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Dialogue: the key to success

We like engaging in communication. We seek frank, give-and-take dialogue with those with top-level competency And we stand behind our arguments. If you too enjoy straight talk on hot topics, we invite you to join us at the Leader Talks.

The invisible game: enhancing performance with brain science – an interview with Professor Kai-Markus Müller

Do people automatically look for the lowest price? And under what circumstances are we prepared to pay more? These are the interesting questions we’ll be discussing today. We weren’t even concerned with these issues until relatively recently because there is no evolutionary pressure urging us to automatically search for the lowest price. Nevertheless, pricing has evolved into one of the most important economic levers, which raises the question of how pricing impacts businesses and consumers. This is where it gets interesting because our thoughts tell us a number of things about our perception of prices.

It’s worth taking a look inside our brains to discover what they are, according to neuroscientist Professor Kai-Markus Müller. His NeuroPricing method reveals what people really think about prices in a matter of milliseconds. It works before our conscious perception kicks in and we start thinking tactics, which is why NeuroPricing delivers fascinating and important insights into consumers’ minds. 

The secret of the invisible game is equally interesting. How can businesses effectively prepare their customers for price increases? Perception also plays a central role in this process because price adjustments are to some extent below the perception threshold – and therefore invisible. That’s an important insight for businesses, especially when they are putting their prices up. 

Müller uses his Invisible Game method to answer other interesting questions such as: How can I train my subconscious to be aware of and respond situationally to the invisible game? Or why is the success of a business so closely linked to its sales strategy?

Professor Kai-Markus Müller provides the answers to these questions and other insights in his new book and in the latest LeaderTalk with Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner at Struktur Management Partner. They discuss relevant aspects of pricing as well as the issues of when we are willing to pay higher prices and how businesses can improve their profits with NeuroPricing. Müller also shares the pricing mistakes that major international chains such as Starbucks make, and explains why price increases should always be properly justified.
 

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Future leadership: Why putting out fires is an important aspect of good management – an interview with Lars Vollmer and Mark Poppenborg

You can’t have a future without a past. That applies to most areas of life, especially or particularly future leadership because 20th century company management is definitely defining the future of leadership.

So what exactly is good leadership? Most people associate it with very specific personal qualities. But is it really that simple? Is there a personality trait tool kit for a good team leader or a good business manager? It’s not that easy according to Lars Vollmer and Mark Poppenborg, future leadership experts, who were interviewed by Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner at Struktur Management Partner.

A good leader isn’t defined by their personality traits, but by their good judgement. Someone with the ability to judge the right decision generally also has the ability to be an effective leader. And a leader who can inspire their team by communicating a determination to make things happen will help the business to move forward. Poppenborg and Vollmer are convinced that being an introvert or extrovert, cultural background, charisma or lack of charisma, are unimportant and we can see that too if we let our gaze wander into the world of professional football, for example. Here, too, good judgement plays a crucial role. The basic principle of ‘talent recognises talent’ applies in football for a very simple reason. Talent scouts are generally skilled footballers who know exactly what they are looking for and can recognise real talent when they see it. Ultimately, it isn’t KPIs that count. It’s the judgement of the talent scouts. Professional football is also a business enterprise, so we can transfer the same principles to modern management.

Managers who fail despite having good judgement are generally not to blame. Their failure is almost always related to structural deficits within the organisation. So it’s worth finding the fires and putting them out if you really want to change something, say the founders of the ‘intrinsify’ think tank.

Check out the latest Leader Talk to discover the other ingredients of good leadership, the tools that are available and what the two men discuss with other experts in their think tank.

*Video only in German

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Released from the cage. Why freedom and individual responsibility improve performance – an interview with Oliver Sowa

Many projects and bureaucratic structures give us a framework in which to act, but they don’t provide motivation according to Oliver Sowa, CEO of the Beutlhauser Group. Seven years ago, after a workshop with management guru Dr Reinhard Sprenger, he and his fellow directors abolished all bureaucratic obstacles in their company. Among the many resulting changes, holiday leave applications are now a relic of the past, and regional decisions are made locally. The company’s senior management created an action framework that gives employees the freedom to make decisions and the sense of acting on an equal footing. All these things have improved the atmosphere, the spirit and, more importantly, performance, said Sowa in an interview with Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner at Struktur Management Partners. This is mainly because of the insight gained at Sprenger’s workshop that you can’t motivate people. You have to give them an environment in which they can motivate themselves. The expert for transformation and change in the high-end SME sector went on to explain that this was also the reason why they abolished the sales commission model when the new management style was introduced. As a result, the sales team is now far more client-centric and bolder in its decision-making. By making these changes we have disproved all common assumptions that the sales organisation only works if individuals are incentivised by monetary rewards, said Sowa proudly. In their latest podcast, Oliver Sowa and Georgiy Michailov also discuss why a company has to operate like a good host, why it’s important to treat employees as adults and allow them to act like adults, why unnecessary complexity slows everything down and the impacts of Reinhard Sprenger’s theories at the Beutlhauser Group.

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Trapped in the comfort zone. And how to free ourselves from that – an interview with Andreas Kuffner

Generation Z is no longer willing to perform?! They just curl up in their comfort zone of smartphone, tablet and social media, and are simply not what we would call high-performers. But is that really true? In our latest podcast, the systemic coach Andreas Kuffner and Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner with Struktur Management Partner, explore this question, and discuss how we can create a good framework for performance and success for ourselves and others.

In principle, the current generation of young adults is of course capable of performance, but the system in which they have grown up does not encourage them to perform, says the former competitive athlete and expert in team development. And so it is our task to create structures and new approaches that really inspire children and young people. Not through pressure and doggedness, but nevertheless with a certain discipline, and always in an environment that provides psychological security. This is also important for our annual New Year’s resolutions, says Kuffner. The mistake we tend to make is that the resolutions are usually way too ambitious, and the pressure thus too great. We must get used to thinking in small steps, and to deriving stamina and strength for all our plans and resolutions from the small successes we experience. Because it is these small successes that give us the self-confidence to continue, to master difficult situations, and to proceed with courage.  Olympic rowing eight champion Kuffner is well-placed to know this. Because even that ultimate goal of Olympic gold needed lots of small successes along the way to maintain his motivation at a high level.  This is of course also where a good team can help. A team in which it is not about being the best yourself, but in which you want to achieve the best you can together as a team. Of this the team player Andreas Kuffner is absolutely sure. 

And if we then also get into the habit of asking what exactly we are doing things for, rather than just calling them into question, we will advance, we will perform. The ways and recipes there are for this, why our experiences strengthen us, and how good relationships can help us to create something new – this is what Andreas Kuffner and Georgiy Michailov are going to discuss in the next 50 minutes.

*Video only in German

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Self-presentation over expertise. A lesson in body language, voice and posture – an Interview with Monika Matschnig

If we don’t make a good overall impression, we won’t be heard, says Monika Matschnig, Germany’s No. 1 expert on body language, in conversation with Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner at Struktur Management Partner. That doesn’t mean that only appearances count and content is not important. But a study from Allensbach shows that body language has almost three times the outward impact that the content has. Which is why charismatic people are much more likely to be heard. This is nothing new, Matschnig knows, but the fact that charisma can be learnt perhaps is.

It begins with posture and here, the expert has a simple tip: If you imagine trying to hold a pea with your buttocks, then you’ve got the right body tension. She recommends you try it immediately. Gestures also reinforce your message. By a factor of 12! People often don’t know what impression they are making, explains Monika Matschnig. Which is why she works a lot with video, especially when it comes to gestures and body language. This quickly makes clear what people need to work on and how they can change something effectively. Thanks to her long experience in training courses on rhetoric and communication, the graduate psychologist can also recognise when someone is fibbing or lying. She demonstrated this in her documentary “Die Wahrheit über die Lüge” (“The truth about the lie”), which was shown on the Franco-German TV channel Arte. The question is, however, whether we always want to hear the truth, or whether we need to know it. “We should prevaricate and fib as much as we can”, says Matschnig, “when it’s a case of something positive”. Pro-social lying is what she calls this. Anti-social lying, on the other hand, should be recognised when someone blinks fast, or their voice has a higher register. So if body and statement contradict one another, the body is telling the truth.

