Reducing inefficiencies requires collaboration
Since I joined Cargotec in January 2016, one of my main tasks has been to accelerate the company digital transformation. During my years with similar challenges, I have become a true believer in collaboration.
Collaboration is the key in unleashing digital innovation, and it can reduce inefficiencies in all different scales - within the organisation, between organisations and within the industry.
Creating innovation communities
One effective way to start is to increase company’s internal collaboration. I have been involved in several initiatives at Cargotec that directly demonstrate the value of sharing, and gaining business benefits with it.
Building and fostering internal communities is one way to go. Initiated in 2016, our digital competence community helps people solve problems related to AI, technological distribution, automation and robotics, for example, and they have provided a place for sharing knowledge and experiences, as well as creating a shared sense of belonging.
Another example is the Emerging Business Accelerator (EBA), our internal 10-week programme for exploring and validating new business opportunities. Even though EBA concepts are rather diverse, we’ve found significant value in bringing the concepts and people from different business lines together, connecting with many kinds of customers. This creates a positive peer pressure for results and learnings, as everyone shares their experiences with customers, gives and receives, and provides support to each other.
Creative organisations need to learn all the time, and both of these examples demonstrate creating networks with the organisation that are conducive to creativity, innovation and action.
Emphatise and co-create with customers
Before developing ideas further at the EBA, the first thing I always ensure with participants is that they really engage and co-create with customers. All of their ideas must solve real needs of actual customers. To find real customer problems, you need to gain empathy to understand: What are their challenges, what is troubling them, where are their pain points?
Listening and being curious is crucial. When going to the customers to observe, interview and ask questions, we come to understand what is really important. This is what we need to focus on, as that is what brings real value. Many times in our EBA programme, in the first weeks when we go to the customers we’ve learned that our original great ideas were not really that relevant, but the visits bring great learnings and insights. This learning is a great thing - then we can concentrate in developing things that are relevant. World has seen many solutions to problems that do not exist.
From company-level innovation to industry cooperation
Finally, collaboration should extend to the whole industry. Companies have been more or less like islands. For example, when company-specific IT solutions are used, data is usually available only for the company itself. However, to provide value to the whole value chain, it needs to be shared between the supply chain players. Without sharing and timing of processes, congestion and delays may happen and costs go up.
Unified standards and commonly used systems may be part of the solution here. At Cargotec, our collaboration cloud platform XVELA - the only such solution within the industry - powers connected intelligence across the ocean supply chain and works with other solutions as well, both our own and others.
Cooperation and collaboration brings many benefits to our industry. If we want to create truly customer-centric solutions, we need to collaborate together within our ecosystem.
However, to get real movement in the industry, there needs to be something more than just an improved company efficiency, that creates collaboration. Fortunately I have started to really see a shared sense of purpose and sense of urgency emerge on solving the industry (and global) problems. This movement will help us really push the innovation to produce tangible results.
What are your thoughts?
I will continue with these topics in this forum, and it would be great to hear your views on this subject: do you have any experiences from your own organisation that you want to share? Is it ever possible that cooperation is bad for the organisation? Please write your thoughts on the comments section below.