What do you spontaneously think of when you hear “innovations”? For me personally, these are things that I no longer want to do without: WhatsApp, Spotify, and Airbnb. In addition to the classics, I also associate the topic of innovation with dishwashers or digital cameras with enough memory capacity (Imagine only being able to take 36 photos at a time and having to wait for them until they are developed). What all innovations have in common is that they respond to the changing needs of customers.
Innovation in the company – supporters wanted!
If you want to secure your business success in the long term, it is not enough to just optimize the existing core business for existing customers. TÜV Rheinland is also aware of this, which is why it places great importance on innovation and promotes development. As employees, for example, we have the opportunity to submit our own ideas as part of the Innovation Kickboxing Programme or to complete training as an Innovation Host in order to drive innovation forward within the company. In my opinion, innovation is an incredibly exciting topic. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to apply to become an Innovation Host and was very pleased to receive an invitation to the programme. The internal training is designed and conducted by our “Innovation and Digitalization” department. Before I started my training, I knew almost nothing about the terms “Design Thinking” and “Rapid Design”. Like most people, I had heard about the terms before. What they actually mean or how they can support the development and establishment of business ideas were new to me. Within the first two modules of the Innovation Training, however, we learned through a variety of tasks how the two approaches contribute to the development of innovations.
Innovation Method: Design Thinking
Design Thinking describes a user-centric, systematic and iterative approach that takes a creative and collaborative stance to solving complex problems. That sounds very theoretical now. So what does the whole thing look like in practice? Imagine a room that invites you to be creative: Writable walls, post-its in all colours, Lego, tools and a colourful team. I hadn’t expected that when I entered the workshop room. What awaited us now was a creative, but also exhausting, two-day innovation training in which we worked in groups on concrete problems. In addition to mind maps, which addressed the facets of the problem, we developed stakeholder and empathy maps, conducted interviews with potential users, and re-created our product with Lego in order to have it tested by our target group – all under the motto: Understand the problem before you look for a solution. We had a lot of fun and were surprised at the good results we achieved in a very short time. The second module was based on our results from Design Thinking since innovation doesn’t just mean having an idea. Rapid Design helps in ensuring that the business perspective is not neglected. We were shown methods such as Market Value Approach, Business Model Canvas or Operational Readiness Map that can be used to prepare for a quick market entry.
Innovation Training completed
In the third module on moderation, it was our turn to host the individual steps in the innovation process. Even if you have gone through the individual modules in advance, you can surely imagine that it is something completely different than guiding through the process steps as a host. After initial nervousness, however, I liked taking on the role of the host. And through the feedback of the others I even learned something about my strengths and recognized possibilities for improvement. The training was an exciting time (many thanks to the “Innovation and Digitalization” department), during which I gained many new impressions and got to know methods that we can also apply in a small team. The Innovation Training has changed my view on innovation. And I’m already looking forward to the first workshops, where I can support innovations at TÜV Rheinland as a host.