Writer: Leena Huotari, Country Director, Finland
49. annual Finnish Quality Conference is now behind us and it gave a lot to think about. The conference, organized by Laatukeskus Excellence Finland from 17th to 18th May, 2017, was about the themes of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The program included great speeches and case examples by experts. One popular topic was about how the change appears and how strong it is. For example, technological changes will reshape our way of working. The message was clear: You have to change with the world or you will be left behind.
TripleWin was one of the partners for this event. Thus, we were presenting NOOA, our change management SaaS, in the partner area and in one of the parallel sessions.
Quality is about how we keep up with change
From the very beginning of the conference, it was clear how the 4th industrial revolution will affect the way quality will be seen in the future. Almost without an exception, there was great emphasis on shifting the focus to be more future-oriented. The perspective of continuous development was also emphasized throughout the conference.
The conference began with professor Markku Wilenius’s invoking opening speech about the overall changes in the world and long-term economic cycles. There are changes in our operational environment on a number of levels – physically, biologically and digitally – and this will change the work life and work habits. To succeed in the future, lessons can be drawn from the resource efficiency and new utilization of traditional know-how. For example, we at NOOA Global, moved from consulting industry to gaming industry as the importance of digital services is increasing. I agree with Wilenius that the quality depends on how we keep up with the changing world. While there might not be a certain recipe for success, work must be built on natural human activity. The quality of work life is determined by how people with their unique characteristics get opportunities for fulfillment in a group.
Wilenius used a company example to specify that the best-performing companies are companies with high employee and customer satisfaction. In these companies responsibility and power have been transferred to autonomous teams and the leader’s role is more about training and coaching. Enabling the flow of information and transparency through many different channels is the most important task of the organization. This presentation was really inspirational, since it reflected the very things that I believe in and for which we have built our own gamified service on. In the future, a human-based and inclusive model will get you far.
The first day’s case examples were about new technologies such as virtual reality, robotics and the next generation automotive industry led by Valmet Automotive. Also, all these presentations taught us about changes that can affect our ways of working and ways of producing services. People have to work smarter in the future in order to compete, and new technology is often the means to do so.
New generation systems will aid quality work
On the first day I was speaking in a parallel session, which had a theme New generation systems aiding quality work. This think tank was started by Niclas Hemtman from Canon who introduced Canon’s well-thought-out management system. My own subject was NOOA’s story from an idea to an internationally awarded innovation. The discussions after and during the think tank were the ones that I remember the best. They reflected how digitalization changes the daily life, leadership practices and business models. For this reason it is important to develop new practices by testing them and then help the best ones to spread and work in daily life.
Moreover, in most cases the intent to develop is strong, but the direction is not always clear. Old “Excel hassles” will not work in management systems or change management. Better ways to do thing are available, but only if you have the courage to try them. Together we came to a conclusion that you need to unlearn old habits and change the organizational culture in order to truly benefit from development culture in Finland.
Another thing that stuck with me was that it is not about the strategy, but about the people who make the change. Still we typically invest a lot into fine tuning the strategy and pay less attention to people. As we saw in the presentation by Wilenius, companies must find ways to make the employees to participate and work better. Hemtman, who made his presentation with me in the think tank, mentioned that people spend almost a day per week on just finding information! Canon’s model is a great example of how organizing information can be done better. The host of the think tank, Elina Mäkinen from Laatukeskus Excellence Finland, told us that many of her preconceptions were swept away when she used NOOA and that NOOA helped her to make self-assesments about where she can improve. If individuals can make even small improvements, the positive results will multiply for the whole company.
I spoke in my presentation about the customers needs for which we developed NOOA. From the customer surveys we conducted there arose three main points that also came up often in the think tank:
- Companies make great plans, but they just can’t put them into practice
- Many times you see that the results are being measured, but no the things that lead up to the results
- More and more development happens over organizational borders and there’s no know-how about how to lead it
More and more digitalization is about these things, which hasten the change in operational environment. The speed and employees’ ability to self manage are also becoming more important. The conclusion of our think tank could be: Lets be agile, brave and open to new possibilities – and lets work smarter!
Lets keep our quality high and our eyes on the future
During the second day of the Quality Conference we continued with interesting presentations and case companies. Many presenters spoke about the effect values have on organizational change. They also mentioned how accountability, security or animal rights can be a source of innovation and quality. Values have a strong influence on how people buy things. Understanding these needs is the key for being successful in the competition. Values also live longer than any singular solution by a company. Even though Jenny Elfsberg from Volvo Construction Equipment and designer Paola Suhonen come from very different industries, both of them brought up very similar things about sources of quality and development. They urged us to challenge the common assumptions and trends and to bravely try new things: ”The only way to do it, is to do it”. You shouldn’t fear failure, because it can lead to something inspiring! Thus, the key competences for the future according to Jenny Elfsberg are:
- Being curious and open minded
- Working together and understanding the need for being different
- The ability to watch from a holistic perspective outside your own functionality
- Analytics – use data, model and simulation
- Solution-oriented way of thinking – failing is only learning
The city of Turku and Turku School of Applied Sciences are on this journey. The City of Turku has organized their development activity in a new way, strongly bringing up customer needs and information, trying things out, agility and transparency.
I could mention something special about every presentation because every speaker brought up interesting viewpoints. A warm thank you to Laatukeskus Excellence Finland for great arrangements. Also thanks to all participants for every pleasant and thought-provoking conversation! Even though I already had a chance to talk to many of you, I’d love to continue our conversation about how NOOA can support your organization in these changes towards an excellent future. You can easily schedule a meeting with me from the button below: