Digital leadership and technologies for the team interaction of tomorrow (teamIn)

A team at wbk, IBU and IFA is researching how digital working is changing cooperation in manufacturing companies and is gaining insights into central decisions and management behaviour.

In the course of the current corona pandemic many companies are forced to deal with digital interaction technologies. Existing contact restrictions have additionally led to the fact that shift schedules have to be made much more flexible. In the research project teamIn, scientists from the wbk Institute of Production Science the IBU Institute of Management and the IFA Institute for Factory Systems have been developing a model for leadership and social interaction in the digital age since 2018. 

Digitization has an increasing impact on production systems and thus on interactions in the socio-technical system of the company. Especially due to the increasing availability of real-time data and the use of new "intelligent" technologies, self-controlling production systems and decentralized decisions are increasingly becoming reality. To ensure that employees are not afraid of rapid technological changes and that they can accept new technologies, management in manufacturing companies must communicate the opportunities offered by digitization and show how this can help employees to work more flexibly and agilely.

If employees are to be able to make decentralized decisions or make flexible decisions about their work content and their place in the production system, they must understand how their actions affect the situation and production goals. With the further development of shop floor management using live data from production and user-oriented visualization, the necessary transparency for employees can be created. At the same time, it is important to introduce management systems that are as flat and agile as possible. So far, research in this field has focused on technological innovations. The effects on employees and management systems are still rarely taken into account.

Within the framework of the research project, work is now being done on a new management model that does justice to digital change and decentralized decision-making, but also analyzes how digitization can influence the interaction between managers and employees positively and negatively. It also takes into account the fact that in the new management model, the manager must demonstrate a high degree of leadership competence and, above all, needs time for leadership work.

The mission statement to be developed consists of four sub-goals. In the first sub-goal, the project team analyses the existing management instruments and defines requirements for new instruments. Based on this analysis, new management instruments are developed in cooperative collaboration, which are then tested in the learning factories of the wbk and the IFA and then tested in practice in companies.

The second sub-goal includes the development of a modern management system based on shop floor management. Existing and newly developed management instruments are assigned to the individual core areas of shop floor management and linked to existing management principles and styles. Thus a new holistic shop floor management model is created, which combines the management instruments and combines them with the corresponding management principles, whereby the influences of the instruments on the components of a management system can be shown. With the help of this representation, the instruments can then be selected in a company-specific manner and a new, modern management system can be designed. 

In the third sub-goal the effects of the management instruments on the socio-technical system of the companies are considered. This holistic view is central, since the digitalization of the instruments and the adaptation of management systems to agile working methods are accompanied by significant changes. The project team is investigating how digitization affects the cooperation between employees and managers and what risks and opportunities arise in the process. At the same time, the project team harmonizes the developed management systems with the prevailing organizational structures. For the individual roles and the resulting instruments, new necessary competencies must be identified and a competency development program must be created for this purpose.

In the fourth sub-goal, the project team designs a transformation process. In order to ensure that the changes initiated in the companies within the framework of the project also have a lasting positive effect, the participatory design of the sales process is essential right from the start.

Further information about the teamIn project can be found at External Link