Wärtsilä marine mastermind contest 2016

The speed of innovation requires a start-up mentality

Nowadays, you cannot miss people buzzing about start-ups and how great they are. Certainly, there is some excess hype around them, but don’t let that misguide you – there are very good reasons for the buzz. And these reasons are their ability to get into customers’ heads and their speed of innovation.

Text: Tero Hottinen  Photo: Wärtsilä

A culture of experimentation and the ‘fail-fast’ attitude derived from design thinking are at the very core of the lean start-up approach. But in the end, it is less about failing fast than about succeeding soon. It is about truly understanding just what the customer needs and providing exactly that in a faster manner – through prototyping, testing and iterating together, with constant customer involvement – and about taking user experience into account.

Luckily, this approach is not only the privilege of actual start-ups; corporations can benefit from it as well. We at Wärtsilä have taken several cues from the start-up world and adopted methodologies to help us understand how to gear up our speed of innovation.

One very good example of tapping into the mind-set of the start-up world is the Wärtsilä Marine Mastermind competition, where we invited the start-up community to come up with digital service innovations for the marine industry. We got to witness the start-up life in action and understand what it really means. We also got our hands dirty developing a new business concept during a six-week Lean Innovation Lab sprint together with the winner Marina Ahoy.This sprint, besides leading into a highly promising business concept, really was an eye-opener for many of us and a proof that, with lean start-up methodologies, it is possible to bring an innovation to life very rapidly.

We also organised two hackathons, the first of which was Digisauna. There, our cross-discipline experts teamed up with external partners for a 48-hour, intensive session to come up with new digital solution concepts for predefined business challenges. And these sessions were far removed from the image of nerds eating pizza while programming. Well, actually, both those aspects were included, but it was really about applying the same design thinking and lean start-up methodologies to generate rapidly something that the customer really needs. What’s more, the customer for each team was a dedicated internal business owner who was involved directly in the development – so the teams could incorporate the customer’s needs and feedback continuously.

The above examples are just the beginning in becoming a more start-up-minded organisation with a greater speed of innovation. We have taken the first steps, and after seeing the results it may bring, there is no turning back. So, there certainly is a lot more to come, and not least from our digitally infused organisation. Stay tuned!

Tero Hottinen, Director, Digital Ventures

Tero Hottinen, General Manager, Business Innovation

Leave a comment

Load more comments