Treasure 54 – Innovation, Corporate, Experiments

Nugget 1 has resonated with me the most this week. No wonder, because Maike Küper’s post is about innovation. First of all, I fully agree that innovation is not always the next big thing. In addition to large disruptive new products, services and business models, there is also innovation on a small scale. As long as it is new and solves a customer problem it is innovation for me. This can also be the small change in the hiring process. Innovation is by no means reserved for research departments, think tanks and internal start-ups. But Maike really nails it when she puts her finger in the wounds of many companies. Propagate innovation, but in most areas there is no room for experimentation. Does that sound familiar? With the statement

Who is hindered by rigid processes and hierarchies, tends to leave it after 3 unsuccessful attempts and submits.

I almost stood up and applauded. But before the colleagues call the doctor, I stopped 😉
I join Maike in her :
Dear companies, if you really want innovation, don’t use the time and money for colourful campaigns and the cool equipment of the startup garages. Better take an inventory of freedom for experiments (see also Nugget #3) and take appropriate actions!
Innovation, but please only outside! (3 min, text, German)

In Nugget 2, Lena Stiewe interviews Malte Finsterwalder from Red6 as guest in the podcast. Mark Poppenborg classifies and adds up interesting facts about the underlying theories. Red6 is a spin-off of the Hamburg insurance company Hanse-Merkur. Malte describes why the spin-off was founded and the advantages of setting up a truly independent unit. It is an interesting conflict between a “shelter”, in which there is a high degree of flexibility and personal responsibility, and the strong dependence and influence of the “parent company”. It becomes interesting during the discussion why in the beginning no employees of Hanse-Merkur were allowed to work for Red6. Culture doesn’t actually stick to employees, but nevertheless one wanted explicitly fresh perspectives.
I like this format of the podcast, by the way. Sometimes you have an interesting “chat” for an hour. At the same time, one runs into the “best practice” trap. On the other hand, everyone remembers the school or university, where one hour of theories is taught and one scratches one’s head how to apply what one has learned in practice. Here you have the best of both worlds and I would find it exciting to try it out in schools. The teacher for the theory, a student as interviewer and someone who applies the topic and describes the practice. Or has that already happened?
[GdNW 7] The Red6: High performance despite group environment (62 min, audio, German)

In Nugget 3 I see a thematic thread running through my last treasures: Planning versus experimenting. The Corporate Rebels are exits from the corporate world and have created a personal bucket list of successful and “different” companies. In recent years they have visited them one by one and processed what they have seen in blog articles. Everyone agrees that the future cannot be predicted. Nevertheless, in many companies excessive planning exists across several hierarchical levels. But what should you do in a complex environment instead? In all visited companies a lot is tried out and the status quo is constantly questioned. Experimentation is both required and encouraged.
I would like to emphasize one impulse from the article. “CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT” is what it says. I bet most companies would say they do. “You can say your opinion at any time” or “We have an open-door policy” can be heard in many places. But what happens if something goes wrong? It’s better not to make a big fuss about it, otherwise you have to justify why the scorecard is red. In the end, the performance-related bonus is also gone and the team is worse off than the neighbouring department. At the end, another rule is added to the already very long process description. Does this invite experimentation? Does this help to react more flexibly to the complex environment? Think about it!

That’s it for this week. Perhaps you were surprised that there have been fewer Monday posts from me lately? Time is going into a book project. The project runs like agile software development in iterations and we want to continuously incorporate customer feedback. It’s supposed to be like impro theater, only in book form. We finished our iteration 0 yesterday and we are already in iteration 1 “Hangover at Heathrow”. Sounds exciting? Find out more here:


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  1. Pingback: Treasure 72 – Innovation and China – CompanyPirate

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