Better Innovation: An old-school company discovers new ways to imagine their business

Company: Daimler Trucks North America

Why they called

The North American arm of this European trucking company was steeped in tradition, but in today’s business climate, they knew they also needed to be agile innovators. They gathered their top 150 leaders, to look for new ideas—and the behaviors they’d need to bring them to life.

What we did

We kicked off with an improv show, bringing their willing and talented leader up on stage to perform with us. Then, we trained all 150 participants in the collaborative practices of improv to help them let go of pre-conceived agendas and behave with agility in the face of the unknown. Lastly, we created rotations where each group would improve on every other group’s ideas for addressing their real business issues. We employed tools as varied as storytelling, idea generation, winnowing to select the most exciting ideas, and saying “yes, and” to build on ideas.

What happened as a result

One year later, our client told us that the practices we taught for better collaboration and problem-solving stuck: “Many of the techniques which you demonstrated I often run across in various meetings or workshops at DTNA. I can recall specific times where I heard the phrase ‘What is the problem to be solved?’ or ‘yes and,’ and even a ‘fit and well’ on occasion.”

What they said

“I think it is fair to credit the T150 event and OYF with improving how we think and interact with each other, which of course supports a collaborative and innovative culture. People also comment a lot about that event and I think it was great for improving relationship bonds within the T150 as we were able to laugh at each other.”

What we learned

We worked with a bigger-than-usual OYF team on this job, and learned a lot about sharing the spotlight with each other, putting our focus on the participants’ needs. At the end of the session, our client told us they couldn’t tell which of us was in charge, which we took as a high compliment to the way we were working together.