The organisational culture of over a 100-year-old organisation is not transformed overnight. Founded in 1888, Tampereen Sähkölaitos, a modern energy company located in the Finnish city of Tampere, employs almost 400 people. How should one go about establishing a common language and common ways of working for a group of people as large as this? Business Driven Technology Leader Johannes Lindell and Lead Business Technology Manager Riikka Salonen believe that they have found the answer.

When Lindell became the CIO of Tampereen Sähkölaitos in 2010 after a long career including international telecom companies, the organization did not yet have an IT function. After the IT function was established in 2010, the function has since transformed into a business technology (BT) unit, combining both business and IT. The new BT unit, however, is only one sign of the cultural change that has taken place.

“Our goal has been to discover common ways of working, a common language, and a common culture,” says Lindell. To act as the foundation for all of these, Tampereen Sähkölaitos chose the Business Technology Standard, an open-source framework for managing business technology.

The BT Standard and the related trainings have provided the organization with tools to build a more professional way of working both inside the organization and with our partners – this is what creates the “pro spirit” mentioned in the BT unit’s slogan. In addition, work efficiency, partner management, and service management have been elevated to new levels, and common ways of working in have been established for project management.

“We now know how to make good agreements, set the bar high for our partners and how to work professionally. We use less time and get better service. This provides us clear business benefits”, states Lindell.

The time and effort invested in culture, training, and developing ways of working have also convinced Sofigate’s Senior Advisor Liisa Korkiakoski, the person responsible for the business technology trainings.

“They are really on a roll and have changed their culture in a big way. It’s great to see how they have made it a priority that people are encouraged to learn new things and get the support they need. The results of this work are now plain to see”, praises Korkiakoski.

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Riikka Salonen and Johannes Lindell both believe that training is a good way of engaging staff and building common ways of working in a work community.

Johannes Lindell Riikka Salonen

Riikka Salonen and Johannes Lindell both believe that training is a good way of engaging staff and building common ways of working in a work community

A CULTURE THAT UNDERSTANDS THE VALUE OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

A healthy organizational culture encouraging learning did not emerge at Tampereen Sähkölaitos by chance. It’s the result of determined work through recruiting and training.

”I have intentionally recruited people with different backgrounds, so not just people with IT backgrounds. If everybody in the organization is cut from the same cloth, new perspectives don’t arise”, says Lindell.

When hundreds of people with different backgrounds and strengths are working across multiple units and jobs, there is a real need for clarity in collaboration. Therefore, Lindell and Salonen set a goal of building a common way of talking about things.

”Training helps heaps with this. It’s also very important for the employer image. Not only when recruiting new people, but as an enabler for longer careers. If you get support for your development and get opportunities to develop, then you don’t need to switch jobs to find either”, summarizes Salonen.

The fact that the Business Technology standard is a part of the unit’s philosophy has also been an attraction factor. Salonen recounts how the organization’s emphasis in training and competence development made a memorable impact and played a key role in her own recruiting process.

”These factors played a major role very early in the recruitment process. In addition to being offered something interesting to do, I immediately got opportunities for training and tools for competence development”, Salonen recollects.

YOU CAN’T DEVELOP WHEN BLINDFOLDED

The principle of supporting diversity and different perspectives at Tampereen Sähkölaitos applies to trainings as well. Lindell’s rule of thumb has been that the unit favors training with participants from other industries as well.

”This principle of Johannes is a good one. Instead of us turning inwards to analyse our own ways of working, we also hear experiences and ideas from people working in other industries. This provides us with opportunities to analyse our ways of working from new perspectives and in the process discover something new”, praises Salonen.

Salonen put her learnings into action when establishing the Tampereen Sähkölaitos service integration unit, or SMO (Service Management Office). Both Salonen and her colleagues have attended the same business technology academy training in different groups. The small differences in the gained perspectives helped to find a good overall solution.

”We gathered and combined our thoughts about how our SMO could work. Our ideas developed gradually over time and us having attended the same training helped. Even though our focus was different, a common framework and shared experience helped us find a common language”, Salonen summarizes.

At Tampereen Sähkölaitos, the philosophy is that training does not comprise only of the learning experience and accumulated information of the person attending the training. With each training, the organization also learns, when training participants return with new ideas and perspectives. This is how the common language and common way of working –  “the pro spirit”  is built piece by piece.

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