The Change in Management (Presentation)

The two presentations I gave last week on “The Change in Management” never got boring. I enjoyed them very much and I got the impression that my audience, too, had fun. Consequently, the feedback I received was also very nice for me

Since the presentations were quite interactive, it is not easy for me to put them in writing. Still, let me write down a few points, even if quite a few things that happened during the presentations will be lost to you.

Change will come – if we want it or not.

My two presentations were about

  • Project Management;
  • Management;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Leadership;
  • Innovation as Creative Destruction;
  • Craftmanship;
  • The  “Co” Era: co-creation, co-programming, co-operation …
  • Future is Female
    Why do so few women serve time in prisons?

All these are elements both of our private and professional world. In enterprises and institutions, we create future. The following factors play an important role:

  • The culture we practice in the social systems and
  • how said systems are organized.

Processes of communication, decision and responsibility change.

Who knows the terms:

Barcamp, Jam Session, OpenSpace, Fishbowl?

If not, maybe you should look them up in Wikipedia.

Today, the following is important:

Sharing knowledge, hand on experience. From those who are in the thick of it for those who are in the thick of it. Consumers want to turn producers.

You meet at eye-level. Fear-free rooms make creativity possible.

What was it like in former times?

  • Trees grew from the bottom to the top.
  • At the top, you had the hierarch, clear command structures, disciplinary bosses.
  • And it worked for a long time. It was a simple and well-structured, and, above all, a stable world.
    Example: German electronics concern (dealing with everything around electricity) as a hierarchical organization. It was built following the pattern of the German Reichswehr. Build up and procedures are organized, structured into enterprise sectors with up to 10 hierarchical levels, staff divisions for shared tasks, such as F&E, Marketing and all kinds of central functions.
  • That is how the matrix: organization with full/dotted lines and staff and central units was created.
  • Example: electronics concern, business areas motors/generators, small appliances… Shared design, etc., sales, etc., research were central staff units.
  • This organizational model originated with the industrial revolution – Taylorism-style and mechanically. And for a long time, all went well with it.
  • After a few years, the organization (mostly only parts of it) had to be modified. But that was easy.

Today, this is no longer an option – which is why so many people lament about their enterprises suffering constant re-structuring. Except that this is not enough for following the speed of change. Consequently, “after the re-structuring” more and more often means “before the re-structuring”. Even worse: the next re-structuring will begin before the last one is finished.

And even in nature, trees grow from bottom to top. The first ones who noticed this were a few idealists in the informatics sector. They put the trees upside down.

  • But then, it is not an option to turn trees upside down.
  • It would make the CEO the one who supports all (big Frederick as the country’s number one servant).
  • So you see, trees are not enough.
  • New means of communication, too, cause change. Change brings communication.
  • This is how the transition from the tree to the network happens in the shape of a ball in the three-dimensional space.

(Note: even in military dimensions and in warlike conflicts, it seems that – when all is said and done – network-like structures are superior to hierarchical command structures, even if the latter have a huge resource superiority).

Well, all of this is not precisely news. As early as in the 1980ies, there was a remarkable development, for example at St. Gallen College. They came up with a “management model” which makes the HSG world famous. Its basic points are the eight theses by Hans Ulrich – “Management – Essays, part 2,   1981 – 1998 On the Change in Management”:

  • Accept the uncertainty and unpredictability of the future as normal state of affairs!
    Strategy as planning of a future: acceptance that decisions will always have to be made with an uncertainty factor.
  • Expand the limits of your mental concept!
    Against the “but” … and for freedom of ideas. But also: sharing knowledge.
  • Applying the categories “both-and“, instead of “either-or“!
    Black-and-white is out, colorful is in.
  • Thinking multi-dimensionally!
    Balancing of interests in an ethically responsible way. Basically, humans can only deal with three ideas simultaneously.
  • Self-organization and self-control as the model for your enterprise!
    Responsibility, Subsidiarity.
  • Consider a manager’s job as a meaningful task that makes sense!
    New management image.
  • Focus on what is really important!
    Working economically.
  • Make use of group dynamics!
    Cultures, symbols, rites, rituals.

Today, all is about producing knowledge quickly and shaping the future together. Consequently, what we need is creativity in order to find the problems (first creative obligation). After we found them, we have to make use of our knowledge and generate solutions.

Taylorism and “mechanism“ is no longer possible in modern social systems. It is better if we gain the necessary knowledge through the new communication formats.

(Note on private life: the traditional family model, too, was Taylorist and mechanistic. Does anybody still want it?)

Unfortunately, many managers to this day do not understand it and many enterprises still live in the yesterday. This also explains why the “new enterprises” are such a success. It took them only a few years to overtake the “old industry”.

The roots of what happens today and in this country can be found among the (then criticized) prophets of the Bonn republic, such as Adorno and Habermas (Frankfurter School):

Dominion-free/fair discourse as a basis (Habermas)

  1. No outward restraint must hinder the discussion.
  2. Having the best argument is the only reason for winning.
  3. Everyone gets an equal chance to take part in the discussion.
  4. Everyone must be capable of “self-portrayal without offense“ and make himself transparent for the others.
  5. Everyone must be prepared to talk about the basic decisions he made in life and be prepared to have them criticized. (There is a clever system of speech and counter-speech, having to prove all you say, experience, authority, etc.).
  6. Nobody enjoys special privileges because of his age, experience, authority, etc.
  7. Everyone must be prepared to change behavioral expectations with everybody else. The same is true for switching roles.
  8. The discussion will continue until a consensus is reached. As soon as the truth is accepted, it will determine the future life and behavior of all the parties concerned.

It all sounds unrealistic and utopian, but it will become more and more reality:

  • Through formats such as jam session, barcamp, openspace, fish bowl;
  • Pecha Kucha, Ignite;
  • Round meeting halls;
  • Web 2.0 (interactive Blogs, Twitter)
  • Wikipedia and Open Source
  • Social Media like Facebook and Google+ as a logical conclusion.


The dominion-free discourse is filled with life. In a hybrid combination with the internet (social web), the new world of shared interests gets stronger and stronger. A new society of communication and “gaining knowledge“ is built. Belonging and sharing get more and more important as values.

And being part of it will make you happier and more successful!

So I tried to give a future-oriented presentation.

(Translated by EG)

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