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  • 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Courage to try

Christian P. Illek, Member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management for Human Resources since April 2015
Christian P. Illek, Member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management for Human Resources since April 2015

Dear Readers,

The changes we have experienced in the onward march of the digital revolution have meant no less than a remapping of our world – bringing radical rupture to every area of our lives. These changes are opening up unimagined new opportunities. But we also need to ensure that people remain at front and center during this digital upheaval.

We at Deutsche Telekom are in the avant-garde of the digital revolution, pushing on change with our products and services, yet at the same time also keenly aware of the need to keep up the same pace in achieving our own transformation. That is why we are searching for ways to find the right balance in the changes happening in our company, and to take our employees on the journey with us. A positive attitude to change is fundamental, and that is why we are providing opportunities in the digital workplace and supporting co-workers by providing the right sort of environment. We are also establishing a new culture of knowledge and of learning from error that provides the freedom to keep up with the blistering pace of change.

In some places we need the courage to dare to try out the new. And that is why I urge you to “just go ahead and do it”! That is the reason we are creating new spaces for experimentation in which we can try out new possibilities – without organizational and operational pressures.

One of these spaces for experimentation is the 80/20 model. It offers the freedom to employees to dedicate 20 percent of their work time on projects not directly connected to their regular duties. In the management area too we are exploring new terrain; things that used to be run by command and control supervision often just do not work that way anymore. The growing complexity and volatility of the digitalization process is forcing us to abandon our tried-and-tested leadership models.  In particular, the concept of “lifelong learning” is acquiring even greater weight as the digital revolution moves forward. And that is why we are developing digital tools that help put the fun into learning – including the use of gamification and virtual reality, for example. And we have already tried out both successfully.

Technological progress cannot be stopped. But it can be shaped to our needs. And the way digitization is reshaping our world will, as mentioned above, surely lead to social innovations – innovations that will especially affect our working lives. Aside from the examples I mention here, we have set out a few thoughts in a position paper on how we can prepare for the future of Deutsche Telekom right now.

I am convinced that flexibility is set to become the "new normal". Firmly embedded in a responsible corporate culture, it gives us the key to the successful digital transformation of work.

Christian P. Illek