Scoping out the future

Looking for new business fields

The latest ‘edition’ of Rheinmetall Automotive’s NEO team is called NEO 3.0. The five-person team’s mission is to spend a year turning the familiar world of work on its head and, by adopting new and unusual ways of looking things, to shed light on the future.

The Executive Board of Rheinmetall Automotive established the NEO program in 2015. Every year, a team of contestants and recommended employees is recruited and assigned various tasks. This year’s NEO consists of four men and one woman: Marc Carrier of Rheinmetall Canada, Vytautas Ladyga from Pierburg Pump Technology, Arne Fiala from KS Gleitlager, Frank Bildstein from Rheinmetall Electronics, and MS Motorservice International’s Aleksandra Glišić. What’s new this time is that the team isn’t just made up of Automotive people: Carrier and Bildstein both belong to the Group’s Defence arm. Relieved from their ordinary duties and operating outside normal hierarchy structures, they work independently for a year in the NEO team. Something else that’s new is that the team is no longer clustered at the Automotive headquarters in Neckarsulm. These days, the team members interact internationally and at different Group locations. Carrier is based in Canada, Ladyga in Neuss, Bildstein in Bremen. Two team members – Fiala and Glišić, are stationed at the NEO hub in Neckarsulm, where they maintain a more or less permanent presence. 

New business possibilities

The year’s crop of NEOs are turning their attention to a matter of overarching importance: “Designing New Business Possibilities for 2040”. In practical terms, for the team this translates as follows: They’re busy analyzing the core competencies of Rheinmetall Automotive and Rheinmetall Defence. Based on this, they identify business opportunities that could constitute potential areas of activity in the year 2040. Here are some of the key questions the team is addressing: Which actors will influence the Rheinmetall Group in 2040? What do we have to do today in order to continue playing an important role in 2040? “To come up with possible answers, we replicated the Group structure and all of its stakeholders with the help of ‘Lego Serious Play’, which is a means of encouraging lateral thinking”, reports Glišić. “But we also received valuable input during interviews with thirty top executives from all over the Rheinmetall Group, which we’re using to identify the Group’s strengths and weaknesses.” When carrying out this analysis, the team also delved deeply into the Smart Cities question. The idea behind this new take on the city is to make life, work and living in urban space more effective and attractive in a sustainable way by employing advanced information and communication technologies. For a high-tech enterprise like Rheinmetall, this offers plenty of scope for new business opportunities. “Faced with current and future challenges like climate change, rampant urbanization and individualization, natural disasters and dwindling resources, there’s a growing need for cities to take action”, insists Bildstein.

A creative network

An important element here is always being in direct contact with the Chairman of the Executive Board of Rheinmetall Automotive, Horst Binnig, as well as various strategy and corporate development departments. They also stay in close touch with previous NEO generations, regularly exchanging ideas. “But we also interact with people outside of the company, working for instance with research institutes and going to conferences and attending lectures”, explains Fiala. At so-called ‘pitstops’, the NEO 3.0 team presents the results of their work to the Executive Board and the top management circle (AEB) of Rheinmetall Automotive three or four times a year. A special highlight this year will be Future Day, which all three NEO generations – 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 – are organizing at an annual event for 40 senior Rheinmetall Automotive executives.