Profile of Denis

Learning from failure: Agility as a driver for motivation

K+S internally, Denis was awarded for agility. Get to know our colleague a little from corporate development better and find out what agility means to him, why it is a motivating corporate value, and what the sketch paper method is all about.


In the dictionary, the words mobile and nimble are used to describe agile. Denis can identify with this description: “For me, agility means achieving results quickly and creatively.” The 22 year old from Northern Hesse usually only needs a piece of paper and a pen. “It's not about having a perfect solution. It's about developing presentable prototypes from initial ideas very quickly,” he says.

Denis has been with K+S since 2016. He started with a dual IT program. After graduating, he continued his studies at the Innolab in Kassel. Today he works in the Business Development unit in the Agriculture customer segment. Together with his colleagues, he develops new distribution channels and business fields based on digital technologies. His agile way of working benefits him. 

“It's super exciting to introduce digital applications in a mining company,” says Denis, “Digitalization combined with agility gives me the opportunity to think completely openly and broadly.” This out-of-the-box thinking means questioning known limitations and constraints. 

Agility is thinking like a start-up, even in a complex organization: out-of-the-box thinking.”

He and his colleagues have shown that this works by developing an approach for a K+S web store. The app will be used to sell products, offer services, and exchange knowledge. All of this in the European environment. A prototype already exists. The agile approach: question existing workflows, increase efficiency, and create value. The app was developed and programed in house; no costs arose in the process. “From the very beginning, we involved the ITSC and, because of the international approach, we jointly overcame language barriers and quickly presented the results with a prototype. Now, we’re testing it together with our customers,” smiles Denis. 

Being close to customers is particularly important to him. “Many companies fail because they think they know what their customers think and need,” he says. “Agility requires approaching the customer without preconceived opinions and solutions. It means asking about needs and problems while working closely with the customer in order to work out solutions together.” Solutions with which, however, one can also fail, even have to fail. Because this is another characteristic of agile working and Denis' motto: Fail fast, fail often.

“Many companies fail because they think they know what their customers think and need,” says Denis.

“For me, failure is part of agile work and is important for product development,” he says. “It is like this: Thanks to our very close customer relations, I receive excellent feedback very early on and without too much effort which helps me move on quickly.” At the beginning of the development, there are only vague assumptions about the market, the products, and the customer. “These assumptions have to be confirmed or refuted. Even simple interviews, for example via Teams or Skype, help me do this. With the solid feedback I get, I can continue working on target and it increases my knowledge of my customer's needs.” He incorporates the interview results directly into his prototype, adapts it, develops it more, and talks to the customer again. And this sketch paper method is done right up to the final, customer-oriented product.

Knowing agility as one of our values is a great motivator. In a competitive environment with rapidly changing and unpredictable customer requirements, it is impossible to imagine working without agility,” says Denis.
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