Matthias knecht redesigns his environment

New unit at Ludwigsburg City Hall Matthias Knecht redesigns his environment

The moving boxes have not yet all been unpacked, and the new mayor Matthias Knecht is already rebuilding. Photo: factum//Andreas Weise

The new mayor of Ludwigsburg has barely arrived and is already cleaning up the town hall: A new department is to bundle the work in important subject areas. But is that as radical as it sounds?

Ludwigsburg – The new mayor of Ludwigsburg has been in office for less than three weeks and has already developed a new structure for his department: Matthias Knecht is founding a new department in which all important fields of work will be combined. The working title is: Steering Support and Policy Issues Unit. This unit, explains the mayor, has a forward-thinking, serving and supporting function and is to work closely with all departments and specialist areas.

Living becomes a matter for the boss

In fact, there were just 14 days between Knecht taking office and the presentation of the new layout to the Council of Elders last Monday. However, the new mayor already spent a lot of time in the town hall in August and apparently did what he had announced before: he listened. Independently of this, Matthias Knecht also had a picture of the organization in the city hall beforehand and found – as repeatedly announced during the election campaign – that the city was getting bogged down. Because she wanted too much at once, but did not take care of everything properly.

With the reorganization of his environment Matthias Knecht now wants to bring in a different order. In the new unit, he also places the strategic processing of the basic topic of housing and the digitization topics, which until recently were handled by the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Rolf Heiler. This had quit the co-operation on fee basis after the election defeat of Werner Spec, to whom it was directly subordinate. The idea is to move away from individual projects toward an integrated digital strategy, Knecht says.

The new unit is also responsible for sustainable and integrated urban development. And it will take on the so-called brand process, in which the Ludwigsburg brand is to be further developed. Until now, this work was carried out by the city’s own tourism and events department. The previous brand ambassador Nadine Schuster has left the city for private reasons. How the work – and above all the cooperation with the other departments and specialist areas – will be organized has yet to be determined. In the second half of October, the new department, which is to accommodate around ten people on a neutral basis, is to begin its work.

For those familiar with the structures in the town hall, Knecht’s concept seems groundbreaking on the one hand, but at the same time also cautious. On closer inspection, the new department is not so much new as it is the successor to the Department for Sustainable Urban Development, which has been orphaned for more than a year and a half. This had been established in 2008 and developed and worked on all significant issues of the city. The decisive factor here was his structure as a so-called cross-sectional unit. Depending on the subject, the employees were closely networked with colleagues in the rest of the city hall. Winning the 2014 Sustainability Award, for example, is unthinkable without the unit.

Over the years, however, more and more tasks were assigned to the unit, so that it became overloaded and no longer functional. The then OB Werner Spec finally cut it up last year and ran it himself. It has lost its cross-sectional function. Now it gets it again. However, it loses the economic development department. Knecht set up a new staff position for it.

A networker as leader

A nice side effect of the reorganization: A head for the unit is already in prospect – Holger Heb. Heb, Holger Heb, who currently works in the Organization and Human Resources department, was part of the team that set up the unit in the past and is regarded as a strategic and networked thinker. Despite several attempts, a specially commissioned headhunter had not found a boss for the provisionally managed department in its former structure.

Matthias Knecht will finally present his concept to the municipal council. The latter will, according to the heads of the parliamentary groups or their deputies, be "sympathetic" about it.

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