You can find out about this and much more on gestures and posture, hearing and listening, mirrored behaviour and why the same body language usually means people are on the same wavelength, in our latest Leader Talk.

*Video only in German

 

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Between esotericism and evidence based leadership. A discussion of dark triads, charisma and underdogs – an interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf Lanwehr

The dark triad – a combination of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy – is an unfavourable personality trait that is at the same time perceived as being particularly charismatic, says Ralf Lanwehr, Germany’s most funded business psychologist and expert in evidence-based leadership. In conversation with Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner with Struktur Management Partner, he explains that it is very short-sighted not to attempt to change this unfavourable trait. Because just as charisma can be learned, narcissism can be partially unlearned. Lanwehr and Michailov discuss different management methods and explore questions such as why, for example, the underdog narrative succeeds; what advantages a “Mia san mia” winning mentality has (“Mia san mia” being the self-assured club motto and rallying cry of Bayern Munich, meaning “We are who we are”); or how you recognise effective management methods “when your questionnaire research in HR is quite simply fit for the bin,” as Lanwehr makes clear. If we want more evidence, we need to back experimental research, he says. A method that has long been used in marketing in the form of A/B testing. That way, leadership coaching and personality training would not ultimately remain just expensive disappointments.

But even more problematic for Lanwehr is the current “new work” development. For a country like Germany, without natural resources, employee empowerment is extremely important. Because that is the only way to establish a culture of innovation. However, “new work” as it is being implemented at the moment often brings with it disorientation, arbitrariness and egoism. Because no one understands that freedom can only be established within a clear framework, says the business psychologist. This is also true for the transformation of a company or team. “Change always brings resistance,” the business psychologist knows. That is why it is important what the employees trust the manager to do, and how fair and comprehensible decisions are. Because only then will the losers in a change situation join in alongside the winners, who will participate anyway.

Listen to more on work-life or life-work, the dark triad, the challenges for integrators and separators, and why the sacking of coaches does not usually have any effect, in our current podcast.

*Video only in German

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Incorrect assumptions, wrong-headed bans. How game theory and freedom of the individual ensure prosperity – an interview with Prof. Dr Christian Rieck

Crises erupt suddenly out of normality because we are unable to predict certain things, and our attempts to change situations through targeted prohibition are short-sighted according to Professor Christian Rieck, a leading expert on game theory who is a popular YouTube influencer with over 270,000 followers in Germany. Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner of the consultancy Struktur Management Partner, interviewed Dr Rieck, who elucidates everyday phenomena as well as political, economic and historical developments by applying game theory.

Because who wants to save CO2, for example, if it causes their own standard of living to fall in the process? It would be much better to indicate ways in which people can maintain or even improve their standard of living by actively contributing to climate protection, Rieck is certain. With the help of game theory, the well-known YouTube influencer gives important explanations of everyday but also political, economic and historical phenomena, and thus also provides the basis according to which we can make better decisions in future and adjust rules in such a way that we are not plunged straight into another new crisis. He thus also questions whether the unconditional basic income can really guarantee the living standards of all, and comes to the conclusion that it is actually just a trick. The average person in society would in fact become poorer, and a new crisis would thus be provoked through false assumption, the gaming theoretician explains in the current Leader Talk. So how can we manage to prevent or compensate for such false assumptions? Through lots of personal freedom, Rieck makes clear. Personal freedom forms the basis of an individual’s will to change. And in order to sweep people along with us, we need to dispense with hollow words, clear presentations and lectures of all buzzwords, and above all, speak rapidly. Because with the right bit rate, simple language and good content, listeners just do not have the time to get bored, the professional advises in conclusion. In the current podcast, you will also hear what else game theory explains, why it is the explanatory basis for systems theory, and how Prof. Rieck’s concept of “Digni” money could secure growth and prosperity in the future.

