Manager and Digital Transformation: Caught between quarterly goal and survival


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Automation, robotization and the advance of artificial intelligence determine the future. But it is easily overlooked: salvation can not be found only in technology. Lots Company will miss the connection to the future simply because they persist in antiquated goal-finding processes. Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®

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Anne M. Schüller's Profile anne-m-schueller_portrait-mit-hutAnne M. Schüller is a management thinker, keynote speaker, business coach and multiple award-winning bestselling author. She has repeatedly been named Top Voice by the business network LinkedIn.

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Manager put in the short term trap

When it comes to sustainability, the pure digital may make up 20 percent. 80 percent is transformation. Theoretically, managers are fairly familiar with the needs that arise in terms of business models, organizational structures, and leadership processes. But they are in the short-term trap (Pero Mićić). They have timely targets to deliver and deliver quarterly results. That makes them future-blind. And this endangers the survival in the market.

Goals define the direction in which managers run. But before long-term projects, the obvious goals are targeted. This is the "Low Hanging Fruits" phenomenon. If goals are also rewarded, there is no stopping them. You do everything you can to claim the goodies. So as long as short-term goal achievement is in the foreground, the future will not be tackled.

Rewards? Oh yes, dearest immediately!

“Would you rather get ten euros from me today or eleven euros tomorrow?” Faced with this choice, as studies show, most people take ten euros today. Our brain is very reluctant to miss good moments, that's what evolution has created. We particularly take action when it comes to rewards - even if we know that other alternatives would make more sense in the long run.

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This also applies one to one to management. When it comes to choosing between business survival and the achievement of short-term goals, immediate results are the preferred option. Even if you gamble away the economic future as a result: company values ​​are destroyed, morale is trampled on and customer welfare is sacrificed in order to get a precision landing on goals.

In addition, managers in their function as decision-makers do not only have company interests in mind. Everyone is pursuing their own goals. It is about power, prestige, fame and honor, political games, local bonuses - and of course your own career. "We act for the good of the company," I often hear. That is nonsense. And devoid of common sense. Self interests beat company interests.

Tradierte Zielfindungsprozesse: predestined for lug and deceit

Business reviews, budgeting processes and planning processes, which plague half the company in paralysis for weeks, are on the agenda every year in classical organizations. In the course of elaborate rounds of betting, betting on the future hikes the silos up and down. And all of them play with it. Whoever does not respect or ignores the rules of such theater is the stupid one.

At the bottom you set the numbers as low as possible, because no matter how well-grounded the elaborations are: “On top” they add x percent to the target numbers for coffee and cake. At the same time, the estimated budgets are cut sharply. Then follows over the whole Company A nerve-racking arithmetic, dozing and chess, to break everything down to the specified periods.

Managers do not follow the reality, but the plan

The only certainty in the business is probably that the plan and reality are already drifting on the second day of the new financial year. And what does a good manager do then? It follows not the reality, but the plan. He does not look for maximum feasibility, but for craps, in order to create the given numbers. Because he is measured and bonified at the planner filling. In the end, companies reward the list, lug, and fraud. And everyone knows.

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Small and large things are pushed and pacted. Too much, too little or the wrong thing is being sold. Successes are bunkered and conspired with the customer in order to achieve the required precision landing. So that the budgets do not expire at the end of the year, they are quickly squandered, no matter what or how expensive. And every Friday is fairy tale hour. The weekly report must be written.

Time-consuming and untimely: reaching the target bureaucracy

If the anticipated weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual results have not been achieved, a comprehensive deviations analysis and explanatory bureaucracy will start immediately. Scapegoats are being sought. Wrong reasons are found. But even while you are dealing with past data, the future is running out of it. The resources that devour the whole thing and the controlling people, who are busy with it, without any value added seem seem no matter.

Such ordinary ball games are not only abstrus, they are also very risky. Because the whole organization is busy with itself, there is no time for the customers. In a system based on rigorous control, no innovations can arise. For whoever is rewarded for the fact that he fulfills the requirements and follows the prescribed paths meticulously, will never dare to take on anything new. Moreover, no one likes to work for reports, which anyway nobody reads.

Moreover, the future is seen as a linear extension of the past in classical target-finding processes. As long as the economy changed in a manageable way and was geared towards growth, it was also quite well. But these times are long gone. Digitization has catapulted us from straight to exponential change. With target, measurement and control procedures from then on, one remains on the line.

Nobody is sure about disruptive surprises

"The behavior of complex systems is unpredictable," says organization expert Niels Pfaegging. In addition, fast times cannot be planned one year in advance. Control processes cannot discipline the future. On the contrary: The gap between self-forecast and real development is getting bigger.

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And not a single industry is safe from disruptive surprises. We don't know if they're coming, when they're coming, and where they're going to attack, but we know when they come, they'll come quickly. This requires if-then scenarios, dynamic tactics, flexible goals, open-ended processes and options for different futures on demand.

Today, the greatest successes are often right next to the plan. Rigid targets thus cause future damage, which one does not even see in the wrong zeal: the one of the missed opportunities. Who will push into these opportunities? This is the generation of the young entrepreneurs.

How companies can achieve the future

With digital core competency and a nose for innovation, the young generation is driving new business, communication and purchase models at a rapid pace. Old-school apparatchiks have no chance against their brisk, cheeky, agile, flexible approach. Unless they switch from fixation on plan targets to sustainability - and strategically involve the young talents.


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  1. Anne M. Schüller

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