‘For Us, Innovation Is a Real Value’: Employees Execute Their Business Ideas With This 10% Program

Sponsored by Siemens Digital Industries Software

Tovi Yadi

Image courtesy of Siemens Digital Industries Software.

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Fairygodboss
June 23, 2024 at 8:37PM UTC

Looking for a company that supports employee innovation and creativity? If so, Siemens Digital Industries Software may be the place for you. Siemens Digital Industries Software believes that it’s important for companies to empower their employees to take initiative and explore ideas outside of their “official” job scope. 

To turn this belief into action, Tovi Yadin, Innovation Solutions Manager, launched the 10% project. This project allows employees to dedicate 10% of their time to developing new ideas and projects that are removed from their daily work.

The 10% project has resulted in a number of key benefits for employees, including empowering them to execute their own ideas, explore wider technical capabilities and work with more people in the organization. Due to its success and many benefits, Siemens Digital Industries Software plans to not only continue the project, but to expand it, too.

“I am also proud that we proved that, for us, innovation is a real value, and the company is practically investing in it, and not leaving it as only wishful thinking,” says Yadin. We talked to Yadin to learn more about this project, and its benefits, both for the company and their employees.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role and what were you doing previously?  

My current job is to lead innovation at Siemens. My job can be divided into two main areas. 

  1. Encourage and spread innovation among the Siemens business units (the 10% project is part of this role). 

  2. Collaborate with startups and organizations outside of Siemens in order to bring advances/innovative technologies and products into Siemens.

I’ve been working in this role for one year and three months. In my previous role, I was leading a business unit in Siemens, with a focus on software products for the electronics manufacturing industry.

Can you describe what the 10% project is and how it benefits Siemens employees? 

The 10% project is an initiative that allows employees to dedicate 10% of their time to implementing new ideas that are not included in their daily work. Ideas should be aligned with the company business and strategy.

Submitted ideas can be for a full product, a proof-of-concept (POC) or even just a research task. The scope of such a project should not take longer than six to nine months, and employees work on their ideas on Thursdays, every second week. There is an advisory management panel that assists employees with their ideas (fine tuning the business value, scoping the project, finding partner-customers, etc).

This initiative was initiated in companies like Google and M3, and I decided to introduce it inside Siemens nine months ago.

The initiative’s contribution for employees is amazing. It:

  • Empowers employees to raise their own ideas and execute them.

  • Builds the future of the company portfolio and brings innovative ideas to life.

  • Allows employees to explore wider technical capabilities.

  • Allows employees to work with various people in the organization, including those who are not part of their organic teams.

  • Exposes developers to the full business and marketing journey.

What inspired Siemens Digital Industries Software to create the 10% project?

In one of the employee surveys that we were running, we got feedback that employees sometime feel that:

  • They do not have enough options to expand their technology skills.

  • It is hard for them to get a feeling of direct impact on the business.

We assumed that by allowing employees to dream their own business dream and implement it by themselves, it will address both concerns.

Also — as a company, Siemens believes that “if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”. If we want to stay competitive in our business, we must encourage people to think out of the box and bring new ideas. The 10% project is definitely supporting this.

What were some specific positive outcomes from this project, such as successful employee projects and/or statistics on engagement and approval?

We are now running nine different ideas in parallel. Some are implemented by a single person, and some by a team.

Three ideas are already completed: one of them introduced a new product to our customers, one of them is an internal tool for improving work efficiency and one of them was a pilot/proof of concept of a new product to a new market, which will now be included in the R&D pipeline.

During the project, people were exposed to new technologies and performed a full business journey by creating business analyses, market research and implementation/QA for their own idea. Employees also had a chance to work with teammates with whom they are not working regularly.

And, as another nice outcome, we were surprised that not only people from R&D joined the initiative, but rather ideas were raised and implemented by the Marketing members, Product Owners and Customer Support.

What do other people at Siemens Digital Industries Software have to say about the 10% project?

Kobi, from product management, used the opportunity to perform a business evaluation of an adjacent market. “I never got to free the time for this,” he says. “If this will eventually turn into a new product, I will be very happy!”

Alex, from the R&D team, decided to enable part of a legacy product over a SAAS platform. “For me,” he said, “this created an opportunity to try a new technology and also collaborate with new people in the organization”

What are you most proud of about the 10% project?

I am proud that the project succeeded in: 

  • Empowering people with new technologies.

  • Solving customer pains.

  • Improving work efficiency.

  • Opening the door to new markets.  

  • Building new architecture and GTM for existing products.

  • But more than all: building the future of our portfolio.

I can also say that this project did not prevent people from completing their regular work commitments. We figured out that when people do things that they like, they find extra time to do them.

I am also proud that we proved that, for us, innovation is a real value, and the company is practically investing in it and not leaving it as only wishful thinking.

Do you plan to continue or expand on the 10% project in the future?

Yes. We are now in the process of expanding it into new business units within Siemens SW.

Also, I keep seeing that, at the beginning, only a few people applied for the project, but, along the way, more and more people saw the ideas that were processed and started to submit their own new ideas.

Do you think other companies would benefit from similar initiatives?

Yes, absolutely. Companies that would like to stay competitive, that would like to keep their employees satisfied and updated, and that believe in innovation, should absolutely adopt it. One side comment: when we interview new employees for the company and notify them about this project, they say that this is a deal maker for them accepting the new job, as it shows something extremely positive about the company.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

Only the fact that I would be happy to assist anyone from any other company who wishes to start this initiative in their own company. Feel free to contact me.

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