The Hybrid Innovation Team (HIT)

Our new Innovation Team is ready

The Pfeifer Group is taking a promising path to actively address strategic future issues: Since the kick-off in June 2019, 8 employees from different departments and locations as well as members of the accompanying partner Philoneos have formed an innovation team to think ahead and outside of the box.

Acting with foresight is a tradition at Pfeifer. In order to deal even more specifically with challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing business world, the innovation agent position was created together with the Munich-based consultancy Philoneos. In March 2019, a Group-wide tender was issued inviting particularly motivated and inspired employees to join the newly formed Innovation Team.

Ewald Franzoi, CFO of the Pfeifer Group, is pleased about the initiative and the positive response:

“With the introduction of the innovation team we are taking a further step
towards shaping the future.

Numerous applications were submitted. When selecting the eight agents, we and our partner Philoneos paid particular attention to the quality of the execution and a mix of different corporate divisions and locations.”
Management will grant employees appropriate time for their new activity as innovation agents. The coordination of meetings, both virtual and in person, is handled by the Philoneos team, which brings a solid expertise to the process of selection and implementation.

Ewald Franzoi paid attention to a balanced composition of the team.

“As co-creators we give new impetus”

In an interview, the two CEOs of Philoneos Dr. Maximilian Lude and Sebastian Bartling talk about what a “Bureau for Future Affairs” actually does, what innovation actually means for the Pfeifer Group and how the innovation team works in practice.

Sebastian Bartling and Maximilian Lude direct and inspire the new Pfeifer Innovation Team.

Who is behind Philoneos and which tasks have you committed yourself to?

We are a team with a background in practical experience, research and family business. We support family businesses strategically and operationally to ensure their own future viability, whether in innovations, marketing or digitisation. An office for future affairs guides, challenges and encourages its partners so that they can face the future full of confidence. We see ourselves less as consultants and more as “co-creators”, since we develop and implement innovative ideas together with the relevant players – in the case of the Pfeifer Group with the innovation agents.

How did the idea for the Pfeifer innovation team come up?

It all started with the Pfeifer 4.0 project, which was set up jointly a few years ago. Over a period of three years, this involved bringing together a wide variety of people, departments and locations at Pfeifer and working together to develop challenges and sustainable solutions for the Pfeifer business model. The innovation initiative sees itself as a continuation of these activities with the primary goal of making the Pfeifer Group even more innovative and thus more sustainable.
Was the number of Innovation Agents determined by you?

We started with the target to nominate 6 to 8 agents together with the Pfeifer management. The outstanding quality of many applicants, especially with regard to their enthusiasm to boost innovation for the Group, convinced both us and the company management. That is why we agreed on 8 people eventually. This size allows us to represent a wide range of departments and locations and still be able to coordinate deadlines and joint work well.

Every team member is allowed and encouraged to contribute ideas.

Now innovation, literally "novelty" or "renewal", is a very broad term. What does this buzzword actually mean for the Pfeifer Group?

In order to find out more about this, we have put up posters at all locations where the HIT is represented with the statement “For me, innovation means ...”. All employees are encouraged to support us with ideas and to be creative. It is only through a common understanding of innovation that the entire organisation can be innovative and sustainable in the long term. This process begins in the minds of each individual.

Which areas should the company work on as a matter of priority?

We will not dictate what Pfeifer as an organisation should work on. Our task is to provide impulses and directions, based on joint discussions with employees, but also on intensive research, which we consider individually relevant for Pfeifer's future. Methodologically, we are always oriented towards the respective question. We followed a market-based view from the beginning of this project, i.e. we always want to view things from the (potential) customer side. In this context, a customer is not necessarily a customer who purchases a product or service from Pfeifer; an important (internal) customer is also the employees themselves.

Sebastian Bartling

CEO of Philoneos

A market-oriented perspective is the foundation for innovation.

Personal interaction boosts team spirit and creativity.

In advance of the HIT, a survey was conducted among the employees. Does it indicate a mission for the future?

The survey shows that Pfeifer can be truly proud of many areas. This includes, for example, a very high level of job satis-faction, high motivation and the commitment to firmly established values. At the same time, potential areas for optimisation were identified, for example in areas such as information flow, transparency or resources for innovation. Initial ideas and approaches for action have already been developed. The HIT also deals with the results of this survey and develops ideas that intersect the above-mentioned topics.

How did the first meeting of the innovation agents go and at what intervals does the team meet?

The kick-off event in June 2019 was important for all participants to get to know each other and for us to create a space of mutual trust. A common understanding of innovation was extensively discussed and the most effective and efficient mode of cooperation was clarified. The physical distance and the actual job are to be navigated in such a way that every team member has the opportunity to work on projects and ideas.

Collaboration tools such as Pfeifer Connect or WebEx Teams are a great help to keep such an interdisciplinary team continuously at the same level of information. Nevertheless, no technology can replace physical meetings, which is why the team meets at least once a quarter at in person.

Despite higher travel expenses, these meetings fuel the motivation and enthusiasm for the common cause.

Dr. Maximilian Lude


With initiatives such as Pfeifer 4.0, the innovation team,
the employee survey as well as lunch & learn, we operate at the interfaces between innovation and marketing.