maandag 22 april 2013

You miss 100 % of the shots you don't take...

How do you grow in these times of crisis? How do you find ways to innovate?
Can all the answers to your challenges still be found inside your organization?
Or can you find inspiration in working with others around a common goal?
Some learnings from Athlon Carlease and FostPlus, our guests at the open innovation workshop held March 25th.

In a conservative market that tends to commodity such as the leasing sector, 'Success happens when preparedness meets opportunity’, according to Erwin Ollivier, CEO at Athlon Carlease/Lage Landen. He addressed the challenge to add value to his brand and go beyond the price discussion by becoming a thought leader on green mobility. Athlon made a difference by partnering with others in the mobility market such as the NMBS/SNCB, VIM and many more. New services and products were co-created and clients were found to launch pilot projects to learn what worked and what didn’t.

Most of these services have not generated commercial success yet, but they have definitely helped us position the Athlon brand as the number one mobility provider in our sector. 30 % of our new clients have signed up with us because of the mere fact that we actually offer these mobility mix products, developed in co-creation with partners. We gained enormous momentum and credibility amongst the mobility community. Press has picked up on our offering as well with extensive coverage in national papers and TV and green mobility solutions is our clear USP in the market today. Other stakeholders with innovative ideas on green mobility now come to us spontaneously. We could never have achieved this by ourselves.'

Needless to say an optimist attitude is key in open innovation. When you develop partnerships with other organizations, a common goal is a key factor of success. Take some time to define your main challenge and think about what you are looking for in a partnership and what you are willing to offer yourself. Once you define the needs, it will be easier to find partners that can add pieces to your puzzle.

You cannot find new potential partners by staying in your comfort zone and inside your company walls. But real innovation power starts inside the DNA of an organization.We have taken innovation to the next level inside Athlon as well, with innovation bootcamps. We invite inspiring speakers to open up our people’s minds. But there is no magic formula. You need to focus on the people inside your company that are innovation minded. As a leader, the most important value you can add is to inspire them, give them time to develop new ideas. We already see new talent coming in that is attracted by our innovation culture. Open innovation is essentially about your company culture. If it’s not at the heart, it will never work. Once it is, you will find the people you need to make it happen, inside and outside your company.’, says Erwin Ollivier.

At FostPlus, working with partners is an essential part of the game. Founded in 1994, this private organization promotes, coordinates, and finances the selective collection, sorting, and recycling of household packaging waste in Belgium.

Take a look at this video:

It is a successful partnership between 5000 companies producing & selling household products, intermunicipal authorities, collectors, sorting centra, recyclers and material organisations. The common goal of all these partners is to make sure 80 % of all household packaging waste is recycled, as foreseen in the Belgian law. ‘Gathering all partners around our common goal in the middle of the debate on ecotax was not always easy. Moving from a purely public approach to a public-private partnership where private companies also have an important role to play, required a real mind shift. Especially in the startup years, we spent the bulk of our time in personal talks with all stakeholders, understanding everyone’s needs and making sure the partnership was a real win for all involved. Needless to say that a ‘can do’ mentality made a real difference here. Thanks to the positive voluntarist mindset of the first 50 companies that started FostPlus, we made it happen', explains Johan Goossens, Director Business & Marketing.

FostPlus is a great example of a multistakeholder partnership around a common goal that creates added value for all stakeholders. Thanks to the approach of FostPlus, Belgium is best in class in Europe with 94 % of all households recycling their household packaging waste. Private companies take up their societal responsibility in waste recycling and avoid the much talked about ecotax, public authorities find a way to split the bill, consumers have a clear code of conduct, and the environment wins. As of this summer, FostPlus will take on the new challenge of household waste recycling for companies, as the law in Flanders has made it mandatory. Brussels and Wallonia are expected to follow soon.

Did you like this article? Then you might be interested to join us for the next ‘business & innovation’ workshop on April 29th. We will focus on open innovation in the non-profit sector. Olivier Vanden Eynde, CEO of Close the Gap and Lily Deforce, CEO Max Havelaar/FairTrade will share their experiences and tips. Find more about it here.

Places are limited, so register now here.

You can also follow us on @bizzobe

Elke Jeurissen, Stakeholder Engagement Expert

twitter @elkejeu

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