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10+1 Questions on Innovation to Hermann-Josef Lamberti

by Roberto V. Zicari on October 23, 2007

I asked 10+1 Questions on Innovation to Hermann-Josef Lamberti, member of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank AG.

See his reply below.

10 +1 Questions On Innovation to: Hermann-Josef Lamberti, Chief Operating Officer, Deutsche Bank AG.

Hermann-Josef Lamberti was appointed a member of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank AG in October 1999.
He is also a member of Deutsche Bankā„¢ Group Executive Committee.
As Chief Operating Officer he has global responsibility for Human Resources, Information Technology, Operations (excluding Securities Settlement according to MaRisk), Cost and Infrastructure Management, Building and Facilities Management as well as Purchasing. He joined Deutsche Bank in 1998 as an Executive Vice President, based in Frankfurt.
Hermann-Josef Lamberti began his professional career in 1982 with Touche Ross in Toronto and subsequently joined Chemical Bank in Frankfurt. From 1985 to 1998 he worked for IBM, initially in Germany in the areas Controlling, Internal Application Development and Sales Banks/Insurance Companies. In 1993, he was appointed General Manager of the Personal Software Division for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at IBM Europe in Paris. In 1995, he moved to IBM in the U.S., where he was Vice President for Marketing and Brand Management. He returned to Germany in 1997 to take up the position of Chairman of the Management of IBM Germany in Stuttgart.
Hermann-Josef Lamberti studied Business Administration in Cologne and Dublin and graduated in 1982 with a master’s degree in Business Administration.

1. What is “Innovation” for you?

Innovation is implemented creativity which adds value. Value could be many things, from tangible or intangible business value for the owners or employees of a company, through to innovations which protect our planet.
In an organisational context, innovation is the lifeblood of an organisation. Successful companies are the ones who can remain agile and reinvent themselves not only to remain top of their game, but also to survive.

2. Who are your favorite innovators?

My favorite innovators are the staff at Deutsche Bank who constantly impress me with their level of creativity.
Innovation is one of five core values at Deutsche Bank, it is something we attach a great deal of importance to, whether it’s product, people, process or management innovation.

Thomas Edison is a good role model for how constant experimentation and failing fast and often allows one to succeed sooner. Edison innovated on innovation, being the first to build an Industrial Research Laboratory, a process for constant innovation. Edison holds 1093 US patents and his businesses live on today in the form of General Electric. A testiment to an innovative culture and business success, GE is one of the original 12 companies to be listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896 and it is the only one to still be listed on this index today.

3. What do you consider are the most promising innovations of the last 3 years?

There are so many to choose from, the pace of change is getting faster. Working in a knowledge industry, I’m interested in Social Networking and the value this can add to an organisation. There is a human need to communicate and interact and a business need to democratise knowledge, to allow it to flow as freely as possible within defined groups. On the internet we’ve all seen the fast growth of Facebook and YouTube, this is a largely untapped area within large organisations.

Another area of innovation which especially benefits those in the developing world is microfinance via mobile phones.
Microfinance is nothing new, as part of our long-standing and wide-ranging commitment to society, Deutsche Bank has been involved in structuring and managing microfinance funds for 10 years (for more information see here).
By combining existing tools, the microfinance loan and the mobile phone, this enables the local microfinance institutions to reach more of the world’s poor to help them with the seed capital to build their own businesses.

4. What does it help to become a successful innovator?

As per Tom Kelley’s book The Ten Faces of Innovation, there are many roles and characteristics required to realise an
innovation. In no particular order, I believe the following are some of the things required to become a successful innovator:
Funding, Supportive Environment (all ideas are good ideas initially, fail with impunity, experiment), Insight (get to the
customer’s unarticulated needs), a good Network, Self-belief, Risk Taker, Persistence, Knowing when to call it a day, Celebrating Success!

5. Is there a price to pay to be an innovator? Which one?

There should be some failure & learnings along the road to a successful innovation, then to the victor go the spoils.

6. What are the rewards to be an innovator?

The definition of reward is clearly unique to each person, within Deutsche Bank we have internal innovation award programs
to recognise and reward our innovators. In the broader context, I think it’s similar to mountain climbing. It’s hard work, it’s
enjoyable, it’s a challenge, there may be some slips which you get back up from, then the satisfaction and view from the
summit makes it all worthwhile. Some people are wired this way more than others.

7. What are in your opinion the top 3 criteria for successful innovation?

Success is in the eye of the beholder, one person’s success can be another person’s loss.

1. Beneficiaries benefits from the innovation (even if not the originally intended value or beneficiary)
2. Stakeholders in the innovation (those who have provided resources) also realise value from the innovation and continue
to provide resources for future innovations
3. The benefits outweigh any negatives (the innovation should be morally and socially responsible)

8. What would you recommend to young people who wish to pursue innovation?

Go for it. Generate lots of ideas. Expect to fail many times before succeeding. Develop a deep insight into a given area and
experiment. As the bird starts to fly the nest, nuture it, feed it. If it lands on the ground, try again, if it flys, you’re off! Innovating when young is a great time to start as orthodox thinking has not had as much chance to set in.

9. In your opinion how can we create a culture that supports and sustains innovation?

By setting the behavioural tone from the top.
By visibly recognising and rewarding the behaviour we want to see, encouraging this behaviour in others.
By proving resources and a safe environment.
By connecting the passionate.
Through diverse backgrounds within groups.
Through internal and external networks.
Through story telling and myths.

10. What do you think stops/slows down innovation?

Not doing the above.

10+1 .Do you think becoming an innovator can be taught?

Yes. Everyone is creative, even people who think they are not.
Everyone has a role to play in realising an innovation.

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