Treasure 94 – Engineers, Garages, Hypotheses

Why do engineers have such a hard time with agility? Why doesn’t a garage make you innovative? What are hypotheses and which are the first to be validated? Texts and videos to think about as well as plenty of learning can be found in the newest treasure.

Nugget #1 is an article that speaks from the heart. Nicolas Korte, managing director of a medium-sized plant manufacturer, is obviously in the middle of an agile transformation. Nothing special? Many companies are running after the latest agile fad right now. Unfortunately not so many realize that companies are a living organism . Mechanistic thinking is still the order of the day in many places. Nicolas Korte identified the engineering discipline as one of the root causes and I can only agree with him 100%. I, too, graduated as an electrical engineer and the corresponding way of thinking is well known to me. Interestingly enough, this has personally made it easier for me to access systems theory, which in turn helps to understand living organisms. I support the call to all engineers to take a look at the human science. For people in management positions in particular, I even consider this to be a compulsory exercise. At this point, kudos to Nicolas Korte, who dared to start his own blog to share his thoughts. Keep it up! (4 min, text, German)

Another fad run after many companies is that of innovation labs and garages. Lars Vollmer pokes at this in Nugget #2 – in an entertaining way. As a regular reader you might be a bit irritated. In Treasure 92 Daimler’s Lab 1886 is praised and now it is suddenly only Cargo cult? I think innovation labs and garages can be very helpful. However, a colorful office like Google’s or organizational structures like Spotify’s do not guarantee a culture of innovation and certainly not success with new products and business models. If HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) was previously the reference for new products and services, the garage probably won’t immediately align itself with the customer. With new products and business models, you often don’t even know who a customer is. It also becomes difficult when it comes to making decisions. Most important decisions are made high up in the hierarchy. Even if the board level devotes a lot of time to their garage or digital unit, it will hardly be enough for the agility of real garages. (3 min, video, German)

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Video-Link: https://youtu.be/b61k9mk3yiI

So what can you do to make garages and innovation units successful? Nugget #3 is a pitch of the startup Owlet, which I came across an article in the blog of Strategyzer. The slides shown are terrible, but the content is very helpful. The startup shows a Business Model Canvas, which hypotheses you have made and how lean (fast and with little effort) you can validate them. Especially the hypothesis “How interested is the customer” is often only tested with the finished product. In some excelsheets, a corresponding risk may be noted at the beginning of the project. I found the crucial point FDA Approval solved particularly interesting. Because the startup didn’t want to invest 200k USD and 13 months, they were looking for ways to bring a product without FDA approval to the market. This way, sales could be generated and learned for the first time. This approach is rarely observed in larger companies. Either the 200k is no problem or the project is not approved. How does it look in your company? Do you use a Business Model Canvas? What hypotheses do you validate? (18 min, video, English)

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Video-Link: https://youtu.be/f-8v_RgwGe0

By the way, I found it interesting that a jury member was connected remotely. If you would place the screen behind the table of the jury, scale it to the same height as the other members and the size of the remote participant, this would be a perfect example for remote collaboration. You will also find numerous tips on this topic on this blog.

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