The difference with Generation Z

Recently, a young IT entrepreneurtalked about the three biggest challenges for young professionals, i.e. GenZ. They were lifelong learning, the insufficient public pension and a company with a strong purpose.

In my cohort, Generation X, these were lifelong learning, the state pension is not secure and never working for a company, which is dishonest. Depending on your opinion, these were mostly large corporations with corruption problems, defence companies or nuclear companies.

Lifelong learning was a challenge that seemed normal and cool just before graduating from university. I still enjoy learning new things today. Whether you like it or not, in technical professions one or two training courses with certificate exams per year are now normal. Something that surprises the non-technical people in my group of friends, but is becoming increasingly common in more and more professions.

The German Federal Minister for Social Affairs Dr. Norbert Blüm said “Pensions are safe” in 1997 and corporate pensions almost completely disappeared. And there were some scams with private investment schemes that were sold as supplementary pensions. In fact, the state pension has proved to be quite safe. Nevertheless, there is always good reason to build up additional savings.

I am emphatically not saying that nothing has changed in general. But I believe that the demands of Generation Z are primarily the demands of young people, which are not that unusual. I have always found a mixture of young and experienced people to be beneficial. For example, if a status quo has been challenged by motivated employees for 10 years, then it may only take another year and a young woman who is committed to working against it and it will fall.

There are amazing employees in Generation Z and, not to forget, also amazing employees in Generation X (Y, etc.) who are constantly shaking up the status quo and pushing things forward. Just talk to people and listen to whether they fit into the team.

Brunnen

42 and personality profiles

You’re probably thinking that this is the answer to the “ultimate question about life, the universe and the rest”, although the answer will be different.

In sales – no offence to sales, the above also applies anywhere else – I very often experience an astonishing use of personality profiles based on four colours, for example. After the first meeting with a customer who is still quite unknown, he or she is categorised in one of the categories and treated as a “blue” person from then on.

When preparing for an appointment, I am sometimes introduced to people with these stereotypes and the appointment is arranged on this basis. In practice, this often leads to surprises – it’s just a shame if you’ve missed the mark at a crucial point.

On the other hand, personality profiles – even those with few dimensions – are very well suited as analytical generalisations for strategic and tactical purposes, e.g. used as personas in sales training sessions in which pitches for “reds”, “blues” etc. are developed and practised. In this context, stereotypes simplify the training, as I can work with just a few categories.

Persona in sales training and person as customer should fit somehow, right? But they don’t, because:
– A single person has no definite statistical dependency
– Aggregated personality dimensions provide an aggregated (wrong) focus
– This is an unnecessary source of cognitive bias such as attribution error

The 42 makes it clear. When a shoe retailer buys a new men’s shoe model, he will have most shoes in stock in size 42, as this is the most common shoe size for men. Structuring the stock according to shoe size is certainly very clever. When a customer enters the shop and asks for advice in front of the counter, a good salesperson will certainly not say go to the size 42 shelf.

Please distinguish statistics and groupings very carefully from individuals. When in doubt, the analogy of shoe size helps me to separate the two. If you don’t know anything, sometimes a shoe in 42 has to fit, at least the felt slipper is not fussy when it comes to the castle tour.

Pantoffel

No circular wait

Sometimes you find a very unorganised tool landscape at the customer’s that costs the organisation enormous resources on a daily basis and makes proactive work impossible. In particularly financially weak IT organisations, old tools are often held on to for too long; in relatively wealthy IT organisations, tools are purchased first and integration can then take place later.

Often, even essential information is missing in the processes, which would have to be entered twice between the tools or manually reconciled. In particular, things like manual tracking or monitoring are still manageable when there are only a few open tickets, but virtually explode when many incidents have to be processed.

The stories of how exactly these obstacles came about, why adaptation and integration failed, are often different. But what I see in common is that these organisations have learned to wait for each other. For example, an improvement campaign ends with the conclusion that manual processes cannot be replaced at the moment because another division will soon be introducing a new tool.

Or because the service provider will probably be replaced in a year and a half. Then you can still switch off the manual processes. Often there is a wonderful cycle of constant variation in which there are always new reasons to wait.

However, there are always possibilities to mitigate existing shortcomings. Especially if you know your organisation well, you can easily assess what is worth doing. The new HR tool will certainly take months to decide. But modernising the old leave process (on paper) and trying out the new process can be worthwhile.

