The great inventions of world history originated in the study rooms and later in the legendary garages of clever people. Geniuses like Nikolas Tesla, Graham Bell and Albert Einstein have produced life-changing innovations through their individual pioneering feats.

But those days are over. The Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that the big problems can now only be resolved systemically and with the help of digital transformation. The effects are too great, the interrelationships too complex, the players too numerous, the interests too diverse, and the effects of individual measures too rapid and severe. The complexity of the system interrelationships exceeds the cognitive capacity of individuals, meaning that only holistic approaches to solutions have any chance of success. The climate crisis makes this fact abundantly clear to us. Here, too, it is not enough to invent or improve individual technologies. On the one hand, these must be fitted into the mostly grid-bound technical infrastructure. On the other hand, there is the need for acceptance, participation and a political framework – especially when it comes to radical targets such as the Paris Agreement’s stated goal of complete (100%) decarbonization of all infrastructures by the middle of this century. After all, 100% encompasses everyone and everything. Even Elon Musk does not act alone; he is merely the head of a large team.

For Fichtner, this means that the future belongs to collaborative innovation development, characterized not only by the know-how of our experts but also by flexibility, agility, responsibility and team spirit. We are ideally equipped for this. Our broad portfolio of services on the one hand and the technical expertise of our colleagues on the other provide us with many opportunities to develop systemic innovation products with which we can earn our living.

Why should a consulting and engineering firm care about innovation development? After all, we are masters at quickly picking up on new developments and implementing them in an advisory capacity. True, but teams and powerful networks do not spring up overnight. In addition to expertise and enthusiasm, they require time to build trust. This is what the VLab, the Vision Lab of the Fichtner Group, is for (Dynamic innovation management: the Fichtner VisionLab – Fichtner).

Just a few examples from the VLab:

Task Force SimLab: Dr. Liliana Oprea’s team is developing a modeling tool that can be used to perform grid connection tests for wind or solar farms without having to touch the confidential databases of transmission system operators. Since many experts from different fields are working together on this, a cross-departmental VLab Task Force was set up specifically for this purpose, in which all participants from different departments commit to one goal and one budget (https://www.fichtner.de/userfiles/fileadmin-group/Dateien/Fichtner_SimLab_CLip_2020_Web.mp4).

Task Force T&E Cube (Tender and Evaluation): Michael Schmidt and Martin Heidt-Ivenz came up with this idea out of necessity and wanted to replace tons of paperwork with a lean digital solution for tender preparation and evaluation for energy-related facilities. Our CIO, Michael Wilfer, was thoroughly impressed and chose to be the sponsor of this innovation project. T&E Cube is now on its way to becoming the standard product for tender preparation and evaluation within the Fichtner Group (Fichtner TenderCube – A Development of the VisionLab – Fichtner).

Task Force DataCenter: Martin Schmitt and Hessam Seifi have taken the initiative and assembled a team to develop a complete offering for the entire project cycle involved in setting up data centers, including power supply, cooling, use of waste heat, program management and technical handling of the IT hardware etc. (Current topics: Fichtner – Engineering and Consulting).

IHRES – Identification of Hybrid Renewable Energy System Sites: This project idea originated as part of the Fichtner Summer School and is now being developed and fleshed out as a VLab project under the leadership of Hans-Hendrik Huber. Together with colleagues from IT and the renewable energies department, he is developing methodological approaches to optimize the selection of sites for such plants on the basis of learning algorithms.

Have I sparked your interest in agile team play? Do you have a VLab idea? If so, then we should talk. If not, then that is all the more reason for us to talk. This also applies to creative thinkers from outside the Fichtner organization because, as explained at the outset, we can only achieve effective solutions through cooperation. If your approach appears promising to Fichtner’s management, we will provide you and your team with the necessary leeway for agile team play – because the days of lone geniuses are well and truly over.

Contact: V-lab@fichtner.de