This openness is part of the so called #Kulturwandel 4.0 – a cultural change process –, which the parent company of EOS, the Otto Group, announced at the end of 2015. The organisation executives are examining existing structures and practices and making necessary improvements throughout the Group. The aim is to make all companies in the Otto Group faster, more customer-friendly and more modern so they can remain competitive in times of increasing digitalisation.
Taking advantage of everyone’s energy and ideas
At the beginning of #Kulturwandel 4.0, the Otto Group Executive Board Members each took one of the six relevant themes, such as ‘#Speed’, ‘#Customer’ and ‘#Empowerment & Agile Leadership’. Employees of the Otto Group were asked to join the change process and work together with Executive Board Members in core teams. The response was huge. Employees from different companies – such as Baur, Hermes and About you – and very different backgrounds volunteered. EOS employees are also participating in four of the six teams to work out measures for improvements. Which structures are still efficient today? What does the customer want today and tomorrow? How can we better use synergy in the Otto Group? Team #Speed, for instance, identified and eliminated many unnecessary activities and time wasters that slow down the Group. Streamlined processes increase flexibility and speed. ‘We use everyone’s energy, skills and ideas. This corporate culture inspires me and gives me a new, positive energy,’ says Lara Flemming, Head of Corporate Communications & Marketing at EOS.
More than 40 initiatives across the Group are being promoted within #Kulturwandel 4.0. ‘They are a kind of treasure chest. Any company can use it according to its needs. What works for EOS may not be useful for other companies in the Otto Group, such as Crate & Barrel or Schwab,’ explains Pia Fischbach, Head of International IT Account and Project Management at EOS IT Services in Germany.
Take advantage of new freedom
#Kulturwandel 4.0 deliberately creates new freedom. ‘The core teams have coined the slogan “You are the culture!”. Each employee can make a contribution,’ explains Christian Kerpen. The Head of Business Intelligence Competency Center at EOS DID in Germany works in one core team, just like Ms Flemming and Ms Fischbach. He pointed to a normal situation in his department as an example. When the demand for a seminar on the topic ‘Agile Project Management’ exceeded expectations, Mr Kerpen decided to increase the seminar capacity without any kind of decision documents or prior clarification of the costs. ‘Previously, that would have been hard to implement. The maxim of change – “just do it” – actually works,’ he says.
Networking among hierarchies already takes place at EOS, as in the socalled EOS Cultural Café. In informal discussions, members of the management discuss matters with their employees, using a more agile approach without an agenda. CFO Justus Hecking-Veltman and Western Europe Head Dr Andreas Witzig initiated the first such discussion. Ms Fischbach, who was present, says, ‘Among other things, we discussed the mistake culture at EOS. All participants meet on equal terms and such discussions let employees know that their opinions are valued. I really felt I was appreciated.’
Ultimately, internal changes have an outward effect. ‘We employees can offer our ideas and bring about improvements. The new approach motivates us and increases everyone’s sense of responsibility of the individual, and thus the success or failure of EOS,’ says Ms Flemming. #Kulturwandel 4.0 is not an end in itself, however. The intention is clear. The Otto Group and EOS want to secure and extend their market position. Everyone who participates secures the future of the Group.