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Where ideas are born: The Driving Lounge

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The Driving Lounge – business forum for the automotive trade

We live in a world that is changing very quickly: What used to work in the past is no longer successful today, innovations or demographic change are altering conditions, new challenges are coming our way. You need new ideas to keep up and to meet new challenges. But you have to come up with them first. You need the necessary inspiration for this. And it grows and flourishes best where you learn, where you exchange ideas and where you feel comfortable.

We offered the Mercedes representatives in Germany just such a place with the Driving Lounge. In contrast to the Mercedes branches, Mercedes dealers and service partners are independent companies from the parent company. The current challenge for Mercedes dealers is the change in the service business due to increased vehicle quality and technical developments. The market, customer structure and customer behavior are also undergoing a process of change that requires a rethink. Old strategies often no longer work.

In this situation, it is beneficial and inspiring for the Mercedes representatives to discuss their topics, problems and challenges among their peers, ideally in a forum that is independent of the Group. This generates new ideas and food for thought and gives representatives the opportunity to think fundamentally about their business.

This was the approach taken by the Driving Lounge, which took place on June 11, 2015 at the Seminares Campus Hotel in Berlin Dahlem. A very exclusive circle was invited: the managing directors and members of the management of the Mercedes-Benz contract partners of the German retail sector who have entrepreneurial responsibility.

The conference was organized by kc.art GmbH and us, the berliner team. We, the berliner team, have been working as consultants for Daimler AG and Mercedes Benz Retail, both for the branches and the agents, since 1998 and know the brand very well. And kc.art also has a long-standing business relationship with the Mercedes representatives and service partners: the “Management Cockpit” software tool developed by kc.art is used to display the key figures required for corporate management. Its customers include over 100 Mercedes dealers.

One day, Marco Malz and Rotger Weser from kc.art were sitting together with the berliner team managing directors Susanne and Oliver Grätsch and realized that they had the same customers. Shortly afterwards, the kc.art team visited the Leadership Lounge organized by the berlin team. They liked the Leadership Lounge concept, with high-quality keynote speeches, networking and a lounge atmosphere. Shortly afterwards, kc.art approached the berlin team with the idea of designing such a lounge together for their joint customer Mercedes – precisely tailored to their needs. The idea of the Driving Lounge was born.

On 10. and June 11, the Driving Lounge took place for the first time at the SEMINARIS Campus Hotel Berlin. Over one and a half days, the participants listened to eight presentations, but there was also room for discussion and exchange. Some of the presentations were given by managing directors in retail, who dealt with processes and problems in the Mercedes dealerships and offered innovative solutions.

But there were also speakers from the world of science, such as brain researcher Dr. Christian Hoppe, who conducts research on the topic of high performance. He explained that, according to his research, high performance is best achieved through talent and aptitude, rather than through motivation and work. His conclusion was: Motivation comes from success! In the corporate context, this means that it makes much more sense and saves resources to focus on selecting the right employee than to channel extensive resources into non-technical training or coaching. And in order to achieve a desired behavior, praise of the desired behavior is much more useful than criticism of the undesired behavior.

Another highlight of the Driving Lounge was the keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Minx. He worked for many years as a futurologist for Daimler AG and was head of the “Society and Technology” department. Today, he is head of the “Research and Future” foundation. With a helicopter view of the world and its future, he discussed what it takes to be successful in the long term. The focus of his presentation was less on Mercedes-related topics and more on change and innovation – and the mindset required to achieve this. The realization that emerged from this was that in times of change, we are forced to reorient ourselves and think in a completely new and different way. Completely new strategies are required to survive on the market in the long term. Optimization and more effort with the same approach will not achieve much in the long term.

Best practice tips from colleagues who have solved the same challenges in different ways gave the participants a range of new options for dealing with their difficulties. The participants took away a wealth of new ideas thanks to the suggestions from the presentations, moderated discussions that allowed for different perspectives and working groups that dealt intensively with specific challenges.

At the end, the company theater company Die Beglücker summarized the event with all its topics, quotes and thoughts improvisationally into a comedy show and made everyone laugh. With the song “All my little ducks” in their ears, sung by 45 high-caliber managers, the participants made their way home in a good mood, informed and inspired.

The feedback was consistently positive. The most common farewell greeting was: “I’ll be back next year.”

Thanks to all our guests! We also had fun.

The authors

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Oliver Grätsch
Michelle 550
Michelle Templin
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Christian Grätsch
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Matthias Beikert
Susanne_Grätsch_1_550x550px
Susanne Grätsch
Monika Bt 550x550
Monika Steininger
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Kai Hübner
Philipp Andresen 500x550
Philipp Andresen
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Dr. Claudia Schmidt
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Inga Kühn
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Kassandra Knebel
BT_Web_Team_Lehmann_550x550
Claudia Lehmann
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Anna Isabell Arendt
Komplettes Team

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Berliner Team