How can I stop bullshit from people

Stop bullshit bingo in management

"We have to shape the digital transformation!" "Be disruptive is the motto!" "Our company should become more agile!" It is currently echoing from the podiums and meeting rooms in this country. We need change. And prefer to play bullshit bingo - those who say "Agility", "Disruption" or "New Work" more often win.

At the moment digitization, entrepreneurship mentality and digital transformation are mentioned in the same breath as innovation and change. All of them buzzwords. But how exactly "change" and "digital change" should take place is often not discussed.

The discussion only scratches the surface. And is peppered with appeals of what is must and recipes of what is ought. Everything is mentally digitized that is not on the tree at three. In the offline reality, a working group is first formed.

Do it, consume

Or: Fear manages the change. We hastily book design thinking seminars, devour books on lean management and initiate Scrum and Kanban. The change is prescribed from above, as is the innovation, external consultants are commissioned and internal innovation officers are employed, while the workforce is initially paralyzed with fear in the face of the impending change, which is absolutely essential.

We need innovation. But what does that mean? Compulsive innovation can irritate a company just as much as the new chocolate pizza from a creative manufacturer can irritate our taste buds. Not everything that is new makes sense.

The first step would be so easy: focus on the essentials.

When I talk to companies about executive programs, the same pattern often emerges: They don't know exactly what their employees need, and they don't really know what their customers want either. Because they don't talk to them. They want to be innovative, but often fail to ask the crucial questions: What do you actually want? What do you need for that? And where do we want to go together?

Into the chatter

So I'd like to shout into all that buzzword chatter: stop bullshit bingo! Stop the knee-jerk prescription of innovation measures for everything and everyone. Talk to your employees and your customers. Decides where digital measures really make sense. Talk about what digital transformation means for you and your company in concrete terms. Talk about what is already there, pay attention to the strengths of your employees, and listen to what your customers say. Take their ideas seriously. Go on stage and say that we can innovate, even without design thinking (just for the record: I'm a fan of design thinking, it's a wonderful method when it's properly placed). Every company already has the potential for real innovation: employees with creative and new ideas, customers who like to talk about their needs.

Scrum, Kanban, design thinking, agile management: All of these are valuable tools and approaches, but they are only a means to an end and certainly not a panacea for an uncertain future. So the question is not: what approach and what tools do we use? But: Who are we as a company and who do we want to be in the future? Ah yes, and of course, who are our customers, and what empirical values ​​should be taken into account here? Management has to start with that.

Look, appreciate

Start with what is already there. And actively involve employees and customers in the change, because innovation and change cannot be prescribed from above. It's what happens when you let people do it. It is what happens when you strengthen employees in their personal responsibility and recognize and appreciate them for what they do. It is what happens when you reveal the goals and communicate strategies in an understandable way.

And now, you ask? There are no generally valid recipes, but there are possible approaches:

Lower your ego Management has to start with itself. This is the first step towards meaningful change. Have the courage to seriously involve other opinions and ask for feedback. Often I am confronted with a certain uncertainty of the management, not wanting to change too much - it could possibly affect the corporate culture. ? · Clear and transparent Be clear and transparent in communication. Innovation projects fail because the strategy is missing, communication is unclear and there is a lack of employee acceptance. What helps here is clear and open communication in advance.

Think outside the box Think outside the box and create learning and development spaces: What will tomorrow's customers want? Where can we be successful? To keep up with Clayton Christensen: "Large companies fail because they do everything right" - and pay too little attention to essential changes in their environment.

Relieve Take the pressure off. Do we have to be innovative at all costs? You can't revolutionize your business overnight. Build on what works. In which areas is the company already agile? Where can you find good ideas? Asking and listening is the motto. ? · Revolutionize Revolutionize intelligently. The customer determines what is interesting and not bullshit bingo. What is behind the buzzwords is there to improve the situation for customers, companies and employees - and not for its own sake.

Bullshit bingo or not bullshit bingo, that is your question. (5.10.2017)

Helga Pattart-Drexler heads the Executive Education department at the WU Executive Academy