– Company and Culture
"Experts with cultural fit integrate well"
Part 2 of 2
The new IKOR general managers* Sebastian Herrgesell, Sven Schlünzen and Thomas Weber, as absolute IKOR insiders, now complement the management team of the European technology consultancy. In the second part of their interview, the new trio of executives outline how they work together and lead, what values the three managers pursue, issues they emphasize and why IKOR is "not a conservative consulting firm."
Even for IKORians you seem very dedicated. How do you interact as a trio?
Sebastian Herrgesell: We work together intimately at all levels, across all channels and see one another at least once a day as a duo or trio. In a joint weekly, we intensively discuss: What topics are coming up? What's new? Are there topics somewhere that should be talked about? Additionally, we regularly meet with the strategic and dock management teams, the IKOR departments and also the internal organization team leads.
What does leadership mean to you?
Herrgesell: Leadership is an important tool in a learning organization. Competencies must be strengthened where the decisions are made. We are retaining the existing leadership guidelines and orienting our leadership to the IKOR values for which we continue to stand. Transparency and customer orientation are at the heart of this.
Thomas Weber: All three of us lead differently. We have different perspectives and work styles. In addition, it is enormously important for us to trust each other. We've managed to take advantage of this and discuss our decisions at least in groups of two - whether it's about sales, delivery or "just" the technical equipment in our meeting rooms.
What accents do you want to set as a management trio and next generation?
Herrgesell: We are united by the idea of one (sic!), smart IKOR. It is important to us that office and field staff, technologists and consultants, colleagues at home and abroad all feel like IKORians. We want to strengthen this feeling, protect our core values and develop IKOR further at the same time.
That means ...?
Herrgesell: We will always critically question whether we are doing the right thing and: How our course can be optimized further and further. For example, we want to create sustainable values such as the lowest possible IKOR CO2footprint and relieve our colleagues of routine tasks through automated processes. We simply don't want to be a conservative consulting firm, but rather continue to develop consistently with all our IKORians.
What do you want to do differently than a classic consulting firm?
Sven Schlünzen: We are taking a different approach: I have spoken a lot with our customers in recent months. Their feedback is that customers really do perceive us differently than other consulting firms. They see us as a promise of quality, exclusive consulting and a cultural fit for their house. That also means a big commitment. So, when we talk about the next level for IKOR, the plateau from which we start is already very high.
To this end, we also shape a different view internally: If an area does not meet economic expectations, it is our task to organize and integrate the people of this area in such a way that we strengthen the overall quality of the organization and ensure people a home. Recently, we had to reorganize a team accordingly; we succeeded at all levels in ensuring a home but also a good, intelligent setup in terms of added customer value and positive key figures.
What are your plans for 2023?
Weber: Starting next year, we will increasingly focus on strategic considerations such as IKOR's ambitions and vision along with the strategy derived from them. We want to become more sustainable, anchor and sustain the aforementioned "One IKOR" idea more firmly in our mindset and align our market offerings and delivery even more specifically to the needs of our customers.
On a personal note, what makes it so cool to work at IKOR and lead there now? What drives you?
Herrgesell: For me, IKOR was and is a bit like family: It's fun to move things forward with the great IKORians around us. Transporting the IKOR feeling is one of my central drivers - despite other competing considerations; hybrid work modes on projects, the growth of IKOR and our sister companies in the X1F holding, and the overall geopolitical and social situation. We are convinced that with the motto "Be who you are, show what you can do" we are attracting to IKOR exactly the right people to create the best for our customers: great digital solutions.
Weber: For me, in a similar way to IKOR, it's people who make the difference. Of course, a "jerk free company" - that's how we see ourselves - can theoretically also be lip service. However, if you "only" have qualifications and skills, but not the cultural fit, you will not integrate well. Those who only focus on revenue and key performance indicators and overlook the value of people and togetherness quickly lose their focus and value to the customer.
Schlünzen: At IKOR, we avoid this by employing people who fit our culture and values. We opened our near-shore locations in Poland and Serbia, for example, with this basic idea in mind - not for our margins, but to find people in this broad talent market who have the necessary skills and fit us at the same time. That's what drives me.
Weber: Exactly. We are not a Roman galley and don't want to be one. We will regularly prove our values and their sustainability, reconcile and preserve them. Without losing our ambitions or learning culture and avoiding the crass inclination to change and innovate. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
* Sebastian Herrgesell, Sven Schlünzen and Thomas Weber became the managing directors of IKOR in January 2023.