Interview with Eddy Odijk
Senior Innovation Strategist and SiM Masterclass trainer
Eddy; How did you become involved in standardization training?
In all of my positions at Philips I have always been involved in some way with standardization, as it has played and still plays an important role in getting innovative technologies accepted by the market. Actually, my first research assignment was to proof the correctness of the I2C communication protocol, which became a de facto standard in the semiconductor industry and led to the ubiquitous USB standard. In the early 2000s , the entire consumer electronics industry was transforming to digital, and was participating in many activities to create the new standards that were needed for digital and connected products. As we realized their importance for the Philips business and found out that having well-prepared delegate teams made a difference to the bottom line, we started to develop a standardization training course for our alliance participants, and involved Jacobien to ensure the course would have a strong behavioural aspect as well. In corporate standardization management, my next assignment, this course – next to related courses on standardization which I developed for R&D, marketing and business managers – was one of my instruments and I was pleased to become its teacher.
How many people have you trained around the world?
Jacobien and I asked ourselves that question at some point and started counting. A few years back, we celebrated the participation of the 200th trainee at the course, which then happened to be in Shanghai. Since then, the count includes sessions for other companies and has passed the 300 mark. “Interacting successfully across cultures” is an important aspect in global standardization alliances. The course reflects this through an interactive lecture as well as through the role play in the simulation case. Our trainee groups have always been multinational and culturally diverse, with people from Brazil, Canada and the USA, as well as many European countries and Asian cultures like India, Japan, China and Korea. Thus it could happen in the simulation game that a participant from India would assume the role of a marketing manager from an Italian company, or an American trainee would act like a Chinese manufacturing boss.
What makes this Masterclass relevant?
First of all, the two essential topics in its title: standardization and innovation management. Innovation is essential for the success of a business, and there is no industry that innovates without standards. Once a company’s management recognizes that it makes a difference to the bottom line to have a standardization strategy and an implementation that is closely linked to innovation, such companies are keen to invest in a standardization team, in setting up a process and in building the right skills. In this Masterclass, we start from the concept that “standardization is a business tool”. We address the economic and business benefits of standards, when and how companies should involve themselves, and what they can do to have their standardization efforts contribute to the bottom line. We come to talk about standardization strategy, integration with the company’s value chain, how to differentiate while standardizing, the role of standards in the product creation process, and we’ll have trainees get their own experiences in these areas.
What are the most popular subjects?
Let me start from what is probably the least popular one: Legal and IPR. If you know how many man-hours go into formulating and agreeing on an alliance’s membership agreement and IPR conditions; the importance of it is always acknowledged, yet most standardization participants we meet shy away from this topic. In this Masterclass, we explain the essentials of Legal and IPR, how it relates to one’s company policy, what to look for, and we have a practical set of do’s and don’ts for our students. In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing interest – beyond how to be successful in setting a standard – in business oriented topics such as: how to make a standard into a business success, how we can differentiate while industry uses the same standard, and how participation in standards can benefit our brand image. And indeed, from our own combined business experience and management literature, we do have answers that we address in class.
What’s the take-away for the participants?
At the start of the first session, we ask the participants to write on the wall what their objectives are for the course. In this way we can all check whether and how their objectives are achieved throughout the sessions, and we can tune the program accordingly as appropriate. At the very end, the students reflect on what they’ve learned and whether it matches their objectives. Time and again, they acknowledge that the role play has shown them that they can make a difference in negotiations or decision-making or speeding up a process, that they have gained deeper insights in alliance success mechanisms, and that they have a much better feel for how they can have an impact on their company’s dealing with standardization.
Thanks Eddy – and success with the next training session in Amsterdam !