Premiere for the “ESB Management Dialogue“

Experts from industry and practice discuss the future of the working environment

Last Friday the first ESB Management Dialogue attracted more than a hundred managers, HR managers and scientists to the campus at Reutlingen University. In presentations and workshops the participants discussed everything relating to the topic “leading and working in a digital working environment“ with experts from business and science.  

Hosting this new event format was the research group “Work, Organisation & Society“ at ESB Business School, Reutlingen University, together with the Sustainable Leadership Initiative (IZF) and the research project “DigiTraIn 4.0“, which is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). At the focus of the first ESB Management Dialogue were digitally transformed working worlds, i.e. a working environment in which networking, smartphones and artificial intelligence are used as well as the future role of cooperation and leadership. “Digitisation is changing organisations and work and their importance for society. Companies must react to this. They should be able to ask themselves and answer the question of how to shape working environments and leadership sustainably. For this we would like to provide a platform“, says Arjan Kozica, Professor of Organisation and Leadership at ESB Business School, explaining the aim of the dialogue event. 

Many experts were on the podium, reporting about their specific experiences and possible solutions with digital transformation. Elke Reichert, for example, Chief Digital Officer of the Tui Group, told of how tour operator Tui became a “tech-company“, with increasingly digital offers for customers and appropriately qualified staff. Katja Bohnert, Director of Leadership and Collaboration at Robert Bosch GmbH, spoke about how culture was a major factor in the implementation of new working environments. Using the example of her company she showed that a cultural change can be actively initiated and how much effort it involves. Stephan Kaiser, professor at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, added findings from management research to the reports from corporate practice and illuminated the complexity of the digital transformation to the new working environment.  

In the afternoon some of the participants could be observed building things with Lego bricks: one of the interactive workshops was using “Lego Serious Play” to see what leadership in digitally transformed working environments might look like. A further workshop asked about how flexibly the Federal Armed Forces work and what industry can learn from them. In a third group speaker Markus Bleher talked about how he and his brother at the Heermann Maschinenbau GmbH implemented agile working in practice, giving the interested participants useful tips. 

“The response the ESB Management Dialogue has met with confirms our decision to continue offering this event format“, says Professor Dr Arjan Kozica who is delighted at the large number of visitors and their active participation. The ESB Management Dialogue is planned to be a permanent fixture and will take place annually on the campus of Reutlingen University. The topic for next year has already been chosen, in 2020 the ESB Management Dialogue will address the topic of “Ethics and Sustainability“.