Andreas Meschede

Andreas Meschede

The visionary

The reason Andreas Meschede plays with Lego bricks in meetings? He loves new perspectives. All for one mission: preparing his colleagues for the digital future.

For Andreas Meschede, thyssenkrupp’s digital future starts in the analogue world. Up to his ankles in straw at a German farmyard, on the steamy streets of Singapore, or on the floor of a conference room, surrounded by Lego bricks and people building with them: The physicist regularly works at places that help him inspire thyssenkrupp employees to shift perspective in a playful way. Meschede coordinates the Groupwide foresight process, in which thyssenkrupp taps into the creativity of its employees to develop future scenarios. “It’s not possible to project or calculate the distant future in a straight line. We have to allow ideas that go beyond what we can imagine today but are still logically and physically possible.”


Interdisciplinary collaboration is a key factor for the success of the innovation process. With around 160 colleagues from all business areas, external experts and lateral thinkers Meschede develops scenarios for living and working further into the future. Megacities, mobility, agriculture, air, water and energy are the themes they address. According to Meschede, the central questions are: “What is important in the long term, what can become established and shape people’s lives? And what will our customers need from us then?”


The “Future of production” is one theme with two fundamentally different assumptions: “What would happen if in 2030 we had total data freedom and placed huge trust in machines? And at the other extreme, what would happen if industry never made it to 4.0 but was deliberately stopped at 3.5? What impact would that have on production and distribution?” According to Meschede, defining alternative scenarios allows us to think ahead along more concrete lines and come up with solutions today that customers will need tomorrow. “The aim is to make strategic innovation decisions that will culminate in new projects, research and applications.”


So far around 270 ideas have been developed in this way. The thyssenkrupp team working on the Industrial Data Space project (see page on the right) has also taken part in the Foresight process and produced initial results for Industry 4.0.


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