On the wrong track to success

According to a recent study by the world economic forum, Germany is the most innovative country in the world. From bamboo fibres in the car industry to tennis rackets for aircraft construction; learn how innovations facilitate success in different companies.

Being innovative, revolutionizing an industry, develop new markets: Companies want and must think progressively to ensure that they remain secure and relevant. This is especially true in times of profound changes in the working world. Developments such as digitalization and the increasing importance of climate consciousness, require many companies to change and think differently. Innovation expert Hans Lauterbach says: “Every company, including market leaders, must ask themselves how and with what they want to make money in the future, and if their current business model can sustain success in the future.”

The experienced interim manager knows from personal experience that innovation originates when common standards are challenged and individuals act without operational prohibition. In Germany that works. A recent study from the world economic forum placed Germany on the top rank in the category of innovative power. Decisive for this evaluation was the number of registered patents, scientific publications, and customer satisfaction with products.

Creating structures for innovation

In Zeiten der Transformation muss jede Firma Innovationsdenken verinnerlichen.

Hans-Joachim Lauterbach

How do innovative ideas or products find their genesis in individual companies? The financial participation in start-ups is a comfortable and potentially lucrative method that large corporations can use to promote and provoke innovation. However, this normally means things do not change within their own companies. Hans Lauterbach explains: “To be able to challenge and redefine themselves, large corporations must cultivate a smart handling of their informal processes. Companies need employees that are allowed to deviate from the rules of the organization, because innovation often results from deviation from the norm. This permeable structure is becoming increasingly important.” Furthermore; “Temporarily placed experts are useful for these positions as well, as their various assignments allow them to better establish cross connections. At the same time these interim managers can also help to systematically introduce and build-up an innovative culture within organizations.”

Bamboo fibres for the automobile industry

As an external specialist Hans Lauterbach has been involved in a diverse range of development projects and innovations. For example, the now common utilization of bamboo fibres as interior decoration elements in the automobile industry. Originally the investor, who had bamboo plantations in Ghana, wanted to supply the quickly renewing resource to biomass power plants. “By thinking outside of the box, we came up with the idea to utilize the extremely stable bamboo fibres as a supplement to existing injection moulding materials. Nowadays, up to 30% natural fibres are added to decorative elements in cars.”, explains innovation expert, Hans Lauterbach. Through this innovation the investor is reaping 20x the returns they would have gotten from the original intended use as a biofuel. At the same time, they are providing the automotive industry with a more sustainable product, by reducing the need for plastics.

Hans Lauterbach experienced something similar with a sporting goods company that was looking for new markets and business ideas. He explains: “Here the idea was to remodel the production process for ultralight carbon fibre tennis rackets, to producing components for the aircraft industry.”. Today, the outsourced company produced three times the turnover and is one of the world-wide leading suppliers of composite materials.

Foto: iStock / Michael Utech
Hans-Joachim Lauterbach
Hans-Joachim Lauterbach has more than 25 years of international management experience in large corporations and family-run medium-sized companies. The graduate chemist and experienced interim manager is specialised in transformation and innovation processes.

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