Thinking new with new thinking. Without always thinking outside the box and anticipating trends, no consulting firm can survive today. That is exactly why we are looking for the next generation of consultants! A team of students from different disciplines discusses and therefore develops new ideas on the topic:

“Leadership 4.0 in the working worlds of the future”

What is the future of leadership? What changes in the dynamics of companies? What expectations will managers have in the future? What makes leadership successful tomorrow? These and more questions are discussed by the KONZEPTE-ThinkTank:


6 Theses of the future of leadership:

  1. A complex environment cannot be controlled.
  2. A living system is agile and dynamic – and requires flexible and adaptive leadership.
  3. We reach a “cognitive threshold” in complex systems – the path leads beyond experience-based intuition, cooperation and the networking of many.
  4. Many companies have been successful in the division between analytical thinking and operational implementation – but can no longer react adequately to the dynamics of complex issues.
  5. Decisions are always made in the context of uncertainty and failure. However, most companies maintain a culture in which failure is interpreted as an avoidable mistake of individuals – and nobody wants to be that individual.
  6. Experience is important – but it refers to yesterday’s solutions and must always be questioned with regard to the current situation and the future.

Why do managers have to lead differently today?

Date: 02. 02. 2018 // By: Bereket Tesfazion

4 November 2008, a historic day for the world. Barack Obama is elected 44th President of the United States. For the first time in the history of the United States will be an African-American president of the United States. A politician who has managed to inspire the masses with simple but clear messages (“Yes We Can”, “Hope”). More importantly, moving people for a cause. A question that one asks oneself as an interested observer is: How do you manage to mobilise six million volunteers in one year and thus raise 650 million dollars in donations (which by the way is a record in the US election campaign history!)?

Many would now say that his charisma and rhetorical qualities have moved the Americans. However, in addition to his charisma and rhetoric, there is another important thing for his grandiose success: his leadership style. This style of leadership is called transformational leadership.

What is “transformational” leadership and what qualities should today’s managers have in order to use this management style profitably for their own company?

The word transformare comes from Latin and means something like transforming or reshaping. A key feature of transformational leadership is the existence of a long-term vision for the company that comes to life through the entire personality of the manager. The relationship with employees is characterized by mutual respect, loyalty and trust. The goals set and the vision are achieved through a high intrinsic motivation of the employees.

But why do managers have to lead differently today than 20 years ago?

In the past, employee management was based on a rather objective exchange. Targets were agreed between the supervisor and the employee, and in return there was a financial reward if the targets were achieved. In short: I achieve the goals you have set and I get my money or promotion opportunities for it. A major disadvantage of this management style: the motivation is purely extrinsic. My work for your money. My working hours for promotion opportunities. However, if the external incentive is no longer there, the motivation suddenly falls into the cellar.

Transformational leadership, on the other hand, offers employees an interesting vision that can be achieved together. Work motivation comes in.

Transformational leadership is particularly effective in times of uncertainty and instability. Digitization in companies is currently the central challenge, with even greater uncertainty about its effects and consequences for employees. Externally, the general conditions are changing rapidly. Dynamic innovation and new technologies intensify competition between companies.

But serious changes are also taking place within companies. A new generation – Generation Y – is entering the labour market with different values and expectations of the world of work than the previous generation. (Other work motivation: meaningful work is in the foreground, other demands on leadership behaviour: no authoritarian, but cooperative leadership is desired).

What are the most important characteristics of a leader who wants to lead the transformational?

1. the manager has a long-term vision!

Employees need to know why they come to work every day. What are the company’s goals, mission and vision? Where will the company be in 10 years and how will it get there? The manager should have an interesting and clear vision of the company and this should be lived in the corporate culture.

2. the leader is motivator and communicator!

The goals to be achieved and the long-term vision must be communicated regularly by the manager in a motivating and emotional way. In the manager, what she wants to ignite in the employees must burn! As a result, our employees are committed, loyal and goal-oriented.

3. the manager is a role model for the employees!

Only when the leader appears with credibility and integrity does the leader become a person to whom one pays respect. Or as the famous Austrian psychotherapist Viktor Frankl would say: “Values cannot be taught, only lived.” Ethically correct appearance is accompanied by professional competence.

4. the manager promotes the individuality of the employees!

The manager is not only the boss who decides everything from above, but he is also a coach. He knows the strengths, motives and needs of his employees and understands the development of each individual employee as a management task.

To sum up: Transformational leadership is becoming increasingly important in times of digitalization. On the one hand, digitisation will force companies to change in order to survive in competition. On the other hand, Generation Y will change the corporate culture with a new attitude of expectation towards companies and management itself.

The Age of Artificial Intelligence and its Effects on the Workplace

Date: 31. 12. 2017 // By: Gero Becker

Neural networks, the object of research in neuroinformatics and a subfield of artificial intelligence, actually had more relevance in the 1980s than a theoretical construct of the academic world. However, thanks to increasing and cheaper computing power and increasingly complex problems, they have experienced a kind of rebirth in recent years.

