Column2021: A year for experts

Lars Vollmer

The cold wind that is now whistling along the Rhine in Cologne in mid-December makes people pull their hats lower. Especially people like me who aren’t that well equipped in terms of hair. I also wear a mask very well, even if nobody is walking a hundred meters in front of or behind me. Even the usual hordes of cyclists have disappeared.

The mood here on the promenade matches the weather: It’s gray and frosty. The otherwise omnipresent pre-Christmas bliss does not want to arise. I’m not that much of an advent romantic, I don’t miss it. I just notice.

In Barcelona I could at least have better weather, but traveling is really no fun at the moment. So I’ll stay here for the time being. When will that get better?

But – believe it or not – I am looking forward to the coming year.

Who can walk on the water?

The only statement that you and I can currently make with any degree of certainty about 2021: Nothing is certain. That was true for the past year and all of the previous years, but it is even more true for the next.

Because in 2020 the uncertainty shook everyone equally. The exogenous corona shock was like a giant stone that you throw into the middle of a lake: all of the water is set in motion. 2021 will be much more exciting because it will be more unpredictable. Nobody can seriously tell you where the next turbulence will occur or where things will come to a standstill in the meantime.

Neither can anyone tell you how your own actions will affect you: Are you really reaching a safe haven with what you do? Does one of your ideas turn out to be a turbo, with which you rise out of the water, as it were? Or even be able to walk across the water?

In any case, I can save myself one exercise that has been repeated annually this year: I don’t have to convince anyone anymore that corporate planning for the next year is a pure crystal ball game. That was long before Corona and was a risky undertaking in itself.

How can Lufthansa plan?

Corporate planning has always been negligent because it signaled to everyone involved: We have reliable knowledge of the future, we already know very well today what to do tomorrow. But it became really dangerous when managers tried to adhere to this plan during the year. Suddenly, the focus was primarily on the inside and the plan instead of the outside and the market. The top manager of a media company put it to me like this: “The plan is the plan is the plan!”

However, this year hardly any company leader can have the ambition to carry out reliable annual planning. And I hope that the Handelsblatt headline “Lufthansa expects booking boom in summer thanks to corona vaccination” was a statement in the interview, but nobody at the airline had the idea to fix something like that in a plan. Because it may well be that this boom will come. But the opposite is just as possible: just let two or three serious illnesses occur during the vaccination campaign and it will be suspended. And everything gets a lot worse. That is not desirable, but it is entirely conceivable.

That’s why planning has never been as worthless as it is today.

But it’s not just worthless. What it does is much worse …

What do you expect from your company?

I have had many conversations about corporate planning over the past few years. My interlocutors often wanted to convey to me seriously: Such planning is above all a sign of professionalism, seriousness and a sense of responsibility in the company. And I’ve always said the opposite: corporate planning is a sign of negligence. Just like the cell phone at the wheel at 180 km / h – it often works well, but not because of, rather in spite of of the smartphone in hand.

Today I could reinforce this statement. If you are currently serious about business planning for the next year, then that is the most detrimental thing for your company atdo köcan. Because you fool yourself and your organization into a security that does not exist. You nÄwantonly hear the illusion that you are in control. I think that ffor maßlos dubiousös and irresponsible.

Why not check out something more interesting?

Of course, you can spin scenarios for the next year or even develop hopes, but I would like to encourage you to focus your attention on something much more interesting in this situation: on yourself.

How do you deal organizationally (not personally) with this uncertainty, this incomprehensibility? Especially if you have always practiced excessive planning rituals: What do you do now? Are you going to keep planning easy? Are you going to replace it with another agent? Or a certain defiance seizes you and you say: “Now all the more! I’ve always planned, so I’ll plan again and make it even better. “?

If you do the latter, I would be interested in one thing: on what basis will you plan? You could of course rely on a best-case and worst-case scenario, for example. But how do you know what the worst case is? Or the best case? The glass ball sends its regards.

Christmas, or rather the end of the year, is always a turning point – a socially and artificially created one, but that doesn’t matter. It is a time that is predestined for reflection. Even if the operational hectic this year is probably even bigger than in other years: Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

I’ve already started looking back at this year a little. Among other things on this column.

A year for experts

My column in is still very popular – and I am very grateful to my readers for that. It seems like I can give you food for thought every now and then. That pleases me.

I would like to give you one more thought for the turn of the year: I believe that you can look forward to next year with me. Not despite the turbulence that 2021 will bring, but precisely because of it. Because in times like this it finally comes down to the experts in the company again. The focus is no longer on the plan and its implementation. What counts now is individuality, spontaneity, creativity and a wealth of ideas.

We can look forward to an exciting, exciting, extremely lively year. I think that is a very positive prospect. And I hope you do too.

To 2021, the year of the experts!

Lars Vollmer is an entrepreneur, lecturer and bestselling author. In his book “Der Führerfluch – How we overcome our fatal tendency to be authoritarian” he opposes the crises in our country self-organization and the idea of ​​a responsible society.


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