*Video only in German

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The myth of “motivation, conflict and victimhood” – why the decision is actually in our hands – an interview with Dr Reinhard K. Sprenger

Why enduring suffering is easier than taking action is a core question explored in the work of Dr Reinhard K. Sprenger, who is a prominent expert on management and leadership in German-speaking countries. In an interview conducted by Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner of Struktur Management Partner, Dr Sprenger explains why constant authenticity is not desirable, for the ultimate goal for managers is always self-management. Leadership is effective when it empowers other people and organisations to lead themselves.
So it’s not about motivating others; it’s about avoiding demotivation and promoting personal responsibility. Finding motivation and the courage to take a decision are thus up to each individual, as the successful business writer explains. Tune in to the latest podcast to hear more about the myths surrounding motivation, culture, purpose, and conflicts as well as a number of decision-making tips.  

*Video only in German

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Future success. Does saturation pose a threat to our innovative capacity? – an interview with Sven Gábor Jánszky

In this podcast, Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner with Struktur Management Partner, talks to Europe’s most innovative trend researcher, Sven Gábor Jánsky. Together, they explore the question of what the labour market, leadership and innovative capacity will look like in future. First of all, we need to emerge from our saturated state and recognise that we may be doing well, but that we are still far from reaching the top. We need to change structures, starting with education, which lacks innovative capacity at the moment. We need to connect with “the hungry” in the workforce, because they are the ones who have the drive to create something new, to go different ways, and to advance both the economy and society. There is huge potential, especially in our small and medium-sized companies, says Jánsky, but to unleash it, we need the courage to make changes. You can hear more on his forecasts and future scenarios in this podcast.

*Video only in German

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Fit. Fitter. Way out front. Why only a healthy lifestyle can permit peak performance – an interview with Patric Heizmann.

The body doesn’t need huge attention. Often just a few small changes are enough, says leading health and fitness expert Patric Heizmann. And that is good news for all management staff who, despite having limited time, want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And who have to, because if you want to lead out there at the front, you need energy. Only with a healthy lifestyle is it possible to achieve a sustainable top performance and a high level of mental and physical resilience. The two enthusiastic sportsmen and entrepreneurs Patric Heizmann and Georgiy Michailov, managing partners with Struktur Management Partner, show how important it is to have your energy tank full, what adjustments you need to make, and how ultimately you can make yourself “fitter” to lead out there at the front. 

*Video only in German

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The logic of failure – or why we should always see events in their context – an interview with Prof. Dr. Dr. Dietrich Dörner

The combination of psychology, artificial intelligence and the simulation of complex decision-making situations has made Professor Dr Dietrich Dörner an exceptional figure in psychological research, and a much sought-after interview partner for Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner with Struktur Management Partner. Together they explore the question of what indefinite complexity does to people, and why we keep making the same mistakes because of our failure to take side effects and distant effects into account. The key thing is correct assessment of oneself and the situation. In order to burst our own filter bubble, we need people who analyse, keep cool, and are prepared to lay a finger in the wound. Dörner wants us to understand events in their context. And at the same time he warns us not to overgeneralise our own successes and success strategies. How we can train operational intelligence to make it a success factor in decision-making – this and much more is what you will hear in this podcast.

*Video only in German

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Successful value creation and simple strategy – an interview with Prof. Felix Oberholzer-Gee

For many people, strategy is a difficult concept to grasp – something they associate more with magic than with science. And yet it is not that difficult to put together a targeted strategy. It is however important to get it right, because profit follows value, as Felix Oberholzer-Gee makes clear. Why are the best development opportunities to be found in our immediate vicinity? Why is the willingness – of customers to pay, and employees and suppliers to sell – the most important factor in value development? We demonstrate why some companies are so much more profitable than their competitors. The renowned Harvard Professor for Strategy Prof. Felix Oberholzer-Gee discusses with Georgiy Michailov, Managing Partner with Struktur Management Partner, how to redefine the value matrix for good strategy.

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From a service attitude to greater entrepreneurial resilience – an interview with Sabine Hübner

20 years ago, people were already talking about service. And, as Sabine Hübner notes, people will still be talking about service in 20 years’ time. This is a perennial topic, but one that must be redefined and put to the test again and again in relation to constantly changing conditions, the influence of digitalisation and much more. Not least in times of crisis. But how can you successfully generate a real competitive advantage from service, increase your resilience and think of service as being an integral part of your company’s corporate culture? As Germany’s No. 1 service expert (according to the television channel Pro7), Sabine Hübner discusses this question with Benjamin Klenk, Partner and shareholder of Struktur Management Partner, in our “Leader Talks”.

