Why are customers important to an organization

Career & Salary

IT organizations are faced with a host of new challenges in the course of the digital transformation. Customers expect ever shorter innovation cycles when digitizing their business processes. Naturally, however, you are not prepared to forego the stability of the basic IT services.

IT management therefore demands more flexibility and speed in the implementation of new requirements and ideas. At the same time, proximity to users is playing an increasingly important role in order to understand needs on the one hand and to be able to react quickly and specifically to dissatisfaction on the other.

Flexibility, speed and innovation

In order to meet these challenges, new methods of (project) organization and management play an increasingly important role. The vertical structures that exist today, consisting of grown technical "silos", do not offer sufficient flexibility in the organization to realize flexibility, speed and reliability to the same extent. So far, these structures have been retained and overarching activities have been implemented using defined processes. This is sufficient for the reliable delivery of agreed services, but often reaches its limits due to a lack of flexibility with very short change cycles. The requirements become even greater if IT is to become a real driver of innovation for the entire company. Thinking within narrow technical boundaries becomes a real obstacle here, so that horizontal, interdisciplinary networking of the organization plays an important role.

Focus on agile approaches

From agile approaches such as Scrum or Kanban and horizontally oriented philosophies such as DevOps, those responsible promise themselves to be able to better meet these new challenges. Agile methods bring development much closer to users and make it easier to implement requirements faster and more precisely. The DevOps idea improves the ability to innovate because interdisciplinary teams from operations and development are continuously responsible for a good result. At the same time, the risks of short innovation cycles decrease because the complexity is reduced and also consistently automated during the rollout (continuous delivery).

All of the methods and philosophies mentioned have one thing in common: hierarchical structures are changed and responsibility is transferred to the teams that develop a new service, product or service. Agile methods can only fully exploit their advantages if decisions are made and accounted for directly where the need arises. At the same time, executives must accept these decisions within the agreed framework of values ​​and goals and thus provide security. This also means rethinking at management level, because lengthy decision-making processes would quickly consume the advantage of speed and innovative strength. This is not possible without trust, because if employees' decisions are constantly questioned and revised, they quickly move back up the hierarchy. The result is pseudo-agility and seemingly cross-hierarchical teams in which ultimately the department head has to confirm every decision and approve every investment. The reason: Bureaucratic structures and processes have been established for years and are reluctant to break open.

Trust as a success factor

Trust in the skills of employees and their decisions is becoming a new success factor for managers. At the same time, leaders need to gain the trust of employees in order to encourage bold decisions. It's not always easy. According to a representative study by Ernst & Young, employees around the world do not place great trust in their own company or their direct superiors: 44 percent trust their company in this country and 47 percent trust their superiors.

Trust is an underutilized resource and at the same time perhaps the most important lubricant of cooperation, without which no company can achieve success. All those involved must learn to recognize and appreciate this trust as an independent value in cooperation. When employees and managers trust each other, the results of the joint work are of increased quality and cost-effectiveness. Studies show that those who trust are motivated and ready to do more.

A lack of trust, on the other hand, creates the ideal breeding ground for fear. Of those surveyed who have lost confidence in their employer, 30 percent do not work more than is explicitly required of them. With consequences for the company: 28 percent say that the disappointment generally leads to their being less committed and productive. For a quarter of employees, quality is a minor matter.

The perfect couple: trust and responsibility

Trust grows with the duration and quality of the cooperation. It continues to develop like a plant when the conditions are right. Three essential factors promote the development of trust: trust yourself, a clear expression and authenticity. The prerequisite is credibility. This can be achieved when the thinking, speaking and acting of all those involved agree, i.e. are congruent. Only clarity in action gives safe orientation for everyone involved. As well as appreciative interaction with everyone involved, clearly formulated expectations and sufficient freedom to implement and practice new things. In this context, trust and responsibility are an inseparable pair, because trust always contains a second side of the coin: Only the responsible handling of the trust placed in it makes it possible to achieve the desired results safely and to generate new trust.

Does trust have to be earned?

"You have to earn trust." Who doesn't know this saying? However, trusting others is a positive attitude, it cannot be tied to any preconditions. When it comes to team leadership, this means placing trust in the team members from day one. This also means assuming that the team wants to achieve the best result on its own. In order for trust to last in the long term, there should be a common understanding of goals and the necessary steps. It is even more important that all those involved show behavior that can be assessed for the respective counterpart over a longer period of time. Decisions must be comprehensible and plausible and, in their basic direction, agree with the mutually agreed path.

Trust is the basis of successful corporate development. In particular, the agile methods currently being discussed do not work without a trustworthy culture. Teams in an environment characterized by trust and responsibility build trust with customers and colleagues - they keep what they promise. The benefits for the company and its customers are just as important to them as personal advantages.