Ralf Hustadt (Telindus)

“Learn from your mistakes and just keep on trying”

26 Juin 2018 Interview par Paperjam Club
“Thomas Edison was once asked how he coped with the frustration of failures when he invented the lightbulb. His answer was ‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.’” (Photo: Telindus)

As part of the ‘10x6 Business Innovation’ organised by the Paperjam Club on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018, one of the speakers, Ralf Hustadt (Telindus), explains its vision of the innovation levers concept.

What are the levers that companies can – and must – use to engage in innovation initiatives?

“The true answer to this would probably be ‘it depends’, but that would not be very helpful. I would rephrase the question to ‘What are the new levers for innovation nowadays?’
With the omnipresent digitisation, customers expect instant experience. We are clearly moving more and more from products to user experience.
If a company wants to innovate, the topic does not have to be what new features an existing product needs, but why a customer buys my product? And how I can enhance that experience? This might be disruptive and change the way the company does business completely, but then, the Stone Age did certainly not end because people were running out of stones.

To give an example: People want to listen to songs and watch movies. Owning or renting a physical collection of CDs or DVDs is not mandatory for that.
So you need to take a critical look at your domain of business from a customer’s perspective and think about the core experience. Start with design thinking!

What is missing in Luxembourg’s innovation ecosystem to make it more efficient?

“I think Luxembourg is an excellent place for start-up that need a little bit of funding just to get started. The same is probably true for ‘small’ ideas within companies. The environment supports this and funds are available.

For the funding of larger and long-term projects on the other side, it can be quite tedious. If you want to build something ‘big’ and look for internal funding, the limited pool of potential customers within the country can turn the business case from black to red quite easily. This makes it quite hard to gain the critical mass for going international.

In order to bypass that, we either need a VC culture which is closer to Silicon Valley with its big bets or we need to go much more into the international business, where potential markets are much easier to access. One way of doing this (and this is already done in some ways) is to promote stable legal frameworks for new domains, which make it attractive for foreign companies to start here.

How to ensure that failure constitutes a springboard and not an obstacle to an innovation process?

“Thomas Edison was once asked how he coped with the frustration of failures when he invented the lightbulb. His answer was ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

Most people understand this in the sense that you must learn from your mistakes and just keep on trying. From an individual person’s point of view this is for sure true, but from a company’s perspective there is more to it. Many European companies focus very much on the failure aspect rather than the lessons learned. In addition, failure in innovation is mistaken for underachievement.

So if a person, a department, or a company fails a couple of times, it usually leaves a stigma. As a consequence, topics with a higher likelihood of failure are avoided regardless the level of competency available.

What we need, is to foster a cultural change with a shifted focus from failure avoidance to competency gain.”

You can register for the «10x6 Business Innovation» on the Paperjam Club website.