Quickly identify and adapt new solutions
Innovation is derived from the Latin “innovare” and means to renew. In today’s language, it describes the planned and controlled management of change processes. The goal is to be prepared for sudden events and changing market conditions, instead of failing to respond to them.
The pandemic has been such a sudden event resulting in changes to market conditions. It has shown that only organizations that are able to learn from each other, network internally and externally, and quickly identify and adapt new solutions will continue to be successful.
How did TÜV Rheinland deal with the situation – for example, its Academy & Life Care business stream? As a competence partner for vocational training, continuing professional development and occupational health services, we were forced to scale down the operation of some training centers from one day to the next and temporarily discontinue many of our in-person consulting services. Fortunately, the term innovation is not a foreign concept in our business stream, but has been part and parcel of our daily work for years.
Virtual classrooms safeguard the continuity of teaching at the training centers
Supported by the Innovation Hub, the colleagues working in vocational training and continuing professional development are constantly looking at new technical, methodological and didactic approaches that enable them to always offer their customers the most sustainable and fascinating experience possible for their technical qualification. When the training centers had to scale down their operations due to coronavirus in March 2020, the switch from in-person training to virtual classrooms was completed just four weeks later. We benefitted from the fact that we had previously gained experience with digital and blended learning and developed a prototype of the virtual classroom (VC).
Confidential, of course: digital video consultations
The transition in occupational medicine was made just as quickly. Our occupational health experts have been offering confidential digital video consultations since August 2020, replacing appointments that before the pandemic had been held on site. This enables companies and employees to receive competent occupational health advice on a wide range of topics from occupational health and safety to occupational integration management – even if in-person appointments are not possible.
Market response to the new channels and the continued provision of services using the new tools has been very positive.
Communication takes place via encrypted and privacy-compliant connections, making it as confidential as an on-site face-to-face meeting. Both services are in high demand, and market response to the new channels and the continued provision of services using the new tools has been very positive.
Innovation management needs an agile mindset
The fact that both the virtual classrooms and video consultations could be transferred so quickly and, above all, successfully into new business models was down to the timely and systematic preparation of our specialist departments and the support provided by our team in the Innovation Hub. Of course, in retrospect, this reads easier than it is.
Innovation management is hard work and places great demands on organizations and their employees. People who want to work successfully in innovation projects do not need any special qualifications in addition to their technical expertise – but they do need an agile mindset. They must embrace change. They have to collaborate with internal and external partners. They need a good dose of curiosity and the willingness to take agile and incremental development steps, and they should be team players.
And because mistakes are (and need to be) made in the process, an error culture is required as well. Innovation managers (and their bosses!) must not stigmatize mistakes, but rather create a culture in which mistakes are allowed so that the right solution can be found in the first place. Mistakes are there to be learned from. When these conditions are met, this can give rise to exciting innovations, without which no company can be successful in the long term. Quite on the contrary: As the pandemic has shown, the capacity to innovate is essential for new business models – and for a successful future.
HEAD OF INNOVATION ACADEMY & LIFE CARE
Field testing a hydrogen car for a day
Industrial Applications and Safety