Innovative thinking, agile working and trial & error
How start-up mentality can also help established companies in times of crisis
– a report by Thomas Fritz, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kentix.
The first lockdown put many medium-sized companies in a kind of shock paralysis. The decision-makers and project managers inevitably withdrew to the home office and tried to cope with the situation first: How do you keep the operation running from a distance? How does the family deal with this? These questions were the focus. Investments have been frozen, ideas postponed. Like many other companies, the coronavirus pandemic hit us from one day to the next.
Kentix is based in Idar-Oberstein in Rhineland-Palatinate with 45 employees. We are a specialist in holistic and scalable IoT solutions for the protection of business-critical infrastructures, from the individual server cabinet to data centers to the large server farms. We small and medium-sized enterprises are often accused of a certain inertia. This is not entirely plucked out of the air. According to a 2019 study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, 46 percent of German SMEs are classified as rather far removed from innovation. SMEs would have to invest more in innovations, otherwise they could lose their strong position.
At the beginning of the corona crisis, I saw scenes on television where simple control stands were set up in front of schools, shops and even in front of some residential buildings in China, consisting of wooden benches and tables. The inspectors held a temperature meter against their foreheads or wrists. Anyone who had too high a temperature had to be examined. But to control the temperature in this way seemed unreliable to me. I thought we might be able to do better. Driven by the idea of developing something that promotes a return to normal life, I remembered our start-up times, called my company’s development team together, and we got started. A few weeks later, the idea had become a product that will continue to be part of our portfolio beyond the crisis.
The management consultancy McKinsey recently asked the questions: What distinguishes organizations that demonstrate resilience in such a crisis? What does this resilience create? The consultants found a common denominator: agility. This refers to the ability to innovate through rapid reaction to market changes.
To put it simply, those companies that reawaken or re-establish a start-up mentality benefit. Because everyone who deals with innovation knows: The development of new products is characterized by uncertainties. So planning is difficult. There is no scheme that strictly specifies the process. The duration cannot be calculated either. In addition, decision-making processes within an established company are often slow. Successful start-ups, on the other hand, use their advantages: Small teams, short planning and feedback cycles, flexible and quick changes to current developments. This approach is also called agility.
Agility originally comes from software development. The beginnings go back to the 1950s. Today’s approaches are largely based on the Agile Manifesto that 17 software developers formulated in 2001 in Utah. One of the core principles is, “Build projects around motivated people. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to do their job.” In other words: Agile innovation depends above all on a motivated team. Another principle is to achieve the best possible result for the target group with the least possible effort, using available resources. We succeeded in doing this during the crisis.
About our Kentix CEO
Thomas Fritz is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kentix. In addition to Kentix’s strategic orientation, he is also responsible for product development. He holds a diploma in electrical engineering in Darmstadt and data communication in London and more than 25 years of experience as managing director and founder of various companies in the IT and network security industry.
We thank you Thomas Fritz for his insights as we continue to deploy Kentix Innovation here in the US. With emphasis on “REMOTE” our next generation of smart sensors provides even better monitoring, reporting and data trending, so that intelligent operational decisions and compliance are easily obtainable.