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In this episode, Mikkel Svold explores the complexities of knowledge exchange and information sharing in hygienic manufacturing and design.
Joined by Theis Philip Jensen, President at DriveTech, they delve into the significance of knowledge sharing and collaboration in elevating competitive advantage for hygienic manufacturers.
Discover the strategies, challenges, and practical approaches to effective knowledge sharing in the industry.
In the episode, you’ll learn about:
Your host is Mikkel Svold.
Listed below are the essential timestamps from the podcast episode to make it easier to find the topics that interest you.
Full Episode Transcription
Mikkel Svold (00:10):
Designing and developing wise hygienic solutions call for really deep field knowledge, but how do we share and harness this knowledge to foster and improve hygienic design across the industry, I guess? Today in this episode, we will talk about some of the intricacies about knowledge exchange and information sharing, and we'll also talk about how hygienic manufacturers that is machine builders, et cetera, they can elevate their competitive advantage through knowledge sharing and collaboration and innovation. I'm Mikkel Svold, and with me today, I have Theis Philip Jensen who is the president at what is called DriveTech. A warm, welcome to you, Theis.
Theis Philip Jensen (00:56):
Thank you, Mikkel. It's a pleasure to be here.
Mikkel Svold (00:58):
And just to help the listeners, and me, I guess, just one sentence on what is DriveTech. What does DriveTech mean?
Theis Philip Jensen (01:06):
Yes, indeed. So DriveTech is our business unit within drive technology. And what we are currently offering and where we are innovating is within synchronous drum motors.
Mikkel Svold (01:19):
Okay. And where do you actually use that? Because I don't know that.
Theis Philip Jensen (01:22):
You don't know that?
Mikkel Svold (01:23):
Theis Philip Jensen (01:23):
Really? It should be common knowledge.
Mikkel Svold (01:25):
It should be common knowledge.
Theis Philip Jensen (01:27):
Yeah. No, the way you use a synchronous drum motor or a drum motor is within drive technology, hence also the naming. So it could be a conveyor belt moving from A to B. That is how you explain that in the most simple way.
Mikkel Svold (01:42):
That would make a lot of sense.
Theis Philip Jensen (01:43):
Mikkel Svold (01:43):
Now, coming back to the topic of today, which is basically knowledge sharing. In early episode, we've already kind of touched upon sharing knowledge in order to drive innovation. Nelson mentioned it in the very first episode. But from your perspective, what does knowledge sharing even mean when we are talking hygienic manufacturing, when we're talking innovation within the field?
Theis Philip Jensen (02:09):
Yeah, it's a key question. I think it's important to highlight that it's something that is really a critical part and has always been a critical part of NGI's DNA and a significant part of the success of NGI. So one thing I would like just to highlight in the beginning is the difference between knowledge and information. So of course in a knowledge sharing process, it's important with the stakeholders as part of that process that there is a common understanding that this is knowledge being shared and it's not information being shared.
So there is definitely a need to establish a shared understanding of what the purpose is. This is knowledge sharing. And for knowledge sharing, then it's really, really important that you first and foremost understand your objective of that knowledge that you have, why it's being shared. You understand the process of how that knowledge was developed and who was part of creating that knowledge. And when you have established those foundations, that's where you have a good environment to share knowledge. So it's important that you have some of those critical factors established in a process in order to have an efficient knowledge sharing so that-
Mikkel Svold (03:26):
Now, knowledge is such a kind of fluffy term that's really even, what is even knowledge? But do you have a concrete example of what kind of knowledge is it that we are talking about here?
Theis Philip Jensen (03:39):
Yeah, so knowledge can, to your point, be many different things. I think when we look at knowledge, we look at knowledge that are being generated from the experiences that we have within NGI and across functions, and then also with our customers because we work really closely with our customers. So knowledge could be that you have a certain process now and you have learned through a really, really close collaboration. And that could be a process on product development. It could be a process on how we engage with our customers and how we ensure they have the right tools to operate. Then we of course need to understand exactly what that is and what it means for them. And that could be within several different areas. So it's important that it's being defined because that's the way it's being captured in the right way.
Mikkel Svold (04:38):
And now in the first episode we talked about the strategic drivers. In the last episode we talked about some of the technical design thinking, what goes into designing these hygienic components and hygienic design in general. And now sharing knowledge about those two things, how to design for maximizing hygiene, how to design for cleanness, drainage, et cetera, and what can you say? And mixing that up with also the strategic point of view because the entire purpose of redesigning for high hygiene would be to gain some kind of a competitive advantage. Which leads me to my question. How do you ensure that this knowledge sharing is not compromising, say business secrets or giving competitive advantage to your competitor?
