Fig leaf or true transformation – Digitisation and Leadership

Feigenblatt oder echte Transformation – Digitalisierung und Führung

Lectures are always a bit of self-therapy for the lecturer. Also for me at CCW2019 in my lecture on “Digitisation and leadership”.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The term “digitisation” is used in many companies – either to mark another box in bullshit bingo or to prepare the workforce for the need for change. Changes that demand a lot from each individual: maximum flexibility, high commitment, lifelong learning, personal sacrifices, and new responsibility. And at the latest, when we talk about the “future assumption of more valuable activities”, the circle of attentive listeners becomes clear.

Because the future breeding ground for successful leadership needs something else: a healthy corporate culture and the right attitude of each individual on the job!

Oliver Nissen is since 2010 Head of Social Media & Services at Deutsche Telekom Service in Kiel. He is one of the founding fathers of the digital customer service “Telekom hilft” on the social web.

Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies, with some 178 million mobile customers, 28 million fixed-network lines, and 20 million broadband lines.

Unfortunately – particularly in the area of customer care – a lot has been done in recent years to minimise the willingness of the workforce to actively help shape such changes.

  • A confusing jungle of key figures as far as the eye can see

  • Established control folklore that binds executives to reviews, telephone conferences, or mail servers instead of taking care of the people in their teams

  • Top-down communication without meeting the recipients

  • Control mechanisms that overemphasise a manager’s action rather than his/her sustainable success – “I informed my team” instead of “My team understood”

  • And every day minor manipulations that serve the personal success of each individual and which are tolerated as long as they provide a green traffic light

  • Rigid process landscapes that leave little room for the individuality of each customer

  • [here may be your example of what you’re thinking of]

Mindfullness vs. key figures

And suddenly “those out there” are talking about people like Bodo Janssen, operator of the hotel chain Upstalsboom, who took the results of an employee survey to heart and not like just another key figure. They talk about mindfulness and about changing attitudes and cultures.

These topics are not immediately measurable and cannot be pressed into the framework of key figures – let alone signify rapid economic success. At the same time, they come upon pyramidal companies and managers who are suddenly supposed to relinquish some of their responsibility. Managers who have drawn their own raison d’être from being decision-makers. What remains for the role of “manager” when the “decision-maker” epaulette is removed? How do attitudes or cultural change match productivity, efficiency, or buzzwords such as chat bots and artificial intelligence? As a manager, how do I find my personal compass between the much-loved KPI-driven day-to-day management and breaking out of my personal comfort zone?

Why is an agent’s answer to the question “What is really important to me?” perhaps more relevant to the success of customer service than the 0.578 seconds saved per customer contact? And how can I get them to even ask themselves that question? And are those who do not ask themselves this question suddenly no longer good employees?

Questions upon questions – I would like to invite you to think about your personal answers.



Jessica Halbritter

Ich bin als Referentin Marketing Kommunikation beim CCW-Veranstalter Management Circle tätig. Für unseren Blog zur CCW bin ich für Sie immer auf der Suche nach interessanten Tipps, Tricks und Stories rund um den innovativen Kundendialog.

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