Responsibility - more than a just a new year's resolution

03. Apr 2019
Johannes Haaf

Snow, round trips by horse-drawn carriages and campfires – what sounds more like a winter holiday, was exactly what one third of the members of empiriecom had found in the Thuringian Oberhof in February 2019. However, we also had been busy participating in a two-day workshop about “Responsibility, Attitude and Commitment”.

The aim of the event was to create space for discussion and awareness in order to deal with the issues of responsibility, attitude and commitment, which are essential in an agile environment. It had been a conscious decision not to host this workshop on our own premises, but on neutral ground, apart from our daily routine. Two days far from the office routine were supposed to offer the opportunity to gain new perspectives, exchange ideas and get to know colleagues with whom one has only little contact on a daily basis.

After we have largely dismantled existing hierarchies at empiriecom, the issue ‘responsibility’ has become even more important: each unit organises itself, sets its own goals and makes decisions jointly; challenges for employees do not arise solely on a technical level (roles instead of positions, new processes, etc.), but also on a personal level.

Who is in charge? What does ‘responsibility’ even really mean? How do responsibility, attitude and commitment relate to each other? What are the consequences? Those and other questions had been discussed and illustrated by using practical examples as well as role plays.


The workshop had been accompanied and moderated by Christian Baudisch, Change Enabler & Organisational Acupuncturist and owner of "The Really Effective Group" ( Thanks to his many years of experience as a management consultant and coach, he is an expert in accompanying profound development and transformation processes within companies. He is friendly, smart and has a sharp instinct for people and situations, which have made the event extremely interesting and interactive.

After some passionate discussions, informative conversations and variety of different methods (and, of course, there had also been extensive breaks and sufficient catering), the first day has been rounded off by a well organised evening program. Starting by walking to the village centre, we went on to mount three horse-drawn carriages with well-equipped wagons that have been waiting for us (What a surprise!). “All aboard” and off we rode into the unknown. We made our way through town and forest and after approximately 45 minutes arrived in time for crackling fireplaces, grilled sausages and delicious mulled wine. We could not wait to start eating!
After making our way back to the hotel we were able to process the impressions of Day 1 while enjoying delicious food and good music.


Mit einem reichlichen Frühstück starteten wir in den zweiten Tag. Nachdem weitere praxisnahe Situationen diskutiert und die Eindrücke des ersten Tages in Kleingruppen ausgetauscht wurden, kam es zu einer ausgiebigen Rekapitulation der zwei Tage. Zum Abschluss gab es noch ein gemeinsames Mittagessen und wir traten mit unseren Koffern, die mit zahlreichen neuen Eindrücken und schönen Momenten gefüllt waren, die Heimreise an.  

We have started Day 2 with an ample breakfast. After discussing further practical situations and exchanging impressions of the first Day in small groups, an extensive recapitulation of these two days had begun. We ended up having lunch together and making our way home with suitcases filled with numerous new impressions and beautiful moments.

How did our employees like the trip? We have asked them for a short review!

Fabian, E-Commerce Platform Strategist:

"It had been a successful workshop! Due to the introduction of agility at empiriecom as an organisational form and principle of action within a complex VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), it is becoming increasingly important to be able to rely on each other within the company. One third of all the employees of empiriecom has worked on the issue “Responsibility, Attitude and Commitment” amidst the wintery ambience of Oberhof for two days.
At first, we have concretised those abstract terms within large and small groups; following that, we have applied them to everyday situations in a playful way. Of course we do had plenty of opportunity for cross-company socialising while having some tasty food, drinks as well as music and entertainment.”

Natalie, Head of Team User Centered Design:

"In my opinion, the workshop can be described in three key terms: communication, interpersonal skills and courage. A structured and transparent communication is necessary to get the best out of both, empiriecom and yourself (efficiency, effectiveness).
In order to treat each other with respect and paying attention on an interpersonal level, one has to have a sense about whom he/she is actually communicating with. Among other things: agility means "just do it". For some people, this means leaving one’s own comfort zone – and that takes courage.
These three terms are playing a very important role in terms of responsibility, attitude and commitment. Thanks to the workshop, we had been able to experience and practice all this within role plays and discussions. I could gather lots of new input regarding the practical development. Thanks for that!

Erik, Backend Developer:

"I really liked our trip to Oberhof! The conference itself had been really profound and made me start think about various things. What is an excursion without a good story:
A man wants to hang up a picture. He has the nail, but no hammer. But his neighbour has one! So the man decides to go and ask nextdoor if he could borrow it. But then he starts doubting his plan... what if the neighbour is refusing to lend me his hammer? Just yesterday, he greeted me rather fleetingly. Maybe he was in a hurry. Or maybe he just pretended to be in a hurry, and he does not like me. But why? I did not offend him; he is just imagining things. If someone wanted to borrow a tool from me, I would give it to him immediately. And why not? How can one refuse such an ordinary favour to his neighbour? People like him are toxic and make life harder for everyone! And on top of that he thinks that I am dependent on him! Just because he owns a hammer! That is the last straw! – And so he runs over to his neighbour, rings the bell, the neighbour opens the door, but before he can even say “hello”, the man shouts at him: “Keep your damn hammer!!" (from P. Watzlawick: Instructions for being unhappy.)
Someone has mentioned this story during the feedback round at the end of the workshop. I think that this example illustrates perfectly that people often see things more negatively than they actually are."

Anne, Projektmanagerin:

"Here are 3 of the things I will remember:
- Breaking free from the loop of thoughts: take courage and address things or just do them before you think about them forever.
- Face your fears: you can only minimise or defeat your fears by facing up to them over and over again.
- Demand obligations and stick to them: for example, a first step to consider could be your own punctuality and – in turn – expecting others to be in time, too.

Christian, Head of Department Data Management:

"I think mutual trust, esteem and commitment represent the basis for our cooperation and even our social cohesion. It may sound a bit pretentious, so it's probably best for everyone to think about it for themselves and consider what the essential points that guarantee a good coexistence are.
I consider it to be absolutely important that we have taken the time for this essential issue - it shows that we are on the right track. We all can transfer many of the suggestions we have gathered from the work in the seminar to our daily interaction. – care and respect when dealing with each other brings us closer together; and make us even more successful!

A big thanks for organising these two great and informative days!
We would like to thank our coach Christian Baudisch and everyone who has participated! In the course of the year, empiriecom will have the opportunity to learn more about "responsibility, attitude and commitment".

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