Especially in challenging times, dealing with corporate culture is more important than ever. Eight years ago, the Otto Group actively embraced digital transformation with the start of the cultural change process (Kulturwandel 4.0) and invested in both people and technology. Given the competitive situation, a high degree of adaptability is needed to remain future-proof. Continuous training and exchange, to which the Otto Group invited everyone to the virtual table with the annual cultural change conference #CDX23, help with this. The sixth Cultural Development Experience had the motto "WTF - We Train Focus".
In a challenging macroeconomic environment, a company's ability to adapt flexibly to new market situations becomes more important. This includes, above all, using resources efficiently and in a focused manner. In order to strengthen the principle of focus and to remain high-performing and future-proof, the Otto Group has placed this behavior at the center of the cultural change process. Bianca Lammers, Division Manager Culture Change 4.0 Team at the Otto Group: "For the first time in the process, we have a common theme that we all want to address and change together." At the beginning of the cultural change, the organization focused on many facets of culture, such as strengthening communication at eye level and the agile mindset, as well as promoting collaboration throughout the Group. "Focus is not a made-up topic, but an immensely important ability to act in the complex, volatile world. We have felt this pressure point throughout the organization."
Less is more and not on top
Accordingly, the sixth Cultural Development Experience (#CDX23) focused on "focus in times of crisis", "performance through cultural change", and "shared learning in the cultural change collective". More than 300 participants - representatives from over 200 corporations, medium-sized companies, NGOs, educational institutions, and the Otto Group - experienced and discussed cultural change "live and in color" on October 11, 2023.
The keynote by Petra Scharner-Wolff, CFO of the Otto Group and Member of the Executive Board Finance, Controlling, Human Resources, and Alexander Birken, CEO of the Otto Group, showed that cultural change also means experimenting. In the format of a public live retrospective, they critically examined the cultural change process in the Otto Group together with cultural change experts Bianca Lammers and Svenja Reinecke. "In the cultural change, we have learned to communicate with each other at eye level and to discuss challenging topics. This enables us to free ourselves from conflict situations more quickly and to improve our processes," explains Petra Scharner-Wolff. This ability also strengthens us currently when it comes to using resources in the best possible way, cutting off things courageously, and focusing.
By reducing complexity, we increase our performance.
The executive team sees itself responsible for authentically leading the changes. They are currently participating in the "experiment" of changing learned processes. "When we talk about the ability to focus, it's not just about programs or methods," explains Alexander Birken. "The team agreement of a 'meeting-free afternoon' of course helps to promote focused work. But fundamentally, we have to constantly work on our attitude. For example, in a consensus-driven organization, saying no is particularly difficult. We have to work on that!"
For more focus in everyday work, there were plenty of exciting impulses at #CDX23 during the Science Lunch with Dr. Henning Beck and in the sessions from the cultural change collective. The 24 sessions dealt with a wide range of cultural change topics: from the influence of GenAI and its impact on corporate culture, to the art of conducting really good meetings, or how to achieve cultural change in a "blue-collar" environment.
Conclusion: #CDX is an energy filling station and has now become a fixed institution in our cultural change process - because only by learning from each other in all directions and across industries can we remain high-performing, improve, and shape transformation together.