“Fast control loops are necessary, such as reviews and customer tests, in order to test the ideas for suitability or to quickly adjust them.”

Armin Czeppel, Head of the Central Office of Organizational Development at Bosch

Without courage, vision, and perseverance, innovation is hardly feasible.

Innoboard: Innovation often fails due to insufficient communication. Why do companies fail when introducing open innovation in the organization?

Armin Czeppel: There is a difficult change process backing open innovation, from an “invented here” culture to a “proud to borrow” culture, with active utilization of external expertise. As long as they focus on their own inventions and patents, the ideas from the outside appear to be less lucrative.

Moreover, open innovation is still a buzzword that can cause a wide variety of reactions and includes too many facets and risks that are not tangible to many. Clear recommendations for action and systematic approaches are limited. The chances of success of an open innovation initiative are hard to compute. In addition, the term “open” is poorly defined. Is a company already considered “open” if conversations with customers or the exchange with other areas of the company take place?

Imagine being asked to convert a company to maximum innovation capability. What would your first three steps be?

First, an executive with vigor and vision, who is passionate about the topic, must be found or named.

My second measure concerns the structure of the organization. Germ cells or incubators must be created, consisting exclusively of small interdisciplinary teams of highly motivated people.

The third measure has to do with a fast implementation. To do this, fast control loops are necessary, such as reviews and customer tests, in order to test the ideas for suitability or to quickly adjust them. Subsequently, a simple crossover to the classic process of innovation is required.

In a large enterprise, in comparison with a SME, entrepreneurial thought and action moves into the background. How do you see entrepreneurship as a principle of success for innovation?

I do think that entrepreneurship is also available in large enterprises. Nevertheless, it is not required of all employees. In any case, the three aforementioned measures would promote entrepreneurship.

Without courage, vision, and perseverance, innovation is hardly feasible. Then it is, in itself, less ascertainable. Entrepreneurship means to have the staying power and the necessary investment and to motivate the employees for “trial and error”.

Creative minds in technical development often have difficulties to sell their innovation ideas internally with a good story. Are engineers required to be good story tellers too?

No, we need specialists for this, such as innomanagers or product managers, who need to think in these dimensions and translate technology into its pictorial value. Here at Bosch, we are aware of the relevance of this role, which has motivated us to develop the “product story approach” in order to ensure a successful transfer of innovation with the help of a pictorial communication.

 

Armin Czeppel has been working at Bosch since 1983 in various management positions in sales, marketing, training, and innovation management in the power tools division. Since 2012, he has been Deputy Head of the Central Office of Organizational Development and has been responsible for the field of idea and innovation management among others.