cus­sion. And it is time for a brief review of this year’s top­ics, which more or less revolved around the two focal points of agili­ty and agile trans­for­ma­tion on the one hand and human – or bet­ter: humane – lead­er­ship on the other.

Since I start­ed writ­ing this blog in 2010, my arti­cles have always reflect­ed the top­ics that kept me busy. Fol­low­ing Kleist’s advice, I have been grad­u­al­ly devel­op­ing my thoughts while writ­ing in now over 500 posts (since this year in Ger­man and Eng­lish) with about 120,000 page views per year.

Agile Transformation

Graph­ic Record­ing of my talk at the Agile Lead­er­ship con­fer­ence in Nurem­berg in Novem­ber 2018 by Julian Kück­lich

This year was clear­ly influ­enced by my main role as Agile Trans­for­ma­tion Agent. I always con­sid­ered this title bit too hero­ic, as it basi­cal­ly describes a ser­vant lead­er­ship role as coach, cor­po­rate jester and tour guide for the agile trans­for­ma­tion for one main depart­ment of the BMW Group IT.

In the course of this year, I have pre­sent­ed what this is all about in detail, what con­cerns me per­son­al­ly and us as orga­ni­za­tion on this jour­ney, and where we stand, in many talks, e.g. at the Dig­i­tal Lead­er­ship Day in Bre­genz, where the fol­low­ing video was record­ed (video in Ger­man; how­ev­er, the slides are in Eng­lish and avail­able at Slideshare; you can watch an Eng­lish talk by Ralf Wal­tram with sim­i­lar con­tent here).

Game Chang­er 100% Agile: The jour­ney of the BMW Group IT towards an agile prod­uct organization.

Humane Leadership for the Digital Age

For a suc­cess­ful agile trans­for­ma­tion, we must recon­sid­er also lead­er­ship. A fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of agili­ty is self-orga­ni­za­tion. In agile orga­ni­za­tions, deci­sions are made as decen­tral­ized and sub­sidiary as pos­si­ble. And with agili­ty, enlight­en­ment final­ly finds its way into orga­ni­za­tions and replaces the abso­lutist pow­er of a supe­ri­or with a con­sis­tent sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers.

These ques­tions about lead­er­ship for agile orga­ni­za­tions in the dig­i­tal age have occu­pied me inten­sive­ly this year — also and espe­cial­ly in light of our agile trans­for­ma­tion. The six the­ses of the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship, which more than 500 sup­port­ers have already signed, emerged from an attempt to find answers to these questions.

The Five Most Popular Posts in 2018

The Dead End of the Agile Transformation

Any­one who copies Spo­ti­fy or sim­ply imple­ments any oth­er blue­print of an agile orga­ni­za­tion makes a fun­da­men­tal mis­take. As tempt­ing as blue­prints may seem and as appeal­ing as their intro­duc­tion may look on a grand scale, as sure exact­ly that leads the agile trans­for­ma­tion into a dead end.

Three Surefire Ways to Kill Any Innovation

There are many ideas. And those who have visions should rather vis­it a physi­cian, said Hel­mut Schmidt. The most impor­tant thing is that the busi­ness runs effi­cient­ly and wild ideas are a nui­sance. If they should nev­er­the­less haunt your orga­ni­za­tion, here are three sure­fire ways to kill every inno­va­tion right from the start.

Three Pillars of Sustainable Change: Empathy, Trust and Patience

Change and change man­age­ment was yes­ter­day. Today we are doing trans­for­ma­tions. Unfor­tu­nate­ly often only the name has changed and where it is labelled with trans­for­ma­tion it actu­al­ly con­tains very tra­di­tion­al – and very tay­loris­tic – change man­age­ment. A suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tion an organ­ic process based on visions. 

The Uncomfortable Truth About Open-Plan Offices

With all due respect to col­lab­o­ra­tion and team­work, but there are times when peo­ple need to think and work alone and qui­et­ly. Stud­ies by Ethan Bern­stein and Stephen Tur­ban clear­ly show that, con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, open-plan offices do not pro­mote, but rather impede face-to-face encoun­ters between colleagues.

Leadership Is About Asking Questions Instead of Giving Answers

Lead­er­ship is about mak­ing oth­ers suc­cess­ful. This is the lead­er­ship phi­los­o­phy of Sun­dar Pichai, CEO of Google. In con­trast to Taylor’s man­age­ment, which is still too deeply root­ed in our hier­ar­chi­cal orga­ni­za­tions, lead­er­ship means first and fore­most ask­ing (the right) ques­tions rather than giv­ing (the right) answers.


The title pic­ture was tak­en at the rad°hub 2018 in Rotterdam.

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