Theis Philip Jensen (05:39):
Yeah, so I think one thing in that scenario that's important is of course that if you're not trying to push the boundaries, then our, at least as the companies, we will go nowhere. So we are not afraid of pushing the boundaries because we'll be in a situation where somebody would be doing the same in X amount of years. But of course, some of the tools that you could work with in innovative solutions and in the knowledge sharing is of course patents as an example. And we do have many, many different patents. But I think it's important that you're complete transparent in the process and we are completely transparent. And that's both with the competencies that we have where we ensure knowledge is being shared within our functions, within development, but also from development to commercial and with customers.
So we have an open conversation around the objective that we are looking to solve, and we put in the right people in a room and have discussions and a good process around it. So I think you can stop many good and right things if you think too much about that, but of course it's something to be aware of. But we deal with it with having a complete transparent process and dialogue, and we always do it together with several stakeholders.
Mikkel Svold (07:03):
And I guess also if you are ahead of the game innovation wise, even sharing knowledge that will still take time for potential competitors to kind of incorporate into their own company. And then by then you will already be two steps ahead.
Theis Philip Jensen (07:21):
Yeah. Of course. And then I think it's important that the institutional knowledge and the structural knowledge we have, it takes years to build. Of course, we have expert knowledge within hygienic design. We have knowledge within certain industries. We have knowledge within certain geographies. We have a lot of knowledge that's built over many, many years and is a key focus for us. And that's not easy to build. So of course there are certain parts of that knowledge that could be built up more in the short-term. But the important thing is the way we innovate and share knowledge is not just by doing one thing over here, it's by combining the competences, the skills we have over here, let's say in development together with our more commercial teams, together with the customers, so that we ensure that where we innovate is built on several parameters and not just one single form of knowledge.
And when you share that knowledge from one part to another, that's where you see an exponential factor. So you know something about a certain area, I've tried it, I've experienced something else, and that will take us a little further. And then we also ensure that we bring in, of course, the newest expertise in the field, but it's that combination that ensures that we share the right knowledge and we then have the right innovation that meets customer requirements.
Mikkel Svold (08:59):
Do you think there's the demand for innovation and knowledge sharing as well, do you think the demand for that is greater within hygienic manufacturing, hygienic design than say other manufacturing areas? Was the complexity higher or something?
Theis Philip Jensen (09:18):
Yeah, I think in all areas, knowledge sharing is important if you are one of the leaders within the field that you work in. So no matter what you do then sharing knowledge is important. Then of course in areas where there is a high degree of innovation and you see products and solutions moving faster, knowledge sharing I would argue is more critical in other sectors that are more mature. So for being a leader and innovating within hygienic design, then yes, knowledge sharing is important because there are a lot of improvements and developments that we have not seen yet, and we ensure we have the right competencies to understand those complexities while working with the wide expertise in the field and customers.
Mikkel Svold (10:10):
And do you see that your clients or your customers that be the machine builders, are they also open to sharing knowledge across and maybe, I guess, using NGI as a medium or as a hub somehow, delivering knowledge back into you knowingly that that knowledge will then also maybe benefit some of their competitors or maybe sister companies, et cetera? How's the, I guess, openness towards sharing knowledge seen from your clients?
Theis Philip Jensen (10:45):
We have many years of working really closely with our customers and partners. We've always been really customer-centric and we continue to be so. So when we have a certain case, I think it's also important that we differentiate knowledge sharing where it is important that that knowledge is kept within a certain relationship because those cases we definitely have and that you set those boundaries and you understand the dynamics of that. And then you also of course have opportunities within knowledge sharing where you do not have those boundaries set and you share a knowledge where it will have a impact for more so than just that case in particular. So I think we do have cases where we of course work more closely with one customer where it's for that specific purpose, and then we have cases where we work and just gather our understanding with our expertise. And then we do it for of course, the purposes of innovating for the greater or the masses, if you will.
Mikkel Svold (12:01):
Now, we've talked a lot about, I guess, some kind of high level knowledge sharing. It's kind of at a high level. Now, if we want to go just a little bit more concrete and drag it all the way down to what specific models or platforms or ways of sharing knowledge, how is it in practicality? How do you actually do it? Because it's easy to say, I guess, right?
