Why Good Ideas need a Good Atmosphere

Porsche developer Uwe Reuter makes room for creativity.

Interactive and agile: Uwe Reuter (2nd from left) and his team of engineers and data scientists are working on the innovations of the future. Photo: Porsche Consulting

A Porsche 911 on a wet road. Spray shoots up around the tires. Acoustic sensors in the front wheelhouses detect the danger of hydroplaning. A message appears on the display to warn the driver, who activates Porsche Wet Mode to maintain the greatest possible degree of stability. Various driver assistance systems and settings automatically adapt to address the dangerous situation. This technology became available in spring 2019 in the eighth-generation Porsche icon. Innovations like this always have a long lead-up time. Years before Wet Mode entered series production, the idea behind it was put through feasibility tests by the chassis preliminary development department. Anyone who wants to know what a Porsche will be able to do in 2030 is advised to seek out Porsche’s innovation managers in Weissach near Stuttgart. Here is where Uwe Reuter and his team of engineers and data scientists work on innovations that could take a decade before entering mass production.
Reuter is convinced that innovative working methods enhance the innovative capacities of his approximately 30-member team. Design thinking, scrums, ideation workshops, communities, and hackathons are of course part of its repertoire but not enough to achieve an innovative working atmosphere. This was clear to Reuter’s team upon moving into a new building on the grounds of the Porsche Development Center in 2017. “We quickly realized that we could not work there the way we wanted and had to in order to fulfill our role as an engine for innovation,” he says. The classic layout of the offices and their furnishings seemed too rigid. So the team collaborated with Porsche Consulting and in just two weeks implemented immediate measures for a more flexible and productive workplace and developed a concept for restructuring the space.
The perfect work day for developers
“We started our two-week sprint with the question of what the perfect workday for developers should look like,” says Porsche Consulting’s Wolfgang Freibichler. An analysis of the starting situation revealed what changes were needed to reach this ideal state. How much time do team members spend at work stations, and how much in meetings? How many people take part in these meetings? How easy is it to concentrate on work in the office? After one day the developers had compiled all the facts. And they were astonishing. “Many desks were empty for hours because we often sit together in small teams,” says Reuter. “Half the individual shelf space went unused. It’s extremely important for innovation managers to work with their colleagues from other departments. Yet a constant stream of visitors is distracting for those who need to concentrate and work quietly on their own.”
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