From the market leader to the fraudster
Volkswagen was hailed as the market leader at the end of July this year. In the first six months, the Group had sold more vehicles worldwide than its competitor Toyota. He is not only the world's largest automaker, but also achieved his goal of being the world's leading carmaker. Three years earlier than planned.
Only two months later, the discovery of the deliberate deception of the authorities and customers caused a massive slump in VW shares, such as the entire automotive industry and the DAX. Switzerland is now prohibiting the sale of manipulated vehicles. Focus online refers to Bloomberg that the falsifications of exhaust gas values apparently in large parts from Germany were controlled.
The intelligence service relies on trusted individuals from Volkswagen's US business. Since the group in the United States would not have had the adept engineers to manipulate, the highest management level in Wolfsburg was responsible for the manipulations. Is high-performance fraud the new brand for “Made in Germany”?
Dinosaurs VW vs. Google, Apple, Tesla
The VW brand has so far stood for the image “Made in Germany” with its performance. VW and Audi build excellent cars, their models are among the best in the world. So far, the challenge has been to maintain and expand market leadership in times of digitization and Industry 4.0.
Up to now, VW had relied more on old traditional technologies. Even without a scandal, there was the danger of perishing as a dinosaur because no bold step into the 21st century had yet been dared. Tesla, Google and Apple have long been in the starting blocks to attack the auto industry. The younger generations are no longer so “car-savvy”, that is, instead of using cars as a status symbol, they prefer car sharing. Above all, sustainability and flexibility are important to you.
Market leadership with digitization and industry 4.0
What is urgently needed: impulses and talents from other industries for the digital upheaval. Global studies of personnel consulting Russell Reynolds Associates show that decision-makers in the automotive industry are absolutely dependent on the digital know-how of other industries.
The profiles of the top management team, however, are very homogeneous. They hold 15% more firmly to existing beliefs, are 11% more perfectionist and stick to traditional career patterns: 92% of managers are male; 75% come from the same country as their company, 63% have been with the same company for more than 25 years. What is urgently needed are digital “change agents” at the top management level.
It is therefore only a question of time when ready-to-run competitors with good sustainable offers attack the automobile market. Instead of manipulating, VW would have had to focus on sustainable innovations for years. Whether VW sees this development, this technological crisis as an opportunity, unfortunately, is now no longer solely for debate. The Group must fight for its existence at all levels.
The German economy can not afford a weak VW group
Achieving world market leadership through deliberate deception leads to harsh consequences, which will not only affect the VW Group, but also the automotive industry. Even if those responsible are identified and held liable, the group shakes its foundations.
Penalties and claims for damages from countries, authorities and customers will use up the company's cash reserves and the group will probably start further provisions on the profits achieved. The funds will be tied for years. Where, then, are reserves for sustainable new developments. VW stands before a massive slump and even if this crisis can be mastered financially and technologically, one thing remains open: Will one still believe VW?
More dangerous is the worldwide loss of trust
Building trust takes a long time, but it can be destroyed in a second. This has now happened: worldwide customers, authorities, entire countries, their own employees have been massively violated in their own values. If, in parallel to news about the VW scandal, advertising slogans about sustainable excellence on all channels are still being proclaimed, and the truth is proven to be completely disappointing.
Then customers and employees not only feel deceived, but really “linked”. If trust has been so disappointed, it will take a very, very long, if any, time to regain trust. Classic German values are therefore put to the test: high quality, sustainability, security, reliability, trust - not just technology.
Corporate Governance - the system has failed
Is this about value-oriented leadership or rather shareholder value? The Executive Board and Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG comply with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code, as amended by the 13. May 2013 (Declaration of Conformity of 21 November 2014). For example, the corporate governance report, investor relations, the protection of the company, its organs and the protection of its employees can be read:
"Responsible, transparent and value-creating corporate governance: The future of the Volkswagen Group depends crucially on whether we can steadily increase the company's value. The trust of our customers and investors is an elementary prerequisite for this. We strengthen this trust through transparent and responsible corporate management, which has top priority in our daily work. The German Corporate Governance Code contains recommendations and suggestions for good corporate management and control. The contents of the code were developed by the responsible government commission on the basis of essential legal regulations as well as nationally and internationally recognized standards of corporate management. ”
We need value-oriented leaders
If such “value-creating” corporate management is not just about profit or increasing shareholder value, the system itself has not protected investors. Instead of profit and growth, considerable losses. Commitment to a corporate governance system is not sufficient, just the spirit, ie the people and values that support this system. Where was responsibility, where was transparency? Where do the employees and customers stand who believed in these values and relied on the company's statements?
We can always ask ourselves what has actually gone wrong and it is easy, ultimately, to fix one or a few guilty. It does not benefit us all, as long as we
- Value only as a material appreciation, in terms of shareholder value.
- Data analysis, quarterly data analysis, and increased profits
- Confidence in technology and material market leadership.
Systems are noisy and smoke: what we need are leaders who understand ethically, what integrity and responsibility mean, for their own personal value system, for the trust of employees who want to be proud of their performance, for the customers who rightly use them Claiming values and critically questioning them up to social responsibility.
Digital transformation is not enough
The digital transformation offers great opportunities for our society. However, we should avoid only looking at the visibly rational, the material, the data and facts, but at the potential for success through people, their spirit, their vision, their ethics and values, which only visions, even utopias, become reality to let.
Big data can analyze knowledge from information, habits and experiences and recognize recurring behavior patterns. They can manipulate systems and therefore people, but they do not provide an answer to our question of "why", of Sense and the relevance of our work. Both knowledge workers and customers have this claim. They question the purpose, purpose and vision of the company.
Value-oriented leadership as an ethical corrective to the digital world
The focus shifts from the purely material consideration of rational, result-oriented performance to value-oriented leadership, which sees the decisive competitive factor in the appreciation of the individual, social and cultural skills of employees. Through values and diversity, through personality. The character of the company spiegelt reflects the character and values of managers and employees.
We need the courage to get rid of our factual and numerical faith. Courage not to rely on the genius of data and systems. They are not the truth, are manipulatable and can not guarantee corporate governance. More humanity and responsibility is needed as an ethical corrective to the digital world.
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