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Q&A with André Daus

Updated: Jun 22

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with André Daus, Executive Coach.

Successful strategies to manage digital change :

How can leaders inspire their teams to embrace innovation and not just cope with, but drive, change?

Building a common vision is the cornerstone of driving change within an organization. Without a clear destination, teams can become aimless, potentially drifting off course or arriving at an unintended destination. A leader's ability to chart a clear course is essential. The type of vision creation requires more than a quick glance toward the future—it requires careful planning and strategic foresight. Many leaders assume that their teams possess an intrinsic understanding of their internal thought processes. However, the vision remains muddled, lacking the clarity essential for successful implementation without explicit communication. The leader's job is to ensure the vision isn't just communicated, but understood in full. Just like the military's doctrine of mission command, which emphasizes explaining the 'why' behind a mission, but leaves the 'how' up to the people who actually do it.

I learned that getting the team involved in defining the vision can really change things. This collaborative approach clarifies the leader's intentions and empowers team members to identify potential obstacles and contribute to the refinement of the vision. As team members become co-authors of the journey ahead, it can mitigate resistance to change. 

Using liberating structures in these discussions can make the process more democratic and bring out numerous ideas from all levels of the team. This is a critical key in today's noisy world. 

By appealing to a multitude of perspectives, the vision acquires depth and resilience, transforming into a common objective that resonates with all. As a result, everyone who participated in the creation of it will own and defend it.

It is wise to allow those at the lower levels of the hierarchy to voice their thoughts first to foster an environment of psychological safety and unconstrained dialogue. Any biases that might be influenced by senior-level opinions are neutralized by this approach, paving the way for honest, unfiltered opinions. You want the best idea to win, not the one from the highest hierarchy. 

Sometimes, anonymous contributions can play a crucial role in ensuring that every team member, regardless of their position or tenure, can express their insights without fear of judgement. Leaders can create a vision that is clear and inspired by their team's wisdom and creativity by being inclusive and open-minded.

Organizations often consider change to be true innovation, but there's a big difference. Real innovation is about thoughtful refinement and meaningful improvement, not altering a process for the sake of change. Occasionally, the key to breakthrough innovation is to first slow down and carefully look at existing workflows. This period of reflection can lead to big changes. An in-depth understanding of current practices is more likely to yield the most profound innovations than a blind pursuit of the fresh. 

Organizations can discover innovative opportunities that are already within their grasp by taking advantage of the collective knowledge within a team, especially the wisdom of experienced employees.

Although, it sometimes sounds that technology is the only source of innovation, it's not. While many organizations instinctively reach for the latest gadget or software solution, the true catalyst of innovation is human creativity. Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation. They can change workflow structure and process design. It's not merely about what's new; it's about what's better!

By valuing the know-how of experienced employees and blending it with the fresh, tech-savvy approaches of the younger generation, we can create powerful synergy. This collaboration can lead to enhanced processes that are not only innovative, but also deeply respected and embraced by those who use them. Innovation is rooted in practicalities of experience and boldness of new perspectives, thanks to such an inclusive approach.

What tactics have proven effective in overcoming resistance to change within organizations?

To truly innovate, we must challenge the traditional paradigm and invert it. Instead of starting with tools and subsequently developing processes and individuals around them, we should begin with the individuals themselves, encompassing their ideas, experiences, and insights. This counterintuitive, but human-centered approach allows for the natural evolution and refinement of procedures by the every participant who will implement them, fostering a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for the fresh procedures. 

Tools that complement and streamline these people-driven processes should be integrated only then. This way of doing things encourages people to come up with new ideas and create solutions that people really like and want to use. This is true innovation.

To overcome resistance to change, it is a highly effective tactic to involve a diverse group of team members in the decision-making process. When people who have new ideas are also the ones who made them, they feel like they own and are committed to them. This makes people less likely to disagree. 

This is critical to ensure that everyone understands why changes are being made and fosters a culture of collective responsibility and understanding. Unlike solutions from external consultants, which can sometimes feel alien and disconnected from the organization. 

