“This article was published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purposes. Opinions are my own.”
I sense a real opportunity for change in the future of work coming out of the #newnormal we are all facing
As a member of the Siemens influencer community, (SIEx) I am often privileged to have an “outside-in” perspective of what is going on at Siemens. It can be overwhelming in what is always coming towards you to absorb and relate to, then to see where you can partly offer as a “push back or challenge,” or simply relate too. SIEx can offer a different perspective or amplify understanding. We all need to connect the dots and fill in the blanks.
One thing I have sensed recently and confirmed in some discussions and in what I have been reading that there has been a shift going on in the past six months internally within Siemens, perhaps even a seismic one.
Of course, we all have all been caught in such a seismic shift caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, but one I see has a positive effect within Siemens for the future. Is it a new normal or the preferred normal?
It is all about how and where you can choose to work
The confirmation that this is a new normal came in the announcement that employees work from wherever they want for two or three days a week but the critical shift, my seismic one, was in this quote:
“These changes will also be associated with a different leadership style, one that focuses on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office,” said incoming Chief Executive Roland Busch.
Let us take the concept of “outcomes” a stage further
I would argue we need to do a better job at measuring knowledge flows – it is the increasing emphasis and use of technology that is allowing us to challenge the old measurement paradigms.
Measurements and metrics are often continually looking backward. Today in these uncertain times, we need to become more attuned to “forward accounting” for the knowledge that is building to those indicators that underlie new creation and valuing the way this is developing and diffusing in the future.
This shift to “outcomes” also brings to the surface the need to understand our intellectual capital. If you know that, you have a better chance to be more innovative, inventive, and creative.
The Coronavirus pandemic indeed presented risk and opportunity
The risk was everything had the real chance of grinding to a halt. The opportunity was to find and exploit new ways of working; solutions that were unique, challenging, immediate but necessary to solve problems, to achieve positive outcomes
My overwhelming impression, in my outside-in lens, was Siemens changed within this time of unprecedented challenge. Management stepped back; the employee was tasked with resolving their problems, either in getting the work done or making sure the solutions found solved customers’ problems, all so often remotely. This shift showed the capability and capacity to “connect the dots” and by application and resolve “filling in the blanks.”
This “top-down” move, or that recognition to “simply get out of the way” also had an equally important one, the transforming part, a bottom-up force. Those tasked took over the job on hand and got on with the responsibility of resolution in the best possible ways, often in highly constraining circumstances that remote work imposes.
Surely this meeting more in the middle makes for “empowerment” for taking responsibility but also showing clear outcomes can be measured, are forward-looking, and does tap into the intellectual knowledge and flow.
For me, customers saw Siemens not just as “first responders” to help but “specialized responders” to solve complex problems in their manufacturing, design, or outputs.
Will all these changes make a paradigm shift in the way Siemens work?
In this announcement of where you can choose to work, the need is to make sure this is decided together with your team and leadership.
You are moving far more towards a learning environment focusing on the value of all the intangibles that generate knowledge or leverage through relationships, human engagement, and your growing connections, ones that make-up the different dynamic structures that begin to shape and respond around you.
As we adjust to being more remote, we will be valuing our network relationships more, those internally, equally those with customers. For that to happen, the value of networks is still not accounted for as well as they should be within our measurements. We collect the number of connections, yet we fail to capture the knowledge generated by these interactions; they stay resident often just with the receiver, not captured within the organization’s brain to understand and put to better, more effective use, applying the multiplier effect.
Technology is rapidly changing this, and this collective knowledge and networking is undoubtedly being leveraged more, but is it still measured as a vital metric that provides value? The ultimate measure of “outcomes” comes from how Siemens set about building out its Ecosystems of understanding and collaboration and further generates new value out of these.
My feeling, as the outsider looking in
There are vast opportunities of shifting your knowledge flows into future value-enhancing ones has been dramatic in the way everyone took remote as their responsibility to respond too.
The need to explore and solve has given a real opportunity, in being able to achieve such a “step change” by the practical way that everyone had to respond and undertake what this moment in Siemens history meant for a changing culture of working.
Not a temporary normal but a genuine new normal. Is it Seismic? It can be if you seize on “outcomes” in a forward-looking and learning way.