DigitalLife netWorkCamp: How Daimler works in a digital future

Have you ever wondered if one person could actually make a change in a global company like ours with 292,000 employees? Well let me tell you, I’ve wondered the same and I ended up changing my viewpoint at #NWC17, the netWorkCamp  – an internal event about how we can work together in the digital age!

In addition, we were exposed to the new Social Intranet, the platform that will ultimately connect 292,000 people to share their thoughts, ideas, and work across the entire company. The special part about the netWorkCamp was definitely the participants: every one of us applied for the event not because we were told to do so by our bosses, but because the collaboration and culture change at Daimler really mattered to us!

My name is Arah and I’m with the Communications Department at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America (MBRDNA) in Sunnyvale, California. When the new Social Intranet comes to MBRDNA, I’ll be in charge of it. So naturally, I applied to attend the netWorkCamp as a multiplier – and kind of a pioneer :- ) – to bring back home my take-aways in order to ignite some excitement and curiosity – I mean, I have to know the product in order to sell it, right?

1 event. 2 days. 5 keynotes. 29 workshops. 400 international multipliers. 292,000 end users.

Unlike majority of the participants who have been with Daimler for a while, I was one of the few quite new to the Daimler family – I started out as an intern in January of 2017 right after graduating from university (go bears!) and officially joined in July 2017. And because some of us live a little further than just down the street of the headquarter in Germany, we kind of live in a bubble where we don’t see the person we’ve been exchanging emails as often as we’d like. But thanks to the netWorkCamp, I finally got to meet the colleagues I had already connected on the pilot version of the new Social Intranet in person and build meaningful connections!

We’re from different departments and continents but share one goal (and love for German pretzels)

… connect with our global network of colleagues.

With 400 international multipliers in attendance, I got to mix and mingle with various colleagues working from different offices all over the world.

Since we, as a company, are dealing with connected products of the future, it’s essential for us to be a connected company to help tackle the challenges of digitalization and translate it into innovation. I later learned that this was also the reason why the netWorkCamp was organized by the colleagues in charge of the Daimler digitalization strategy called DigitalLife@Daimler.

The workshops provided the chance to openly talk about our thoughts, as well as learn from each other and co-create value

At the netWorkCamp, it didn’t matter what background we were from, it didn’t matter which office we were located at, and it didn’t matter who had the “higher” position – we all shared one goal: to become an open and transparent company.

… collaborate with one another.

With 29 workshops to choose from and a doodle-anywhere-you’d-like venue, it was a given right away that the netWorkCamp was all about collaborating with one another. Each and every one of the workshops that I attended provided the chance to openly and honestly talk about our thoughts, as well as learn from each other and co-create value.

Someone read my mind! Brainstorming about how to tell the network story back at the office

One of the sessions helped me even tackle my challenge of communicating the Social Intranet to my MBRDNA colleagues – a brainstorming session about how we were going to tell the netWork story back at the office (it was as if someone read my mind!). It was interesting to hear from the participating colleagues with different backgrounds discuss about how they were going to tell the netWork story as multipliers.

Trust me, I needed all the ideas I could get – especially from colleagues without a communication background like mine! By the time the session-end bell rang, we were able to identify the bridge of combining our vision and ways of communication messages together to fit with one another’s specific target groups

The venue itself was literally a collaboration space to jot your thoughts and ideas down for others to see as well as share – Had a great idea? Write on the stool you’re sitting on. Had a great chat? Draw on the high table right next to your German pretzel and coffee. Got bored on the way to the restroom? Scribble on the wall to answer the ice-breaker questions. How cool does this sound!?

There was much space to jot your thoughts and ideas down for others to see and share

… learn from the best.

With 5 keynotes from speakers in both the Daimler and non-Daimler world (yes, we’ve collaborated with Siemens, Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, Continental, Audi etc. to combine forces and thrive together!), the netWorkCamp was definitely “a learn-it-all-culture” as social collaboration evangelist and keynote speaker Isabel De Clercq quoted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during her keynote. The way the netWorkCamp advocated the open collaboration across companies and industries as well as openly on social media intrigued me very much because it allowed me to understand the culture of Daimler.

Sascha Pallenbergs keynote wouldn’t leave my head throughout the day

Listening to lectures and learning from well-renowned professors back in college always fascinated me, and gave me this tingly feeling that words can’t describe. And I felt the same tingly feeling during the stage performances of Isabel De Clercq, former-tech-blogger-turned- digital-media-chief Sascha Pallenberg, author of Working Out Loud John Stepper, and our board member Renata Jungo Brüngger. It’s not every day you get to hear top influencers and experts in one setting all together!

One take-away that resonated with me the most (even until now) was from Sascha’s keynote: “Every critical post is an opportunity.” At first glance, I tilted my head when I heard this because… Huh? And I kept thinking about it throughout the day since it wouldn’t leave my head – I mean, usually a critical post is from haters hating, and trying to start an online war.

By the second day of the netWorkCamp, I realized what Sascha meant. Instead of sinking to this person’s level, be the bigger person, and transform the critical post that you’ve received into opportunities that can be beneficial to you – will you retaliate based on emotions or will you retaliate based on facts? (Hint: Sascha’s next point was to convince with facts, and link to supporting sources).

Definitely missing my netWorkCamp squad back in my Office!

In 2 days, I’ve connected, I’ve collaborated, and I’ve learned. I’m now back at the office, reminiscing about my time in Germany. I’ve had multiple people ask me how my first trip to Germany was and I reply, “… it was quite interesting.” The opportunity to have met the pioneers of connected collaboration while getting the first sneak peek of the new Social Intranet was quite an experience for me – and let me tell you this: something big, something next level, and something great is coming!

Like I said earlier, it’s very possible for one person to make a change in a 292,000 people setting. From what I’ve witnessed, the willingness and effort of all the multipliers was indeed going to make this big change begin and we, each and every one of us, can make the change to build the company we want! It was well worth traveling 11,546 miles because I enjoyed every minute of it (well not the end where I had to say bye to everyone).

She works at the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development in Sunnyvale, CA.