When we comb through business magazines or online portals to find what's worth reading, we currently find, along with articles that call for the next recession, many publications on how digitization will turn our world upside down and what we need to do: to meet the challenges we need “chief digital officers”, “agile teams”, “new work” and “digital leadership”. Right? Of course, everyone is right. Somehow. Maybe. Yes, we've dramatically changed our buying habits since amazon came into existence. Yes, we are looking for restaurants online today and trust in the rating of the "swarm". Yes, our media consumption behavior changes dramatically in times of Netflix and Co..Everything is right. But let's be honest: the buzzwords are slowly getting … on my nerves.
Sometimes also provoke
There will be no patent recipes for our companies for the changes already underway. Because: every value creation model is somehow different. However, I am convinced of one fact: there is not “the-one-person” who knows it best. The knowledge we will need is just being generated. We do this by reconnecting existing knowledge, changing perspectives, and experimenting. That brings us to the heart of the matter: we have to generate new knowledge, and to do this, people with different backgrounds and experience have to question, knead, reconnect and struggle for the new path of a company. Perhaps it is not about one, but several paths. A respectful culture of conflict is indispensable for this, since different personal and professional interests, but also different experience and knowledge meet within one company. The buyer sees the world differently than the production manager. The controller sees the world differently than the service technician. There won't be “the-one-person” who knows how to do it. This makes it all the more important to hear different arguments, put forward theses, question them together, and test them with experiments. Sometimes it might take also to provoke in order to get to the core, or to bring experience-knowledge and gut feeling into the scales of decision making.
We need the spark
Different opinions will and must come to light. I am convinced that the way in which our company deals with these different views of things, how they are discussed, provoked and how decisions are made, will become a decisive success factor in the ongoing transformation. Those who seek perfect harmony will fail. A respectful culture of conflict is the prerequisite for peeling out our new value propositions from the forest of possibilities. We should not give in to the illusion that we will cuddle up to success simply by furnishing seating corners with singing bowls or transforming our bosses into coaches. Sparking is caused by friction. And we will definitely need the spark in our companies.
Have the courage to engage in necessary - but not endless – discussions, and then make good decisions. Especially for the older semesters I recommend to actively take part in the necessary discussions and not to “cocoon”. Dare to say things that might not be "main stream" or en vogue. Ask, if you don't understand something. Stay curious! Check critically your "old knowledge", but also the effectiveness of the new methods. Not everything that says "agile" nowadays really helps always and everywhere.
I wish you much success! The way to top performance in companies is not possible without a respectful culture of conflict. We need sparks. With or without digitization.