Today everything is about speed. The pace of daily life is moving faster and faster, and technologies are developing exponentially. Particularly the
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Digital Accelerator Lead at Linde Digitalisation
Today everything is about speed. The pace of daily life is moving faster and faster, and technologies are developing exponentially. Particularly the digital sector changes its direction almost daily. This is a great challenge – and an opportunity. The speed of innovations today are largely driven by start-ups and start-up ecosystems. To finance them and to secure their ideas, venture capital companies have considered the accelerator concept. With a small amount of financial support and expert frameworks, new ideas or products are further developed and evaluated during a short period of time. If the idea proves itself after this time, the project continues. If it does not keep its promises, it will be abandoned. We at Linde are now adopting this approach and applying it to ideas brought forth by our own employees and customers.
We don’t know if your idea will work, either, but we say: “Let’s give it a try!” This is in keeping with our motto: If you don’t spend time worrying and speculating, you will spend time on executing. That’s what great culture is.
From theory to practice
In concrete terms, this means that colleagues from every area of the company have a new point of contact for their digital ideas. In the past, it often went like this: Something inspires you, and you bring your idea to your manager, but then you find that you’ve run into a wall. Sometimes they say your idea is too crazy, sometimes too expensive, sometimes that it just won’t work. You can’t blame your supervisor, because his opinion can only rely on one thing to evaluate your idea: his many years of experience. However, since (especially digital) developments are progressing so rapidly today, this experience is no longer a reliable frame of reference. And this is where our innovation lab comes in. We don’t know if your idea will work, either, but we say: “Let’s give it a try!” This is in keeping with our motto: If you don’t spend time worrying and speculating, you will spend time on executing. That’s what great culture is.
Time to accelerate
In our Innovation labs, named Digital Base Camps, we consider every idea which adds value to our customers, be it a business model, technology, hardware or software. But before we start, we first require a rough estimation of the concept’s business potential. If this is promising, the next step follows: the creation of a prototype. Within three months, the concept must prove that it can meet expectations and also that it will bring concrete benefits for the customer. To find this out, we provide a small budget and a large network of startups. The project is managed by the individual employee who brought the idea to us. This person always remains the master of the concept, and learns at the same time what is important when creating a product from an idea. And something else is also very important. The idea owner maintains ongoing exchange with the customer, regardless of whether this is an external partner or a Linde employee. We attach great importance to keeping the work in the project agile, and being able to adjust or readjust the project’s direction at any time. Our decisions are always based on data and feedback from our customers, so that we automatically achieve what they expect in the end.
Mentality of the future
Since we launched our Digital Base Camps in Munich and Singapore at the end of 2016, more than 100 project ideas have already landed with us. Half of these have made it into the accelerator process and 15-20 ideas are currently in the transition to business. For this, a little advertising on our own behalf and transparent communication with our colleagues was necessary at first. At demo days and open house events, we presented the first concrete results internally. Our most visible success stories include Linde Go, the LINDE PLANTSERV portal or the Virtual Reality Training Simulator. In addition to the many project ideas, we have also made a difference beyond our borders driven by our Programmatic Digital Transformation approach. We see that business departments in other regions have already adopted key elements of our accelerator concept independently. This is exactly the ultimate goal of our entire approach: to establish a culture which sees constant change as an opportunity throughout the company – until this lab is no longer necessary as an independent department. This is our plan for the digital future.
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