Lorenz Wyss, head of ideation at Swiss Post and the recent recipient of a prestigious international idea management award, talks about the major transformation efforts the 60,000-strong company has undertaken, and how Qmarkets’ innovation platform has helped manage and guide the process.
Swiss Post is a diversified group with five main subsidiaries – PostMail, PostLogistics, Swiss Post Solutions, PostFinance and PostBus – operating in communications and logistics, retail financial services, and the passenger transport market. As a company with a 168-year long history, Swiss Post strives to develop a contemporary company culture with an innovative spirit and engaged employees.
In 2011, Swiss Post implemented Qmarkets’ full configurable enterprise-grade Q-max innovation software for their employee innovation program. The program was designed to implement innovation challenge ideas, action them efficiently, and allow staff from different departments to contribute insights in a structured environment. In this interview, Mr. Wyss shares the results.
Qmarkets: What were the main reasons for Swiss Post to embark on an innovation initiative?
Lorenz Wyss: The rapid changes in technology create a future full of opportunities but also market unpredictability. Our aim was to generate strategies to not only weather any such potential changes but also to be ahead of the curve.
We have employees working in hundreds of locations, serving diverse clients in different capacities, facing their own unique challenges and opportunities. A lot of feedback and ideas were going unnoticed because of the decentralized nature of our operations. We needed to create a hub for corporate innovation, to streamline the good ideas and leverage them for our collective benefit. This, we believed, would provide us with the competitive edge we were seeking.
We needed a robust, comprehensive platform that could evolve and easily adapt to our future needs. So, we looked for a highly scalable and flexible platform. Qmarkets offered a modular composition that could cater to different campaigns, big and small.
QM: Can you tell us about your decision-making process for choosing the innovation management company you wanted to partner with?
LW: Even though at the time we were mostly interested in allowing idea submissions from our employees for process improvement and waste reduction, we knew we needed a robust, comprehensive platform that could evolve and easily adapt to our future needs. So, we looked for a highly scalable and flexible platform. Qmarkets offered a modular composition that could cater to different campaigns, big and small. I liked that ideas could be rated, tagged and archived.
But we needed more than that. Because Swiss Post employees speak four languages, multilingual functionality was a must. Keeping our own branding was also important to us, so we needed thorough customization. Qmarkets offered all these, plus I must mention that the pricing was very attractive.
QM: You recently received an international award that recognizes your employee innovation program. Can you tell us about it?
LW: We are a big company and thanks to the Qmarkets platform we managed to implement modern structures that provide our departments with innovative spirit, entrepreneurial freedom and the zeal to contribute. Zentrum für Ideen- und Innovationsmanagement recognized our efforts and awarded us with their international Idea Management award. They were especially impressed with our Q-kaizen and Postidea platforms, and that employees could submit ideas on their mobile phones as well.
But our international involvement goes beyond this. At the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London, I presented our experience with Qmarkets in a session titled, “Chocolate, clocks and the postal service: Disrupting stereotypes.” In business, all dreams have deadlines; I shared our experience in turning such dreams into realities.
QM: What are some dreams that turned into realities for Swiss Post?
LW: In June of last year, we began testing the use of fully-electric self-driving buses in the city of Sion. We are responsible for the whole operation, and it’s our aim to make places that are not serviced by public transportation today connected.
Then in March 2017, we began testing the delivery of laboratory samples using autonomous drones in the city of Lugano.
With Postidea, our idea management system, we will focus even more on connecting our employees and enhance the Intrapreneurship through an empowered collaboration.
QM: If we are to look at internal changes at Swiss Post, what was the impact of the Qmarkets platform on the employees and the company culture?
LW: We were able to create a culture of active engagement. Our main Postidea platform has helped to create an open spirit towards innovation. Our integrated and unique subsystems achieved specific innovation goals, such as successful insight scouting through Q-scout, business plan innovation challenge ideas, and best practices sharing through Q-kaizen.
QM: How do you incentivize users to submit ideas for the employee innovation program?
LW: We offer monetary awards and online recognition. Our top 30 innovators get to attend special VIP events which could be anything from a golf tournament to visiting an interesting venue.
We were able to create a culture of active engagement. Our main Postidea platform has helped to create an open spirit towards innovation. Our integrated and unique subsystems achieved specific innovation goals, such as successful insight scouting through Q-scout, business plan innovation challenge ideas, and best practices sharing through Q-kaizen.
QM: How do you view the future of innovation at Swiss Post?
LW: Within a very short time, innovation has become a survival skill for us, a core discipline for both short and long-term success. We intend to enhance existing platforms such as Postidea, create new campaigns and collaborate with other companies such as relevant startups. Innovation has become a daily activity for us, and it’ll continue to be so in the future with the help of Qmarkets.
About Lorenz Wyss:
Wyss has worked at the Swiss Post Development and Innovation unit for six years, helping identify applicable ideas and expand them into new business areas. Under his leadership, Swiss Post began leveraging the innovative capacity of 60,000 employees, building bridges between different departments, and creating company-wide projects that are a first of their kind.
To discover how you can develop a groundbreaking employee innovation program for your enterprise, or find out more about the robust features of the Qmarkets platform, contact us today!