Year: 2019

Less Is More: Knowledge Work Requires (Also) Idleness

Less working hours lead to more and better results. What may sound absurd has recently been impressively demonstrated by Microsoft in Japan. In August, all 2,300 employees had five Fridays off – with the same salary, mind you. The result of this experiment were happier employees and 40% more productivity. More working time does not automatically lead to more or better results in knowledge work. Nevertheless, the culture in many organizations is characterized by the simple formula “more attendance = more work = more performance = more career,” as Cawa Younosi, Head of Human Resources and member of the Executive Board of SAP Germany, put it in an interview on the change in values regarding working time. So it’s high time to correct this formula in our minds and unleash people’s creative potential through a better balance between focus and idleness.

Work-Life Balance: Differentiate Without Separating

Never I have been a devotee of the concept of work-life balance. It suggests a separation that I am not willing to accept. If something has lost its balance, then it is surely our way of doing business, where work is designed in such a way that it is only bearable with a proper counterweight. So let’s not strive for more work-life balance, but for a world of work worth living in, in which people can unfold their full potential instead of just being human resources. Let us differentiate the various areas of life without separating them.

Leadership Beyond the Walls

Which responsibilities do organizations bear for society? Is it enough for them to fulfill their respective purpose to the best of their ability or do they also have responsibility beyond that? Who takes care of the whole if everyone only takes care of their own? In view of the pressing social challenges of our time, above all the threat of the global climate crisis, these questions concern us all more than ever. They are by no means new, however, but have already been answered in detail and unequivocally by Peter Drucker: Leadership does not end at the walls of the organization, but also assumes responsibility for the community.

The Lively Disorder of Agile Organizations

The biggest hurdle for companies undergoing an agile transformation is the perceived loss of control. At its core, agility means self-organization. The more decentralized decisions are made, the more flexibly the organization can react to new situations and the more adaptable it is as a result. So far, so good. But the more decentralized decisions are made, the messier things appear for the existing management and especially for the management in companies with a high proportion of engineers, as is often the case in Germany. However, this disorder is not a flaw, but an expression of creativity and liveliness. Only those who can accept this and recognize that this lively disorder can be reconciled into a coherent whole with the right leadership can overcome this first hurdle in their agile transformation.

Leading With Passion

Leadership unfolds its impact always in two dimensions: on the one hand there is the Why, which manifests itself in a common purpose and attractive vision and on the other hand there is the We of how people are involved and touched. Good leadership is characterized by passion in both dimensions. Through the personal and exemplary commitment to the common purpose on the one hand, and through its love for people and through the belief in their talents on the other, leadership sparks enthusiasm, inspires people and thus changes the world – both large and small.