This technology enables algorithms to learn how to solve a given problem most efficiently by providing huge amounts of data (big data). This problem may be reflected for example in the form of image recognition (e.g. with EasyPass), text recognition (e.g. with chat bots) or speech recognition (e.g. with Siri).

Capabilities of this kind enable companies to increasingly let self-learning software take over activities that were previously reserved exclusively for people. A first example are the factory workers, who were forced to hand over the production of the most modern products (e.g. Tesla´s) to production lines full of industrial robots and today only perform control tasks themselves.

But this was only the beginning of a much deeper technology-related transformation of the world of work in the coming decade. AI researchers worldwide celebrate success after success. Google Deepminds algorithm AlphaGo defeated the reigning Go world champion Ke Jie, as well as teams of up to five Chinese professionals, several times at the “Future of Go Summit” in May 2017. It is remarkable to what extent this victory trumps the famous triumph of IBM´s Deepblue over world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. At that time, the mere computing power of the machine (100 million position evaluations per second) helped to success by brute force. Today’s neural systems get along completely without rules and teach themselves these and beyond that particularly successful plays by innumerable plays against themselves, independently.

From this follows a decisive paradigm shift: For the first time machines do not learn from us humans, but we learn from them! AlphaGo’s moves were not preset, not programmed by professionals. No, they were developed completely independently and are today astonishedly analysed by the most experienced professionals of the Go scene.

Go is many times more complex than chess and most jobs are of course much more complicated than Go. Nevertheless, similar to a game,

many of our daily jobs are also largely based on following rules. This makes it possible for algorithms to take over increasingly demanding tasks from the board game world and into the working world.

One of the next industries that will most likely be influenced by AI research (keyword: autonomous driving) is the transport of goods. Thousands of truck drivers will be replaced by self-steering trucks and once the technology is sufficiently proven, passenger transport will soon follow. Whether taxi or bus, autonomous vehicles will cause fewer accidents at this time, solve the parking problem and be even cheaper in the long term. It should only be mentioned in passing that aviation and shipping are even easier to replace due to significantly less traffic.

Another group at risk are the administrators. From insurance companies and banks to public administration. Any activity that can be defined by a rational set of rules will simply be carried out more efficiently in the future by self-learning algorithms. In the end, dentists and surgeons will also experience a similar situation. Rather let the person who has performed 999 of 1,000 operations without problems, or the software with a success rate of 999,900 out of 1,000,000

(and therefore not only 1,000 times more experienced, but also 10 times more promising).

An interesting side aspect: professions that we consider socially more highly qualified are not necessarily also those that are most difficult to replace.

This makes it easier to replace a tax consultant who is familiar with an extremely complicated set of rules than a gardener or construction worker.

This amount was intended to explain the basic idea behind neural networks and to show what kind of employment is at risk of being automated in the near future. Exaggerated dystopia? Or realistic admitting? Whether you share my opinion is entirely up to you. If you are making similar forecasts for the future, the next section contains recommendations for managers on how they can best benefit from this increasingly automated working environment.

Leadership in times of digitalization – Old wine in new wineskins?

Date: 25. 12. 2017 // By: Sören Gillich

„Leaders who tend to be remembered 
over the course of history
 are probably, in most cases, 
those who transform organizations or, 
more generally, ways of thinking“ – Robert Sternberg, 2003

In his statement Sternberg makes it clear that the leaders who have been remembered have played a leading role in their sphere of activity. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Steve Jobs come to mind here spontaneously. The effects of these leaders on society or their companies were and are immense. What is even more significant, however, is that these leaders, whether in politics or business, have entered new paths of leadership and have had a lasting impact on the issue.

Scientists have been arguing about the”right” way to lead for several decades. A wide variety of leadership styles have developed, and with the countless authors involved in writing leadership literature, at least as many definitions of the term leadership. If you look more intensively at theoretical leadership literature, another point becomes clear: the topicality and impact of many leadership theories on practice and its applications is missing. Let me give you an example: Since the 1980s, alternative leadership styles such as the transformational leadership style or the laissez-faire leadership style have been dealt with in leadership literature. These management styles are aimed at giving employees more freedom to act and more decision-making autonomy. The independent work of the employee without hierarchy-driven commands and instructions of the classic heroic leader and greater employee satisfaction were to be made possible by the – at that time – innovative management styles. These theories are already 40 years old. However, a glance at the practice reveals relatively quickly that despite the long time span, not much of this has reached the managers. A rough climate continues to prevail in many management floors. Survival of the Fittest is not uncommon and many leaders are further away from encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own actions than the US is from a climate-friendly environmental policy.

That leadership according to the model of the leader with sole decision-making power in times of globalization and digitization, with increasing speed of innovation and the emerging generation Y, no longer works has already arrived everywhere. In the face of volatile markets, decision-making power can no longer be exercised by just one person in order to be able to react quickly. This requires swarm intelligence in order to survive under the complex conditions of market networks. The research literature describes this with the beautifully packaged slogan “Empowering Leadership”. The basic idea is to give the employee more personal responsibility and thus more autonomy. Empowering leadership follows the principle of distributing power and control from the leader to the employees, i.e. actually only old wine in new wineskins from the 1980s. How this is actually to be implemented methodically remains unanswered once again. Companies are not given frameworks or methods to apply theory in practice or to establish theory in companies through change processes. Similar to the 1980s, leadership literature remains on the level of appeals.

