Germany interview

Cultural change and new business models

At Roche Diagnostics Deutschland GmbH, digitization in sales is a joint journey of the organization that has already lasted some time. The "Digital Acceleration Program" in 2017 was the first initiative to unleash the energy of a wide range of digital initiatives. The Digital Acceleration Program has given impetus to a cultural change in sales and was a first opportunity to experiment with new ways of working. Since then, Roche Diagnostics Germany has conducted numerous hackathons and design sprints, launched a number of digital initiatives in marketing, sales and service, and formed a group of "Agile Partners" to support colleagues in agile ways of working. Since 2019, the Digital Business Lab has been driving selected initiatives in a structured, agile process. Jan Schreiber, Head of Digital Lab & Communication, introduces the new unit in an interview.

Digitization and agility continue to be the focus of sales. What does digitization actually mean for our daily work?

Jan Schreiber: The term digitization is currently used very often and with very different meanings. For us, digitization means translating data into actionable insights in order to create new value creation models with and for our customers. We have already launched our first products on the market within the Roche Group and are also working on various approaches in German sales.

I am proud of the variety of ideas we create, both large and small. Now we have to maintain this energy and focus on our digital strategy and user feedback. This is where our new Digital Business Lab comes in.

What exactly is the role of the Digital Business Lab?

Jan Schreiber: In the new unit, we are responsible for adapting the global digital strategy to the German market and driving digital projects fast and user-centered. Here we closely involve experts from our organization. This has the advantage that we can access their extensive knowledge and they can learn agile working methods and the development of digital products in exchange. At the same time, we support other teams with our methodical and technological knowledge, for example in discovering customer needs or evaluating external ideas such as start-ups.

Organisational learning also means cultural change. Which aspect is particularly important to you?

Jan Schreiber: It is important for me to make it clear that cultural change is not the job of a particular department, but of oneself and one's own attitude towards dealing with new things, but also with mistakes. The basis is a good basis of trust and openness to address even uncomfortable topics. Here we can already look back on several years of experience. Nevertheless, it is still not always easy and it requires courage and an honest interest to improve oneself but also to develop the company further.

Error culture is currently a very strained term. What does it mean to you?

Jan Schreiber: I prefer the term learning culture. If we really want to work on new topics, we can build on very little knowledge and experience. The aim of the Digital Business Lab is also to use hypotheses and attempts to build up this knowledge as quickly as possible, similar to research. The many innovations in our company's history could only come about through trial and error. When we experiment, some ideas don't work as well as we thought they would. Not just accepting this, but actively addressing failure as a possibility is an attitude in our organization that has developed in the last two years. As a manager, I also have a special role to play, being a role model by talking about my mistakes and failures, but above all about what I have learned.

A question at the end: What were your first digital experiences?

Jan Schreiber: My first memory of digitization was over 30 years ago and yet I already associate it with the incredible speed of technological development. I still remember how some of my friends in the mid 1980s started having Commodore 64 computers at home. I saved my pocket money to buy my own computer. When I had enough money, the C64 was already outdated and Commodore as a company did not exist anymore some time later. Still a very tangible example for me personally, how a company can quickly lose touch if it doesn't constantly innovate.

The interview was conducted by Rebecca Hallner.

Tags: Germany, Career Blog