Speed beats strategy.

As former boss of Google Germany, Christian Baudis knows how the digital sector ticks. He explains how companies can boost their innovative strength.

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How do companies position themselves properly for digitisation?

Christian Baudis:  First, the management should get an overall view of the technological options that challenge the business model. Then it can appoint small teams to seek solutions to current problems and develop new market opportunities. In doing all this, senior management should not set any specifications. It can prioritise solutions and present them to the workforce. A positive side effect is that the entire company takes part in the process and backs the procedure of digitisation and change in the company.

How must companies adjust their organisation and work methods in order to implement the required changes?

Mr Baudis:  Distinct hierarchies impede innovative power. That power is exactly what companies need so they can keep pace with the market. Companies should encourage employees’ personal responsibility. This so-called empowerment is just as important as small, agile teams in flexible organisational structures.

What responsibilities do managers have?

Mr Baudis:  Managers orchestrate a diversified and constantly changing organisation. They have to contribute the appropriate know-how, but most of all they have to define the right tasks, which the teams then realise independently across departments. Letting go instead of controlling is the management principle of the future.

Distinct hierarchies impede innovative power. That power is exactly what companies need so they can keep pace with the market."
Christian Baudis, former boss of Google Germany

Start-ups are often considered to be role models in digital disruption. What can corporations learn from them?

Mr Baudis:  From digital start-ups, for example, they can learn how to frame crazy ideas simply, implement them pragmatically while accepting high risk tolerance and an error management culture.

Digitisation is rapidly changing the world. How tenable are strategies in such a world?

Mr Baudis:  The new strategy is called reaction speed. I need a competent team that pinpoints changes like a lighthouse and indicates them to management. Then, the latter must initiate a transformation process from scratch again and again.

Serial entrepeneur Christian Baudis has worked in the media business for more than 20 years and served as Google Germany's CEO.

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