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Nina Grevelhörster: In order to get employees excited about innovations it’s important that they understand the company’s goals. This, of course, in no way excludes spontaneous idea creation, but the knowledge and the goals help us to think in a focused manner and provide targeted inspiration. At WeWire we use strategy operationalization, for example the OKR system (objectives and key results).
Bastian Schäfer: We need a culture of open communication – both within the group as well as with external partners. These types of cooperation are a part of my job. It’s also important to have an error culture in our company. When employees develop ideas, they need to have the full support of their supervisors. They need to be able to think outside the box and to feel comfortable trying things out – even with the “danger” that the idea doesn’t work out.
We are in a period of intense change, especially in the mobility sector. We have to find convincing answers to these changes. The right corporate culture is the basis for innovative capability.
Bastian Schäfer: We bring in external expertise from a variety of fields: Circular Valley very important to us, which is a start-up accelerator in the circular economy field that will turn our region into an international circular economy center. As a foundation member, we are a type of anchor investor. Internally, we are focusing on the circular economy within our UpCycling project, which spans all of our businesses. In the product development stage, WeWire works together with Visionlabs, an industrial design institute at the University of Wuppertal. The Coroplast Group is also a member of the Excellence Circle of the Sales Management department at the Ruhr University Bochum. Each of these forms of cooperation offers an opportunity to learn something new every day.
Nina Grevelhörster: In addition to strategy operationalization, we at WeWire are also actively working on cultural change. We are discarding old ways of thinking and cooperating with partners that often work in quite a different manner than we are used to. Currently, we are testing out a Focus Friday, a day as free as possible from appointments in order to create free space for creative work, among other things. We are also putting together a pre-development team that, aside from daily business, will focus on our new approaches
Bastian Schäfer: At times the business units of the Coroplast Group operate like stand-alone companies. But we need a consistent culture, and to achieve this, the exchange across departments and units must definitely become more intensive. We are now making great progress here.
Nina Grevelhörster: Exactly. For example, WeWire has begun communicating regularly with its sister unit Coroflex. Within our team workshops we have also developed some “culture hacks,” which are small, quickly implemented measures that promote exchange, collaboration, and idea generation.
Bastian Schäfer: I see it as a success when our efforts have made our employees willing to engage in exchange with internal and external partners. We need colleagues who are hungry for new knowledge.
Nina Grevelhörster: For me, success means maintaining the same market position for the next 20 to 30 years – in the same core business, but also in some sectors that are new to us. It means that we continue to be able to discover niches for ourselves, that we are open to new things, and play an active part in shaping the future.
As a company, we can only prescribe culture to a limited extent. But we can initiate things, and then they have to develop independently. The important thing is that we then continue to monitor and moderate the impulse. Something like this is not a sprint, but a marathon!