Let’s land on “Open Space”

The open space conference took place las week in Beijing. There were around 100 participants from different departments invited to the discussion of the topic: Digital Life@China.

Chinese Silicon Valley

The event was held in a very cool café in the center of Beijing’s creative center – Zhong Guan Cun, the Chinese “Silicon Valley”. Everyone anticipates it to be cool and special.

Actually, it is a special event. With the presentation of Digital Life in the beginning, Mr. Marc Lampe ,who is the CIO of Daimler Greater China, gave us a warm welcome as the official host for this event. The participants are mainly from China and Germany and working for IT, R&D, Sales & Marketing, and HR department.

No fixed Agenda on the Journey to „Open the Space“

“To be creative, to create something!” is the slogan of this conference. There is no fixed agenda for the topics we would like to discuss, all the agenda is built in real-time, by the attendances with the topic they want to talk about.

We, Daimler, want to be the most innovative automotive manufacturer in China, one of the most important markets in the world with astonishing expanding speed. With this goal in our head, following the guidance of the 2 moderators of this event, we began our journey to “Open the Space”.

Marketplaces of Innovation

Firstly, we had a tour around the marketplaces hosted by the several innovation teams to show the outputs of their hard work, which are quite fancy to see the prototype of ideas and the efforts they are putting in realizing the future digital life.

First Landing – on the Planet of Question

All the great things start from asking questions to ourselves.

In this part, we all had a big question mark in our mind at the very beginning. We started with a big circle where everybody can present their questions and ideas they are interested in.

Here comes the questions:

  • What is digital life of China in the future?
  • What does it mean for Daimler particularly to be part of this digital life?
  • What is our business value in this trend?

These questions made us able to jump out of the routine work processes and free my mind far away to the future life. We found the need within ourselves for the future trend and end up with one question: How can we take up trend to give our customer additional value?

We have asked questions and we may already have some ideas about them. The next thing we need to do is to take the second landing – to the planet of ideas.

Second Landing – on the Planet of Ideas

The ideas start from “What if?”

We started to formulate our special ideas with self-organized group and even being encouraged to be ”weird”. We forgot about whether it would be feasible or whether it could be implemented. We are the day dreamers to have dreams and really shape our dreams.

All participants then moved from the big circle to form into small groups. We were able to discuss freely without boundary or hierarchy.  In daily work, all participants are the experts of their own fields. We all have one piece of idea, maybe not complete, maybe not mature, but here those ideas have a platform to be discussed, to be incremented piece by piece then finally put to a general map of a vision.

30 Ideas within 3 Hours

We got more than 30 ideas in 3 hours and I find some of them really interesting. When there is an idea, there is a caller who feels passionate about it, there are participates who are curious about it and willing to give input, there are bumble bees who transfer from idea to idea to link them together. Those 30+ ideas began to expand, to be explored, to merge to a bigger idea.

Third Landing – on the Planet of Passion

Anyone with a vision, has a mission to fulfill it.

One of the participants said,

“Once I saw the open space warm up letter, I know I have waited for this point for years, because I have so many ideas and I want to put my effort in it to fulfill it.”

Doing small, feeling small, ending big

Anyone with a small vision, is a good beginning. While doing small, feeling small, we can end with big thing. The presenters gave us really great speeches for their own ideas. Some even visualized it to pictures and roadmaps to let us vote for them.  Yes, We vote through WeChat from 30+ ideas to Top5.

And the winners got the best present: the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of their ideas and discuss with Mr. Troska , who is the CEO of Daimler Greater China and Member of the Board of Management.

After the two days conference in Open Space,  I witnessed how those ideas be created. It’s a great journey, and I will take it back to “earth” to the daily work and bring this kind of thinking methodology down to earth.

The day after closing, the Prime Minister Li Keqiang received interviews in front of Daimler Open Space drawing board. How lucky we are to have him see this innovation activity we organized!

We can be part of this new wave of Internet trend and part of China digital life, if we start to think about these questions, if we can start to express our ideas, if we start to take action about them.

IT Senior Officer, Paragon@China Project, "Always willing to learn and progress, energetic about new things. I like running, cooking and travel. I believe in living in the current moment and enjoying everything."