When did you realize you were entrepreneurial?

Peter Haberl, managing director of SSE Software GmbH 

Sabine Walter in conversation with ...

Mr. Haberl, what do you love about your job?

The creation. I am a bad steward. When everything has run in, I get bored. I'm not someone who optimizes down to the last screw. I am someone who sets the course, who implements the changes that set a company in motion. There are people who shy away from change or change. For me, change is the only driving force. To change something, to design, to generate new ideas and to implement them, that's where the fun begins for me.

For me, crises are opportunities. That's why I often came to companies as a firefighter. This role is perfect for me because then I am in my element and see results of my actions very quickly.

S.W .: When did you notice that you enjoy designing and leading transformation processes?

I am a computer scientist and started out as a programmer. My first company as an employee developed software for intelligence and organized crime agencies and sold it across Europe. I took over the management of the development department there within four years. I, the youngest, with the least professional experience and the least length of service, became the boss. That was a surprise to me. And I was even more surprised that I was accepted as a boss. Leading was easy for me. And seeing that I can inspire people to shape things together with me has motivated me to continue on this path.

On the other hand, I still sit at the computer and program in my free time. Together with my children, I set up a bird feeder in the garden and installed a camera there. I programmed these so that we can watch the birds or, if we are not there, everything that happens around and in the bird house is recorded. So Technology continues to fascinate me, even if my professional focus has been on leadership for years.

SW: When did you notice that your heart beats for IT??

I got my first computer at the age of twelve. Since I was not interested in the software that was on the computer, I started to develop myself in assembler. During this time, my sister worked for the Society for Radiation Research. And there was an Apple computer into which a lot of data had to be entered by hand. My goal was to simplify that, so I programmed an interface as part of a vacation job. I was 14. You see I used to be really a nerd. At the time, we even hacked the EU with a school friend and looked around on their mainframe computers. It was a cool time.

What parallels are there with what we do, personality and organizational development?

There are many parallels, as the current situation shows. I.I recently took over the management of SSE Software GmbH in Augsburg, a company whose software saves lives because it is used in control centers. The aim is to develop this company further. This cannot be done without change: structures have to be created anew, processes and procedures will change, new colleagues have to be integrated into the team. All of this has many parallels to what you do.

S.W .:The success of change processes depends largely on the extent to which managers and workforce support these changes. How do you manage to win people over to it??

I think there are two main factors that contribute to this: Trust and enthusiasm.

Whether you trust an employee depends largely on how reliable you are. You have to recognize: “If we agree something, he'll stick to it. If I entrust something to him, then it stays exclusively with him. " I've only been with the SSE for a few months and I've been building this trust from day one.

The other success factor is the enthusiasm that I have in me. When I'm excited about something, that enthusiasm is obvious. It is so obvious that it radiates to others. Of course, there were always people around me whom I was never able to inspire for something. I've learned to accept that.

But the majority of people want to have fun at work and be successful. This is a good intersection with my goals and thus a solid basis for designing the working environment together in such a way that fun and success can be achieved again.

S.W .: You have already managed several companies and a few months ago you took over the management of SSE. How does a Peter Haberl arrive in a company?

I am not someone who comes into a company with a lot of noise and smashes everything I find there. I guess what's there. I am a very good observer and listener. These are two skills that I use intensively. I want to understand what this company is all about. I want to understand who the colleagues are. What is it that drives you? Where are they standing? In the first few weeks I almost exclusively hold conversations, observe, ask questions and listen. Of course, I already have ideas, but that's not the focus of this time.

And then it's about forming a team that pulls together. A team that has the same understanding of the central things, trusts each other and is good at passing the balls. Leadership has so much to do with real appreciation. And even if it's my job to realign or reorganize a company, there are things that have worked so far. Everything is never bad. There is a reason things are what they are. And I want to understand this reason before I act.

I believe that this attitude of mine also contributes significantly to why I manage to win people over to change.

When do you get the best ideas?

In professional discussions. When I talk to others, the ideas come and then a "ping-pong game" emerges. I have an idea, the other one expands it or brings in a new one and then something starts to grow.

