supercharging innovation at mourik, a dutch civil engineering company
from 2020 until 2022, i had the opportunity to support mourik’s board of directors on how to facilitate and structure innovation. the goals were to ensure a more proactive mindset, a higher pace, and a better ‘return on innovation’ for the organization.
the key was to bring an outside-in perspective combined with a lot of hands-on innovation experience. the approach was both having our heads in the clouds and keeping our feet on the ground. my role was guiding and facilitating rather than actively leading an innovation team. this also includes scouting for interesting, impactful innovation (sustainable only) to build or to invest in, and taking the necessary steps to bring these to life.
a personalized innovation strategy
to come up with a good strategy and implementation plan, i immersed myself in the organization for about two months. meeting a lot of employees, paying onsite visits, and having many conversations with management. this resulted in five key themes for their innovation strategy and a set of guiding principles:
operationalizing the innovation strategy
to operationalize the innovation strategy, the executive team was asked to create a roadmap. for this exercise, we designed innovation cards; one set about ‘getting to results’ and the other set about ‘creating the right context’. we asked them to plot these cards in a timeline, based on their experience and insights. this way they created a roadmap for each division, within the broader context that was determined by the board of directors and without skipping the people and organizational side that is crucial to make innovation stick.
‘getting to results’ cards
‘creating the right context’ cards
keeping the feet on the ground ...
we held sessions with the workforce to listen to their ideas and suggestions.
we experimented with new technologies to solve urgent issues, eg due to covid-19 a limited amount of workers were allowed on site we tested with augmented reality to bring colleagues virtually on-site (‘eyes on site’- concept).
... while having the heads in the cloud
we introduced the innovation funnel and together with an expert from my network we scouted over 80 potential new ventures for mourik. we deep-dived into four of them, investigated their fit with the organization’s strategy, and handed them over to the responsible people in the business to operationalize and commercialize them.
energizing and inspiring the workforce
one of my roles was to bring an outside-in perspective and open up their minds. i had really nice, open, and honest conversations with many employees and leaders within mourik. these inspired them to think differently and helped me to really understand their organizational culture and design the interventions needed to bring change.
opening up to the outside world
within mourik a lot of cool things were going on, but not many people knew about it. as innovation and sustainability go together, we created a series of vlogs to show all these innovations.
a nice side effect was that also mourik employees got a better overview of all the work in the different divisions, which made them extremely proud to work for the organization.
one of the key concerns both management and employees identified was the lack of connections. we designed several smaller interventions that we called ‘culture hacks’. for instance, we created a whatsapp group for everyone who was interested in connecting with colleagues. over 100 people joined and many ideas, insights, questions, and things they were working on in their daily job were exchanged.
in this assignment, i was the sparring partner of the board of directors. together we designed a tailor-made approach to innovation for mourik. want to learn more about this assignment and explore how we could collaborate?