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.
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).
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.