Simplification at Microsoft

November 2, 2021 | Leadership and Organizational Development, Leadership und Organisationsentwicklung

Anna Kopp has been Head of IT at Microsoft Germany since 2015 and is therefore responsible for the fusion of business processes and technology. Making the connection here is a challenge in normal business operations. The pandemic has intensified this even more, but it has also opened up new opportunities. Anna Kopp talked about this with Janice Köser, Manager of the Academy at Staufen AG.

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Progress in digitization

It has long been known that Germany is not necessarily at the forefront of digitization. The pandemic actually did some companies a favor: They were forced to take big steps forward. Anna Kopp describes digitization as a journey. Some entrepreneurs may believe they stand out from the crowd, but by and large, everyone is the same on this journey: It is about overcoming challenges in the best way possible. And to do so, it is important to take a close look at the actual status.

New Work: Sustainable change in the world of work

Many employees worked at home during the pandemic. Some companies succeeded better than others. However, one thing in particular has been demonstrated: Many employers’ fear that their employees would be lazy at home has not been confirmed. On the contrary, many people can work more efficiently at home than in the office. As a result, many want to keep the option of working from home.

On the other hand, some people can hardly concentrate at home. This often includes parents of young children. It is important for them to be able to come to the office, to their normal work environment. In addition, there are always moments when it is better to be at the company, for example,

  • Meetings
  • Trainings
  • Demonstrations
  • Showcases
  • Visits from customers

Technology is often better in the office than at home, so many employees prefer to do certain tasks here. It also makes it easier to exchange ideas with colleagues.

Hybrid offer as a model for success

According to Anna Kopp, the ideal situation is when employees can decide for themselves whether and when they want to come into the office. In companies where working from home was possible even before the pandemic, people used to say, “I’d like to work at home two days next week.” Today, the emphasis has shifted: Many employees now give notice that they will come into the office and on which days.

This has given the workplace a different quality. It is not so much the environment for everyday work, but rather a meeting place, technical center and showroom. Here they can meet customers, or confer with employees and superiors.

A new challenge for managers

Managers who lead a team or a department are, of course, challenged in a whole new way by the recently decentralized world of work: There are training courses where they can learn how to maintain team spirit and communication. Digital solutions such as chats or joint virtual coffee breaks play a major role here.

At the same time, it is becoming increasingly important to employees that their welfare is considered and protected by superiors and employers. Working at home allows the day to be structured a little differently than usual. If necessary, employees can block out time for sports or even for family. For them to do this, management must rise to the occasion: Superiors need to set an example.

Transformation does not take place on its own

Many business owners know that the world of work is changing and that they need to do something to keep up with the competition in the future. But simply making a commitment to change is not enough: Transformation requires investing time, money and people. Only managers who study the subject in depth and learn everything they need to know can implement real change in the company. It has a profound impact on all areas of the company and cannot just be done on the side.

Innovation must not fall by the wayside

One area that may suffer from the new, decentralized and flexible world of work is innovation. To prevent this from happening, managers must actively work to ensure that ideas have room to flourish. Idea boards or meetings for hackathons, for example, are good ways to keep pushing innovation in the new and diverse work environment.

Do not fear ideas!

Germany is a country that is proud of its well-thought-out ideas, inventions and of its quality work. At the same time, however, it is relatively rigid when it comes to innovations. Some revolutionary ideas are rejected because they seem too daring or even silly. In doing so, you have to act on your thoughts, because voicing an interesting idea is important for innovation.

Not every idea has to be fully thought through or mature to be applied. Teams are there to think collaboratively. If you are stuck on an idea at a certain point, you can tell your employees and superiors about it – and often someone will have an idea that saves the day. In the team, productive discussions and ultimately innovations emerge.

BestPractice is good error culture

When asked which companies will best master transitioning to flexible new work, Anna Kopp is certain: Companies with a healthy error culture have the best chances. If you want to motivate your employees to come up with unusual ideas, you have to try different things. In this context, it is important to use measurable aspects to continuously check whether a procedure is proving to be successful or not. This means that you can quickly readjust the procedure or replace it with a new one if necessary. Those who learn from their mistakes can develop further – those who do not embrace change for fear of making mistakes remain stagnant and stand in the way of their future.

Learn from the best on BestPractice Day

Staufen will host the BestPractice Day 2021, the leading Lean Management congress in Europe, on November 23rd and 24th. Among many other exciting speakers, Anna Kopp will be there to share her experiences with New Work and new flexibility on the first day of the congress. In keeping with the current period of upheaval, this congress will take place both on-site in Stuttgart and digitally via a live stream. This way, all interested parties can choose the option that suits them best. More information about the event and the speakers is available at https://www.best-practice-day.com/.


Janice Köser, Manager Academy, STAUFEN.AG


Anna Kopp, Head of IT, Microsoft Deutschland GmbH

Further information

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