One of the “playing fields” relates to improving the production process by using modern technologies and digitalising analogue processes. Diehl wants to reduce its process times by 50% over the coming years. Krasowski explains that Diehl has called this process ‘Better Business’. At the first sites, personnel have already been retrieving their work plans digitally for some time now. Their skills are recorded on a workbench in the system, and the individual work order steps are assigned according to expertise.
Another area is focused on ‘New Business’. “For a long time, aviation was focused on itself, because the growth rate was so high that production was primarily from one order to the next. It wasn’t until around 2015 that we noticed how the digital transformation has taken hold in all areas of our life, when in other industries customer-centric business ideas were suddenly digging the ground out from under the feet of established companies.” Speaking at the German Aerospace Regions Day in 2018, Krasowski described this shift using Nokia as an example: the story of the erstwhile king of mobile communications is one of astounding success and bitter decline. The company was once the globally dominant mobile phone manufacturer, but it underestimated the appeal of its agile competitor, Apple, and its idea for a smartphone. Nokia’s supremacy melted away, and the company rapidly slipped into insignificance. At the heart of ‘New Business’, accordingly, is a change of perspective for Diehl: “In recent years we have been very focused on the OEMs that are indeed our main customers. We now want to unlock the needs of other customers and users,” explains Krasowski. “We are currently working on an assistant to simplify the work processes for the crew in communication with the cabin,” he continues. In the long term, MRO customers who undertake retrofit installations of our products, as well, of course, as the passengers who use them on a daily basis, need to be just as much target groups of business division as the airlines. For passengers, for example, bookable cabin baggage lockers could be very interesting, according to the leader of the innovation team, which is to expand to ten colleagues in the coming months.
A relaxed team atmosphere is important to Simon Krasowski. Everyone is on first name terms, and former colleagues are honoured in a colourful photo collage on the “Wall of Fame”. Alongside Diehl employees, the taskforce also includes many students — of engineering, business administration and even psychology. “This escape from old ways of thinking is part of the culture change,” says Krasowski, identifying an important third pillar in Diehl’s transformation process. Establishing an error culture in the company’s thinking patterns is also part of it. “’First time right’ remains a prevailing creed in aviation. Quickly trying something out, adjusting and, if it isn’t sufficiently scalable, discarding it, is not really established yet,” explains Krasowski. “But in this complex world, those who still believe that they can succeed purely with existing solutions and approaches is going to get nowhere,” he concludes.
As motivated as Simon Krasowski’s team may be in its dedication to digital transformation, the team leader remains realistic. “Innovations for everyone are innovations for no one. If you want to make everyone happy, the end product will be of no use to anyone. That’s why we always look first at the specific problem, for example a worker’s problem, and at the individual solution.” Simon Krasowski is curious about how the transformation of the company will proceed in the years ahead. “When everyone understands that neither purchase price nor machine time is the measure of success, then we will be on the safe side,” he says. “The biggest challenge in implementing such processes is to give employees enough resources and enough freedom.” This, too, is a decisive aspect of culture change, according to Krasowski, who finds his own freedom on a yacht that he shares with colleagues. Trimming the sails together and then setting off — that is just his thing.