The world is spinning around faster and faster. New ideas are in demand. Sometimes they grow like tender seedlings, other times with the force of a rocket. We talked to Dr. Oliver Reichel-Busch, Head of Idea Management at Lufthansa Group, and asked him how Lufthansa finds, evaluates, and gets ideas into shape for implementation and value creation. Around 30 Lufthansa subsidiaries participate in idea management in Germany. The biggest customers are Lufthansa Airline, Lufthansa Technik, and Lufthansa Cargo. Discover out how KLU contributes with its research in this interview…
You’re an idea manager. Sounds great. What do you actually do and what qualities and skills help you do so?
Dr. Oliver Reichel-Busch: Idea management is about using our employees’ expertise beyond their scope of work. We know they’re always coming up with new ideas because technological change will offer many opportunities.
An idea managers’ task is to create an appropriate framework for submitting, assessing, and implementing ideas. This means both designing and supporting the process and fostering an innovation-friendly culture. We try to imbue every division with the spirit that all ideas are welcome. Everyone in the team is very open towards new ideas and is – variously specialized – well connected in the company. This helps to route good ideas to the right evaluators and decision makers. We also further develop idea management as a whole for Lufthansa Group.
How did Lufthansa Group conceive of idea management? How does your department work and with what goals? And how do you attain your goal (from idea to implementation in the organization)?
Dr. Oliver Reichel-Busch: At its heart, the benefit of idea management at Lufthansa is generating savings through employees’ ideas. Submitters of implemented ideas used to be celebratedin our staff magazine. Even the bonus they received was published. For data protection reasons we do that a bit differently today. But today we also look at idea management’s EBIT contribution. Prior to the COVID crisis, idea management had a mid-range two-digit contribution in the millions to the LH Group’s EBIT. That’s tremendous and shows that idea management is worthwhile.
Now we don’t work with paper and mailboxes anymore but with intelligent online systems. This makes it possible to survey a multitude of key figures. Our focus is a short reaction time for newly submitted ideas and to keep the backlog of ideas in process low.
In a recently launched project, KLU will analyze data from Lufthansa’s idea management. What are you expecting? And how will you collaborate with science?
Dr. Oliver Reichel-Busch: We’re currently in a review and analysis phase of the potential topics. Our aim is to improve the Lufthansa Group’s idea management. This will be achieved through a sound data analysis that potentially reveals certain patterns. Possible questions, for example, are the reasons why processing is delayed and what incentives or actions by change management can prevent these delays.
In three words, what does KLU mean to you?
Dr. Oliver Reichel-Busch: Logistics, research, modern
About Lufthansa Group
The Lufthansa Group is an aviation group with operations worldwide. With more than 110,000 employees, the Lufthansa Group generated revenue of around 13.6 billion euros in fiscal year 2020. The Lufthansa Group is composed of the segments Network Airlines, Eurowings and Aviation Services. Aviation Services comprises the segments Logistics, MRO, Catering and Additional Businesses and Group Functions. The latter also include Lufthansa AirPlus, Lufthansa Aviation Training and the IT companies. All segments occupy a leading position in their respective markets.
Source: Company website
- Interview series: KLU Talks Business
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... with Carmen Schmidt, Logistics Initiative Hamburg (22 April, 2020)
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Copyright for all photos: Lufthansa Group