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News | How Bosch is making its associates fit for the digital transformation

Bosch relies on virtual networks of experts

In the connected world, an agile organization with active networks of experts is decisive for success. This is why Bosch is one of the first large companies in the world to use the “Working out Loud (WOL) program, which aims to connect associates with one another and further develop their skills. “The digital transformation is also a cultural transformation,“ says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “With Working Out Loud, we are promoting digital cooperation, enhancing our learning and working culture, and thus also increasing our innovative strength.”

Working Out Loud aims to make work visible and promote knowledge sharing. It comprises a peer coaching program, within which “Circles” of four to five associates cooperate for twelve weeks on a task they have selected themselves. Over the course of the program, participants build their own personal networks of experts and use external social media channels as well as the internal Bosch Connect social business platform. “Building a network with Working Out Loud does not mean collecting random contacts,” says Katharina Krentz, an expert for digital cooperation at Bosch. “It means learning how to connect with experts in a targeted manner and building stable relationships that can help find answers to specific questions and drive things forward.”

From a network to a start-up incubator

Dennis Böcker, who oversees IT innovation at Bosch, is among the associates who have benefited from WOL. His task was to establish a co-creation space in the United States to seize the opportunities of the Internet of Things (IoT). “The challenge was huge. I didn’t have access to the authorities or to start-ups,” he says. To reach his goals, he thus cooperated with a group. “My Circle partners not only shared their knowledge with me. Thanks to them, I also gained access to the mayor of Chicago and the start-up scene.“ As a result of cooperation in the network, the initial idea of a co-creation space developed into the Chicago Connectory start-up incubator.

A prize-winning concept

Bosch contributed to WOL’s further development in cooperation with John Stepper, who invented the concept. In 2015, the company established its first Circle. Since then, more than 1,000 Bosch associates from over 40 countries have taken part in the program. In cooperation with other companies, Bosch also initiated the WOL Community of Practice. The aim was to develop the method further and make it accessible to as many companies as possible. In 2017, the work of Bosch and other members of WOL was honored with Germany’s HR Excellence Award in the “Employee Management and Collaboration” category.

An interview about WOL with Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH, can be found here.