Agile does not work in Germany yet

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 Today I found an article, which was very interesting to me, because I experienced the same as the author of this article did.

First of all, I would like to say, that I am living in Germany for many years and that I love  the country and it’s people. But living here also makes me see certain things more clearly.

I’m Dutch (I believe that I’ve written that before 😉 ) and even if our culture not so different from the German one, we have a different culture. We think different and we are more open-minded and more relaxed. That doesn’t mean, that we’re not hard workers and that we’re not eager to be successful.

We are quite ambitious and success makes us proud. That makes us hard and accurate workers. And we have to make a living after all,

But working hard, doesn’t mean that one can’t be relaxed and that the working atmosphere and environment can be as well. In the Netherlands, we love flat hierarchies.

Superiors are not insisting on their position or status and they cooperate with their team(s). They understand that the team (employees) is as important as the manager. 

Germany is different. Don’t get me wrong, everybody is friendly and polite, but the boss is the boss. Germans have a different mindset and stick to old cultural values and structures.

That’s one of the reasons why Germany is so far behind, when it comes to digitalization. Agility  and flexibility hasn’t arrived in the minds of some German managers.  I am absolutely sure that there are many companies, which have adapted modern management and I’m also sure that their managers work WITH their teams as a, so-called nowadays,Servant-Leader.

I would like to tell about an experience I had, in a German company.

The employees were grouped in teams (digital labs),to create new products. I was in the group digitalization. It was my task to take care of the subject “e-commerce”. I wasn’t told exactly which facets of this wide field, so I started to do some intensive investigation about this subject.

I quickly found out, that the digitalization has also a large influence on customers and that the expectations are changing. Especially in B2B. B2B and B2B are merging and will become H2H. A B2B customer is the same  person when he buys as a B2C  customer.

You can read quite some articles here on my blog.

I collected all the issues B2B customers experience due to websites and services which are still not up-to-date. I used a PowerPoint file as a kind of clipboard to collect all the information I found.

The file covered the changing customers, the missing features in the B2B sector and the possible technical solutions.

So when we had our next meeting, I presented the results of my  research and the team leader told me, that he had been expecting a technical solution only.

I answered, that I find it logical to look first what is needed and to create a solution for those needs instead of starting a solution without any information about if it’s needed at all.#

His answer was, that the company was only doing IT projects and nothing else. My suggestion was, to create a new business model which would expand the company’s portfolio.

I was told, that the company has no connections to sell a new product (although the company has a sales and distribution department) and that he wants me to present a complete solution directly.

This is a way of management thinking which I often experienced in German companies. Sometimes Germans seem to be afraid of innovations. Afraid of all the problems that may occur. I also often get the impression, that superiors underestimate the intelligence of the people they work with and that they are the only one who know and tat they find it hard, to admit that an employee is right.

And in those situations, it is impossible to discuss such matters at eye level. These are the moments in which the old hierarchy comes alive and that there’s no awareness abot the fact, that employees are grown-up and intelligent people.  Otherwise the person wouldn’t have been hired.

Agile (project) management is all about trusting and respecting collegues (after all a manager is also “just” a collegue). It’s  about time, that certain managers change their mindset and adapt the new industry 4.0.

During a course about digital business innovation (I passed the test with an A), I learned that my approach in the e-commerce lab  was absolutely right.  During the course, I have been tought to find a need first before starting to create a solution.

So it might have been wise, to appreciate my methods.

Below I#ve inserted the link to the article which motivated me,to wrtie this post. Enjoy reading.

https://medium.com/luis-gon%C3%A7alves/5-crazy-reasons-why-agile-does-not-work-in-germany-d692059e5fa6