However, practice is one step ahead of theory. Many companies are already trying to find alternative ways to maintain or improve their performance despite great uncertainty in the markets. Alternative methods such as scrum or holocracy are already being tested to rethink leadership. These new forms of leadership also aim at more”enablement” (promoting personal responsibility) among employees, but also provide clear methods for changing leadership and implementing it directly.

Often this change is accompanied not only by a new understanding of management, but also by a completely new form of corporate management and structure. Smaller organisations have already celebrated great success with these methods. Nevertheless, no major player has yet tried to implement scrum or holocracy, let alone parts of it. Furthermore, these methods also deal very radically with the current patterns in companies, e.g. the classical manager is completely abolished. That is why there is still a lot of scepticism about this. It remains to be seen whether the newly emerging trends in management will make the leap into large companies and also celebrate their success there. They always have the potential to turn organizations around and rethink leadership.

Generation Y: A new way of working

Date: 29. 12. 2017 // By: Isabell Bergter

The world of work is subject to constant, ever-faster change. Old structures are being replaced and replaced by new unknowns.

The only thing we know for sure is that the imminent change will present us with completely new challenges in the future.

Some changes can already be anticipated today and their consequences and effects can only be assumed. Scenarios ranging from self-controlling robots, which trigger mass unemployment, to an environment networked and changing due to globalization, which involves the demands on flexible companies, to a workforce with table footballers in open-plan offices and so-called”relaxation rooms”, circulate on the net and in the media. But what is certain: The world of work is already changing today and will continue to do so in the future, which is why it is already helping companies to adapt to the expected changes so that they can remain competitive in the future.

But what are the future trends in the world of work? And what do companies and managers need to prepare for in the future?

These and many other questions will be discussed in more detail in the next blog posts. I’m starting with Generation Y today:

A generation with new values, ideas for the world of work and thus also for managers.

First of all, I have to say that it is not possible to distinguish between generations on the basis of clear years. Of course, there are overlaps and one rather represents the values and ideas of another generation. However, differences between the individual generations can be seen in the mean value.

To illustrate this, here is a brief description of classic companies as they still exist today:

Individual offices, steep hierarchy levels, which cause decisions to seep from top to bottom, material incentive systems, rigid working hours, etc.

It comes as no surprise that the majority of all SMEs and corporations are structured according to these principles, considering that a culture

(here: corporate culture) from the sum and combination of all ideas and values of a society (here: workforce).

But Generation Y, who was born between 1980-2000 and is already entering the labour market, is already bringing to the fore a completely new type of corporate culture, which is also influenced by other cultures (keyword: globalisation and value pluralism).

What drives this new company forward is individuality, flexibility and the desire to drive change within the company itself. Their work should make sense and be relevant to them, whereby they attach great importance to self-realization and, as experienced team players who not only distinguish themselves offline, but also in the virtual world through excellent networking, prefer project and specialist careers to management careers.

This presents companies with completely new challenges which they should definitely take seriously in order to continue to be an attractive employer for the next generation and next generations.

Here are a few recommendations for action:

Replacing rigid and steep hierarchies with flat hierarchies has two advantages

  1. “Flat hierarchies” does not mean that all employees have to say the same thing. There will always be, who has the last word. And exactly this will be relieved more in the future when it gives up decision-making power.
  2. (Urgent) decisions can be made faster, since communication has to overcome significantly fewer hurdles.
  3. This enables the company to react quickly to situations, which is very important due to the rapid changes in our environment. (especially digitally oriented companies benefit from this, as this area is changing the fastest)
  4. Site fact: This is supported by the general desire of the”new” workforce to pursue specialist and project careers instead of management careers (which was previously the wish of (almost) every employee).

Recognition by status symbols, such as company car, a higher salary is becoming less and less relevant. It should be clear that money and career are still very important and will always remain so. But this is rather seen, motivated and acknowledged as the basis (=starting situation) of an employment relationship, a generation Y’er would like instead by praise, trust and more responsibility in future projects.

The desire for a balanced work-life balance and the striving for flexibility and self-determination leads to a networking of work and family life.

and free time. Working hours will no longer be clearly regulated in future. Instead, there are already individual working time models in place so that employees can organise their day independently.

More and more employees will also work directly from home. Already today, many companies have models such as “Home Office” or similar, in order to give the employee as much flexibility as possible. (Trust is a prerequisite!)

Thanks to the Internet, constant networking is possible at all times and everywhere. This allows project teams around the world to hold live conferences,

exchange information at short notice and coordinate their work. This allows international teams to work together, exchange ideas and learn from each other. The fact that companies offer employees the opportunity to operate internationally is already an important component of modern corporate cultures.

Some companies are already making adjustments to their future workforce and their needs and expectations of the employer.

But this is just the beginning.