18 March 2020

Rethinking and breaking with routines: A different take on co-creation workshops with our “InnoThursday”

“Thinking outside the box” means meeting challenges by changing our thinking patterns and looking at things from a fresh perspective. It is an approach we’ve learned to apply to our personal lives and one that businesses should use as well. But it’s easier said than done. InnoThursday can help!

Co-operation is key

Siemens Digital Industries launched the InnoThursday workshop format to actively promote a cultural change, both within the company and in our business relationships.

How does it work? We meet with our customers from various industries in a creative space and collaborate to develop new ways of thinking about and solving their pain points.

What do we need for that to happen? A constructive environment, plenty of tools that foster creativity, and open-minded employees.

The ingredients for a perfect InnoThursday:

  • Creative space: To break free of entrenched thinking patterns, we need a space that is very different from the participants’ daily work environments. Coworking spaces often serve this purpose quite well. The open spaces often feature a fancy design and offer plenty of room for creativity and an informal working atmosphere.
  • Creative tools: Scissors, glue, scenario components, and colored paper aren’t usually part of our office repertoire, but they are perfect for imaginative problem-solving. Think with your hands is the name of the game!
  • Casual Thursday: We want participants to be open to new, unusual ideas. This is the day we leave our business clothes in the wardrobe and wear what feels comfortable. We call each other by our first names so that everyone is seen and heard as an equal, no matter what roles we hold back at the office.

Unleash creativity

The aim of the InnoThursday is to work as a team to generate innovative solutions to customers’ concrete challenges. First, we must break free of established patterns and routines. The improvisational, creative nature of the workshops encourages participants to think outside the departmental box, let their minds wander, and not worry about looking lost.

The day’s schedule is shaped by the principles of Design Thinking: Understand – Ideate – Prototype – Test. Once all the workshop participants and moderators arrive at the location, the entire group discusses the customer’s challenges, assesses them, and selects a few to be addressed in small groups. After that the teams’ creative work begins. Siemens’ employees and our customers collaborate to develop possible solutions. A variety of creativity techniques are used to encourage the teams to brainstorm, generate ideas, and build scenarios. At this stage of the workshop, the motto is “anything is possible”. In the last stage of the teamwork session, the various groups use the tools and materials mentioned above to build or draw prototypes for their ideas. Finally, all participants come back together as one big group to present their results.

We might develop more specific goals for one or more of the ideas that same day. The participants then work towards them in the days and weeks following the workshop. Throughout the process and follow-up, Siemens remains in close contact with the customer, offering support. But some of the results may not be ready for implementation immediately. However, previous workshops have shown us that the process lays groundwork for a successful collaboration and business relationship between Siemens and our customers.

Impressive teamwork

If the papers, pens, and scenario components that were so neatly sorted in the morning are strewn across the tables at the end of the day, I take it as a good sign – creative juices were flowing and innovative ideas were born. It means that a significant cultural change has taken place and natural collaboration among equals has happened. I’m always fascinated to see the initial skepticism replaced by a healthy dose of openness for new ideas on days like that. Doesn’t matter if society, market requirements or technologies – everything is changing rapidly.

We as Siemens Digital Industries always have to adapt and learn. The InnoThursday greatly supports us to do so – together with our customers!

You want to learn more about our InnoThursday format or even want to organize one yourself? Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn: We are more than happy to help you!🚀

We have captured the highlights of our InnoThursday in an aftermovie. Watch it here.

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