Hierarchies are good – as long as the boss becomes a service provider

1. Culture stings structure

When Franz Kühmayer was in Silicon Valley this year, his ideas about the Mecca of technology were thrown overboard. In fact, he expected Google, Facebook and young startups to have flat hierarchies.

But that is not the case: “The structures are very hierarchical,” says the leadership expert at the Zukunftsinstitut in Vienna. The difference lies solely in the understanding of leadership. At meetings, for example, managers join in and ask what processes and projects they can use to support their employees.

Being a controller or commander of a company is no longer appropriate today. “European companies often believe they can master the digital transformation by changing the structure.”

But it’s about a change in culture: the CEO has to understand himself as a service provider – as is already common in Silicon Valley. “The word service is both serving and paying in. We can already do that in Europe, while we still have some catching up to serve.”

What to do: “Instead of changing the structure within the company and implementing flat hi-archives, entrepreneurs need to develop a new leadership attitude.”


2. Detecting supposed disadvantages as advantages

Male, 30, Workaholic: That’s the typical Silicon Valley manager, according to Kühmayer. In Europe, on the other hand, people focus on work-life balance and diversity. This slows down the processes: “While you make quick decisions in the US and implement projects faster, you are more careful and careful in Europe and weighs the consequences in advance.”

The disadvantage of slowness and “lagging behind” can also be interpreted as an advantage. “It’s good that we think about new things, we just do not see it that way.” The debate over Facebook and electoral influence show what consequences it can have when it comes to frivolously protecting privacy and security. “With the basic data protection regulation that we have in Europe, that would not have happened,” says Kühmayer.

What to do: “We should be careful not only to stand in Europe as a brake, but to recognize the value of our deliberation.”

Also interesting: New Work: How the fairy tale of cultural change becomes a reality

3. Strengthen emotion and empathy

The algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated and the machines increasingly intelligent. Do people have to do that too? Kühmayer says no. “We can not even compete with machines and fight for jobs with the smart, fast robots, for example, and we will not be able to become a better machine, perhaps even thwart artificial intelligence.”

Rather, “When machines become better machines, people need to become better people.” Kühmayer calls for more humanism. “The big questions of the future will not be solved with technology, but with questions of ethics.”

An example is the Pflegeroboter in the old people’s home. How should this be used, that the seniors feel well taken care of? Which human component do the patients need? “These are questions that initially have nothing to do with technology, but with how we want to shape our everyday lives.”

What to do: “Companies not only need analytic thinking in zeros and ones, they must foster a mindset that is emphatic and emotional and puts the human at the center, as an important counterbalance to the digital analytic world.”

4th generation change also means gender change

In many medium-sized companies there are generational changes. “At the moment it is still the case that company bosses hand over their scepter to their sons,” observes Kühmayer. “Daughters do not have them on the radar.” Still not. “These are conditions like in the Middle Ages.”

Times have changed though. Long time. “The generational change of 500 years ago has nothing to do with today’s world, but in some minds it’s still so entrenched.” According to Kühmayer, this is also due to the fact that the recipes for success worked long after Scheme F. But that is changing with the digital transformation.

“Entrepreneurs should now become aware that there are actually big changes,” says Kühmayer. “The recipes of success of the past are not the future.” Above all, bosses have to think about how to deal with global competition and human-machine cooperation. ”

Diversity helps. As studies show, managers of different education, background or gender have a positive impact on a company’s health. “The more complex a management team is, the more solutions there are for problems.”

What to do: “Company bosses should think not only about the generation change, but also about gender change.”

5. Education as a social process

Further education is one of the key success recipes. “Many entrepreneurs believe that providing people with new learning opportunities through online platforms and intranets is good.” Good, but not good enough: “It is better if people learn together: with each other and from each other”.

Kühmayer advises against a move away from pure online to more offline learning. “To overcome social and political barriers, collaborative learning is much better suited to creating a sense of closeness and building mutual understanding.”

What to do: “Business owners need to establish educational opportunities – but they should not rely on online alone, but establish education as a social process.”

Also interesting: companies benefit from new perspectives

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