Connecting employees to pave the way for innovation
Kicking off “innovation” as a central function with a global innovation challenge in an organisation with a high number of blue-collar employees.
Who is Stabilus?
Stabilus is the world’s leading manufacturer of solutions based on gas springs, dampers and electromechanical drives. Founded in 1934, Stabilus started out as a manufacturer of retrofittable stabilizers for the American automotive industry in 1962, and has since then moved into a leading position in motion control. Stabilus is a global player with office and production facilities worldwide including Brazil, China, Germany and many more.
With a history of being a very product-focused organisation with great innovations within their speciality area (gas springs), Stabilus is now looking into a future where the focus is on delivering total motion solutions. This requires a shift in innovation focus and an organisational change from being regional focused to working more across regions and functions.
To kick off a new way of working when it comes to innovation, a global innovation challenge was launched. The aim was to involve all corners of the organisation, including the large share of blue-collar workers at the production sites, to make it clear that innovation can happen anywhere and that it requires cross-functional collaboration. Thus, a lot of time and effort was put into mobilising the organisation, including local workshops and promotions at the production sites.
After a successful first challenge, the focus is on establishing the innovation process and running focused “mini-campaigns” or sprints running on the Nosco platform that target a specific problem and involve a small group of people to solve it. Simultaneously, an innovation process that works at a global level is being defined and established. The wish is to go from creating technical solutions that only get input from customers when launched, to getting user and customer feedback early on in the process as well as creating ideas teams consisting of both technical and market people.
Results from the global innovation challenge:
- 428ideas collected
- 40M EUR worth orders
- 500k EUR public investment
As the first challenge of its kind, the global innovation challenge in Stabilus generated a great amount of ideas, and managed to engage a large share of the employees on the Nosco platform. The success provided clear evidence that there is in fact innovation power to be found throughout the organisation and through matching people with different backgrounds and skills.
Out of the five ideas that made it to the Bootcamp of the Innovation Challenge, three of them have matured significantly over the last 1 and half years since. The winning idea received its first order worth EUR 40 million from a major client. It also contributed to keeping the archived status with the client, as a preferred supplier. The second idea has received EUR 500 thousand from the German state for further development. A third idea has produced a prototype that generated considerable interest from the market. Additionally to the financial impacts, the Innovation challenge also positively impacted the innovation culture as it created a “proudness” in the achievements and success.
It further created the foundation for establishing a new innovation process that is now being shaped and is based on learnings from the innovation challenge. It established the fact that engagement in innovation pays off, which will pave the way for future innovation initiatives.
“KPIs are necessary for me to assure backing from management and are a tool for me to structure my work. The real value, though, comes from creating connections among people”
Stefan Ermtraud, Global Innovation Manager