Managerial Odyssey 2023: Switzerland - Creaholic : the "innovation factory”

Describing Creaholic's DNA? Making the most of a crisis

In this article, we will present the first Swiss company we met, in 3 steps: its managerial specificities, its way of dealing with crisis and its approach to organizational change!

The people we met!


1 - What makes this company different?

Creaholic presents itself as an “innovation factory”. It’s a description that intrigued us from the start. Their concept is defined as follows: it’s not an engineering firm, not a consulting firm, not a design studio, not a manufactory… It’s a combination of all of these, led by an open-minded, free-spirited team. Their main objective? To invent innovative products and solutions.

  • First of all, Tiziano discloses that it is above all their bilateral business model that makes him proud. Indeed, not only do the collaborators carry out consulting missions for companies, but they also create new companies from their inventions! There is a real synergy that takes place: the consulting missions allow to finance the incubations, but also inspire the “professional inventors” on a daily basis. They can also share the products incubated internally with their clients. This is how 14 “spinoffs” were created. These companies are financed by Creaholic and external investors “to make sure that the project speaks to other people than us” (cf Michael). And very often, the inventor at the origin of the idea becomes the director of this new company, real career opportunities for Creaholicers!
  • In addition, Michael aka “Michi” explains that one of their strengths is that work is always done as a team, a “Dream Team” of two people. One can focus on the content and deeper reflection, while the other leads the process. According to them, it is thanks to this way of working that they are able to face the challenges. “1+1>2
  • What really impressed us was the way in which the company’s philosophy and values are physically present throughout their premises:

On the ceiling, the 6 components of their innovation culture. (More info on these components here )

The culture of feedback is embedded into the company culture, as each Creaholicer has a peer with whom regular feedback is made.

Several writing tables are set up in the premises because “to encourage exchange and creativity, we need dedicated spaces” (Michi)

2 - Taking the positive out of a crisis, Creaholic's DNA?

Through their role as innovation consultants, they are used to dealing with crises and to take the positives out of these. Indeed, companies call on them when they face a new problem, for which there is no solution. Creaholic’s role is to find an innovative solution.

Their approach to crisis is explained in their logo, broken down below: When faced with a “crisis”, there are :

  • First, the “gaseous” phase, where one has to accept that there is chaos, i.e. ideas are flowing, “exploding”, in order to make the most of your creativity. -Then the “liquid” phase, where you have to materialize the chosen idea into something tangible (a product or a solution).
  • And finally the “solid” phase, when the solution is actualized and ready to be given to the customer.

Find Michi’s video explanation of the logo here.

Exogenous crises:

  • The ecological crisis

Some of their innovations and their spin-off companies, act in favor of ecology: whether reducing energy consumption (projects “Gjosa”, “Joulia”) or acting for the preservation of the environment (project “Arboloom”).

Find their projects by clicking here .

  • The meaning of work crisis

When we meet with a company, in order to better understand each other, we offer them a definition of the crisis of meaning at work. Here it is.

According to Coralie Perez in the book Redonnez du sens au travail, in order for an employee to find meaning at work, 3 criteria must be met:

1 – Finding the social utility of one’s work
At Creaholic, consultants are free to choose the missions they wish to work on and they must be meaningful. Criterion 1) is therefore fulfilled.

2 – The individual’s capacity for action
Concerning the individual capacity for action, at Creaholic there is a metaphor used to define the autonomy and the responsibility of Creaholicers, that of the boat: It represents the company. If the decision I have to make could jeopardize the “hull” of the boat, i.e., jeopardize the existence of the company, then “I need to involve others to decide”, otherwise “I can make the decision on my own”. According to Tiziano, this decision-making culture allows them to be particularly responsive in times of crisis, since decisions can be decentralized.

Find the explanation of the boat metaphor in the video here.


3 – Being part of a principled system at the company level
Regarding the registration into a principled system, Creaholic is in the process of becoming B-Corp certified.

3 - Change at Creaholic, How is it Going?

An example of organizational change

Just recently, Creaholic experienced a major change in its organization. Until now, Creaholic only had the structure to organize value-added functions (like project work or incubation) and support functions (like sales, IT, legal). In 2021, Creaholic decided to give more structure to its professional inventors, but in its own way: “each individual finds his or her “home” within a “cell” according to his or her dominant skill” says Michi . They have created 5 cells in all, each with a different theme (e.g. design, strategic thinking, sustainable development…). Indeed, it is important to know that each Creaholicer has several functions. For example, a Creaholicer can both work on innovation projects as an engineer and concurrently be in charge of an aspect of internal development.

“Managing partners” are the Creaholicers who are involved in the internal development of Creaholic, and they are the ones who drive organizational changes. They are therefore the ones who proposed the creation of the 5 “cells” in which all Creaholicers are placed.  These cells function as think tanks rather than separators.

This change was welcomed because, according to Tiziano, one of Creaholic’s values is transparency. They believe in sharing information, so that Creaholicers can make decentralized decisions and understand the decisions that are made higher up.

Every two weeks, the managing partners meet with all employees to share the company's figures and results, as well as the decisions taken and why.

Transparency within Creaholic is regularly worked on: “every 2 weeks, the managing partners gather all the employees to share the figures and results of the company, as well as the decisions taken and why” explains Tiziano

This regular and transparent communication is the key to a relationship of trust, which then allows for change to be understood and accepted.

In addition, the boat philosophy explained above helps to anchor a common culture regarding decision making. It allows everyone to drive change, knowing when it is necessary to involve others or not.

We hope you enjoyed this article! Thanks and see you soon!


Élodie & Dimitri