About the efforts of “innovation hubs”

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Intro

In the meantime, “innovation hubs” have become fashionable among large german corporations: Whether (for example at banks and savings banks) Deutsche Bank with its “Deutsche Bank Innovation Labs”, Siemens with the iHub or Postbank with the “Idea Lab”. Almost every other DAX company joins the ranks here with a department / branch or spin-off. What are the benefits of innovation hubs?

What do “Innoavtion Hubs” bring?

The facilities look at least visually similar: Young people, no dress code, table football or table tennis tables are integrated into the office landscape. The objective is always similar: to develop new perspectives in the product landscape, detached from bureaucratic constraints or generally from the organisational structures that finance the hubs. I have listed a few arguments.

Pros

By releasing organizational constraints, rather unrealistic scenarios are also illuminated, and completely new ideas can emerge. The employees there work without fear: Anyone who has run up against the wall with a good idea in an old hierarchy will hardly be able to comment on something new. The hubs work under the same working conditions as the parent company. Social security helps employees to develop.

Contras

Old employees do not take work results seriously The transfer of ideas into the old world is difficult or even impossible to integrate and the support does not lead to a transfer.

And now?

So there are some ideas for and against such hubs. Should you be established? Some results would also be possible without such spin-offs. But this would require much more personal responsibility to be transferred to the employees and fears of making mistakes to be reduced. For this, however, a new management philosophy is needed, away from micromanagement towards more trust. If this should be possible, the spin-off of the hubs would take care of itself. The long-term success of a hub lies in the fact that the results grow out of the “proof of concept” stage and are also transferred into the real world of the organization. To this end, the support must not only lie in the founding of the Hub, but also in the interlocking of the Hub and the Old World.

Digitisation…. let`s buy smartphones for our employees

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Recently I read a remarkable article: The drugstore chain DM, one of the biggest player in Germany,  procures 25,000 smartphones for its employees:

For a long time, the drugstore chain DM was regarded as a digital despiser. But now the company has ordered 25,000 smartphones for all store employees and is obviously serious about digitizing.

Digitisation is a decisive breakthrough in the processes: AirBnB and Uber have made it clear that they are looking to penetrate established markets and enter the process with well thought-out solutions for the end customer. This is how parts of the margins, which are nowadays usually tight, are being used up.

How to establish completely new processes? This requires creativity. These can be generated by employees. Employees continue to be the most valuable potential to leverage creative ideas.

This includes a departure from micromanagement: new ideas do not thrive by atomizing existing processes and tracking them down to the smallest possible level. Just as a proverb says that electric light was not created by the consistent further development of the candle.

One of the most important bases for this is courage for new, different decisions that do not necessarily correspond to the previous mainstream of the company. This must be exemplified by top management. This is the only way to gain the necessary trust of the employees, to try out new ones or to question business processes that have been practiced for a long time. To depict the future in the dark and to assume that courageous competitors lack social competence is of little help here.

To return to DM: The fact that the procurement of a modern tool is worth a headline shows that there is still a lot of potential. A smartphone is not a gift for an employee, it is a tool. But not every employee can deal with it immediately, but “experts” should give recommendations for action: How and when can I use it how and above all, in the interest of the customer? An easy access to central databases and / or Google is a minimum requirement here, what you might expect in the project.

Speaking of trust: Most of the 25,000 devices, that DM delivers will probably not have a SIM card. Trust in employees in 2017 should look different