What was your first thought when you heard about the incident?
The incident initially scared me a bit. Of course, I assumed that the effect of this video was by no means what VW intended. Nevertheless, customers rightly expect such problematic content to be checked in advance and not made public.
Based on your experience in advising corporations and medium-sized companies, what do you think went wrong? And what can others learn from these mistakes?
The assumption is obvious that there are difficulties in the authorization processes and at interfaces. This is not unusual, especially in large corporations. To understand the background, we first have to look at the completely changed world of communication in the present. Today there are so many different channels and formats, especially through social media. Customers expect continuous communication from companies. The demand for content is growing more and more and increases the time pressure. And customer-centric companies naturally try to meet these demands. This starting position poses enormous challenges for marketing and communication divisions. These challenges, in our experience, can only be mastered by agile structures with clear responsibilities and coordination processes.
Sounds like a lack of control and unclear responsibilities are the cause. Maybe even the result of the highly praised agile working, with its idea of abolishing clear hierarchies?
On the contrary! Agile organizational models, in which small groups work on a level playing field, are even an excellent safeguard against the mistakes of individual decision-makers. And I am glad that many companies are now recognizing the advantages of agile working – especially at the interface between marketing and corporate communications. We at Nunatak have successfully introduced such agile organizational models to many customers. For example, we developed an agile marcomm organization model for a large German food retailer and implemented it internationally, merging the divisions of marketing and communications. During the coronavirus crisis, this agile organization ensured that communication was faster, more reliable and more consistent. Without these new structures, this would have been much more difficult.