Journey to Innovation

An example of the development of an innovation process, the associated organisation and the necessary cultural elements, roles and skills. We demonstrate this approach on the model of our customer Oiltanking.


Oiltanking has identified four main trends in an analysis of market changes:

  • Fast moving market environment (e.g. change in the energy sector)
  • Continuous implementation of new technologies
  • Increasing amounts of data and the democratization of information
  • The new war for talent

These trends are changing the way companies and employees work. The Oiltanking management has therefore decided to intensify its innovation activities.

Oiltanking and its parent company Marquard & Bahls pursue innovation from the following three perspectives:

(1) Continuous optimization of existing core processes in areas such as Assets & Operations. In most cases, this consists of designing work processes in a more intelligent way in the future.

(2) Differentiation and Diversification, i.e. expanding business in and around the core activities by investing in so-called “neighboring activities.

(3) Exploration of new business models that go beyond what Oiltanking is doing today, e.g. solar or wind power.

To establish innovation as an integral part of Oiltanking’s corporate culture to enhance the competitiveness of customers, expand its own business, preserve the planet and promote the leadership qualities of its employees.


To date, however, there has been no process regulating how new ideas are selected, promoted and implemented in relation to the three fields of innovation.  Oiltanking needed an innovation process, the organization required to implement it (including clearly defined roles), and the roles and skills necessary to promote innovation.


TOI developed a workshop and training concept for this challenge.

The foundation for all innovation activities was laid in an onboarding workshop. Here, the aim was to clarify the expectations of top management and executives from different national companies and to define the concrete project scope.

In the next stage, management and executives from the international subsidiaries jointly developed the new process, the desired changes for the innovation culture and the organizational requirements.

TOI’s Innovation Strategists developed a tailor-made workshop for this purpose, in which the participants were guided through the solution of the task. For example, they were able to play through various process scenarios to see how different building blocks of an innovation process would work in the company.

TOI created the detailed innovation process from the information provided by the three sprints Process, Organisation and Mindset, developed the roles and skill profiles of the people involved and documented a procedure for pilot projects, training of employees in the country organizations and the rollout of the projects. The resulting workbook serves as a blueprint for each innovation project at Oiltanking.


Only two months after the setup with the various management workshops, Oiltanking started the pilot phase. The teams identified three pilot projects and developed corresponding prototypes in design sprints, which are currently being evaluated and tested.

After the pilot, the entire process is verified and the acceleration phase begins.

This includes training in Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Scrum and the corresponding innovation skills.

Under the direction of TOI we clarified our innovation process. In a four day sprint we developed a corresponding ecosystem and mindset. Without the experienced facilitators we weren’t able to finish this task in such a short time.
Yvan Tavernier
Director Assets and Operations

Industry: Logistics
Employees: 3300
Branches in 24 Countries

Oiltanking has been operating in the tank terminal logistics sector since 1972 and is one of the largest independent partners for the storage of mineral oils, chemicals and gases. The company owns and operates 73 tank terminals in 24 countries with a total capacity of 20 million cubic meters. They are located on five continents – in Europe, North and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, India and the Asia-Pacific region.



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