May we introduce? This is André Backer, Research and Development Manager at Sihl. He explains how he and his colleagues work on new ideas and why a structured process is important to develope innovations
Can you learn to be innovative and have good ideas?
André Becker: In my view, to be truly innovative you need two things: experience and curiosity to deal with things intensively. The most important prerequisite for being innovative, however, is to be interested in and open to new things. This is the only way to recognise and accumulate good ideas. To be successful, innovations need a process. It enables a targeted approach and structured work to pursue an idea and develop an innovation from it. Without such a process, a development cannot be successful. But with the right attitude and support, there is then a good chance to learn an innovative mindset and approach.
Does a willingness to innovate always mean that you have to be a team player?
André Becker: Absolutely. In principle, there are of course individuals who have a successful idea, but it is usually easier in a team. And to do that, you should exhaust all possibilities in-house and bring experienced colleagues together with younger minds to bring in fresh and unconventional ideas. For larger projects, it is also important to set up interdisciplinary teams. By this I mean that customers, suppliers, employees of research institutions or other companies are also included. This leads to concentrated creativity. After that, the innovation process already mentioned is needed in order to be able to work in a structured way on the innovations that have been initiated.
Does a high level of innovation mean success for a company?
André Becker: I think it depends on the industry. For Sihl, the joy of innovation is part of the company DNA. We develop and produce many innovative and at the same time very complex products, some of which have a very short lifetime. That’s why we have to launch new innovations in time to be able to survive on the market in the medium and long term. For this to succeed, the company must create the necessary framework conditions. This includes: Resources, freedom and trust for employees, networking, scouting and patience. If everything fits together, you have a good chance of finding the right ideas and launching new projects in time that are not planned past the market but are goal-oriented. Because even with the best idea, I can only score points if I find the right application in the end and there is a market for it.