With 410,000 employees and $86 billion in annual revenue, Bosch is the world’s largest supplier of auto parts. The German company also manufactures an array of other products — from air conditioning systems to power saws to coffee makers.
Uwe Kirschner’s department at Bosch is laser-focused on all topics related to innovation — that includes business model innovation and corporate entrepreneurship. In the last year, the team has improved its validation engine, the Bosch Accelerator program, and enabled teams to participate remotely from anywhere around the globe. His team also won an InnoLead Impact Award in 2019.
Kirschner is the Vice President of Bosch Innovation Consulting, as well as a Partner for its Business Model Innovation Group. In a recent interview with InnoLead, he shared his team’s biggest accomplishments from 2020, as well as advice he wished he knew when he first joined the innovation sphere.
Where do you sit within the organization? Who do you report to?
We are part of the company’s in-house consultancy Bosch Management Consulting, where we drive all topics related to innovation, business model innovation, and corporate entrepreneurship. Utilizing an evidence-based innovation approach combined with best-in-class frameworks and metrics, we have tested more than 200 internal innovation projects jointly with project teams to determine their market attractiveness and scalability potential. We report directly to senior executives at the C-level.
What are one or two of your team’s biggest accomplishments from 2020?
First, we completely refined and significantly improved our internal validation engine called the Bosch Accelerator Program. For example, we conducted a case study in cooperation with UC Berkeley which outlines how large companies can scale innovation for strategic advantage. Additionally, we completely digitalized the content of the program allowing us to deliver it remotely worldwide. Finally, due to considerable external interest in our activities, we have prepared our service to be offered not only internally but also to a select few external corporate partners. We will begin our external activities in 2021, and we are really looking forward to all the challenges ahead of us. We also recently launched our website.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started in the innovation realm?
One of the key things we always refer back to when it comes to innovation is that you cannot pick winners, particularly when venturing beyond the core business of the company. We have learned that it does not make sense to put all your eggs in one basket, tying up too much capital for too long in single projects with a low probability of success. In fact, quite the opposite is the truth — we have to set up a diverse innovation funnel consisting of many small projects and experiments. Doing so, we can drastically de-risk projects, resulting in savings in terms of both time and capital.
In fact, without this recognition and an evidence-based approach, an innovation funnel cannot work. That’s why our program utilizes best-in-class methods and metrics to enable teams to validate or invalidate their projects. We encourage all Bosch associates to be creative and innovative, as we help pursue the cutting-edge products and services of tomorrow.