PART TEN | How HR can enable digital leadership

PART TEN | How HR can enable digital leadership

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PART TEN | Joint key note with General Electric at 3rd International Barcelona HR Conference: “How HR can enable digital leadership”

Author: Simon Schoop, Managing Director of 4-advice  Change & Innovation, folgen Sie 4-advice auf  Twitter  @4advicenet oder Simon Schoop @simscho

How can the HR function become the key enabler for digital leadership in corporations?
In a joint key note with Tim Steigert, Innovation Leader at General Electric, I had the pleasure to talk at the 3rd International Barcelona HR Conference in October 2016.


The analogy we used were the Olympic games. And I can tell you, there are so many analogies between sports and business, it was great fun to prepare and give the speech in the Palau de la Musica in the heart of Barcelona. To be and remain successful it takes people, technology and organization… and technology is not the only key to success. Also it´s not just about the highest budget that makes the difference between digital leaders versus digital laggards. If you don´t have the right mindset and culture in your organization, no technology will help you to succeed.

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  • 3rd Barcelona HR Conference
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  • Entrepreneur, Speaker und Berater
  • Simon Schoop´s Key Note at 3rd International Barcelona HR Conference

Picture Source: 3rd Intl. HR Conference/ Advantage Consultores.

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What was the event that united humanity the most in 2016?  Of course, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. More than half of the world´s population watched the Games in front of their TV: About four billion people. Wow. That´s quite a lot.

That was in Summer 2016. Now this is TV. But what if you take into account Internet Broadcasting too? It´s even much, much more impressive. There was more live streaming from Rio than for all combined Olympic Games ever before. This illustrates the neckbreaking speed of digitalization very well.

In our speech, we have shown how sports performances have developed over the last century and drawn comparisons to digital transformation and how executives could or should deal with it accordingly – in order to still be in business when the next Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo in 2020.

'Combining people, technology and organization in the right way, enables digital leadership.'

Take for example Alexander Pointner, the most successful ski jumping coach ever. Only by combining multiple aspects such as the great Austrian ski jump athletes (people) with big data and science (technology) and empathy and organization, he managed to achieve his unmatched successes. And this formula also applies for the business. In business, one also needs to take into account the cultural resistance that needs to be overcome in order to succeed in today´s ultra competitive digital transformation landscape.

If you are interested in booking Simon as a key note speaker, please contact us. We are more than happy to coordinate dates and adapt Simon´s key note topics to your specific conference purpose.

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Weiterführende Links

3rd International Barcelona HR Conference 


Tim Steigert:

LinkedIn Profile |

General Electric |

Folgen Sie Tim Steigert auf Twitter  | @t_1_m 

Simon Schoop:
LinkedIn Profile |

More publications from  Simon  |

Digital Transformation Insider |
Folgen Sie Simon Schoop auf Twitter | @simscho and @4advicenet

How HR can enable digital leadership

How HR can enable digital leadership

Digital Transformation Insider Logo

How HR can enable digital leadership

Author: Simon Schoop, Managing Director of 4-advice Change & Innovation

1      Part ten How HR can enable the leaders, so the company becomes a leader rather than a follower in times of digital transformation

It´s time for Barcelona again. Next week, on October 7th, I will be in the beautiful Palau de la Musica in downtown Barcelona to speak about the role of HR in times of digital transformation. It´s a pleasure to back – this time for the 3rd International Barcelona HR Conference. Normally speakers can´t speak there two times in a row. So I assume I got this honour mostly due to the fact, that it won´t be a normal key note this time, but a dialogue that involves Tim Steigert from General Electric with me on stage. 

Think of the Olympic games. The German motto is “Dabeisein ist alles” which translates roughly as “be part of it is what counts”. This will be the motto of our key note. But does it actually really apply for digitalization ?

Tim Steigert from GE and myself will explore this topic in our 20 minutes TED Talk format type of dialogue on stage. I won´t say much more about it for now, but will post more details and of course a summary of the event once it´s done. For now, please have a look at the teaser video on this site.

If people “think digital”, the perspective changes tremendously and enables the organization to cope with the change triggered by digitalization in the best possible way – to leverage it in order to become even more competitive ! 

„Digital transformation is the opportunity for HR to get into the driver seat, enabling the organization to become future-proof and by building the required skills'

Simon Schoop @ 2nd International Barcelona HR Conference

If you are still wondering whether to attend the 3rd International Barcelona HR Conference or not, check out my article on last year´s conference or visit the organizer´s website. I would be happy to have a chat to you there in one of the coffee or lunch breaks. And hey, there are not so many places like Barcelona… 🙂

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Hybrid Thinking - just old wine in new bottles ?

