Posted on 03/23/2018 via BSH Home Appliances Group

Fostering Innovation through Cultural Change – the Story behind the Frozen Idea Award

Fail.Learn.Succeed is the slogan of the new Frozen Idea Award developed by a team of international BSH trainees. Here, we find out how this award came about and what it means for BSH!

Thomas Edison famously said – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This probably sounds all too familiar for many of us. But, for one group of BSH trainees, this process of trying, failing and learning inspired them to create a new award – the Frozen Idea Award. We caught up with Johanna Thomsen and Pawel Lapicz, two members of the agile working project team, to find out more.

The Design Thinking Sprint

The Frozen Idea award is the brainchild of a group of BSH trainees who met whilst working on an interdisciplinary project. This particular trainee project is an integral part of the international BSH trainee program. The Frozen Idea Award was developed during this project, but the trainees were originally tasked with something else entirely, as Johanna explains: “We all went to Giengen together to take part in a Design Thinking Sprint. Our task was to create a method that supports the development of modules and components for fridges – as independently as possible from a complete appliance project. It was really difficult for us, because we were all from different departments: Supply Chain, Marketing, Customer Service etc. and none of us were modular architects.”

The exercise taught the trainees a lot about communication within BSH. “During this module, I had this feeling that failure wasn’t an option, and that really stuck with me,” says Johanna. So, “instead of thinking about fridge components, we found ourselves looking at the bigger picture,” says Pawel. “We drew the situation like a house,” Johanna explains, “the foundation was communication, which made us realize that we had to strenghten this, before we could move on.”

A Change of Direction

After a week of Design Thinking, the team decided to take a change of direction away from their fridge components task and thought about methods for strengthening communication at BSH instead.

“It was difficult to convince our project sponsor – the Head of Development at Giengen that we wanted to switch from our current module to do something else, but he really supported us.” says Pawel. “Of course, when we first presented our idea out of the Design Thinking Sprint, he was really surprised, I mean we were supposed to present our ideas for fridge components, not ideas for cultural change. But we managed to convince him and he began to understand where we were coming from,” says Pawel, laughing.

The Banana Award?

“It only took us five minutes to come up with a name for the award,” says Johanna giggling, “it was originally called the Banana Award!” But the team moved away from that, “because we wanted something really specific to Giengen, where our refrigeration appliances are manufactured, and the innovation taking place on this site,” she explains. “If you want to be really innovative and create cool stuff for the future, you need to take some risks, and we really wanted to encourage and support everyone doing this at BSH.”

Opening up the Award for Submissions

The team decided to open the award up for people at the Giengen site first. “It was much easier to focus on just one location, because we are quite new at BSH too,” says Johanna. “We kicked off the campaign with an intranet article and got around 12 applications in 3 weeks, which we were really happy about. And, they were all really good!” The team then put together a jury, and began to select the winners.

The Winners

“We actually couldn’t make it to the Awards ceremony, which was held during a Forum attended by heads of departments from the “Refrigeration” product division, as we were based in Munich on a training week, but we heard that they were all really surprised and impressed by our award,” says Pawel. The trophy itself was a 3D version of the logo the team had created, a lightbulb stuck in a block of ice.

The winners were a development team which dropped an idea inspired by nature. “It was a great example of a communication problem that stifled what could have been a great idea,” says Johanna. Among the finalists, were a team which thought that they had solved a problem with a particular function for refrigerators, only to find out that real consumers just didn’t understand it. “They created a new problem instead of solving it,” says Johanna.

Plans for the future

“The Giengen heads of department want to do this award on a regular basis now,” says Johanna. Pawel says, “the plan is for another team to take this over and they will start marketing, with the marketing material we produced, at the end of September/beginning of October. There are actually a lot of posters still up in Giengen, we’re also hoping that the award will expand to other sites,” he continues.

Find out more about how BSH is making steps to foster further innovation here.

  • Niels Liengaard 03/26/2018

    It is a good thing to be open to failure. In order to strengthen Innovation in BSH, I believe, however, that one of the biggest issues is that there is no formulated and ambitious "need" map to inspire the developers. Ideas are most frequently found if there is a challenge. Such a public map could also be a management tool to guide the mindset in a strategic direction. As is, ideas are mostly generated by ad-hoc problems in projects or by bright individuals with a creative mind - both may be very good, but have little to do with strategy. One suggestion could be to let all teams to come up with a list of fantastic things that would make their module items perfect. Then make the lists easily accessible for all and evaluate them (and the hopefully incoming ideas) on a regular basis.