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Whether you are a Picasso in the boardroom or just average, everything boils down to one thing...

Understanding talent is the sum of... Finding talent inside the company 12 Keeping the talent you have Personal understanding of your strengths 22



3.2010 It is often said that we are all snowflakes. We are all the same,, but different. Find what makes you special and exploit it to o the tilt.

Evolution of Executive Education. In Aalto EE we continuously anticipate future trends in leadership & management and executive education. We do this together with the faculty of Aalto University, our international network of experts, and our customers. Right now the executive education is going through a phase of rapid evolution. Executive education activities that take place on organizational level have to be directly linked to the company’s or organization’s strategy. Development projects must focus on issues that a company would have to deal with anyways. Benchmarking against other companies is valuable, but it too must be carried out in a systematic and practical manner. As a development partner, we play an important role in ensuring that as well the knowledge inputs as the innovative, often experimental, learning methods directly support concrete action. Aalto Leadership Lab is an example of a totally new approach At, you can take part in within the area of leadership and people skills development. creating Profile magazine. We see that the development of individuals increasingly takes place You can also get a taste together with others, as part of a small group. When development programs of articles in process are formed of several small groups coming from different companies, both and find some inspiration interactive benchmarking and individual company development become for your own leadership possible. In turn, forums focused on a specific topic are based on the idea of development. a company acquiring membership in the forum while the individual participants change flexibly from period to period according to the needs. The DiViA forum for digital communication and the new Aalto Leaders’ Insight are good examples of this. MBA and Executive MBA programs always require strong personal motivation and commitment from the individuals. In the case of degree programs, two trends can be spotted. Many companies use EMBA as a retention tool and pay for the EMBA tuition or at least a part of it. Taking care of the professional market value is essential. For the same reason, individuals are also willing to invest in their education. The options available must be flexible and modular and preferably have a pathway to for instance the EMBA. The continuity and compatibility of components are essential considerations. Both individuals and organizations make well-considered decisions and a good price-quality ratio is very important. They also expect to get included in the design of the education product or service. As a partner, we need to exhibit strong vision, offer suggestions and come up with innovative – even surprising – solutions. The speed and right direction Minna Hiillos, Acting Managing Director, of talent development are currently the most important competitive advantages for individuals, as well as organizations. Aalto EE

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as a catalyst that fosters a talent atmosphere.


What have you learned about...


You can’t force change. No matter how hard you try.

Yves Doz explains the art of managing today’s talent.

Finding talent. Practice and talent. Leading talent.

What makes Talent Tick.

It’s easy to find talent.

The Subtle Art of Talent Leadership.

But keeping them is another story, entirely.

Publisher: Aalto University Executive Education Ltd, Mechelininkatu 3 C, 00100 Helsinki, Finland tel. +358 10 837 3700 Aalto Executive Education Academy Pte Ltd, Singapore 25 North Bridge Road, EFG Bank Building, Unit 08-03, 179104 Singapore, Singapore tel. +65 6339 7338 Editorial office: Maggie Oy / Zeeland, Producer: Lotta Vaija, Creative Director: Miikka Leinonen Art Director: Sissu Muhujärvi Printing: SP-Paino Oy, Hyvinkää, ISSN 1458-2058

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Tips you can use

Acting Editor in Chief: Minna Hiillos,


We filled the toolbox with ideas on how you can find and nurture your own talent, strenghten your resume and learn the power of comparative advantage.

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You can also find this material from web sources.



Government can serve

Aalto University Executive Education Ltd (Aalto EE) offers high-quality executive development services, supported by the competence of the new Aalto University. The company has had a subsidiary in Singapore since 2000. Aalto EE’s mission is to build a better world through better leadership and to educate a new generation of leaders. The organization’s strengths lie in its global operating model and versatile offering. The new Aalto University has brought Aalto EE a multidisciplinary approach to executive development along with innovative learning methods. In 2010, the estimated turnover of Aalto University Executive Education Ltd is €10 million and the headcount is some 50.

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While surprising, our new social media era has parallels to the Renaissance that fueled Leonardo da Vinci.

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EXPLAINED The only constant is change. Learn to embrace it.

Fight or flight? a.k.a.

