Hacking Innovation: Stories from the trenches

A close encounter with innovation managers in the Netherlands.

Can you manage innovation? Large Dutch companies seem to think so, judging by the number of innovation managers who have been hired in the past two years.

But how do you handle the managing of semi ideas and vague plans whose value have yet to be proven? How do you deal with the torrent of normal-is-best, as seen in traditional companies? Who are these corporate troublemakers? What drives them and what are their biggest challenges?

In this monthly interview series with journalist Christel Don, we meet innovation managers in the Netherlands. Research by Martijn Pillich and Rick le Roy for Hike One | new digital product designers.

Stories from the trenches

Flemming Morth (Royal Swinkels Family Brewers) “It's often the small hacks that make the finest innovations.”

Family businesses have more flexibility to do things differently. They can decide to take a bit more risks and invest in innovative and long-term projects. Read further.

Chris Verstegen (ProRail) “Breaking patterns keeps you healthy.”

Breaking patterns and a fearlessness towards taboos are what typify his approach. “If you want to create a healthy innovation culture, you need to break off structures.” Read further.

Jan van de Wouw (Royal IHC) “If there’s no data, nothing happens.”

A dredger is quite a piece of innovation. Until recently, innovation mainly revolved around the thinking of new physical products. But this all changed towards the end of last year. Read further.

Kirsten van Engelenburg (Wolters Kluwer) "I’m a real tigress when it comes to process."

To this day, she’s characterised by her curiosity and love of books, although her 182-year-old current employer Wolters Kluwer, is no longer the traditional publisher from her youth. Read further.

Patrick Goldsteen (Talpa Radio and JUKE) “If we don’t make mistakes, we’re not experimenting.”

These days, it’s quite something to run such a big company that manages so many forms of media. Read further.

Martijn van Welie (Philips) “Innovation isn’t a magic word, it’s working really hard.”

Most books and methods often imply that if you follow a determined path, things will work out. In practice, it’s more complex. Read further.

Marjolein Boer: “I always think: Where in the harbor can I be a partner in crime?”

Our future vision is CO2-neutral, fully digitalised port, and innovation is one of the means to get there. Read further.

Duncan de Vries (NIBC): “We can’t predict where we’ll be three years from now”

Our innovation lab is not an island with people working on innovation isolated somewhere in a closed-off room. Read further.

Hugo Raaijmakers (ING): “Innovation is a cornerstone, but it must be measurable”

With PACE, all our bank departments use a startup method that allows them to respond better and faster to today's high speed. Read further.

Nataly Katan: “I keep telling people to think of the day after tomorrow”

Are big companies as capable of innovation as startups? "Yes, if they want to be," says Katan. Read further.

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