True disruption leads to innovation

Dr.-Ing. Michael Fübi Chief Executive Officer TÜV Rheinland

The word ‘disruption’ often has negative connotations. It may seem at first that someone who is being disruptive is perhaps destroying something that worked in the past. But there is often more to it than meets the eye. Disruption can also be useful – and sometimes even necessary.

Dr. Fübi, how important is disruption at TÜV Rheinland?

Destruction plays a big role in our industry. A simple example: Product testing. Here we also test in such a way that we destroy products – like textiles to test them for harmful materials, or steel cables to ascertain their actual load capacity. But destruction is also important for our company in the figurative sense – namely as creative disruption.


A lot of people perceive ‘disruption’ as something negative. But without creative disruption, there would be no economic development. Take production, for example: New combinations of machines, production techniques, materials and processes are constantly supplanting old structures, which frees up space for new, more efficient ways of doing things. Disruption is therefore necessary in order to advance, to remain innovative and competitive.

How are new things created at TÜV Rheinland?

One example is the innovation kickbox, an initiative that challenges all the employees in the company to come up with ideas and helps them implement these ideas. Each and every employee can participate. We have also increased our involvement in trade shows for entrepreneurs. And our company acquired a successful smart home start-up along with its expertise in 2016. This became the new IoT privacy global competence center at TÜV Rheinland. We plan on getting even more involved with start-ups in the future.

Lateral thinkers often turn out to be the more creative employees. Do those kinds of ‘disruptors’ have a place at TÜV Rheinland?

Instead of ‘disruptors’, I prefer to speak of non-conformists. Those employees who provoke by questioning things always find me eager and ready to listen. Because that is an important enabler for innovation to take place. That’s why we embolden our employees to think creatively and give them room to fail. Otherwise we can’t develop further.

Picture Credits: © TÜV Rheinland AG