Speaker Interviews

Speaker interview: Joshua Geerlings, product owner Innovation Studio, PostNL, Netherlands

Joshua Geerlings, product owner Innovation Studio, PostNL, Netherlands, will present a talk entitled Innovation at PostNL: from new, digital e-commerce to last-yard solutions.

What is your presentation about?
The presentation will outline key takeaways and lessons from the lean start-up projects at PostNL, ranging from digital innovation and new e-commerce propositions to last-yard delivery solutions.

What is the Innovation Studio, and what projects are currently being worked on?
The Innovation Studio is a team of ambitious and dedicated innovators who help develop the business of PostNL by creating, building and validating new products and services. We do this through our own methodology and framework, which takes aspects of lean start-up design thinking and growth hacking, within a time-boxed period of around three months. In those three months, the goal is to find a problem fit and a problem-solution fit, and to see if we can validate a solution and find a product-market fit. We mainly focus on innovating the core business and coming up with new, adjacent propositions, which means we don’t focus on things that are more in line with transformational business models).

The projects we take on range from digital innovation to new e-commerce propositions, and also include last-yard delivery solutions such as personal parcel lockers. At the moment, we are working on multiple digital projects that seek to find a better relationship with the consumer, but we’re also working on finding methods to transport less air and optimize the checkout of our e-commerce partners.

Do you have a direct line to the board to speed development of new ideas?
We fall directly under the CIO. While a direct line to the board would be handy, we’re currently okay with our setup as we don’t want to draw too much focus on our ideas and projects while they are still in progress. It’s very easy to blow up new ideas in an attempt to get approval from the CEO or board. We’d rather focus our efforts on validating the actual problem of our target audience, as coming up with solutions from a really good definition of a problem is often quite intuitive.

What future projects are in the pipeline?
We’ve finished our baggage service, in which we transported luggage directly to the airport and checked it in for our consumers. A lot of our current projects are going through the business adoption process.

What would be your advice to other postal or logistics companies seeking to introduce an innovation studio?
Just start doing – get out of the building and start learning. Start small, and start by thoroughly researching the problems of the user. Never start with an end solution or – even worse – a certain technology in mind. It can take forever to plan and get a structure up and running, and while a good structure can turn a studio into an innovation factory, you won’t learn without doing, so start there. Return on learning or something similar should be your key metric, not ROI or finished projects. Do things that don’t scale. Not everything will work, and that’s all right.

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