When I'm in private, I'm really at home. I manage to switch off very well.

What will your job look like in 2050?

If I relate this question to what I do, the guideI think this will change significantly. I very much hope that we do not slip into an age of “click workers” who only execute instead of design. Rather, I hope that our work will become even more democratic and that we will be even more equal in companies. From my point of view, leadership will be even more fact-based. The quality of decisions will increase, because in an increasingly complex world we will be able to make our decisions with the help of algorithms and AI on the basis of concrete data.

As far as the software industry is concerned, I think it will still be around 30 years from now. Then there will still be people who program software, although perhaps with different questions than today. But the activity will still exist.

S.W .:You speak to the democratic leadership, what do you think this means for the executives?

I think that companies, and thus also executives, will be asked to convince even more.Loyalty will decrease, free, time-limited cooperation will increase. People will try out more professionally and thus enter into looser ties that will enable them to switch more quickly between employers and clients or between places of residence and lifestyles.

Teams will be set up for a time, structures will become more flexible. Since I am not convinced that these teams or the necessary structures will find themselves, it will be the job of entrepreneurs and managers to create these structures and bring people together to form teams.

This will only work if we can To build trusting relationships faster than before and to convey visions that are attractive. What should be achieved? Why that? What are the social benefits? In the future, we will have to answer these questions much more convincingly and more frequently than before.

In addition, I believe that the concept of entrepreneurship will change. Entrepreneurship will no longer mean: “One has the capital and the power and the other works. Instead, entrepreneurship will mean in the future: "One or more have an idea and the means and the network to implement this idea."

S.W .:From my point of view, these loose collaborations that you are talking about also require that the people who enter into these collaborations must be courageous and open to always getting involved in something new, to trusting them again and again. How do we manage that our society becomes more courageous and that trust prevails??

I don't have a panacea for that either. But I realize that we will not have to master this challenge in thirty years. If we're honest, we're already facing it today. Because even today we are already confronted with a cultural balancing act in companies. Even today, loyalty to the employer has already decreased. It is no longer a declared goal for the younger generation to stay with one and the same employer for 30 years. Medium-sized companies in particular, which cannot pay corporate salaries, are required to change in such a way that they become attractive employers for young specialists and executives, but at the same time retain their attractiveness for specialists and executives who have been with the company for decades and Have valuable experience, know “your shop” inside and out.

I think that this cultural change, this radical transformation will only succeed if managers and entrepreneurs are not “afraid of the dent”. What do i mean by that? It is an illusion to believe that great changes can be made painlessly. If you cut back a tree, it is bare at this point before something new grows again. Change will hurt and you will sometimes lose people, valuable people who do not see the point of change and therefore do not go along with it. This has to be accepted, even if a company initially throws it back and maybe even loses productivity. But I am convinced that no real change is possible without a dent and without pain.

If the fear of the dent is too great, it will always stand in the way of change, especially the radical ones. Incidentally, this is also something that I make transparent when I am realigning companies. Because if I kept it a secret, trust would be damaged and with it the basis that I need to lead changes to success.

S.W .: If you could go back to the beginning of your professional life, which path would you take with today's experience?

Many things in my life just happened. I had a plan for my career and I achieved the goals it defined, but there were so many coincidences or fortunate circumstances along the way that I couldn't have planned or foreseen all of them.

I am satisfied the way it is. All of the decisions I've made in my life have made me who I am today and where I am today. I wouldn't do anything differently.

From my point of view, the most important task in life is to develop trust in one's own path. And I try to instill trust in my children like this. Try ‘things. If you fall, get up again. Make changes if necessary and move on. Strengthening self-confidence and trust in one's own possibilities is the most valuable thing we can give to our children and sometimes also to our employees. Life brings the rest.

Peter Haberl has worked for software manufacturers and IT service and consulting companies for 30 years. In February 2021 he took over the management ofSSE Software GmbH in Augsburg, a company that develops and operates software for control centers in the police force, fire brigades, rescue services and ambulance services.

Categories business talksTags Peter Haberl, SSE Software GmbH, leading transformation, business talks, entrepreneurship