Abstract Increased work and speed are shaping the transformation of today’s business world. Increased agility is often required in the increasingly project-oriented work processes. A solution approach to meet this challenge entrepreneurially can be, in particular, an intensive involvement of employees in the design of business processes. The basis for this is a highly employee-oriented leadership and organisation. The paper shows two practical case studies from which concrete recommendations for management are derived in order to establish agility in their own teams.

The world is getting faster and more complex. Companies such as Apple, Google, Tesla and N26 are conquering the market with groundbreaking innovations and new product ideas. Nowotny (2016) also notes that in addition to these startups, increasing demands of employees are also being placed on companies. Leadership on an equal footing and the usefulness of work are credos of young professionals, which are necessary to achieve innovations.

But what is the complexity and why should companies change? Successful managers have made numerous projects successful in recent years. Processes were standardized, automated, and unified so that everyone knew exactly what to do.

Gloger and Rößner (2014) show the consequences: This can be seen in the overflowing calendar of project managers rushing from meeting to meeting. If you want to talk to them in peace, you have to make an appointment months in advance. They never have time and make hasty decisions. Increased self-organization, however, could bring back a precious commodity to stressed project managers, namely time.

For similar reasons, Arnold (2016) also recommends a flat leadership and organization, which increasingly gives employees the opportunity to become more involved within the organization. As a practical tip, he advises seeing employees more as co-entrepreneurs. Greater involvement and the allocation of variable roles are effective means of effectively countering the dynamics and complexity of digital transformation. However, this inclusion is neither self-evident nor easy, as employees do not automatically get involved and organize themselves. This requires some framework conditions in the organisation.

Study design

The case studies were carried out in the team or department of the respective managers. First and foremost were expert interviews with the managers. According to Wilde & Hess (2006), case studies are particularly suitable for observing difficult-to-delimit phenomena and derive inductive findings from them. Accordingly, a written illustration of two case studies in companies was   made, from which concrete recommendations for action could be derived.

Reading tip: More articles on SMEs 4.0


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Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

Arnold, H. (2016). Digitization of corporate governance. Guided Tour + Organization, 5, 330-336.

Köffer, S., & Urbach, N. (2016). The digitization of knowledge work – recommendations for action from business informatics research. HMD Practice of Business Informatics, 53(1), 5-15.

Nowotny, V. (2016). AGILE COMPANY – FOCUSED, FAST, FLEXIBLE: Only what moves can improve. Berlin: BusinessVillage.

Wilde, T., & Hess, T. (2006). Method spectrum of business informatics: overview and portfolio formation. Munich. Retrieved from http://www.wim.bwl.uni-muenchen.de/download/epub/ab_2006_02.pdf


I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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