Awarding Innovation (Part 1) – Interview with CHRO: “What never ceases to amaze me is the quality of our work”

December 10, 2020

Stephan Butscher at World Meeting 2019

It is an exciting time at Simon-Kucher as the end of 2020 draws near and we are busy preparing for our legendary World Meeting, where over 1,400 colleagues come together for knowledge exchange and networking. We caught up with CHRO Stephan Butscher to find out what he most looks forward to on the big day: the Simon-Kucher Innovation and Special Sales Innovation Awards. 

Stephan, our two Innovation Awards – the Simon-Kucher Innovation Award, and the Special Sales Innovation Award – have become an integral part of our World Meeting. Can you tell us about the awards?

First, I can honestly say that every year, this is the part of the event that I look forward to the most. Colleagues have an opportunity to present their innovative work and it is always a privilege to meet the finalists and present the awards.

This year will now be the tenth Simon-Kucher Innovation award, and the fourth Sales Excellence Innovation Award. Back when we first introduced the Innovation Award in 2010, our aim was to bring transparency to all of the new methods, approaches, and tools developed by our associates in the course of client projects and share them with our associates all over the world. In 2017, we added the Sales Innovation Award in line with our growth in the sales excellence space, also giving this topic a better platform and more visibility across the business.

The most innovative submissions are presented at our annual World Meeting, and the entire company gets involved.

Innovation Award World Meeting

Audience at the Simon-Kucher World Meeting 2019

Who can submit an innovation?                                   
With the exception of partners, any individual or team at Simon-Kucher can submit an innovation. The key requirement is to be truly innovative and include elements that will be useful in future projects. Specifically, we are looking for new ideas, problem-solving, improved method and tools, and elements of digitalization. Submissions must also show the impact that the innovation had for the client, be it financial or non-financial, and how this can be transferred to other clients, projects, and industries.

How are the submissions assessed and how is the final decision made?
An international jury of partners evaluates all submissions and selects the top three teams for each award. The associates in the audience at the World Meeting then see the teams present their innovation and select the final winner via an interactive vote. So the result is truly decided by the people of Simon-Kucher.

It is also encouraging to see an increasing number of submissions that involve collaboration between different industries and countries, as well as a strong tendency toward digitalization topics. That is why this year we have invited our Digital Solutions experts to participate in the jury, reflecting the importance of digital innovation in our consulting work.

What is in it for the winners?
There is a substantial monetary reward for each of the winning teams, and of course a moment of fame. Receiving a medal on stage in front of such a large audience isn’t something you do every day. Even I am taken aback by our growth, despite presenting the award at the World Meeting every year.

Due to the pandemic, the world meeting will be virtual this year – but it will still be a very exciting moment. Our company has continued to grow and the audience will be bigger than ever.

Some people refer to winning the awards as “fifteen minutes of fame” but actually, the recognition doesn’t just end with the event. The teams also receive a lot of good exposure within our company and all of the finalists are invited to share their innovation in a series of webinars. I have also heard from some participants that their submission led to further opportunities and leads within Simon-Kucher because colleagues remembered their presentation and reached out to them for collaboration.

Innovation Award World Meeting 2

The tension increases: Nominees just after entering the stage

What has impressed you the most about the innovation awards to date?
Over the last ten years we have received hundreds of submissions and what never ceases to amaze me is the quality of our work. I always look forward to reading every submission and discovering all that we have accomplished throughout the year.

What will Simon-Kucher be looking in submissions this year? Any advice for the teams?
Since first introducing the award, we have seen the teams’ presentations evolve from static PowerPoint slides to sophisticated graphics, animations, voiceovers, and videos. This year, the meeting will be completely virtual and the finalists have the additional challenge of captivating an audience from behind their computer screens. So, what I really want to emphasize is this: while the special effects add an element of fun, keep the content and the value of the innovation in the spotlight. Really focus on the benefit of the innovation – for our company, our clients, and potential clients. If you present an idea that is relevant for everyone, regardless of industry, division, or country, everybody will stay tuned in and listen to what you have to say.

You want to get more insights? Read part 2 of “Awarding Innovation”! The winners 2019 talk about their experiences: “A boost of energy and motivation"

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