VOPA+ – a utopia of effective management?

In light of the constantly evolving VUCA environment, Dr. Willms Buhse developed the VOPA+ model, which promotes networking, openness, participation, agility and trust as the basis of a modern management culture. How can this work in reality?
December 19, 2019
2 min
Laura Heß, tts - knowledge matters. Laura Heß

Unforeseeable problems, objectives that change all of a sudden, and strategies that become outdated overnight – both staff and their managers need to acclimatize to today’s constantly changing VUCA environment. What was previously thought to be effective and efficient management is not necessarily much use in times of change. It is therefore time for company leaders to rethink their own role and adapt their management styles to the new circumstances.

In this context, written works on leadership are increasingly referring to the VOPA+ model, which German entrepreneur Dr. Willms Buhse developed in 2014. Rather than focusing on explicitly breaking down established structures or skilfully hiding your own lack of planning, this model is geared toward better leadership based on a modern mindset.

VOPA+ Model by Dr. Willms Buhse: Networking, Openness, Participation, Agility + Trust

In five words, Buhse describes the values that he believes to be particularly important. VOPA+ stands for

Networking (“Vernetzung” in German)

Networking should take place across all levels, both internally and externally, to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and pave the way for learning experiences. Besides the tried-and-tested methods, new channels such as social media platforms and virtual communities can be used for this purpose.


A corporate culture shaped by openness and transparency creates a framework in which information can be systematically and successfully shared and in which staff members’ willingness to experiment can grow.


Genuinely incorporating employees into decision-making processes can give companies access to valuable knowledge. No matter whether this results in innovative ideas or “merely” strengthens staff members’ sense of responsibility, everyone benefits in the end.


Autonomous ways of working and a small-step approach are ideal for ensuring lessons can be learned from mistakes and organizations can change strategy at any time. Agile ways of working also include managers advocating a positive error culture within the company.

The + stands for trust

Trust, both in yourself and in colleagues, forms the basis of the above-outlined transformation, because only if managers learn to let go can VOPA+ be a success in practice.

Such a metamorphosis admittedly doesn’t take place overnight, as it takes time to build up mutual trust. Agile management methods and peer learning techniques such as “working out loud” and lernOS help a VOPA+ culture to develop. Even though it might sound somewhat idealistic to begin with, taking the path to a leadership culture based on trust is a worthwhile venture. After all, entirely in keeping with the VOPA+ model, this is not about trying to achieve one major objective, but rather making lots of small steps that gradually take us in the right direction, one day at a time.

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