“Innovation is not only about adding on to your existing business model. You need to find completely new model as well” - Etti Seppä, Business Designer at KONE WORX
Together with our partners Technology Industries of Finland and KONE Corporation, we dived into KONE WORX; what enables them to act agile, explore freely and get next level insights about their customers.
KONE WORX is a groundbreaking innovation team within the KONE Corporation, exploring opportunities in horizon two and three. This means they work fully outside KONE’s current business model and existing competition, looking for blue oceans and completely new business areas.
“Engaging customers with an open manner, not trying to sell but really sharing their challenges creates trust and relationship. This forms a strong mutual base for innovation that brings genuine value to customers." - Tapio Peltonen, Founder at EEX
Interestingly, we hear similar messages from our large corporate participants currently helping the entrepreneurs: corporate executives find it uplifting how startup entrepreneurs turn challenges into possibilities, pivot, working very fast and engaging customers – focusing very hard on what really matters.
The foundation of a successful radical innovation team is full strategic support.
“You need to aim high – and you have to get the support from the top management”, Timo Tiainen, Head of KONE WORX, explains.
Even if the team is exploring entirely new business models, there needs to be a connection to the company strategy. At the end of the day, the goal is still to bring value to the mother company.
“Be prepared to prove your value, not after a year, but already after 3-6 months,” Timo warned. Just like in a real startup, you need to act fast, learn fast, and find solutions that have real customer value. As EEX’s Tapio Peltonen states: “learn or die”.
“I have to give a hats-off for the leaders for having patience because we have not been ready professionals at this, but it’s been a learning experience how to make it work.” - Timo Tiainen, Head of KONE WORX
A new type of innovation team like this is not built overnight, which is why it is very important to have the top management support. Finding the right ways to work is a process, but will in the end benefit the whole company when the practices and insights are shared throughout business units.
Once you have the management’s support, you need to build the team and create new, agile ways of working.
“We succeed when we help people learn and collaborate."- Laura Juvonen, Executive Director, Growth & Skills at Technology Industries of Finland
One key factor in building a good innovation team is diversity: you need to find people with different backgrounds and different ways of thinking. Combining different perspectives takes creativity to the next level and makes innovation more efficient. But it is not always easy. Collisions will happen, which is why you need to invest in building strong relationships between the teammates.
“Most of the time we don’t know where we are going. The ambiguity and pressure levels are high, so we need to take care of each other.” - Etti Seppä
Just like in a startup, the level of uncertainty will be high. You need to find entrepreneurial people and build a common vision, so that setbacks and failures can be overcome and treated as learning experiences on the way. Sometimes even a good solution isn’t investable, and you’ll have to “kill your babies”. A strong team spirit where everyone takes care of and encourages each other is thus crucial for long-term success.
“Without the right mindset the capabilities aren’t useful.” - Kaija Bridger, Head of Talent and Culture at KONE
To ensure that the learnings of the innovation team do not remain only within the team itself, the company culture needs to be open for new ideas and ways of working. Kaija Bridger, highlights the right mindset as the biggest transformational enabler.
According to Kaija, the growth mindset means that you ask “what if?” and “why not?”, listen for information instead of confirmation, show curiosity and entrepreneurship, and collaborate to co-create value. This mindset is possible if people feel safe, valued, empowered and inspired. That takes us on to the last stage of the process, i.e. building trust between all the parts involved.
The element of trust is central in all the phases of creating a startup-like innovation space. There needs to be trust between the top management and the innovation team and joint belief that the concept really is viable and worth investing in.
Secondly, there needs to be trust between the teammates so that they can work together in an open and frank way.
The final and most important relationship of trust is the one that is built between the innovation team and the customers they work with.
“What we do is build a win-win situation: we start from the customer needs, then build a common vision, and finally seek mutual business opportunities in it.” - Etti Seppä
Trust is essential because the way the innovations are built in KONE WORX is quite unique in the business world. The teams consist of people from both KONE and the customer company, and they dig deep into the problems and revenue structures of the customer. Being able to discuss these topics openly requires a very deep level of trust between the partners, but enables true co-creation of value.
How do you then build that kind of trust? Most importantly, it means you can’t sell anything. You have to be yourself and be fully honest with each other. There must be no hidden agendas, Etti explained about their ways of collaborating.
But still, it takes time, Timo reminded. Trust is not built in a few meetings, which is why the teams meet if not every day, at least many times a week.
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We hope this summary gave you inspiration and new ideas! Follow us on LinkedIn in order to participate in the future events!
If you are interested in getting more entrepreneurial spirit to your own team, also check out our EEX Journey program for corporate leaders. There is a new round starting every six months, the next one kicking off already in January!