Startups and digitization: innovation only with a new management culture and founder personalities


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The German economy must remain innovative if it wants to remain internationally competitive. But set-up start-up fantasies are not enough, we need a new management culture - and new skills.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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StartUps - a hot topic. But also durable?

Startups are a hot topic right now, and not just in the self-proclaimed start-up capital, Berlin: some of the large corporations also have their own innovation centers or specifically promote startups. And spin-offs are created at universities. Paradoxically, starting a business in Germany is still a difficult topic.

So it sounds good that everywhere a new start-up mentality, called StartUp culture is called. And also Company Like the Rocket Internet of the notorious Samwer brothers, they are extremely successful with their foundations, which run like on the assembly line.

Founding culture in Germany vs. Germany other countries

But this contradicts just about any idea that make the thorough, pedantic Germans of business start-up. First of all, there are bureaucratic hurdles - from tax to the right insurance

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Why is that and what would have to be done differently so that more disruptive start-ups and ultimately more innovations arise in Germany? The fact is that things are different in the United States. I've interviewed several successful tech entrepreneurs over the past few years - Sillicon Valley entrepreneurs, New York's youngest billionaire, or the founders of Transferwise in Estonia.

What do successful tech startups do differently?

Take, for example, the American John Oringer, who started his stock photo agency Shutterstock with his own photos and finally recently brought them to the stock market. According to Forbes, he is considered Silicon Alley's first billionaire.

Or the Icelandic Skulli Mogensen, who started 1990 with OZ Communications, which he later sold to Nokia, and 2012 founded the airline WOW air. But also a head of state and the well-known extreme mountain climber Reinhold Messner have been answering me in recent years for the question of what successful people do to be so successful.

Team spirit works - always!

There is the co-founder of LinkedIn, Konstantin Guericke, who emigrated from Germany to the Sillicon Valley and had a very own, very German idea to strengthen team spirit in the company while remaining flexible. Or the former Icelandic head of state Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who raised her child alone and at the same time ruled her country for many years.

In addition, I repeatedly asked in contributions: How could it work, for example, that Steve Jobs actually did everything wrong and was still successful? Why was Marissa Mayer's regressive home-office denial for Yahoo actually a victory? Is Facebook, if you can believe Sheryl Sandberg, actually a social enterprise?

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Never had a real job: on a collision course with traditional ideas

Why does extreme mountaineer Reinhold Messner love failure? And how does the two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who also acts as an investor, look the other way?

What is striking: Many of the interviewed entrepreneurs have never had a “real” job in the traditional sense, they preferred to do their own thing - against all odds. Reinhold Messner, for example, freely confesses that he always did what he felt like doing. And Skulli Mogensen says people thought he was crazy because he started an airline as a telecommunications expert.

Work as an integral part in the lives of the founders

In general, work is an integral part of most interviewees' lives: Skulli Mogensen briefly tried to retire: “But I was really bad at that. I needed new challenges, ”he confesses.

Jon Oringer can not separate work and life at all. When asked what he does when he is not working, he has to think for a long time. And mobile phone and memo blog for new ideas are always at hand, even at night.

Highly productive and constantly looking for improvements

This is part of the entrepreneurial success recipe: the ability to learn from mistakes and constantly seek improvements. Learning as a constant process. Reinhold Messner, for example, says he learned a lot more when he failed than his successes.

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And Google Sales Director Fionnuala Meehan explains the importance of the importance of stepping your own energies and turning them off, in order to be successful and not burn out.

Success personalities are different

But even the unwavering belief in oneself, as it appears with Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, ultimately leads to success, which is sometimes at the expense of others. Because there are of course the dark sides of many a personality, as not least the recent scandal around Kevin Spacey shows.

These different interviewees impress in very different ways and show how success can work and how it works - and also what personal preconditions you have to bring with it and what additional framework conditions must be in place to become a successful entrepreneur and even a millionaire.

Adapt to the changed leadership culture

In Germany, employees, companies and the managers of tomorrow would do well to adapt to this changed corporate culture and the “new” leaders.

Above all, this requires a lot from established managers: renunciation of personal vanities, loss of control, dealing with one's own fears, the ability to involve teams and employees in decision-making processes - while at the same time managing and directing them confidently and confidently as serving leaders.

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Leading Tomorrow Needs New Soft Skills

Because new leadership should not be an excuse for weak decision. How can this contradiction succeed? To recognize this, one must illuminate the topic of leadership from very different perspectives such as self-management, leadership, leadership or project management.

But issues such as agility of organizations or respect should also be urgently considered - right down to very specific issues such as the organization of employee appraisals. It becomes clear that tomorrow's leadership urgently needs new soft skills. And we should all work to develop these skills.


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  1. Lorenz

    Very exciting contribution, thanks for that!

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