Transformation through the development of smart products
Client situation and approach
A manufacturer of household appliances reached out to EFESO with the understanding that toasters and refrigerators will be transformed into smart products controlled by voice apps very soon.
EFESO established a team with a fresh viewpoint of ‘digital natives’ and saw through the internal change process.
ChallengeNew mindset for series development
In fact, the company had opted for a good, proven strategy to defend its competitive position with new product ideas: constant availability of development resources? Secured by the bundling of all development teams at one location. High quality standards in R&D for mass production of large quantities? Secured by experienced teams and established processes.
But: routines do not manage disruption. Certainly not if digitisation in extremely short cycles is leading to a completely new market based on the networked ‘smart home’ – a market in which inventiveness and agility are the leitmotifs. If the customer wants a cooker that sends pictures and cooking times of his next Christmas roast to his smartphone, a three year cycle from the first idea to the delivery-ready product is simply too long.
SolutionStart with the digital natives
Why not combine this long experience with the joy of experimenting and the working methods of ‘digital natives? It was precisely this that was the starting point of our approach.
A generation of developers, who always play with the latest iPhone, who think and work in short cycles and iteratively. They have a maker mentality, i.e. they constantly want to look beyond the existing system boundaries and do not shy away from the risk that a project can fail.
Especially in the context of ‘smart home’ these are important success criteria, because a large number of different product groups are networked with software tools and thus reinvented.
ResultSmart organisation and smart products
In this way, however, not only ‘smart’ products are created, but also smart organisations. In this case, too, the approach to digital transformation aims to manage employees and teams in a more consensual manner and to dissolve silo mentalities between departments through know-how networking. In addition, external partners proved to be an important success factor in the project: on the one hand, to obtain the specialist knowledge needed at short notice. And on the other hand, to have an impartial consultant as a process facilitator who constantly reminds people of old behavioural patterns and demands a clear commitment from everyone – from the board of directors to the individual team members – for the fulfilment of goals once they have been defined.
- Successes as a conflict resolver
However, this project for digital transformation with smart products differs from other change projects in that the networking capabilities, flexibility and knowledge of the employees in the company’s development department are now given a much higher weighting than the length of service in the company. At the beginning, the project team found itself confronted with an absolutely typical conflict: some employees reacted to the new colleagues and the approach of the ‘I Team’ with the attitude “Let these young whippersnappers run into the wall – this won’t work with us.”
- Identify and Empower
We identify and empower those who are the most willing to change in both groups in order to quickly demonstrate (with pilot projects) that it does work. With every successful project, the motivation of the participants increases to prove that “nothing’s impossible”. In addition, after a number of successful – and even failed – projects, the sceptics’ curiosity and motivation to become an active part of the change increased.