Two years ago you defined innovation at Schenker Deutschland AG as “new ideas that create additional value for products, services, process technology, and business models”. Now, how do you define innovation at TÜV Rheinland AG? If your definition changed, why? If not, why?
Coincidentally my team at TÜV Rheinland and I have just worked exactly on this question. For TÜV Rheinland, innovation is enabling an open, entrepreneurial culture of collaboration and disruptive out of the box thinking with a fail forward mindset. We want to develop new business aligned with current and future needs of people, technology and environment.
In general, it is difficult for big corporations like TÜV Rheinland AG to act as fast and agile as smaller companies or startups. What are your success factors for accelerating innovation projects?
Luckily I already met countless colleagues over the last months who act very fast and agile. They do not wait for approval, they just start making things possible.
And like in all big corporates we try to increase the ability to be as agile as possible. For now our success factors are the full support of the managing board, communicating about our topics, financial resources for innovation, methodological support, a rapid approval process for realizing ideas and creative spaces. That all contributes to transform to an agile and innovative corporate culture from the top.
We have just opened our first Innovation Space next to the managing board room at TÜV Rheinland Tower. Among an Open Space area for working, meeting and hanging out with our board members, we have two amazing workshop rooms and a forest to reconnect with nature. Since the opening almost everyday colleagues book the room for workshops with customers and partners. They also ask for support in terms of methods and tools to use the full potential of this environment. This is one of the focus topics of our Innovation Facilitator.
Every day we seek and find new success factors. During this process we fail fast and cheap, we learn and try again. Hopefully this will never stop.
TÜV Rheinland AG employs specialists from many different fields. How can you leverage such potential? What are the barriers to cross-functional innovation projects?
Because of the silo structure of past decades, employees used to stay in their own turf. To discuss and play in someone else’s turf is still like breaking a taboo far too often. We break that! We connect specialists, who work on similar topics from different perspectives, and boost the team with advisors and facilitators. We just did that with an AI and Complaint Management project. And both teams are so glad that they can work together and learn from each other.
Moreover we will start with Meetups and other kind of events to bring people randomly together and see on what kind of ideas or running projects they will work on.
“There is no innovation today without a digital component and vice versa.” What do you think about this statement? How does the trend towards digitization change innovation management?
Honestly there are a few digitalization projects that do not include groundbreaking innovation. And it is ok to do our homework.
Of course innovation embraces several digital components and vice versa. For example it allows us to test innovative ideas quickly and scale them in a way which that not possible three years ago. But nevertheless, the human being is still the most important part of all innovation approaches and ideas.
What are your goals regarding innovation for the next 12 months?
In one year our customer centric services will have monetarized. My colleagues will have more freedom to realize their business ideas. And we will have creative spaces and natural oasis everywhere which inspires my colleagues to make TÜV Rheinland an awesome and circular company.
About the interviewee:
Dana Goldhammer leads Innovation & Digitalization at TÜV Rheinland AG since 2016. At the beginning of her career, she studied economics with focus on transportation and logistics at Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW) in Mannheim. Before developing the Business Excellence (knowledge and idea management, EFQM Assessments) department, she managed many projects at Schenker Deutschland AG. Thereafter, she developed and led Business Excellence & Projects (project management, solution and business excellence consulting, innovation management) since 2011 and led Research and Innovation Management as well as Cross-Functional Services at Schenker Deutschland AG since 2015