“Henkel Innovation Challenge is a 1 month event during which students and startup’s tackle one of three digital innovation challenges faced at Henkel and propose a solution.”

The following is a synopsis of the design process applied for the duration of the challenge.

The Problem

Buyer-supplier relationships are increasingly collaborative rather than transactional. Identify new models to partner with suppliers and invent innovative digital solutions to strengthen collaboration.

Consumers look for customized products suited to their haircare needs. How can the needs of consumers be assessed through digital channels and physical stores, and be leveraged to provide customized solutions?

Social media is often used to understand our consumers’ needs and drive business to consumer (B2C) sales. However, in business to business (B2B) sales, social media is often neglected. How can Henkel draw insights from social media channels and, in turn, deliver greater value to our B2B customers?


All three problem statements are a manifestation of poor incoming and outgoing communication channels at Henkel.

Design Process


Cause and Effect Analysis
Ishikawa Diagram, Five Whys

1.Henkel wants to change the communication model with suppliers from transactional to collaborative.

Why? Because transactional relationships no longer meet Henkel’s needs from suppliers.

Why? Because transactional relationships are characterized by quick surface level interactions lacking trust and care.

2.Henkel wants to assess the needs of consumers, in the beauty care market, through digital channels and physical stores

Why? Because they are not able to provide unique solutions with their current model.

Why? Because they do not have the right data to understand the specific needs of their consumers hair.

Why? Because there is no data collection of personal hair quality.

3.Henkel wants to draw insights from social media channels in B2B relationships.

Why? Because businesses are only expressing thoughts at the end of an exchange and no upfront feedback is given.

Why? Because there is no method with which businesses can provide fast, ad-hoc feedback.

Why? Because Henkel’s relationships are dominantly transactional.

Primary Research
User Interviews, Stakeholder Interviews

2 Information Sessions Attended at which Henkel described the problems in greater detail and answered questions.

4 Stakeholder Interviews with Henkel representatives.

Secondary Research
Henkel 2020, Global Supply Chain Management

Secondary Market Research was done on the current initiatives at Henkel to better understand the motivations behind the Digital Innovation challenges presented.

Particularly of Interest:

  • “[Henkel’s] aim to consolidate all of its supply chains into a single global supply chain” - Wolfgang Weber (Eco-Business, 2017)

  • “…locating all of the company’s staff in one central location and the upgrading of their IT systems and processes with harmonized software…” Wolfgang Weber (Eco-Business, 2017)

  • “Henkel aims to digitize its interaction with customers, consumers, business partners and suppliers along the entire value chain…” (Eco-Business, 2017)

  • “Time delays that are seen with monthly reporting cycles are not a good fit for business today. This is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for supply chain organizations.” (Twentyman J, 2017)


Insights, Opportunities, Use Case Analysis, How Might We

The results of the discovery efforts were analyzed and related information was clustered. Based on the 5 why exercises, the first and last problem statements were grouped as one: Henkel’s current supply chain management lacks a means with which deep, collaborative relationships can be maintained.

Primary research discovered Henkel’s functional teams are not harmonized between one another on one communication and collaboration tool, increasing information passage complexity.

Secondary research gave insight into Henkel’s objectives and values including consolidation, digitization, and harmonization of communications solutions to achieve greater sustainability.


Impact x Feasibility Matrix

Two weeks was spent ideating on the dominant “How Might We”.

The ideas were evaluated with domain experts based on: Impact and Feasibility. The result of the evaluation gave a tangible order of execution for the proposed solutions.


Build, Test, Iterate
Diagrams, Paper Prototype, Presentation

Now aligned on a solution, a presentation was prepared for the finals. The presentation included a thorough analysis of the problem statement and a simulation of the proposed solution.