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Paradox is something that exists and does not exist at the same time. From the point of view of many employees this definition of paradox fits to the digital transformation quite well: in private life digital tools are omnipresent, but not very prevalent OR common place in professional life.

In my Private life I chat via WhatsApp, buy on Amazon and stream media with Spotify and Netflix. At the office often I have no access to corporate software tools with my mobile phone, messaging and communication is done only by email, and vacation requests are managed on paper.

Incidentally, the definition of paradox written above comes from Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist and scientist whose system theory also deals with organizations. In his research, he also describes another term: trust. According to Luhmann trust reduces complexity. Instead of trying to control everything, in many cases it just makes sense to rely on trust. This rule also applies to the digital transformation – certainly not for all areas, but for many of them. Trust also creates synergies and freedom.

Another approach Luhmann was is favour of was cybernetics, which e.g. shows that innovation can be created via the creation of networks between people and respective feedback loops.

An example of this approaches is borrowed from another trend: the craft beer movement. Following the motto of “Rumpelstiltskin” (Keyword: “Trust “, who still knows this fairy tale …) “Today I will be back, tomorrow I will brew … ” more and more people are making their own beer. Medieval monks in their monasteries are the role models. Here, the (analogous but disruptive) innovation of printing went hand in hand with a strong increase in brewing activities in the monasteries. One reason could be the scribblers, who copied books by hand and completed paperwork for years. Because of the printing press, many monks became unemployed and turned therefore increasingly to other activities – including beer brewing. Now, the HR department is no a monastery, HR Managers are no monks nor unemployed – but spending more time with strategical personnel management instead of doing manual paperwork is at least as meaningful as brewing beer.

Let us take a look at a “movement” like the craft beer revolution, where we can derive further mechanisms for a successful transformation.

• Awareness: The quality of beers was very low and interchangeable, especially in the US … something had to be done buttom-up

• Enthusiasm: The Craftbeer movement extends buttom-up by enthusiastic believers, but also attracts traditional professionals like seasoned brewers as it is focusing on high beer quality

 Added value: the trend towards good, regional, seasonal and conscious use of food is evident in contrast to the focus on pure cost efficiency

• The Authenticity of brewers is much more reliable than slick advertising brochures. Old trends such as small local microbreweries or old recipes (sour beer, goose) come back

• Agile approach: Many micro-makers order equipment, ingredients and tools themselves via the internet. There are many experiments, community brewing sessions with feedback loops and a focus on design (from recipe to label & name)

• Values: Lifestyle and focus on the individual by design make Craftbeer attractive (LOHAS – Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability, Slowfood, Organic food are all movements which are similar)

• Health & Sustainability: ingredients are organic and of high quality, we see focus on the commitment to the handcraft and on pleasure, as well as a relation to seasons (dark beers in winter, lighter fruity in summer) – and review of local / regional roots

• Transparency: Open Source & Crowdsourcing: As the idea of Craftbeer unites all, recipes and methods are openly shared. Whether on recipe platforms, events, the disclosure of all recipes by established breweries (for example Brewdog) or via open online discussion groups where everyone helps. So there are only a few possibilities for knowledge hoarding and the emergence of pseudo-guru Consultants. (There seem to be some “fake” craftbeers by big beer-producers – however if they do not taste welll they have no real success)

You see: we can learn a lot for the transformation of HR. Digital transformation as slow food for employees with a focus on “pleasure” rather than pure “cost efficiency”.

Foster enthusiasm for innovation among the “Believers” so they will mobilize others. And especially: communicate authentically and credibly about the meaning and purpose of the digital transformation and thus create trust.

With that being said: start it! And as a suggestion for building up trust and cultural change: allow your employees to brew their own beer in the company’s own Microbrewery – it is healthy and fun, develops team-spirit and strengthens the corporate culture. And start with self-awareness: be curious and try different craft beers.

Beer recommendations:

  • A bitter wheat beer with orange and coriander (home-brewed), an Indian Pale Ale or a sour-beer for Spring, a Porter or Stout for the cooler days

Further Weblinks:

 

Authors:

Stefan Schuessler LinkedIn Xing Twitter

Thomas Jenewein Linkedln I XING I Twitter  I Slideshare I Blog

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