The Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership is on the one hand a useful stimulus for personal reflection on one’s own leadership qualities, especially in the form of the recently published e-book. On the other hand, its theses also provide a useful framework for an interactive workshop in which leaders can reflect and discuss those theses and their respective stances. Exclusively for my readers I offer for free this brand-new workshop format.
Transformation is what everyone is talking about, because digitalization demands adaptable and customer-oriented organizations. Apparently steadfast organizational principles and behaviors that have been successful for many years must be questioned: away from the local efficiency optimum in the functional silo towards interdisciplinary cooperation along the value stream, away from long-term planning in a relatively stable environment towards sailing by sight in the VUCA storm and away from the pyramid towards the network as the prevailing organizational principle. However, such a radical change only succeeds if the people concerned are not merely “won over” as passive objects, but are allowed to participate with equal dignity in shaping the change.
Digitalization does not replace humans and it cannot do without them. On the contrary, it is precisely because of digitalization that what is typically human is more in demand than ever before. This refers in particular to our ability to find creative solutions together as independent individuals and to work together effectively and efficiently in teams and organizations. In the past, this cooperation has long been characterized by central control on the one hand and obedient fulfillment of duties on the other. What was not very human for unskilled workers at the beginning of industrialization, but at least productive, has finally become a degrading impertinence in the middle of the information age. New leadership today aims at cooperation that enables independence in the sense of the whole.
Much can be learned from Lean Management: Understanding the value for the customer, then identifying the value stream and optimizing the flow to avoid unnecessary effort and last but not least ensuring continuous improvement. However, the focus should not only be on the application of other and better methods, but also on a different leadership culture. The second pillar of the Toyota Way therefore is respect for people. At the core of Lean Management are the people as its essential success factor. The motto of Lean Leadership is therefore “empowering not instructing “. This principle deserves to be disseminated at least as vigorously as the well-known concepts and methods of Lean Management.
After my switch from our small but fine start-up esc Solutions to the BMW Group IT in 2015, I was asked more than once whether I really was serious about this move. To be honest, I asked myself this question also more than once in the first half of 2015. A short story full of pictures about the pain of adaptation in a large corporation and how it helped me find my role as corporate rebel and court jester.