Internal ideas are deeply rooted in the company's unique context. However, they are too often neglected. The people-first-approach — or better employee-first-approach —  to innovation is not only cost-effective, but also more resilient to disruption, since it is shaped by those who understand the organization's intricacies best.

Moreover, process innovation can help teams focus on more strategic and impactful work. When innovations are developed this way, they lead to simplified procedures that improve efficiency and the overall work atmosphere. Furthermore, organizations that prioritize workplace safety and ergonomic improvements demonstrate a commitment to their employees' well-being, which can significantly boost morale and job satisfaction. The workplace can be transformed into a thriving ecosystem where innovation is not only accepted but actively pursued by this holistic approach to change management.

Collaboration and Ecosystems

How critical is collaboration across different industries in shaping the digital future? Can you provide examples where this has been successfully implemented?

When we share ideas, resources, and technology between teams and organizations, it helps us come up with new ideas and create a better environment (if not a better world). This collaborative spirit goes beyond the boundaries of individual organizations and embraces partnerships across different industries. Think of it like extending innovation across the borders of our company.

While the safeguarding of intellectual property and legal constraints must be respected, there is a vast landscape of knowledge that can be shared to enhance teams, organizations, and societies at large. 

If we work together with people who have similar interests instead of fighting against each other, we can come up with even better ideas and new ideas. Digital technologies have made this exchange possible while making it more accessible than ever before. The recent pandemic underscored the ability to collaborate virtually, proving that while in-person interaction has its merits, the digital realm can bridge global distances and connect minds in unprecedented ways.

The power of such partnerships is clearly demonstrated in the cross-industry application of technological advancements. For instance, the automotive industry's foray into robotics and automation has gone well beyond its original domain, revolutionizing manufacturing and healthcare with smarter production lines and robotic-assisted surgeries. 

This synergy makes things work better and sets the stage for setting common standards. While some organizations might leverage proprietary standards to create lock-in effects for customers, the rise of open-source software demonstrates the strength and reliability of collaborative, open platforms. Similarly, the collaborative efforts that led to the development of 5G technology show how telecommunications companies, hardware manufacturers, and service providers can unite to forge new global standards for wireless communication.

The history is filled with examples of how seemingly unrelated fields can come together to produce extraordinary outcomes. Collaboration can make important research practical, like when technology from space exploration is transferred to everyday life. 

NASA's innovations have found their way into medical devices, enhancing healthcare, into athletic shoes, improving sports performance, and even into baby formula, enriching nutrition. These examples show that working together across industries can be very useful. Sharing knowledge and technology helps make progress and creates a bigger picture of how things will change in the future. However, it needs people who are bold enough to think of the impossible.

What role do ecosystems play in sustaining innovation and competitive advantage in digital markets?

In digital markets, ecosystems are crucial to stay ahead of the competition and coming up with new ideas. These ecosystems bring together startups, established corporations, and even competitors to create a network that weaves new technologies and platforms together. The inherent synergy of such collaboration allows participants to take advantage of their strengths, mitigate risks, and expedite the innovation process, culminating in products and services that are not just cutting-edge but also holistically tailored to consumer needs. 

An ecosystem can combine different products and services to create a better experience for users. This makes customers happier and more loyal to the brand. Furthermore, it enhances the user experience and increases the lifetime value of each customer, ensuring a steady stream of revenue and market relevance.

Think about how Apple combines hardware, software, and services to create a beautiful design that focuses on users. From iPhones to Macs, from the App Store to Apple Music, this ecosystem doesn't just keep customers; it makes them feel like they're part of something bigger. Moreover, by allowing third-party developers like smart home providers, ecosystems can reach more people and come up with new ideas. Smart home providers can offer products that enhance security and comfort within an established ecosystem, while start-ups can introduce niche applications. This symbiotic growth creates a fertile ground for the emergence of groundbreaking solutions, securing a leading position in the digital frontier.

Emerging Trends and Industry Adaptations :

Which emerging trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on digital strategies in the next few years?

I can think of many out of the box, but the most important ones I see right now are AI, cybersecurity, remote work, and sustainable technology. All of those have a common thread: the client encounter.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have moved out of the era of hype and are now well established as transformative forces in the digital landscape. 

