workplace 2020

New technologies, rapid market cycles, cultural change, demographic trends - market dynamics and customer requirements change rapidly. Unlike 10 years ago, companies today face the challenge of having to change themselves. That's because markets, technologies, industries and entire industries are undergoing major changes. Companies are forced to be agile and make quick adjustments if they want to be a successful part of this development.

Amazon, Google, Nokia -numerous positive and negative examples from the corporate landscape prove that to be successful tomorrow, you must act today. After all, who uses the second largest search engine, the second largest online retailer, or the second largest video portal? If companies want to keep up with the latest developments, they first need to ask themselves the following questions: Do our available management tools encourage employees to do their best? Do the structural conditions give employees the space for independent entrepreneurial activity? This is the only way companies can achieve genuine innovation and competitiveness in the market.

One thing is for sure: the tried and true hierarchical top-down structure is no cure for a lack of innovation. So, what then?

The answer: a new, broader-based management system that optimizes the reliability and performance of the human capital in business organizations.


Agile network, or rigid command and control? Whenever organizational design coincides with employees' view of themselves, functioning systems arise with a design that follows the requirements of their division. However, many people find themselves in structures that are a poor fit for them. For example, consider the employee who would actually like to work independently, but in his current role only carries out orders from above. Or the supervisor who is a poor top-down leader. Then there's the opposite case: agile structures offering employees maximum freedom, with employees who are able to complete projects by themselves. But what if in this model, an employee actually prefers to receive well-structured tasks every day? An optimal interplay between organizational design and employees' self-concept is a key factor for successful functional management systems.

The Haufe Quadrant depicts this interaction and organization and shows the structural reality of a business.


When employees think of themselves as classic implementers who thrive in a hierarchical top-down model, we call this the "command and control" system. This organizational form rose to prominence with the Industrial Revolution, and to this day, it still serves as the only structural framework in most companies. In this system, the employee perceives himself as a functional unit following instructions. Conceptual or strategic thinking should not be required of him, but rather the efficient execution of clearly-defined processes in specified sequences.


The shadow organization is a system that can lead to major organizational problems due to a mismatch between organizational design and employees' self-concept. Employees who want to actively participate as decision-makers and co-entrepreneurs in the company's success are thwarted by rigid, authoritarian structures in their drive for autonomy. Often, the only reason for this is a company’s lack of well-established management tools beyond the hierarchical top-down design. Organizational units that operate on this basis are often perceived as rebels or renegades, even though the desire of active and highly motivated employees to participate in the company's success could be put to good use.


When organizational design and employees' self-understanding are out of sync, it leads to problem areas, systems with suboptimal performance, low output, and a lack of employee motivation. One of these problem areas is the overloaded organization. An agile organizational design offering employees maximum freedom, and superiors with leadership skills that go beyond hierarchical approaches, may not work well for employees who need hard targets and clearly defined processes. Despite high momentum and maximum utilization, this system tends to generate inadequate, low-quality output. Think of a high-powered Formula 1 driver who keeps spinning his tires at top speed, but never moves from the spot.

AGILE network

Agile networks arise when flexible organizational design comes together with highly ambitious, self-directed employees. Agile networks are characterized by a management’s deep trust in the abilities of its teams and employees to recognize the needs of the market and implement them autonomously. In this system, the employee demonstrates independent, entrepreneurial thinking, and the ability to understand complex issues and develop concepts and business approaches that serve the company..


But which of these systems is right for my business? There is no right answer, since all these systems coexist in almost every company. It is this very coexistence, this interplay of many different forms of work organization, that makes companies more productive and efficient. Thus, in one and the same company, units with a hierarchically-oriented top-down design can exist alongside agile networks, and the two can efficiently interact and provide maximum performance in all business units. This is because large factories and assembly lines work most efficiently under command and control, whereas creative knowledge work in hotbeds of innovation requires more agile forms of collaboration.


This is the reality in German companies. However, the majority of companies can currently only partially meet the highly dynamic requirements of the market, because the existing management tools only allow for a command and control approach. Fast, agile, market-oriented approaches are only partially possible in this system, if at all. In order to develop such ideas, companies need to draw on a new type of collaboration. In knowledge-based business units, such as research and development, companies need to establish more agile structures in which employees can work together independently and responsibly without receiving orders from above.

our answer


We therefore believe that establishing an employee-focused "operating system" is a fundamental success factor for companies that want to deal correctly with the full range of employee personalities and organizational structures. This complex but highly effective diversity of approaches is orchestrated to create a meaningful and productive whole. This is where Haufe comes in. Drawing on our decades of experience, our successful transformation from specialized publisher to solutions provider, and a comprehensive service portfolio, we guide companies through the development of necessary changes. We're note done until our solutions have made a measurable impact on your success. Formerly known as a specialist publisher that made its name with loose-leaf publications, this family company has evolved into a successful provider of integrated workplace and enterprise solutions. This is also reflected in sales figures: In 1990, the Haufe Group recorded revenues of 50 million euros, and today that number is almost 300 million euros. The number of employees has increased from around 330 to almost 1,500.