Jan Peter

Jan Peter

  • Expert in change and trans­for­ma­tion manage­ment with a focus on sustain­able company changes 
  • Over 23 years of consul­ting expe­ri­ence (in imple­men­ta­tion of orga­ni­sa­tional, stra­tegic, and cultural changes) 

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Initial Situa­tion

A modern way of working can be admired not only in Silicon Valley but also in Berlin, and the success factors that distin­guish digital compa­nies and agile orga­ni­sa­tions are known: holi­stic customer focus, internal budget processes, sepa­rate IT systems or full control of digital projects. However, the indi­vi­dual percep­tions of the people respon­sible for the imple­men­ta­tion are often very diffe­rent. This article there­fore describes the approach in the context of a trans­for­ma­tion which – ideally executed – can be trans­ferred to all levels of a company. 

The chal­lenge of common objectives

It is often the case that digital changes fail because top mana­gers cannot agree with one another. Although a clear commit­ment to the set goal is expressed, imple­men­ta­tion takes place in an unco­or­di­nated manner and there is little to no progress. The trans­for­ma­tion is regarded as incom­plete. The company manage­ment, which wants to develop the orga­ni­sa­tion into a digital, customer-focused company, firstly needs to fully under­stand all the facets of the planned change with regards to the conse­quences, and then visua­lise the actual, func­tio­ning busi­ness model in its target state. They should enter into an inten­sive opinion-forming process.

For example, such a trans­for­ma­tion requires that all HR systems be changed. The stipu­la­tion, “We will address each other by first name”, and the aboli­tion of tie-wearing is certainly not suffi­cient. Since employee deve­lop­ment paths are comple­tely turned upside down, radical rethin­king is vital; budget plan­ning and control processes – as well as the spatial concepts – have to be adapted. All execu­tives and employees must buy-in to the change. The process requires an extre­mely high degree of inten­sive commu­ni­ca­tion, honesty and authen­ti­city. The time chal­lenge for top manage­ment is cons­i­derable, and often underestimated. 

Proce­dure: The opinion-forming process as a “trans­for­ma­tion journey”

One charac­te­ri­stic is always the same in the successful trans­for­ma­tion of compa­nies: the long-term, inten­sive discus­sion process about the target image by top manage­ment. The process of achie­ving a digital and agile company can be worked out on five diffe­rent levels by top manage­ment on the road to “trans­for­ma­tion”:

  1. Digital, customer-centric target image (“how do we want to be perceived by our customers?”)
  2. Customer-focused KPIs (“what do we want to achieve for our custo­mers and how do we measure ourselves?”)
  3. Way of working – customer-oriented work (“how can we achieve this for our customers?”)
  4. Agile orga­ni­sa­tion and leadership (“the rules of our cooperation”)
  5. Customer-oriented mindset (“our beha­viour in cooperation”)

If top manage­ment has inten­si­vely addressed and under­s­tood these five levels, the change can proceed. It is recom­mend­able to consult an advisor with a great deal of exper­tise in change and trans­for­ma­tion manage­ment in this deve­lop­ment process. This can also help address and smooth over personal diffe­rences within top manage­ment. Mutual inter­ac­tion and the corre­spon­ding corpo­rate culture is vital to the success of the change, as well as customer percep­tion of the company. 


Examples of successful transformations

In the 2000s, when a large European tele­com­mu­ni­ca­tions provider trans­formed itself from a product-focused to a customer-oriented company, this change was preceded by a three-month inten­sive process of opinion-forming at the board level. For three months, the board met weekly for day-long work­shops, coope­ra­ting to develop a new busi­ness model under the guid­ance of a consul­tant, and to under­stand every detail. During the disco­very process, each member of the board went through a personal learning curve; the discus­sions were colle­gial, coope­ra­tive and even contentious.

At the end of this “trans­for­ma­tion journey”, all members of the board agreed on the new busi­ness and opera­ting model, and imple­mented it with convic­tion. They accepted what the trans­for­ma­tion would mean for each indi­vi­dual execu­tive manage­ment divi­sion, and what changes would have to happen in the orga­ni­sa­tion, the execu­tives, and the employees. Each board member was fully prepared meet the imple­men­ta­tion chal­lenges head-on, and to bring their best effort. The board group had grown into a part­nership-based team.

A second example is the trans­for­ma­tion journey that a product-oriented provider of IT solu­tions has gone on to become a digital company. Three members of the board deve­loped the target image of a customer-centric and digital busi­ness model over a longer period of time. It included key figures and opera­tional measures to achieve customer orien­ta­tion, gover­nance and a new corpo­rate culture. During the discus­sion of the content, one of the members of the board became aware that there was a diffe­rence of opinion regar­ding the imple­men­ta­tion. This disagree­ment led to a new deve­lop­ment process. 

This small step, perhaps perceived as redun­dant at the time, paid off several times in imple­men­ta­tion. It went smoothly and quickly; today’s customer figures and busi­ness results speak for themselves.

Recom­men­da­tion

The working world will have changed comple­tely by 2030. All of today’s predic­tions will occur, although with diffe­rent charac­te­ri­stics and at varying levels of inten­sity. What is certain is that we are unli­kely to be working and “serving” custo­mers in the way we are accu­stomed to today. Since the expected changes are known, every respon­sible top manager should deal with the possible and necessary changes.
With all of my expe­ri­ence as a consul­tant, and taking into account scien­tific studies on successful trans­for­ma­tions, my recom­men­da­tion is that every board of direc­tors and every manage­ment team should go on a “digital and agile trans­for­ma­tion journey”. This means taking part in a high-inten­sity (at least once a week), long-term (three to four months) discus­sion about the target image, the future design, and the orga­ni­sa­tion of the company on the five described levels.

The time and content invest­ment always pays off. We know from modern manage­ment methods around Lean, Agile, Scrum, etc. that constant exami­na­tion of the target image is necessary. This should be a lasting process in every top manage­ment team if the company is to be successful in the long term. There is still time to shape your future. Doing so will faci­li­tate not only the change into a digital and agile company, but also future transformations.

In brief:

The desire for trans­for­ma­tion into a digital and agile company is beco­ming increa­singly important for many compa­nies. Although the success factors are known, the processes often fail due to the lack of inter­ac­tion at the manage­ment level. But how can an optimal trans­for­ma­tion be desi­gned so that it can pene­trate all areas sustain­ably? Jan-Peter, an expert in change and trans­for­ma­tion manage­ment, describes the prere­qui­sites for successful trans­for­ma­tion and the chal­lenge of accom­panying this “journey” as a consul­tant with his five-level model.

Jan Peter

Jan Peter

  • Expert in change and trans­for­ma­tion manage­ment with a focus on sustain­able company changes 
  • Over 23 years of consul­ting expe­ri­ence (in imple­men­ta­tion of orga­ni­sa­tional, stra­tegic, and cultural changes) 

Want to get to know Jan Peter?

Get in contact

Still curious?
There is more to see here:

All Perspectives