The initial appeal of AI led to a proliferation of similar-looking images and content, as users sought a universal prompt to unlock the technology's potential. This search for a one-size-fits-all solution has, at times, resulted in a homogenization of output, as people aimed to make use of AI with minimal effort. Yet, when leveraged with intention and skill, AI and ML are powerful tools capable of redefining efficiency and creativity. 

From rewriting and summarizing text to combating the dreaded blank page syndrome, AI assists in overcoming initial creative hurdles and streamlining content production. However, its significance extends beyond these specific applications; AI's sophisticated pattern recognition capabilities can detect diseases such as cancer earlier than ever before and much more detailed than humans could, potentially rescuing lives.

But, the promise of AI and machine learning as catalysts for social benefit depends on our collective ability to develop, share, and collaborate on applications that enhance the common good. The journey to using these technologies in our daily lives is not without its challenges. 

Developing sophisticated algorithms and validating their results requires significant intellectual investment—AI and ML are not “no-brainer” solutions, but rather tools that require expertise and critical oversight. Especially, the latter. Think about regulators who require transparent clarification of how an algorithm works and how results have been generated. Providers, on the other hand, cannot deliver this transparency because it is deeply rooted within the algorithms.

As we approach widespread adoption of AI, it is imperative that we adopt this technology mindfully. We must engage with AI and ML not as passive users but as active shapers of their evolution, ensuring that their deployment is ethical, responsible, and aligned with our community's needs. The future requires that we not only accept, but also carefully navigate the complexities of AI, integrating it into our digital strategies with wisdom and foresight.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Cybersecurity and privacy have moved from the back office to the boardroom, emerging as crucial elements in the digital era where data is king. The adoption of robust regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, has signaled a global awakening to the crucial nature of data privacy. The increasing sophistication of cyber warfare, where disputes transcend physical battlefields into the digital realm, underscores the importance of safeguarding online assets.


In this environment, the dual-edged sword of AI and ML technologies becomes apparent. While they hold the potential to drive progress and innovation, they also present new vectors for cyber threats, capable of generating sophisticated fake news and malicious software with unprecedented speed and targeting precision. This digital arms race requires a strong investment in cybersecurity measures and privacy protocols, as well as training and increased awareness among both end-users and system administrators.

The complexity of cybersecurity and privacy cannot be exaggerated, nor can it be reduced to a mere checklist of tasks. It requires a thoughtful, strategic approach that integrates seamlessly with both hardware and software systems to ensure a fortified defense against the ever-evolving threat landscape. Organizations that understand the importance of cybersecurity and privacy and act quickly to improve their systems are already gaining trust and creating an advantage over others. The champions of the digital age will be those who prioritize the security and privacy of their data, not as an afterthought. This commitment will protect their operations and build their reputation as trustworthy stewards of their customers' information in a hyper-connected world.

Remote and Hybrid Work Models

The pandemic turned the once fanciful dream of widespread remote work into a vivid reality, yet this radical shift came with its share of growing pains and revelations. What was initially dubbed the “new normal” has since morphed into a complex tapestry of work models, as companies grapple with the post-pandemic landscape. The rush to return to office life has been met with resistance and confusion, as the rationale behind mandated office days often remains murky. 

We all know the 50/50 rule, which then became the 60/40 rule. People usually spend three days at work and two days at home, which is becoming a common pattern. Yet, the question lingers: what is the true purpose behind this arbitrary division? The efficacy of these models is debated, with some viewing remote work as an opportunity to shirk responsibilities, while others relish the flexibility it affords. The conversation about workplace location is one that is ripe for a more in-depth look.

As we navigate this new terrain, it's clear that our traditional idea of work, which is measured by hours spent rather than outcomes achieved, needs to be reevaluated. The focus must shift from where work is performed to the value it creates, from clock-watching to goal-reaching. 

This paradigm shift won't be universal, as certain industries inherently require on-site presence. Yet, for those roles that are not limited by location, the measure of success should be the results delivered, not the desk occupied. Empowering individuals with a clear purpose and the autonomy to achieve it can lead to greater job satisfaction and, often, superior results for the business. 

