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NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014
 
Employee in Focus
 

RALF KOSCHITZKI ON

THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS


Or: The right ingredients for lively innovation and strategy work

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Ralf Koschitzki is passionate about cooking. Originally the draw for him was creating unusual combinations using familiar ingredients while always fashioning something completely new. Indeed, new and unusual paths seem to also define his career "recipe for success". Despite having studied industrial engineering at the Technical University Darmstadt, Ralf curiously never worked in electrical engineering. He was much more involved in areas that spanned business and technology. The necessary "spice" was added in the form of continued training during periods spent at Insead and MIT. As a result, Ralf has always been able to rise to the top, not least because he has worked in so many positions over a 23-year career in the aviation industry. And since January 2014 he has been at IMP. How it came to that, and what cooking and strategic innovation have in common, well, you'll just have to read for yourself…

Christiane Steuer spoke with Ralf Koschitzki ...

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Christiane: Ralf, you've been particularly inspired by "old" recipes and forgotten flavors. The result is often unusual combinations that seem to still stand the test of time. Your friends and acquaintances swear by your creations and, from what I've heard, absolutely love it when you cook for them. It's even to the point now that you give them cooking lessons. Are there any parallels between your cooking and your work?

Ralf:
Yes, there really are. Developing new and unusual combinations using known ingredients – that is a staple of any innovation work. Whether you're in the kitchen or at a company, it all starts with the guiding principle of what you really want to achieve. Then it's all about letting yourself be led and inspired by the result you have envisioned. The art lies in not showing any signs of arbitrariness. What I mean is, you have to know whether the individual elements harmonize with one another and which reciprocal effects result from combining them. It has to be coherent; otherwise it can all lead to most unwelcome surprises. The foundation for this includes a lot of experience, the knowledge of complex interrelationships (or flavors, as the case may be) and the right portion of courage and creativity in putting it all together. Experimenting is allowed, yes. You learn quickly that way and gather new experiences. But you can't forget WHO you're cooking for. You've got to hit that "flavor button".

Christiane:
So creating new things and making those new things a reality – serving them up, if you will – has always been part of your work. You worked for a long time in the aviation industry and held many positions. The central recurring theme, however, is the fact that you have always been involved in strategic planning work. In those cases it was about implementing completely new ideas. You were with the Star Alliance from day one. You consulted the Greek government on the financing of their Athens airport. You helped shape Terminal 2 in Munich into a start-up type joint venture structure. The list goes on.

Ralf:
Yeah, I would say you're right on that point. At the core of it I feel at home in product and process development, but I was also responsible for the restructuring of a subgroup of companies for three years, for example.
Christiane: What were THE main challenges in this context for you? And why did you end up "landing" at IMP – excuse the aviation pun.

Ralf: Many companies are so locked into their structures that they often only think about COST OPTIMIZATION and forget they have to provide VALUE that their customers are willing to spend money on. Just to make sure I am being clear here: Competitive cost structures are important, but they are not the be all and end all. Innovations that provide benefit will move the company forward and secure its long-term existence.


Christiane: Some companies are quite limited in terms of structural flexibility, without going so far as to call them rigid…

Ralf: It was precisely in this context that I reached the ceiling, as it were, after 23 years at a large company. I wanted a change and found IMP. As a thought factory, IMP embodies for me exactly the type of consulting I aspire to provide, namely, where ideas and transformation management are united. Now I've been at IMP since the beginning of the year and after working on the wide variety of projects in all of the different sectors and industries (among those was one with 3D printing of metals), I have been able to satisfy my ambition of helping inspire new developments in different industries. IMP's positioning as a co-innovator and not as a "traditional" consultant is also very much to my liking.

Christiane
: You are also a certified change manager with a focus on transformation management and have as such been responsible for the successful restructuring of myriad medium-size companies. I imagine that would obviously help you in your work at IMP. From your side, what other "ingredients" come into play that would help provide customers with the pleasure of enjoying an IMP recipe for success?
Ralf: I think my industry experience plays a decisive role here, but also my affinity for high-technology and engineering. On top of that, I would say service innovations as a process discipline are a strong suit of mine.

Christiane:
Thank you very much for the interview, Ralf! We wish you continued success and loads of new ideas at IMP and hope we will not only get to enjoy your professional recipes, but also perhaps some of your culinary delights along the way.
Ralf: It would be my pleasure. And I'm sure something completely new will come out if. Cooks love to be inspired by their guests…

 

 
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Foto: Ralf Koschitzki, IMP

RALF KOSCHITZKI

in an interview with
Christiane Steuer

 


Ralf Koschitzki has been at IMP since January 2014 and has already been able to put a number of his recipes for success into action in customer projects. His inspirational ideas are not just from a long career in the aviation industry, but have been the product of continued training and a sense of vocation that helps him cook up and serve the right combination of business know-how and technical expertise in completely new forms.

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