Why the digital transformation fails without social innovation

By Dennis Tanke

According to Dr. Thomas Sattelberger, former Chief of Human Resources of Telekom, Germany is positioned between the 'engine house' China and the 'digital house' USA. He is convinced that this situation increase the pressure on German companies. In his Key Note speech, Sattelberger indicates the challenges for (digital) innovation and how the scenarios in the working environment need to be changed.

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Highlights of the speech

About 120 managers from various branches of business participated in the event at the Business Club in Hamburg on September 18th. During his lecture, Dr. Sattelberger presented his thesis that leadership and working culture have a significant impact on innovation processes:

  • We observe a decrease in cooperative leadership styles and about two out of three Germans are discontent with the leadership that they experience
  • In companies that produce "hardware", the working culture is often inconvenient for both the people and innovation
  • In two thirds of German companies there is little to no cooperation beyond the given paths or procedures
  • Old working environments need to be broken up

What are the implications for companies?

Technological innovation does only come with social innovation: good companies are biotopes for talents rather than hierarchical machines or drill instructors.

  • 'Drop your Tools' and experiment with a new leadership and working culture.
  • Diversity is the best way to promote innovation and success.
  • Transform learning cultures
  • Develop leadership competences of the future

Comprehensive and repeated research proves that organisations that attract, motivate and develop the right people outperform those that do not. Truly successful organisations build the right capabilities and talent at all levels – with people who can take the organisation into the future. This leaves you with the question: "How can I ensure my people perform at their best?"


We ensure your organisation gets a performance edge. From working with one key individual to transforming an entire organisation, we will deliver the solution you need.


Each year we deliver thousands of Talent Advisory, Leadership Development and Executive Search assignments for clients worldwide. We are organised as one global firm with experts working in all major markets worldwide. Whether you need a global talent management solution, or to drive change across borders, we have the solutions to help you.


If you are interested to learn more about this topic and how Mercuri Urval supports companies in this regard, you are welcome to reach out to Dennis Tanke.

  • New Work
  • Innovation