Continuous development, along with pioneering innovations, is crucial for the survival of any business. But what is it that empowers a company to maintain an innovative environment?
Pasi Kangas, Vice President and Head of R&D at business area Sandvik Materials Technology, says that one of the keys is the long history of close cooperation with customers.
“We have always been passionate about collaboration with customers, academia and partners. It enables us to understand the needs of the customers, but also to see beyond the obvious answers, he says.”
Taina Heimonen, Automation Development Manager at business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, agrees and points out:
“If you ask what people need, they will give you an answer based on what’s possible just now. A true understanding of the core need will open up new opportunities. Sometimes that understanding, along with a technical curiosity, will lead to real innovations.”
It’s a matter of trust, patience and a true passion for solving customer challenges
Mia Pålsson, Product Manager, Turning at product area Sandvik Coromant in Sandviken, Sweden, emphasizes the importance of leadership.
“An innovative environment requires a certain leadership, built on engagement, trust, curiosity and patience,” she says. “A team that wants to innovate is so much more efficient and open-minded than a team that has to.”
The Sandvik leadership model is created to build engaged leaders who encourage their teams to develop an innovative mind-set – one that comes from inner drive rather than from demands.
Pålsson gives an example. When two of her colleagues asked her to hear them out two and a half years ago, she had no idea what was coming. The two engineers presented their idea. She says she didn’t fully understand the potential then, but she trusted her talented colleagues and gave them room.
“Sometimes an idea turns out not to be as great as you’d hoped,” Pålsson says. “But sometimes it turns into a success, which was the case this time. It’s a matter of trust, patience and a true passion for solving customer challenges.”