Theis Philip Jensen (12:27):
Yeah, it is. It's really, really, it's a really, really good and key question. And there are many different tools and platforms that you can use and it's important that you do that. I think if you try to encompass all the knowledge sharing that you have, all the knowledge that that's in the organization, in the industry one place , that's difficult. So it's definitely important to have many different data sources that is being utilized and many different tools. So that's everything within the tools that we use, in our development to the tools we use commercially. And it's when you combine all of that, then that's where you of course see that you actually deliver and capture that knowledge sharing. And knowledge sharing, let's just take product because I think everybody is, and when we talk hygenic design, then knowledge sharing, the way we look upon, it's probably that knowledge sharing to a certain point leads to some sort of more innovative product. And that could be the case. Knowledge sharing can also, as we've talked about, lead to many other different things that moves the relationship and the business.
Mikkel Svold (13:46):
But the product is so concrete also.
Theis Philip Jensen (13:48):
The product is so concrete. So that's always a good example just to focus on the product. And of course the product is being developed in a long innovation cycle with a lot of effort from our side. This does not just happen overnight, so you need certain structures for that. That is definitely the case and is really, really important that you ensure that you capture the knowledge in a platform where it's all gathered. But that being said, it's difficult to do that and it's important not to force everything down that. So you need to understand and navigate in those complexities and ensure that you talk with the right stakeholders.
Mikkel Svold (14:37):
Actually, I can see here on my question list here, my next question is exactly talking into that. So that is how do you actually encourage using that? Because what you're talking about is now the structures and I guess also the actual IT platform, but you also, I guess, have to encourage some kind of culture about it, just like... Our time is nearly up, but I think this is really important. How do you come about that?
Theis Philip Jensen (15:11):
That's why when you asked some of the earlier questions on why are you not afraid of sharing knowledge, because then somebody can pick it up and they can do exactly the same? And no, because knowledge sharing is within the core of NGI's DNA, has been so for many, many years. And when you're in such a situation, then everything you do is around ensuring that you keep that company culture, you keep it in the different functions that work with knowledge sharing across the different functions and towards of course all the partners that you have. So that is something that starts already from recruitment and that you have the right recruitment partners.
And then when you hire people, it's part of that process so that when you are sitting and having lunch, which I just had, then you sit with colleagues from different departments and if somebody just had a customer interaction that called for a knowledge sharing, then as I mentioned earlier, important to state, of course, not just throw it out there, but important to state that this was some specific knowledge that came from a process with these people involved. And what they understood from that process was this. "Is this something, dear colleague, that's relevant? What does your expertise tell you about that? How can we provide them with feedback? Does it allow for us and for the customer is their case to look further into this?" So it's something that starts already from hiring and ensuring you have the right environment. And then of course for leadership to be the ones that of course create that environment-
Mikkel Svold (16:55):
To push the agenda.
Theis Philip Jensen (16:56):
... everybody to do that. And that is definitely the core of NGI is to share knowledge in order to innovate and in order to be there for the customer's needs now and in the future.
Mikkel Svold (17:10):
Yeah. Theis, so our time's already up.
Theis Philip Jensen (17:14):
That was fast.
Mikkel Svold (17:14):
Yeah, it's really fast. Are there any key takeaways that you think that we should bring about now or something that we haven't talked about that's worth mentioning before we wrap this up?
Theis Philip Jensen (17:25):
I think the question we wrapped up with is the important thing. It's knowledge sharing is a buzzword, and that's all good, but unless you ensure you have a environment that facilitates and fosters it, you will get nowhere. So you can have a knowledge sharing tool and you can talk about it once and now, but you really need to have it as part of your integral DNA in order for it to actually ensure you move with innovative solutions. And that could be on the product, it could be on the process side and many other things. So that's what I would wrap up with.
Mikkel Svold (18:05):
I think that's a really good conclusion on this episode. Theis Philip Jensen, thank you so much for shedding light on this crucial topic, which somehow seems easy to talk about, but super hard to implement. And to you, dear listener, if you are keen to stay at the forefront of hygienic manufacturing, innovation within the field, design, et cetera, don't forget to hit the subscribe button. And if you like the episode, please do give us a five star review because it really helps us spread the word and at least we think it's a quite important word. And that's it for now.
Thank you so much for tuning in.