Hybrid Thinking - just old wine in new bottles ?

Hybrid Thinking – old wine in new bottles ? 

When preparing my guest lecture at Fresenius university of applied sciences in Cologne in December 2015 on “Hybrid Thinking” I asked myself what I would answer if a student would ask that question: Is hybrid thinking just old wine in a new disguise ? Of course, there is very little breakthrough innovation in management science, so I tried to dig deeper and want to share my thoughts with you here.


What is Hybrid Thinking about ?

As you might know, Hybrid Thinking integrates service design thinking with other schools of thought. According to Dev Parnaik it takes on more complex problems though, such as Next Generation Air Traffic Control Systems versus more “simple” problems tackled by service design thinking such as developing a new aeroplane. And furthermore, Hybrid Thinking is supposed to take a more human centered approach by putting the co-creation of different type of personalities at the core.

My  definition of Hybrid Thinking however is the following:


HYBRID THINKING is the individual combination of Design Thinking with empathy, human-centered perspective and other schools of thought to solve today´s wicked problems that are characteristic for the hyperconnected global economy


I completely agree with Dev that in our world where we need to manage complex problems, we can´t only relay on rational left brain type of thinking and that using our right side of the brain makes great sense. I also believe that so-called “Hybrid Thinkers”  or “T-Shaped Personalities” will be beneficial for any company. Hey, who wouldn´t like someone who´s a great expert in one field and at the same time someone who knows a good deal of just about everything. And which executive wouldn´t say that he wants to hire someone who is creative, emphatic, integrative, can live with ambuigity, optimisitic, likes to experment and who is the perfect collaborator ? But how many of these people do actually exist out there ?

Why we need Hybrid Thinking

I think hybrid thinking is a a good way to address the increased complexity of nowadays digital life. When you look back ten or twenty years in your life – how would you rate the complexity to manage daily work and private life, just to keep afloat ? How has the way changed that you learn ? How do you communicate differently ?

This fantastic video inspired me when thinking about how my life got so complex…

Source: Youtube

 If your answers are somewhat similar to the ones I give to this question, it will become very clear that we are dealing with a much higher level of complexity and speed today. In order to manage that successfully, new schools of thoughts won´t harm. And increasing digitalization will require more and more ways to deal with ever increasing speed and complexity. To achieve simplicity is key to be successful today and in the future.

How can Hybrid Thinking help with Digital Transformation ?

In the matrix at the beginning of this article, I have synthesized Professor Jay Rao´s assumption that we are at a point where not only problems are unknown but also solutions with Dev Parnaik´s Hybrid Thinking approach. You can see 

I believe that there are many good examples for this. Just take cars for instance. When Google or Apple are building their (autonomous driving) cars, they do not base their development very much on experiences gained by Porsche or other established Automotive OEMs – they go from scratch, because the problem they tackle can´t be solved with known solutions on how to burn fuel in a most efficient way for example. By the way, for other auto makers they might become a real competitor, e.g. given Uber´s plans of shifting towards autonomous driving…  but for Porsche it´s not the value proposition to get from A to B but rather the driving experience

I don´t believe that building the type of car that Apple or Google might have in mind would benefit a lot from the knowledge that engineers from Porsche have

Dr. Sven Lorenz, CIO of Porsche at Handelsblatt Euroforum on January 19th, 2015 answering the question if Porsche fears Google or Apple to hire their best engineers

There are many more examples that rising complexity requires new forms of dealing with the requirements in the era of digital transformation. This fuels open innovation efforts as well as new forms of organization development. I found the following sequence very interesting. It gives some insight on innovative ways to collaborate with other companies to closed the digital talent gaps for organizations that go more and more digital.

Source: Youtube

How to get started

Well if you ask yourself how to be a hybrid thinker, you got a couple of hints on how to develop your personality above. But well, you might be looking for some rather pragmatic hints. Ok – here you go:

      • Make it easy: Provide lightweight methods for people in your company to connect with outside stakholders
      • Make it everyday: Have your customers present in your offices – with photos, spare parts, their passions…
      • Make it experiential:Go feel what other people are feeling – IBM did that “Bear Hug” program in 1993, way beyond Hybrid Thinking was “invented”…

My key Takeaways

I believe that Hybrid Thinking works well with Service Design Thinking and vice versa. None of them is better than the other. Hybrid Thinking is rather how an individual thinks than Service design, which is rather a methodology. And hey – who wouldn´t like to hire those T-shaped personalities – of course everyone would ! And as applying creativity techniques benefits any employee, not just the few T-shaped ones, I think Hybrid Thinking is nothing 100% new, but still a useful new management theory.


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