Jenni Nevasalo: Finland needs 5,000,000 leaders


Work changes, the world around us changes, including us as individuals and members of the work community. At times we choose the new paths, but often we adapt to situations defined by others. Sometimes we follow a routine, sometimes we get to use all that we have learnt and solve completely new problems. Doesn't this mean that life goes on?

What does the future of work look like? Chief Adviser of Tekes, Tuomo Alasoini, collected trends and weak signals influencing working life. The central themes that came up were networks, co-development, meaningfulness of work, growth of integrity, work personalisation and digitalisation. Age structure is changing so that a wider spectrum of representatives from different generations are working together, which also raises new ideas of what work should be like. How do we capitalise on these different perspectives? Are we able to utilise the know-how and thoughts of our customers and partners in the development of the products and services at our workplace?

Finland needs more expansionary and international companies to create jobs and tax revenue as well as to attract more foreign investments. Finns respond positively to change and, according to studies, also develop their own work. Employees are also highly competent. According to the European Company Survey, Finland is at the top of the European scale in organisational changes, but in terms of the renewal of products and services we are lagging far behind the European average. Are we focusing on fine-tuning the old instead of boldly trying something completely new? Are we not able to use all the competence and will to develop that exists in our work community?

Tekes customer companies have begun to develop their operations in many ways. Tampere-based Vincit decided to seek competitive edge with satisfied employees, and they promise to fulfil their dreams. To customers they give a money-back guarantee if they are not satisfied. There has not been a need for many returns.

A retired machine shop entrepreneur said: "You always need to come up with something new and find new ways to cut costs if you want to stay in the competition." In this case, renewal is currently sought after by giving employees more responsibility for organising their own work and on-site monitoring. This means that supervisors are not needed on all sites. Work progresses, workers are competent and motivated, and contract costs have decreased. No one has lost their job due to these changes; quite the contrary, the company is now able to compete for larger contracts.

The Tekes Liideri programme was launched a year and a half ago to increase business, productivity and joy of working at Finnish workplaces. The vision is that Finland will have the best workplaces in Europe by 2020. The programme currently has about 70 Tekes-funded development projects and about ten research projects, all of which include several participating companies. The projects' participants develop products and services, improve their production and renew working methods.

Why is Tekes launching the Finland needs 5,000,000 leaders challenge campaign? Because we believe Finland has what it takes to succeed. We see a lot of bold renewal and will for it in the private and public sectors as well as in individual Finns. However, we need a lot more courage, open-minded looking into the future and trying something without the guarantee of success.

In addition to Tekes customer companies, successful renewal can also be seen elsewhere. We invite everyone to share their experience and insight. All employees have great thoughts, skills and ideas for the development of work or products and services. We need them all. Leaders have their own role in encouraging, supporting and challenging others.

We challenge entrepreneurs, leaders and all employees to use their skills for the benefit of their work community. At the same time we challenge everyone to co-operate beyond organisational borders and to trust that this will create more options. Anyone can show leadership quality by taking responsibility of their own work and the development of their work community – by being active in their own life.

We challenge everyone to open-mindedly renew Finnish working life with our eyes on the future.

Jenni Nevasalo


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