Out of Box – Out of College

Dec. 6, 2013
Innovation in SMEs can be inexpensive and effective and fun. Preferably innovation should be an out –of –box process. SMEs tackle challenges with students.

SMEs, if having some kind of focus on innovation, have established formal processes, probably because a management consultant convinced the owner to do so.

Innovation can be inexpensive and effective and fun though, without strict processes. Preferably innovation should be an out –of –box process. Luckily SMEs in Europe are using increasingly students or fresh graduates to tackle challenging problems inside the companies or customer related challenges.

I remember my first job as an R&D manager. While we were solving technical problems, quite often I heard someone experienced professional from my team to say: “ We have tried this before”!

This is a brainstorm killer!

An SME using more college students or graduates will increase its chances to have truly novel ideas that are even cost efficient to implement.

Even to a so-called we-have-tried-this-before-problems, a young person has a different angle and things can still work out.

All in the company benefit from these fresh ideas and the young person gets invaluable experience.

The company must allow these fresh employees to be really “nosy” though.

My first boss in R&D told me: “Do it first – apologize afterwards” (if there is a need).

Perhaps the student is your future high performing employee or manager.

About the Author

R. Paul Vuolle Blog | CEO

R. Paul Vuolle's blog "The SME's Guide to European Manufacturing," has moved. You'll find his latest ideas and commentary on SME European Manufacturing on IndustryWeek's IdeaXchange. 

You'll find more articles written by Paul at http://www.industryweek.com/blog/smes-guide-european-manufacturing.

R. Paul Vuolle, CEO of Bellevue SME Advisors GmbH in Switzerland and Germany, works actively with small and medium (SME) size manufacturing companies in Europe in SCM/Outsourcing, logistics, turnaround and restructuring, market expansion, as well as succession planning and financing. He also frequently supports technology start- ups in building up their business. 

Paul has over 20 years operational industry experience in engineering, electronics, industrial automation, building automation, investment goods like electrical drives, automatic test & measurement systems, HV Transformer production systems. During his career he has worked in manufacturing industries in supply chain management, outsourcing, logistics, production, R&D and successfully selling to international large key accounts. Paul has also run a sizeable amount of M&A transactions in numerous countries around the world.

He has built up his experience working in various leadership positions and functions in large corporations, such as ABB, and having executive positions in medium-size family companies and as a technology entrepreneur.

Paul is MSc. E.E. from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich as well as BSc.E.E. from Helsinki Institute of Technology.

Paul is a long time member of IEEE and of its Industrial Applications Society.

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