How not to practice innovations management.

It is quite possible that I still believed in institutions and administration when this picture was taken.

Bureaucracy and administration paralyze concerns and medium-sized enterprises. Agility gets lost, Taylorism flourishes. This is how all systems will, sooner or later, make their survival the central goal of their thinking, functioning and behaviour. The interests of the important stake-holders “customer” and “employee” will be suppressed, the enterprise will become inflexible and fragile.

Then the determining factors and environment will change, once in a while even disruptively. The “management” is totally surprised by what happens. A business model that used to be very reliable and beloved is suddenly questioned. There is no better one on the horizon. More and more helplessness grows. Everybody expects a miracle. Innovation and agility are praised as the saviour. Everything must get better.

As a consequence, nothing happens. Except that new programs that follow old patterns are created. The administration gets one or several additional staff departments. They will then be responsible for “change” or innovative management. The new world is now communicated by the central administration with lots of noise. The propaganda machine starts running. On a slide used by the director, you will, for example, see:

„The board identified priority areas to improve in 20xx to become the company we want to be.“

Then comes a list of innovations. As a general rule, you will find CSR (corporate social responsibility) and similar nonsense. Mostly, you also get something about performance or profitability. Once in a while, the customers are also mentioned: you want to become customer centred. Occasionally, they will also sing the praise of “new values” and a different “culture”. But above all, you will always find lots of buzzwords in these works. And that makes you wonder why expensive counsellors get so much money for such weak formulations.

The best case is if things that have been looked down upon for years suddenly become epiphany. I mean terms such as taking responsibility, eye-level, respect and appreciation. Agile and lean, openness and transparency are repeated in mantra fashion. Modern methods and informal communication are propagated. Except that nobody tells you how this is supposed to work. Neither is anybody keen on actually installing these concepts, because the system does not really want any of them. In fact, the system wants to establish and improve its own power. No matter what it costs.

I have come to that stage where I can relate numerous stories about how enterprises have become more and more bureaucratic and administratively complicated. On the other hand, I do not know a single instance where they successfully returned to the simple, agile and open enterprise.

That is the reason why, in social systems – be it enterprises or societies -, I no longer believe in transition or transformation towards less bureaucracy and more life. Basically, it cannot be done from the top, anyway – and they will not allow it from the bottom. Consequently, I will no longer waste my time and energy in old structures. Instead, I will only support concepts where something new is created. Innovation is creative destruction. As in evolution, new things will only happen when an old generation dies out and a new one evolves. That is just how it is.

Please understand my article as an optimistic message. All you have to do is have a little patience, then everything will work out just fine.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

1 Kommentar zu “Entrepreneur’s Diary #120 – Change Ordered from the Top!?”

  1. Frank Schütz (Tuesday March 14th, 2017)

    Lieber Roland,

    Solche Firmen kenne ich auch. Als der Optimist als den Du mich kennst, glaube ich schon, dass es auch aus einem Unternehmen heraus klappen kann. Ans Ruder dürfen dann aber keine Manager, sondern Unternehmer. Gerne mit Erfahrung mit den eigenen Kunden. Also schon auch aus dem eigenen Unternehmen. Vielleicht mal unter den Störenfrieden suchen.

    Grüße, Frank

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