How we stay close to new technologies: ELU

Christopher Grobe
Aug 21, 2019 · 5 min read

We put a bunch of high-tech sensors into our plants for automatic watering. We built a device to enhance meeting efficiency because taking notes bothers us. Why do we tell you this? Because those are internal projects we do just for fun. During ELU. ELU is how we innovate, stay close to the newest technologies and foster self-development. But before we tell you more about it, let us tell you why we do it.

Why we do ELU

At Motius, we believe in the growth mindset. We believe that the urge to explore, discover and learn is inherent in every human being. This urge helps people to develop new skills, think outside the box and stretch their abilities. As a tech company, we use it as one of our internal innovation management methods.

To be more specific, it is how we gather expertise and stay close to the newest technologies. During ELU, we provide time, space and resources apart from customer projects and operative tasks. ELU time is playtime — we just focus on our own internal projects.

How ELU works

At this point, you might still be wondering what the heck ELU even means. Well, it’s an acronym for three German words: entdecken, lernen, umsetzen. Don’t know German? Explore, learn, implement. Pretty straightforward, right? Let’s see how ELU actually works.

Make time. At the beginning of each month, we reserve two straight days (Thursdays and Fridays) for ELU sessions. We do 4 rounds consisting of 3 sessions each, so usually, every team has the chance to work on 4 ELU projects throughout the year. At the end of the year, we go on a team weekend getaway in the beautiful Bavarian Alps. We get out of the office, enjoy each others company and finish our projects.

Project proposal. Before every ELU round, everyone has the chance to hand in project proposals. Usually, the projects can be about almost anything. Our only rule of thumb is that the main technology shouldn’t be older than one year (remember: we are innovating). Sometimes, we have special topics for the ELU round, the last one was ‘Kill your own job’. Why? We wanted to focus on automating boring and recurring tasks in our day to day office life. Other than that, the proposals cover the very basics:

What do you want to develop? Why is something useful / something new? How are you going to develop it? What’s the timeline? What are the skills and technologies needed?

Project presentation and team building. On the first day of every ELU round, we take time to present the different projects and build the teams. This is somehow a natural selection of the coolest projects: Motees can choose, which project they want to join and by that, we only start working on the coolest ideas. At the end, we have several project teams who are ready to work on ELU projects together.

Start creating. From this point on, it is the team’s responsibility to work on their projects. We are completely free to choose methods, work modes, places, materials, etc. Point is that we are not restrained in any way, so that we really can explore, learn and implement.

The essence of ELU

As we said, ELU is all about innovating, discovering and implementing the newest technologies.

But just to make this clear: not every ELU project ends up being a success. At least not in the way that people usually would define success (to fully realize the project’s ideas). But that’s okay as long as we learn from it. Sometimes, new technologies are not that easy to implement — even for us.

If that happens, we make sure that we keep track of the things we discovered and why it failed so that we can assess our work. If we choose to dig deeper into that technology at a later point, we already know some of the challenges in advance.

No matter if ELU projects work out or not, they always are a great access point to new knowledge, ideas and technologies. All of this directly becomes a part of our toolbox and then influences our partners and customers. For example, last year we got our hands on Google’s Soli Sensor. We gathered valuable experience and expertise with this technology that is soon entering the markets. So basically we’re already one step ahead of all those who weren’t able to play around with it. Is there are a better way to take a company to the next level?

Apart from innovation management etc., ELU represents our company culture, our core values and the growth mindset.

How ELU fits our core values.

All in all, ELU, being the playful approach to new technologies that it is, provides endless opportunities for self-development. In a company’s scope, it further allows us to encourage team building, interdisciplinarity and overall a lot of fun.

So all of this explains why we do ELU: it doesn’t just allow individual self-development, but a shared growth mindset. And in the aftermath, it takes our whole company to another level because we stay close to the newest technologies and develop expertise through a playful approach. And as we said in the beginning, that is what it is about. Before we finish, let’s have a look at our current ELU projects.

About the cool stuff we’re doing at ELU

This is what’s happening right now.

We love tech. We are curious. We believe in the growth mindset. We work heart. We play heart (yes, we love bad puns). ELU is a format that gives us the room to develop without pressure. If you want to know more or be part of ELU yourself, check out our open positions!

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We are an R&D company that is specialized in the newest technologies.

Christopher Grobe

Written by

We are an R&D company that is specialized in the newest technologies.

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