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A sneak peek into our Accelerator Course: Five Minutes with Karsten Ottenberg

Christa Gyori speaks to Karsten Ottenberg, one of our Accelerator Course experts. Karsten was the CEO of BSH Home Appliances, and now supports the scaling of high-impact entrepreneurs and the impact transformation journey of large multinational corporates.

Why is transformation inevitable and what drives this transformation?

The fundamental concept of economy is changing in an exponential way. The value assignment – the value that people, stakeholders, employees, investors and businesses themselves are assigning to organizations – is unfolding at an ever increasing pace.

We must understand transformation as a true systemic change, which means considering every single component of the system and how they interplay. Systemic change involves the social, the ecological and the financial sustainability of our business value creation. Purpose then becomes a company’s promise to generate this long term systemic value.

Why do businesses struggle with this transformation?

Unfortunately there's no silver bullet to transformation. I always compare it with a piece of music. You may know the fundamental theory of music – that can be compared to how business schools may teach how to drive transformation. In music you have instruments to play – in business the instruments are the tools you have in addressing individual project components of your transformation.

But every piece of music sounds different. Therefore, the architecture of transformation is something very specific to develop and it has to be owned by the board and the CEO as an agenda: you can't start playing some music and assume at the end you'll have a symphony.

What five things are integral to transformation?

  • An organization has to address the why, the what and the how.

  • The C-Suite must be in alignment with the shareholders and owners.

  • You need external agents to help accelerate your transformation. It's about using the momentum of new businesses and entrepreneurship around you and adapting that to your own core transformation

  • Don’t underestimate your company's immune system

  • Understanding how we want the world to unfold, and what kind of skills we need to not only create that, but also to live in that new world

How can a CEO begin on their transformation journey?

That really depends on where you are. What is required from the CEO is first of all, clarity and passion for transformation. You need to ask yourself: What do you want as your legacy? Will you be able to say that you’ve done everything you can to accelerate your company’s transformation – or are you working towards something else? Have you understood the new world early enough? Are you putting purpose at the core of your company or are you running purpose on the periphery?

A lot of energy goes into the idea of resilience. I believe this question is behind the curve – we need regenerative models of business. If you are reacting linearly to an exponential change, you're actually falling behind.

You can watch the full interview here.

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