My way or highway



how organizations may have to re-consider their setup

when digitizing their business…




When I started to work for Hugo Boss in 1995, the company was for sure smaller than today, but at the same time traditionally organized like all other corporates, big or small. For a Teamleader in product development you had to press hard to reach the CEO or even place an idea (although the famous Werner Baldessarini was one of the most open bosses you could find). The whole system was based on hierarchies, based on the advantage of knowledge - the higher, the more important it was to have „the right information“. It was a system of power play but also looking back from today, it was technically the only way to perform and to master the business. All information had to be aggregated manually, filtered, interpreted and polished upwards to make the right decisions downwards. No one would question this, maybe complain about it, striving upwards, but not question it.

Fast forward, to quote Thomas L. Friedman, today „The world is flat“ and so is information. Everything we want to know, we can find instantly in the internet. No matter how complex the question is or how difficult a problem seems to fix, you bet, someone made an explanation or a video about it. We got used to it and again, we don’t question it anymore. It became a daily habit and for sure Gen. X,Y,Z sees access to information rather as a kind of human right.

What bothers me here is that a lot of digitalization projects still don’t take that habit into consideration when implementing it into companies strategies. So much is thought and planned about the IT-topics and for sure everyone today is immensely cautious when thinking about GDPR issues and of course that is a valid point.

What I want to stress though is that with digitalization a lot more information becomes available and usable for everyone and that changes the power play completely. A lot more decisions can be made by first level leaders and no higher levels are required. Not only is this faster but also quite often the better decision because of the proximity to the topic itself. That requires of course a signifikant change in the self-esteem and self-image of Top Leadership roles and the hierarchy levels in general. Less is more here and I guess that with new generations of employees entering the work force, Micromanagers and „Exclusivity-Knowledge-Owners“ will have a tougher life than in the last decades. I said it in my last post and want to re-iterate it: HR must be part of the digital transformation, otherwise the traditional organization will hinder a proper and efficient implementation.

And even when I think about IT infrastructure, systems become decentralized. Edge computing in addition to central servers. On premise vs. Cloud, it looks like digitalization gives a voice to everything and everyone. I am curious what it will make with us and to us on the long run. For sure it will challenge leaders and HR departments much more in the near future.

Love it – enjoy the week.