Die menschliche Seite der digitalen Transformation

The human side of digital transformation

At Continental, one of the world’s leading technology companies for vehicles, traffic and transportation, a new culture has been established during its digital transformation journey. This culture is based on the core principles of transparency, respect for the individuality of every person, intercultural networking, and absolute trust in the abilities of employees. Harald Schirmer, Manager Digital Transformation and Change, explains how this affects learning within the organization.

Sparking an interest in change among all staff, every day

Continental spent six months working on a central change process. The company managed to maintain the all-important “day-one experience” among distinctive user groups from completely different cultures over the entire period, inspiring everyone. How did it do that? With leadership that respects individuality and explores all options.

Don’t just wait for the future, help to shape it

In times of digital transformation, many employees often simply wait to see what happens. They rely on people who tell them how they ought to react. However, organizations that are digitally successful don’t wait. They take their future into their own hands, and then the corresponding conditions fall into place almost of their own accord.

Methods must fit the style of the organization

What has worked well in the past is not necessarily the recipe for collaboration in the future – especially as circumstances become more volatile. The right tools and methods, suited to the organization's new requirements, are the basis for true efficiency.

A superlative change process becomes the "Experience of a Lifetime".

In just six months, Continental completely restructured its collaboration platform. Every day, up to 1,500 users were migrated to the new mail server and trained in 25 new programs. Despite and because of this great momentum, 90% of the workforce gave positive feedback to this mammoth change. And Continental records the highest adoption rate compared to other global organizations.

Simplifying complexity with a view on diversity

Good management makes use of the complex structures in a company – of all the diversity from different cultures, skills and individual knowledge. The essentials are filtered, thus processes simplified and tasks delegated to capable minds. Structured communication is the key to picking up everyone in the process and winning them over for the change.

Unfortunately, there is no one learning environment that suits everyone

Learning in the digital age is as diverse as the people who want to expand their knowledge. That’s why modern learning tools must meet every need, whether that’s classroom or webinar instruction, a rough overview or deep dive, a preview of what’s new or a holistic view of things.

Taking the time for a true learning culture

Learning is important for everyone in an organization, but very few actively set time aside for it. However, for a learning culture to become deeply embedded, active, focused learning must become a priority for everyone. Intuitive learning tools and comprehensive digital adoption solutions help organizations push learning to the top of the agenda.

Just providing information achieves nothing. Behavior has to change

For change to work, the processes must be clear to everyone, and the people in the organization must understand in detail what the underlying benefits are. That’s why Continental has created a social network within which employees actively participate in change, become trainers themselves, and share their knowledge with others.

Understanding personal culture and learning from each other

Continental has transformed its organizational model and brought the global teams closer together: Learning Partners, Knowledge Brokers, Organizational Coordinators and Local Culture Evergreens form a network based on good leadership and transparency.

Providing knowledge at the moment of need makes all the difference

No one likes to search laboriously for help. Employees need knowledge exactly when it becomes necessary and in a form that helps them move forward. Combining different learning scenarios and connecting together different knowledge topics in an intuitive way is helping Continental build up competencies.

A manifesto for more trust and understanding

Many organizations have strict guidelines about which programs may be used, how, and by whom. Continental managed to build trust in the new systems with a great deal of transparency and respect for everyone. Understanding for the change has grown not by instructions top-down, but thanks to individual learning journeys.

Simplify processes and make time for learning

One of the reasons why many staff don’t make time to learn is because learning content is distributed in a cumbersome manner via email. Cloud learning offers immense advantages for making content available to everyone quickly, easily and in a resource-friendly manner.


Harald Schirmer

Manager Digital Transformation and Change, Continental AG

For Harald Schirmer, close intercultural networks, new learning formats, transparency, diversity and an equitable approach to sharing knowledge are all part of sustainable organizational development and modern leadership - especially in the digital age. He has a #MutAnfall (attack of courage) on a daily basis and creates trust as a “Trusted Irritator” – both despite and because of his disruptive approaches.

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/haraldschirmer
Twitter: @haraldschirmer