Interview with Markus Peterhänsel

Using the intelligence of the whole system

With the strategy and organizational development process EVOLUTION, the E/D/E Group has set out into the future. It is accompanied by the management consulting company SEDLÁK & PARTNER. Markus Peterhänsel, managing director and head of the strategy consulting department, describes the approach of the consulting company.

What is the basic methodology underlying the evolution process at e/d/e, and what consulting approach does sedlák & partner follow?

We support companies that are in a good market position but have recognized that they must adapt to market changes in a foresighted manner in order to remain successful in the future. The development of an attractive and sustainable vision of the future, i.e. the question of future strategic positioning, plays a key role in this context. We are convinced that this is a management task that cannot be delegated and which must be handled by the management. Therefore, we do not simply provide our clients with a solution in terms of content, but rather accompany a process in which a sustainable vision of the future is developed and – very important! – is agreed upon within the organization as well as with key external stakeholders. The participation of the management team and the employees is crucial to ensure that the result can be implemented and adapted.

With the innovative stakeholder analysis isa, you have invested a great deal of effort in market research. What role does the isa play in the overall evolution process?

The process follows the “outside-in” principle, which means that taking market and stakeholder expectations into account is a very central element of EVOLUTION. The ISA is thus a significant impulse that charges the entire strategy and organizational development process. The study was focused on different levels and stages of the association: E/D/E members, suppliers and cooperation partners up to the end-customer markets industry and trade, but also independent traders. More than 350,000 individual data of about 1,500 decision makers in the production connected trading (PVH) were generated, 60 personal interviews were conducted to deepen the results, the analysis was carried out in 19 countries. The objectives were, on the one hand, to identify the concrete performance expectations of the individual stakeholder groups and, on the other hand, to understand the interrelationships and developments in the entire network.

What insights have you gained?

Our central observation is that the market logic and the type of networking between market participants is changing. Further evaluation possibilities are very diverse and can be used very specifically. There are therefore no simple, linearly derivable and generally valid statements that could be presented in a few sentences. The EVOLUTION process relied on the intelligence of the entire system and not on the interpretation of the data by a few individuals. The entire pool of result data was fed into the process of developing the future vision. The findings derived from this were then again cross-linked with each other.

What are the advantages of this approach?

The linking of internal and external company knowledge, experience and assessments creates new insights and perspectives that are only possible through this type of constellation. In addition to using the ISA results in the strategic context just described, it was also possible to derive immediate needs for action from the data. Directly after completion of the ISA evaluation, E/D/E managers entered into a dialogue with approximately 150 member companies to discuss and address direct needs for action. In addition, the ongoing “housekeeping” program to strengthen performance in day-to-day business was also largely fed by the findings of the ISA.

The ISA-study has thus produced a lot of valuable feedback. What benefits can the e/d/e partners derive from it?

One focus of the ISA was the analysis of the specific value expectations of members, cooperation partners, and suppliers. We were able to derive very valid conclusions about how the expectations of the members regarding the E/D/E services differ with regard to the threshold level, i.e. the minimum requirements, and the differentiation value, i.e. the specific added value, and about the fundamental relevance of individual services. In this respect, major differences and a great heterogeneity became apparent. Combined with other characteristic features, six member types were identified, each of which has very specific requirements for the services and support provided by the E/D/E. At the moment, E/D/E is working on concretizing the respective customized and needs-based value propositions for these individual types in order to put them into practice. This will subsequently strengthen the performance of the individual members, but also of the E/D/E association as a whole.

“Retail trade and E/D/E will only be able to succeed together.”

But isa is not the only basis for the change process in e/d/e?

Within the framework of EVOLUTION, the E/D/E has dealt very intensively with the topic of the company’s core competencies. Like: What shapes the company? What is it able to do, what is it unable to do? What deep-rooted skills does the E/D/E have that can be used for further development? These insights have been incorporated into the process, as have the assessments of E/D/E employees, which are regularly obtained in a targeted manner via so-called sounding boards. Market information from member and supplier dialogues and the exchange with experts were also taken into account. This includes industry experts as well as specialists from other sectors of the economy. After all, the biggest challenges do not usually come from within the own industry.

What is your opinion of the production connected trading (pvh) and the association landscape?

The market in production connected trading and the relevant competitive systems are changing, and they are changing rapidly. In my view, the pressure is enormous in many areas. The question is: Who has the best solutions for trade and industry? I believe that in order to remain competitive in this area in the future, a number of paradigm shifts regarding the cooperation and service design will be necessary. To manage these shifts successfully, all partners and actors in PVH will have to contribute. The trade and E/D/E will only succeed in utilizing the potentials of this network and compensating for the disadvantages compared to centrally managed competitive systems by working together. Each partner must make a contribution here, which also means that individual interests would have to take a back seat.

How do you basically experience the e/d/e in this change process?

The E/D/E has a long history of success and, due to its business logic, has its own complexity. Another characteristic of the E/D/E is that there are no “simple”, linear decisions or solutions. The art is to make wise decisions that take into account the diverse and often conflicting interests and expectations of stakeholder groups and lead to further development. Finding the right balance between change and preservation is a crucial factor here. In addition, several key areas are equally affected: strategic orientation, organizational structure, business processes and, last but not least, the fields of leadership and management as such. All of these developments take place “while the engine is running”, because day-to-day business must continue to function. From our perspective, E/D/E is in the midst of a far-reaching change process and is dealing very seriously, responsibly and professionally with its performance and the future of the company. Many employees and managers are currently doing extraordinary things to shape the future.

When would you say: the process was successful?

In the short and medium term, if the E/D/E receives positive feedback on its performance from members and suppliers, and if the E/D/E staff is motivated and approach its work in a positive mood. And in the long term, if the E/D/E and the entire association have a stable and sustainable position in the market and generate benefits for stakeholders and customers.

(Source: www.ede.de)

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Markus Peterhänsel (Head of Strategy department and COO) has been working as a consultant at SEDLÁK & PARTNER since 2004. With his professional expertise and his comprehensive methodical and analytical skills, he has successfully supported both groups and medium-sized companies in processes for strategic positioning on a national and international level.

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PVH E/D/E