The Thinker's Club
Every company needs to innovate if it is to move forward. And every innovation starts with an idea. What could be better than collecting ideas from the people who know the company the best - the employees? Around 470,000 of these potential innovators work for Deutsche Post DHL in over 220 countries and territories, making the Group one of the largest employers in the world - and one of the biggest "think tanks".
The success of Idea Management at Deutsche Post DHL is the active engagement of the staff.
The world's leading logistics company uses Idea Management to tap into the ideas of its staff. It is a platform for employees to play an active role in the future development and innovative power of the Group by submitting their experiences and expertise. "We've created a classic win-win situation," said Günter Raffel, who heads up Idea Management at Deutsche Post DHL. "We are motivating our workforce, fostering communication between staff and management and simplifying the way we do business. Beyond that, by putting the ideas of our employees to work for us, we are increasing customer satisfaction and often considerably reducing costs."
Supporting Strategy 2015
Idea Management is a cross-divisional and cross-facility department, which collects the ideas and suggestions for improvement from employees around the world. The goal is to optimize processes and working conditions and improve the organizational structure. The "idea" here is to sustainably increase the efficiency and competitiveness of what is already today the world's leading postal and logistics group and play a very direct role in increasing the value of the company.
"For Idea Management to remain a success into the future, it's crucial that it is embedded in our Strategy 2015," said Raffel. The Group's Strategy 2015 aims to make the company the provider, employer and investment of choice for customers, employees and investors. Most of the suggestions from staff are about increasing the quality of the processes and work flows at Deutsche Post DHL and as such help the company reach its goals faster.
The success of Idea Management at Deutsche Post DHL is really the active engagement of the staff. With more than 214,000 suggestions submitted last year, theoretically nearly every second employee in the Group's 470,000 strong workforce submitted an idea or suggestion for improvement in 2011. And these ranged from the suggestion to set up a central printing station or simply an idea on what might better reduce glare on computer monitors. The fact that DPDHL implements a large number of the ideas underscores the quality of the suggestions coming in, and this motivates employees to keep submitting more. "In the past few years many excellent improvements at our company began at Idea Management," said Raffel. "Our colleagues recognize that their ideas help move the company forward. And that really impresses them. After all, our innovative strength helps ensure that we remain the world's leading postal and logistics group."
How Idea Management works
"An important part of the success of Idea Management is making it as easy as possible to submit an idea," said Raffel. "That way people are less likely to hesitate and we ensure that we don't miss out on any ideas." Deutsche Post DHL uses the features of Web 2.0 for this. The Intranet-based Idea Management platform allows employees to submit suggestions quickly and easily. An essential feature of the system is enabling users to interact and discuss an idea. For example, staff members can give their thoughts on and discuss a suggestion and by doing so develop it further together. Communication takes place in real time so that submitters get quick feedback and the appropriate departments are able to review the suggestions without delay.
Idea Management was initiated by Deutsche Post DHL for the first time in Germany in 1999. Since then DHL has joined in about 30 additional countries from Europe, the Asia Pacific and Americas regions. This brings in ideas from lots of different cultures, allowing an exchange that cultivates them beyond borders. Staff members from around the world have the chance to learn from each other, success stories can multiply quickly and improvements can be easily transferred from one country to the next.
Employees honored for their ideas
In 2010 Deutsche Post DHL received the award for having Germany's best idea management from the Center of Idea Management at the independent German Institute for Idea and Innovation Management (Zentrum Ideenmanagement des unabhängigen Deutschen Instituts für Ideen- und Innovationsmanagement). However, the Group honors its own "thinkers" as well. Every year the "Thinker's Club" gathers to present awards for the best ideas. And when the company's most creative thinkers get together, it seems they don't just chat about the weather. "Often enough we've found that the first ideas of the next year were sparked at the party that followed the Thinker's Club award ceremony," said Raffel with a smile.