This transition to results-oriented work models represents a significant cultural change that has the potential to redefine our understanding of productivity and workplace commitment. The journey ahead is long, but the potential for a more fulfilled workforce and more profitable business outcomes makes it a path well worth exploring.

Sustainable Technology

In a time when our planet is more fragile than ever, sustainable technology has become more important than ever. The finite availability of our natural resources, coupled with the tangible impacts of climate change, underscores the urgency with which we must approach sustainability—not as a localized initiative but as a global imperative. 

Climate change recognizes no borders; it is a universal challenge that demands a universally integrated response. While organizations and governments across the world race to align themselves with the sustainability movement, the execution often falls short of the vision. 

Take electric vehicles, for instance: they are lauded for their zero-emission operation, yet the environmental toll of manufacturing them—extracting scarce resources like lithium and the substantial energy required for their procurement—casts a shadow over their green image. The focus tends to be on the end product, the visible symbol of progress, while the less visible but equally critical aspects of supply chain and lifecycle impact remain on the periphery: Fixing the symptoms rather than the root cause.

It is akin to treating symptoms without addressing the underlying disease, a short-sighted strategy that ultimately undermines the goal of genuine sustainability.

The path to a truly sustainable future demands a radical rethinking of our current practices. The stronghold of plastic usage and the influence of lobbying are prime examples of entrenched behaviors that require a transformative shift in perspective. Just because something has always been done a certain way does not mean it should continue unquestioned. The adage, “What got us here, won't get us there” resonates with profound relevance in the context of sustainability. 

Hands down, we must innovate with intention, scrutinize every link in the chain of production, and redefine success not just by profit margins but by environmental impact. The journey toward sustainable technology is not just an environmental responsibility; it is a strategic imperative that will define the legacy of our generation. 

Organizations that prioritize and effectively implement sustainable practices will not only contribute to the health of our planet but will also differentiate themselves in a world that increasingly values ecological stewardship as a measure of true progress and success.

Personalization and Customer Experience.

In today's data-rich environment, where sophisticated tools such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly prevalent, the potential for transforming customer experience (CX) is significant. Yet, the journey to delivering a truly personalized and satisfying customer experience is littered with missteps. Many organizations continue to approach CX with an inward-out perspective, crafting user experiences based on internal assumptions rather than genuine customer insight. 

To break through the noise and truly connect with consumers, businesses must invert their approach, adopting a customer-first mindset that permeates every aspect of their strategy. It is similar to my proposed approach to create innovation from people first to technology last. 

This paradigm shift means not just leveraging the data at hand, but actively seeking to understand the nuanced desires and pain points of the customer, ensuring that personalization efforts are genuinely aligned with their expectations and preferences.

The key to unlocking exceptional customer experiences lies not in assuming what users want, but in engaging with them to uncover more profound insights. The oft-quoted misinterpretation of Henry Ford's words about faster horses highlights the importance of asking the right questions and interpreting the answers with an appreciation for underlying needs. 

Effective personalization and CX strategies must be built on a solid foundation of understanding those needs. It's about putting people first, recognizing that technology is not the protagonist but the enabler, and processes are the roadmap that guides the journey. 

Organizations that embody this philosophy, placing human experience at the core of their digital strategies, will not only elevate their customer experience but will also foster loyalty and advocacy among their clients. Overall, it is the companies that listen, adapt, and serve their customers with empathy and intelligence that will set the gold standard for CX in the digital era.


In my vision of future skill development, critical and creative thinking are identified as the core capabilities essential for building a more resilient and innovative society. 

The World Economic Forum has long championed these skills as vital for navigating the complexities of the future, and for good reason. To truly prioritize humanity—genuinely and without pretense—requires us to engage in authentic dialogue, to collaborate with an openness that transcends the capabilities of AI and technology. It's important to recognize the value of human intelligence and how it can shape our collective destiny. 

The misconception that technological advancement is synonymous with wisdom is one we must actively put to rest. The world we make will show how smart we are.

With the abundance of tools and techniques at our disposal, we have the means to make informed decisions and craft a future that is not just smart, but wise. We are already smart enough, we do not need to get even smarter. The challenge lies not in the availability of resources but in our ability to harness them thoughtfully and with foresight.

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