Radical innovations


Laying the foundations for future-proof innovations with the right framework conditions.

The success of many medium-sized companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector is based on the constant further development of their own products and processes. In order to be well prepared for the future, disruptive or radical innovations are of decisive importance. This topic was taken up and discussed in the virtual exchange of experiences. Especially in disruptive times - triggered by external factors such as increasing digitalization or crises - it is necessary to deal with the topic in order to secure or, in the best case, expand one's own competitiveness. For the own company it is therefore important to deal with the topic in order to consider which adjustments or strategic realignments are necessary and which position should be taken in the changed ecosystem.

In the course of the event, a preliminary survey was conducted among the participants to get them in the mood for the event and also to ask their opinion and level of knowledge on the topic of "radical innovations". According to the respondents, this topic needs to be pushed much more in their own companies. When asked about the success factors for radical innovations, the following were named among others:

  • strong customer orientation
  • committed employees
  • no shyness to ask devious questions and to go new ways

As a control, the question was asked what would tend to prevent radical innovations. Despondency and a lack of willingness to take risks were frequently cited. Further obstacles were

  • old thought patterns
  • encrusted structures
  • bloated approval processes

The statements of the preliminary survey were taken up and discussed in the course of the exchange of experiences. The discussion was led by Sven Wagner, consultant and New Work expert at InnoDrei GmbH. Wagner began by discussing the definition and necessity of innovation. In doing so, he raised the question of the framework in which innovative ideas can be "born" in the company. On the one hand, there are good sources of ideas within the company's own workforce, which must be filtered and promoted, and on the other hand, there are external sources.

External ideas for leap innovations can come from collaborations with other companies - such as young and agile companies. There are different ways to "tap" external sources of ideas. For example, by collaborating with more innovative companies or buying and affiliating startups. Likewise, incubators and accelerators can be considered in order to create their own innovation-oriented ecosystem.

Wagner pointed out that there are two ways to implement accelerator programs in this regard: As an internal innovation unit that promotes internal ideas and startups from within the company, or as an interface to external startups. In the second option, impulses can lead to innovations through joint projects. For the general framework, it is advantageous to select a suitable team and to clarify the roles of those involved, as well as to determine budget and resources in advance. However, it is most important that the top management stands behind the innovation project.