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DHL SC BENELUX – Leading Innovation

When you create a mindset of business innovation almost anything can be achieved

Client Profile

DHL Supply Chain: Innovation for Business Success

DHL Supply Chain is a business unit of Deutsche Post DHL, a global logistics provider with over 42,000 employees in over 1,000 offices worldwide.


How do you define business innovation? Is it something you do in your work? McKinsey define business innovation as „the ability to conceive, develop, deliver, and scale new products, services, processes, and business models for customers.” When you read the word customers, it becomes clear that everyone in an organization can be involved in innovation.

“Supply chain” is a term we all became used to with COVID, even if we aren’t personally working in supply chain work. Supply chain is an incredibly dynamic, challenging and competitive environment. And it’s global. The goods you order from one company may be made in several different countries, put together somewhere else and then shipped through a variety of logistics suppliers before it gets to you.

Business Innovation creates new business

DHL is a global logistics provider everyone has heard of. Their supply chain has to be more than good; it’s a highly competitive market. The Benelux supply chain does of course, have established customers. However, no business can afford to stand still. It’s essential to add new customers and also find ways to add value, for the whole customer base. When you add value, you build reputation and attract new business.

So how do you do that?

There is no one, correct answer to success. DHL have a deep understanding that change and success lies with their employees. So they asked CLS to work with them in helping their managers to develop a mindset of innovation. When you have the skills you need to embed innovation thinking into your everyday work, then your whole approach helps drive both team and organizational success.

Working with DHL’s Innovation team and the DHL Benelux Board, Corporate Learning Solutions developed a facilitated approach to help over 100 managers define what innovation means, for their work and their business.

real world solutions for real world challenges

Most companies need their managers to have practical problem solving skills and they want leadership and management development programs to provide that. This is a strong skillset for CLS. This program – like every other – is based on research, tried and tested models and deep experience of what works. We take a pragmatic, practical approach to learning. Our facilitators make sure that skills and models are practised and applied straight away, so it is useful immediately.

For that reason, this program was structured so that managers who did not really know each other or regularly work together, were set up in teams which stretched across countries and functions, to work on real life innovation projects. First the learning, then the practice, then review and more learning. Not only did this give them the opportunity to apply their learning to real situations and projects, it gave them a chance to think creatively about the challenges they all face. Of course, DHL benefits not only from innovation but from better working relationships between managers in different countries and functions, improved communication and understanding of the whole business. That’s precisely the thinking you need leaders to have, so they can bring a broader outlook to developing the business as a whole.

developing leaders for innovation

We developed a specific tailored approach for this program with a 4 stage model of investigation, ideation, persuasion and implementation. We delivered the program to 11 cohorts in 9 months. We kept the cohort size to 10 managers, partly to avoid disruption to work.

The smaller group size also helped to build strong relationships and to focus in on how to apply the learning. We asked the participants to focus on become customer centred and take a highly inclusive approach to each other, their customers and potential solutions.

During their 9 month program, the managers developed a range of skills and practical learning, including:


By the end of the program, DHL experienced a number of very positive outcomes. The most obvious benefit was a group of managers who were committed and skilled in developing new ideas, innovative practices and solutions which benefited both the customers and the business. We know from the feedback that the managers had long lasting and practical changes in their approach to innovation and they developed this new approach with their teams.

The ideas pitched to the Board were real-world solutions which created a portfolio and pipeline of innovation projects for the company to take forward. In fact, one of the ideas was developed into a completely new business area.

do you innovate to succeed?

How important is innovation to your business? Is it a way of staying connected to your customer base? Dealing with the constant change we all face? Could the skills and mindset of innovation be a way to develop team agility or attract and retain the talented people you need? Having an approach and mindset of innovation is an important way of encouraging your employees to contribute. That’s a great way to build engagement, loyalty and success.

Can we help your leaders and managers develop a practical approach to innovation? Do get in touch for a conversation.

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