*Video only in German

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Individual resilience, organisational resilience: an interview with Prof. Dr Jutta Heller

Resilience has become a buzzword. The concept is not about getting through crisis unscathed, it’s about cultivating effective crisis management capabilities within your organisation. Your individual crisis competency as well as that of your company. Germany’s most prominent resilience expert, business coach Jutta Heller, will be taking on questions from Managing Partner Georgiy Michailov at an upcoming Leader Talk on such points as childraising, leveraging experience, decision-making freedom and fostering a culture of trust. The two will be drilling down on the necessity of crisis prevention, shared vision, common values and cross-functional collaboration among several other aspects.

*Video only in German

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Break a rule, break free: An interview with Sven Gábor Jánszky

Making out the future, shaping the present: Knowing how to proceed post-pandemic!

This past year serves as a prime example to the world of how entirely unspectacular phenomena can inaugurate processes of ineluctable, disruptive change. Many things taken for granted just one year ago are today unthinkable. Time indeed to look ahead. The question on everybody’s mind is how things will proceed post-pandemic (worst case: no “post”). Partner Jan Rodig talks about the situation in an interview with Sven Gábor Jánszky. Jan, who is known as one of Germany’s leading future researchers and is chairman of Europe’s largest future studies institute, talks to our digitalisation expert on the future for SMEs, touching on rule-breaking, innovation and (of course) digitalisation.

*Video only in German

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Radical leadership for radical times: an interview with Dr Reinhard K. Sprenger

What kind of leadership is needed for phases of radical upheaval like the one we are in, and will be needed in future? What defines good leadership? And with everybody talking about flattening hierarchies, what are managers actually needed for? Reinhard K. Sprenger systematically and radically challenges conventional views on leadership. One of his key axioms: “We don’t need managers taking up space in a room. We need managers that open up spaces. In an exclusive interview with Dr Reinhard K. Sprenger, Georgiy Michailov, explores further powerful insights and arguments around issues of leadership and conflict management.

*Video only in German

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Artificial Intelligence: an interview with Chris Boos

Using artificial intelligence for real-world decision-making. AI pioneer and entrepreneur Chris Boos talks with Benjamin Klenk (Partner at Struktur Management Partner and expert for e-commerce and digital transformation) in an interview about the definitive signs that we are now in a paradigm shift in management and business decision-making. Since founding a bona fide AI factory named arago GmbH nearly 25 (!) years ago, Chris Boos has been occupied with the hands-on creation of what everybody is only now starting to talk about: Artificial Intelligence.

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Clear thought processes for better decision-making: an interview with Dr Rolf Dobelli

The error of overestimating oneself. Are we really as knowledgeable as we think we are? Can we really move as quickly as we think we can? What benefits can we derive from science in improving our decision-making? In his book The Art of Thinking Clearly, Dr Rolf Dobelli discusses key logic and thought errors we make. He talked in an interview with Managing Partner Konrad Fröhlich of Struktur Management Partner about decision-making quality, the courage to make mistakes and how to avoid crisis situations by taking selective perception seriously as a risk.

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Decision-making in extreme situations: an interview with Prof. Dr Gerd Gigerenzer

Is gut feeling more reliable than Big Data? The research of Prof. Dr Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, has attracted worldwide attention for the insights revealed on how people approach risk and decision-making in extreme situations. Though unwelcome to the disciples of global homo oeconomicus and Big Data, Director Gigerenzer has demonstrated how relying on gut feeling can absolutely be the right way to go in highly tricky situations, even when facing extreme risk. Partner David Suedi of our firm had the privilege of interviewing Dr Gigerenzer on this very topic: decision-making in extreme situations.

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Ultimately, real leadership at its core is self-leadership!

Podcast discussion by Dr Reinhard K. Sprenger and Georgiy Michailov on “the New Work” paradigm, with Michael Trautmann and Christoph Magnussen.

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