Innovation Culture Discussion with Erik Wirsing

Tackling a main corporate “Innovation Blocker”

When we talk about innovation culture, the first thing that comes to mind is a work environment where people can develop their ideas. To hear more about this topic, I would like to share amazing insights from Erik Wirsing, Vice President of Global Innovation at DB Schenker, the latest guest on the Navigation of Ingenuity podcast. 

What is Innovation Culture? 

Innovation culture is all about bringing new knowledge into the organization. As Erik pointed out knowledge has to be shared among the people, let them learn something new, and encourage them to create new ideas and solutions. 

One thing DB Schenker is proud of is their innovation department – a place where they bring experience to the right people, train them, empower them and let them be creative. When you create an environment of constant change, networking, agility, and collaboration, employees’ motivation brings increased productivity and higher levels of output that will help organizations reach their important goals.

The biggest obstacle to innovation is having too much guidance and instructions that have to be followed. Put all this aside and give employees the freedom to work independently. This is the recipe that makes DB Schenker successful in their industry – logistics. When empowering team members it is important to provide them with resources, funds, time, and place but keep in mind that this might fail. 

How do you encourage your team to be innovative?

Team members and employees need to feel confident and comfortable to express their thoughts. Therefore the right communication style is the answer to this question. 

We also have to mention the importance of team diversity since their varied backgrounds and experiences allow them to bring broader ideas and new perspectives. Curiosity, openness, and emotional intelligence are crucial when it comes to empowering. It’s not all about monetary incentives and the best way for empowering your employees is to enable them to reach their full potential. Just like Erik said: “Help them to shine”. Erik tells us the story of how DB Schenker’s sparked innovation within their organization:

When Eric joined the company, he was responsible for global innovation and all the innovative activities. Since he had no idea how to run this globally, one of his team members came up with the idea of an innovation magazine that collects stories from colleagues and their experiences. Since everyone wanted to be a part of this magazine, the idea was very well accepted and the storytelling approach got more popular over the years. With time, the sales team recognized the value of the innovation magazine for their customers, which resulted in the new format – an external magazine. With the approach of bringing people together and promoting their success through the “Innovation Champion of the month” column, DB Schenker continues to be a leader in supply chain management and logistics solutions.

What was your last innovation?

As Erik stressed, it is not about establishing something completely new but adopting from different industries. 

His last innovation was not planned, it just happened accidentally at one event he participated in. Talking to one of the attendees who work in the roofing industry he found out about a special paint which keeps the roofing firm. Erik realized a potential use for the paint and adopted it in the logistics industry. As a result, we have a transport vehicle whose floor is coated with this paint to prevent the movement of cargo while driving. Now customers are using it for the forklifts. Such an easy and spontaneous idea provided benefits for different industries.

Creating the next groundbreaking innovation

We also asked Erik if there is one thing he wants to invent or see invented, what would it be? This is what he said: having one device (ie smartphone) with the possibility of the screen adjustments just like we do with Windows on the PC. He wants to stop traveling with his phone, tablet, and computer, one device that can expand or contract based on the use. Other great things he would like to see in the future are self-driving vehicles and space tourism available for everyone. 

Bringing different innovative minds together and being able to manage a big global innovation culture it is important for all the team members to know that within organizations there are people who are going to support their “crazy ideas”. Structured organization, developing a business model, and taking into consideration customer feedback is the foundation for tackling a main corporate “Innovation Blocker”. 

We thank Erik Wirsing for being a special guest on the Navigation of Ingenuity podcast. With certainty, I can say we all learned a lot from his experience in the innovation world. To listen to the episode please visit:

Authored by: Tanja Sopcic

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