Daimler chief Zetsche: Daimler working toward swarm organization; mobility services, digitalization and e-mobility
In an interview with Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche said that the company is implementing swarm organization management techniques to enable more rapid development in emerging critical areas such as digitalization, mobility services and e-mobility.
The swarm organization method, explained Zetsche, supplements the hierarchical-management pyramid with cross-functional and interdisciplinary groups and eventually replaces them.
Although there are currently limits to such an approach, Zetsche said that Daimler so far has developed 30 subject areas within the eight management-board divisions where it will use that organizational form. “We will learn with them how far we can go in its application.”
Such a system naturally only makes sense if we radically question the existing decision processes. At the moment, we have up to six levels of decision-making. We want to have only two decision-making levels for every issue by 2020. Such as the person in charge and the team manager, or straight from the person responsible to the executive board.
… We are convinced it is the right time to bring our management culture in line with the future and thus make our organization more agile and innovative. With fresh input from the whole team, we will make ourselves fit for the future. At the same time, it isn’t our goal to dismantle hierarchies but to restructure them to be easier to penetrate. We want to strengthen professional expertise, dismantle bureaucratic hurdles and actively promote interdisciplinary cooperation.
The company is targeting 150 subject areas worked out and signed-off on by the end of 2016. The goal is to have everything in place by 2020, Zetsche said—maybe sooner. “We will learn a lot, but we will also fall on our faces in some areas.”
One of the drivers of this cultural revolution is the perceived need for speed and flexibility in addressing the areas of new mobility services, digitalization and electric-mobility.
It doesn’t help to fight against digitalization. Everything technically possible and that makes life easier for the customer, will happen. At the same time, the bottom line is that all of these business models are based on the hardware, the automobile. All we can do is think about how we can be the first to implement and offer these things. We have to be prepared to constantly re-examine our core business and adapt it to market demands.
Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper (2007) “The New Principles of a Swarm Business” MIT Sloan Management Review
Eric Bonabeau and Christopher Meyer (2001) “Swarm Intelligence: A Whole New Way to Think About Business” Harvard Business Review