Who’s at the Wheel? Changing Culture and Leadership to Support Innovation in Autonomous Vehicles

To remain relevant in the autonomous driving world, all automotive-focused and -related companies must develop a new approach to their business—especially regarding software, cybersecurity, and the integration of the Internet of Things. The difficulty is finding the leadership that can align these areas with rapidly advancing and changing technologies. New leaders must be able to direct a vast degree of change and have the appropriate experience in the traditional automotive sector while also possessing the innovative vision and digital experience to drive this vast transformation. At the same time, this leader must be able to address the cultural issues that come with such a dramatic paradigm shift.

Since it can be difficult to find one leader who encompasses all these qualities, one option is to hire a leader specifically to oversee the transformation to autonomous vehicles or new mobility business models while keeping separate leadership of traditional business lines. This would essentially mean having a right-brain leader to help spur innovation and blue-sky thinking, and a left-brain leader to focus on traditional automotive functions such as foundation brakes or chassis systems.

So, rather than fully integrating these groups, this approach would involve keeping them siloed. In this way, each group can maintain its culture, be it safety- and order-driven or learning- and purpose-driven.