I can only recommend introducing “No circular wait” as a rule or checkpoint. Nothing should be omitted just because you are waiting for others. In such a case, alternative solutions must be identified. You can always find a small sustainable improvement.

Primarily, small continuous improvements also help immediately. Secondly, they also increase the pressure to gradually get to grips with the big solution, e.g. the permanent and comprehensive replacement of a tool. In my experience, thinking in alternative solutions also changes the culture of becoming more innovative and creative. Let’s make it happen.

Impact Effort Matrix

P.S.: The circular wait solutions often reside in the blue quadrant, the transformation into manageable green solutions is difficult, but can usually be mastered iteratively.

New performance is what we need

I read a comment the other day that in addition to the whole discussion about New Work, there should also be a discussion about New Performance. Or another posting that you have to work besides all the New Work because you get paid for it. Either this is a new narrative to discredit New Work, or it is a misunderstanding. New Work is not an addition or benefit in the form of cosy offices and 4-day weeks.

However, if you are not familiar with New Work and have never met a team that uses these methods to increase efficiency, then I can very well imagine that this impression is likely to arise. New Work is not about performance versus benefits. Professor Peter Kruse once said that self-organisation is the highest form of professionalism. That really emphasises a core aspect of New Work.

For me, it was also quite a learning curve that began in 2016 out of considerations of efficiency in the team. Back then, I was a perfectly ordinary hierarchical team lead in a presales unit. I assigned people to tenders and prioritised their work. If someone fell ill, I had to organise a replacement. Back then, I couldn’t imagine what the team would look like after a few years.

Developing lean-agile methods with the team and increasing diversity in the team was a long journey with many setbacks and moments when I wanted to give up. But there were also moments when team members encouraged me. I remember small moments of triumph and a great moment of happiness after about 3 years.

It was a summer’s day when a colleague called me to say there was a new tender and she just wanted to inform me. She was obviously acting without a mandate. What she had done was an enormous organisational feat, as all the teams had a heavy workload. I called everyone involved and asked if they were in agreement, and they all assured me in unison that we could handle it.

At that time, we were managing around twice as much work as three years before. With good maturity in self-organisation, better methods of our own, less waste in the system, etc. By the way, we were also able to generate twice as much revenue in our division as three years previously. That is New Work.

New Work makes people happy because they are valued as a whole person with all their skills. Because you can achieve things in a team that you would never have managed on your own. Because you get inspiration and can contribute more intensively than you could have imagined last week, and much more too.

Sofas, table football, punching bags, fitness studio etc. are all nice and well, but have little to do with New Work. Such benefits are perhaps even better suited to no-compromise management. In this case, performance is more of a duty that generates output and not outcome.

Kran Hamburg Fabrik

Can you measure mess?

I frequently come across tenders whose aim is to standardise an existing, historically grown service. Until now, this service has been provided in the most diverse variations and qualities by a wide variety of people. After several company mergers, local IT in the countries, different cost centres and various internal customers, things can get quite confusing.

Many consultants recommend in such a situation that you only have to describe exactly what kind of service you need and demand corresponding service level targets from the providers. In many cases, this is an almost impossible task. The very fact that the organisation has to cope with different models in different business units. Makes it difficult to define the right service.

Such tenders are usually very obvious. When reviewing them, it is noticeable that the numbers do not match and that the required service levels are usually too high and hence too expensive. In further communication, the figures on the client side are typically corrected every few weeks, but remain unsatisfactory until the end.

I myself worked on the client side for several years and reluctantly recall the simplifications of central stakeholders with the blunt statement: “What’s so difficult about that?” I would like to give an answer to this. A structure that has grown over years without standardisation with hundreds of different user groups is complex, perhaps even chaotic. It is more than complicated and cannot be analysed adequately in a short time.

With the help of Cynefin, I would analyse the environment and instead of a simple answer, I would take a complex problem, for example, and respond with Probing -> Sensing -> Acting (Emerging Practice). What does this mean for a tender? For example, choose an adaptive tendering method or, if you want to keep it traditional, learn and standardise in phases using a framework contract.

If you start from the Cynefin categories and choose a simpler context than is actually given, you have fewer steering means than needed. Ashby’s law states that the variety of the control system must be at least as large as the variety of perturbations that occur in order to carry out control. In other words, category errors are high risk, intentional category errors are gambling.

And that is precisely my observation in such circumstances.