Schacht One is a year old


Schacht One celebrated its first birthday in April. In this interview, Dirk Müller tells all about what has happened since the opening and how Haniel’s digital unit will orientate itself in future.

Where were you a year ago and where are you now?
When we started, we were just a small team of three. We had etventure on our side as an experienced partner and had secured Konrad – which later gave rise to "Prüfplaner"typo3/#_msocom_2 – as our first project assignment from a division. We had big plans, but still little experience of how such projects work. We have since grown into a nine-strong team. We have already implemented projects or projects are currently running with all divisions. Our first product, the test planner from Kaiser + Kraft, is in the incubation phase, in which we intend to find out how the offering will be received on the market. We have gathered a lot of knowledge in this time and built up an ecosystem of partners for digital projects. Our relationship with the divisions has developed superbly. We also sensed changes in the colleagues there, especially when they collaborated on the projects themselves. We learned that it is not all about speed, because we also want to take our colleagues from the divisions along on the journey. In a company, some processes and decisions just take a bit longer. The right balance is crucial.

What was the highlight of the past year?
One highlight was surely when the test planner went live as the first digital product. Another highlight for me was also when all CEOs signed an innovation agreement at the beginning of this year, in which they specified how much they would invest in projects with us this year. This was a big show of trust for us and gives us planning certainty.

A year is not just made up of highlights – what didn’t go so well?
At the end of 2016, we had something like an identity crisis. We asked ourselves what Schacht One ultimately stands for and what we actually can and should do ourselves. We therefore needed clearer positioning and a slightly altered process. We came to the conclusion that our role is primarily to support the divisions with regard to their projects without taking on all operational tasks. We can’t be the best at everything, but we can bring the relevant and best partners from our ecosystem into the projects and ensure with our approach that the projects are implemented appropriately. We see ourselves as the division’s employees and really adopt their challenges as our own.

What are you planning for year two?
We want to continue doing a lot of projects and using the funds from the innovation agreement appropriately. The aim is definitely to produce visible results. That said, I am mostly hoping for enough freedom for my team for us to get creative and evolve in order to also provide new stimulus. There is sometimes not enough time for that when you are so actively involved in projects. In addition, we want to make our great location at the Zollverein Colliery even more of a hub for the projects, and maybe we will even acquire new premises as well – we could use the space.

Where will Schacht One be in five years?
You can’t really take a detailed look five years into the future any more these days. But I will formulate Schacht One’s Strategy 2018+ with the Haniel Management Board. That will at least define our longer-term orientation. For the future, I hope that the customer-centric approach not only establishes itself completely in the divisions but also that we will use it to tackle other projects at Haniel. We will in fact also be in demand as a service provider for external – absolutely respected – companies, which speaks to good positioning. We are not doing that at the moment, so as not to lose our spirit and focus. Looking forward, I also see Schacht One as an incubator for start-ups arising from the divisions’ ideas.