After hearing so much about Grundfos back in Singapore, we finally had the opportunity to visit the main headquarters in Denmark – the place where it all started and where the first Grundfos pump (“The Pig”) was created. The short tour around the headquarters gave us a glance into the history of Grundfos and also its tremendous change from a small company into an innovative, high tech big corporation today.
Here are the key learning points I took away from the Grundfos visit:
Importance of Innovation
There are millions of inventions out there, but only few truly can be considered as a successful innovation. Today, I learnt the important distinction between invention and innovation – innovation is coming up with an idea (invention) coupled with the ability to commercialize it. I learnt having an excellent invention is nothing if it cannot bring value to the customers (ie. no market value). Not only that, this value must be easily conveyed to and understand by the target audience so that they would be willing to pay for it. Innovation is simply the packaging of a product to meet the demands of the customers. It is an obvious concept yet people always tend to overlook it because they are too engross in focusing on the product itself. So, through this I have learnt that I should always think in the point of view of customers. What do they want? How will this new product enhance their lives? Are they willing to pay for it? These are questions that I must definitely assess before I can confidently launch a new product.
Creative & risk-taking culture
To stay ahead of other competitors, it is essential for Grundfos to continuously innovate and improve. New groundbreaking ideas can only be conceived within a corporate environment that encourages risk-taking and creativity. I learnt that one great way of doing so is to move towards a more entrepreneurial framework. Grundfos works very closely with entrepreneurs, playing a major role in supporting their start up and development. They also give their employees the opportunity to brainstorm for ideas and implement them. But of course, Grundfos also taught me the art of saying “no”. The speaker mentioned that with a pool of creative ideas, we must learn to reject 9 out of 10 of them, and only invest in one great idea that has the greatest potential. Also, it is difficult but critical to find the balance between a lean corporate structure and that of a very entrepreneurial one.
Grundfos taught me that the importance of being forward-looking and visionary. Since the beginning of Grundfos, Poul Due Jensen decided to be the very first pump company to integrate pumps with the electrionic portions (eg motors) in the production process. They are now again applying a very visionary strategy by looking at the big picture and see how Grundfos can fit in better to meet consumer’s growing demands. With that, they decided to expand into home systems technology that is definitely a risk but it may prove rewarding if the market is ready for it.
I learn that branding is extremely important to attract and retain talents as well as boost customer trust and support. I also learnt that a company’s brand shouldn’t be too narrow because it may restrict the company from expanding into other areas if it is too specific. Grundfos’ brand – Be. Think. Innovate, definitely help build consumers’ confidence in the company and it is wide enough to allow them to expand into home systems technology.
– Natasha Toh