Reinhard K. Sprenger: Because People Make the Difference

15. September 2022 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Reinhard K. Sprenger once wanted to become a school teacher. In a way, he has followed his first impulse, just not as a schoolmaster at a German High School, but as an outstanding keynote speaker and book author who shakes up old-fashioned views.

Anyone listening to Reinhard K. Sprenger will probably have to swallow at one point or another and ask himself the question: Is he being serious or is he being provocative? His charm is certainly based precisely on this uncertainty, because: You never really know.

Among other things, Reinhard K. Sprenger speaks as a premium speaker and top speaker about radical digitalization. So far so good. But what does this quote mean in this context: Because people make the difference. Short twist in the head: Pardon me? Digitalization makes people obsolete, after all. Doesn’t it?

Reinhard K. Sprenger – Humans as designers – instead of executors

Sprenger counters: “The digital technology of the new world paradoxically promotes what industrial technology suppressed: man as a designer, not just as an executor. People can again focus on what only people can do, what no tin box can do.”

Employees and managers alike can choose from three behavioral strategies, in his view:

Number 1: They move up the hierarchy.
Number 2: They move into job areas that can’t be digitized.
Number 3: They work with intelligent machines.

Everyone needs a basic knowledge of technology

For the former HR developer, a must in today’s world is, above all, ongoing training. He says: “Everyone needs a basic knowledge of technology.”

Managers are currently facing major challenges because they have to develop their companies further from an “I” to a “we,” from “specification” to “self-organization,” from “error avoidance” to “trial and error,” and from an inward to an outward orientation.

Sprenger: “You don’t make a new company with old institutions. We have to become more agile, more customer-oriented, simpler. We also need to become more attractive to people in the job market who want decidedly different things than the generations before them. And we need the entrepreneurial spirit and also the self-leadership of each individual employee. The human brain is the fastest computer a company has at its disposal.” In this regard, he sees established companies as having far more of an obligation than start-ups, where many processes already demand much more entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking on their own. After all, who starts a new company if they have no desire for change?

Those who go with the spirit of the times have a good chance of riding the future like a wave. Those who only supposedly open up to the zeitgeist and remain stuck in theory will lose in the long run.

Be human, keep your distance!

Reinhard K. Sprenger is of the clear opinion that a “total inclusion” of employees as practiced by giants like Google or Facebook misses the mark. “Facebook’s headquarters adorns a poster on its wall with the slogan: “Our work never ends.” That illustrates maximum detachment,” according to Sprenger’s view of this part of New Work.

Although most companies cleverly package it as “total freedom,” management thinker Sprenger sees an enormous increase in pressure to conform. As an example, he brings up the German Bosch, a company that required its employees to take off their ties. Freedom or a hidden way of making the non-conforming conform?

Reinhard K. Sprenger: “Paternalism only changes the object. This is in great tension with everything that makes a company fit for the future: Individuality, creativity and entrepreneurial disposition of each employee.”

The 3 basic principles of successful leadership

Reinhard K. Sprenger advocates thinking and starting where others stop. His three basic principles for successful leadership are these:

  1. clarity and consistency of leadership
  2. self-responsibility and self-motivation of employees.
  3. a smart organization that allows each individual employee to act in an entrepreneurial way.

In his rather revolutionary keynotes, he reveals how leadership in these times can work well. It’s actually a pity that he didn’t go to high school. Tomorrow’s generation could do with someone like him. Reinhard K. Sprenger, the “uncomfortable visionary”.

Those who want fabric softener won’t book him. Those who want new perspectives will love him.

Reinhard K. Sprenger

Expert in Leadership, Motivation & Management