How e-leadership and change management can result in successful digital transformation – Unternehmer-Schmiede at the “meet the industry” conference
07. July 2016
“Innovating by collaborating” is the slogan of the “meet the industry – established meets new Economy” conference that took place today at the MIZ (media innovation center) in Babelsberg, Potsdam. The attendees included the team from Unternehmer-Schmiede, which is a joint venture of etventure and Kienbaum. In his presentation, CEO of Unternehmer-Schmiede Mathias Weigert explained how the importance of digital transformation can be conveyed internally within a company. He also talked about the new challenges that managers will be facing in the digital age.
How can startups and established companies have a mutually beneficial relationship and how do successful collaborations come about? These were the key questions at the “meet the industry” conference. On the one hand, startups can benefit from the market access and the many years of market experience that established companies offer. On the other hand, by working together with startups, companies hope to gain access to digital innovations and new technology. In this respect, bringing young founders together with established companies is an essential way of moving towards what the digital future holds for SMEs.
At the conference, which was organized by media.connect brandenburg, in partnership with the managers of the Berlin-Brandenburg “Cluster ICT, media and creative industries” and the IHK Potsdam (Potsdam Chamber of Industry and Commerce), four successful partnerships were presented and each example was from a different business sector. There were also other sessions in which issues associated with digital transformation were discussed. At one such session, Mathias Weigert put the topics of e-leadership and change management in the spotlight. His presentation addressed the following questions: How can companies promote the acceptance of digital technology among management staff and employees? How is management changing in the conditions created by digitization?
Information, knowledge transfer and integrating employees
For the success of digital transformation, it is crucial that employees are not left behind during the change process and that they are persuaded of the necessity of the change. “Without appreciating the reasons for digital transformation, there is the risk that employees will exhibit a blockade mentality and will stick to existing structures,” says Mathias Weigert. The importance of the topic must therefore be communicated clearly – using the appropriate channels and with the help of the management staff. With regard to choosing suitable communication channels, Weigert was crystal clear: “At the start, digital transformation is analog.” He recommends using existing channels rather than building new ones. Simply informing employees, however, is nowhere close to being enough. It is important for staff to be involved in the process and for internal communication to be combined with the transfer of knowledge, in order to ensure that employees commit to the cause. “Digital transformation is a task for everyone, particularly those in middle management positions,” says Weigert.
This relies on having managers who bring with them the necessary competencies to lead digital teams and to press ahead with digitization projects. It is not only management skills that are important here. Managers also need to think like entrepreneurs, have a digital mindset, be able to lead in an open and collaborative way, and have methodical skills that enable them to use innovation methods such as “design thinking” and “lean startup.”
Unternehmer-Schmiede develops digital entrepreneurs and creates entire digital teams for companies
Yet managers who have this specific combination of skills and expertise are almost non-existent on the labor market. Companies are already desperately hunting for staff who are qualified for the task of digital transformation. This is why Unternehmer-Schmiede offers support – by helping managerial staff and specialists to become digital entrepreneurs and by creating entire digital teams for companies. With this approach, the joint venture of etventure and Kienbaum combines recruitment with mentoring and the targeted development of candidates’ profiles. The candidates are prepared for the challenges of digitization in their relevant companies by undergoing real-life, completely individualized on-the-job training. They will then think and act in a more entrepreneurial manner so that, in their roles as managerial staff and specialists, they can independently lead and press ahead with digital projects. After the conclusion of the development phase, these digital entrepreneurs are each provided with a mentor who coaches and challenges them.
Even before the joint venture was officially founded in March 2016, Unternehmer-Schmiede had already set up digital units and in so doing had provided significant support to etventure customers such as Klöckner & Co and Wüstenrot & Württembergische.