FEAR OF CHANGE “Cainophobia or Cainotophobia, Cenophobia or Centophobia, Kainolophobia or Kainophobia, or Neophobia is defined as the persistent and abnormal fear of anything new; things, ideas or situations, of novelty. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine.” TEXT: RISTO PAKARINEN


nybody wanting to spread some fear into any organization – be it a sports team, company or the army – need only say the following sentence and panic will ensue: “There will be some changes made around here.” But it’s not really change we’re afraid of, is it? We can’t live without change. For example, most of us like having different seasons. Aha! But we know what the seasons are, don’t we? We know what to expect. In fact, we love different kinds of clothes, food … we like variation (unless you suffer from food neophobia and only eat things you’ve had before).  In politics, change is often a good thing. All parties are for change. Barack Obama ran for president with “change we can believe in.”

maybe that’s why, according to Harvard professor John P. Kotter, a leading change expert, about 70 percent of corporate programs meant to create change, fail. Change is something you can’t ram down people’s throats, no matter how hard you try.

HOWEVER, Kotter’s advice for improving the chances of creating change is exactly the equivalent of a generation of non-believers dying: fire the troublemakers. On a personal level, people seem to want to change their lives by changing themselves more than ever before. We try new diets, we find new ways to exercise, learn new languages, and try to become better public speakers, managers, and coaches. Even big change can be made in incre“CHANGE IS SOMETHING ments, and by exhibiting great perseverance WE MAY NOT FEAR CHANGE as much YOU CAN’T RAM DOWN as we fear the unknown. We can take for just a short period of time. According PEOPLE’S THROATS, change, but we despise being changed, to Dr Maxwell Maltz’s 1971 book PsychoNO MATTER HOW HARD Cybernetics, 21 days is enough to create having to react to an outside impulse. YOU TRY.” When a new boss announces “some a new habit. Originally a surgeon, Maltz changes” in the organization, what noticed that it took 21 days for amputees to spreads is insecurity. Everybody has questions, but only cease feeling phantom sensations in the amputated limb. few people have answers. When faced with danger, a threat – and the unknown PARADOXICALLY, making the change and creating a new surely is one – we almost get reduced to primates. Our habit is easier if it’s done routinely, at the same time – possibly brains send our bodies the age-old multiple choice quiz: fight wearing the same clothes – for 21 straight days. or flight? We get stressed. We don’t feel well. And since we Of course, we realize taking the first step may be scary. regress, we regress back to being children. And it just Who know what waits on the other side? In the words of so happens that children (and the elderly) are the people the fictional character Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of who long for routines the most. chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” According to a theory by American physicist Thomas Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it in a letter to his friend Kuhn, new ideas, even great ones, are implemented Jean-Baptiste Leroy, in 1789: “In this world nothing can be only when the generations who consider them new die said to be certain, except death and taxes.” and are replaced by generations who consider them Death. The ultimate unknown. Also, the state accepted and old. when nothing changes anymore. PSYCHO CYBERNETICS Unfortunately, that rate of acceptance of How depressing. “Interview with change doesn’t really work for companies, and Let’s change the topic. Dr Maxwell Maltz”



What have You learned about

Finding your own talent

Heidi Stirkkinen?

WHY SHOULD WE SEARCH FOR OUR UNIQUE TALENT? When you know yourself and your talent, you can find a career and working environment where those strengths are put to use. Success at work enhances your self-esteem and creates a feeling that your life has meaning and purpose. For me, finding my talent has had positive impact on my friendships and family relations, too. I feel like I am in the tailwind all the time.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR OWN TALENT? I started by studying temperament theories. Then, I conducted a self-analysis by asking myself what kind of things make me feel content. How do I react in various situations? I challenged myself by stepping out of my comfort zone. I got involved in projects that seemed difficult. Many of us are stuck in a job that we think is right for us. But after finding your true talent, you might realize it is somehow wrong. Often the process requires difficult changes that might even mean giving up on a dream. But when you give up on one dream, you’ll definitely discover a new one.

DOES TALENT ALWAYS MEAN SOMETHING PROFITABLE? Talents come in many varieties. They may be artistic or technical, mental or physical, inwardly or outwardly directed. They need not be profitable, useful, or conventional, but they will always be your own, part of what makes you, you. Every talent can be useful and increase your well-being in some way. For example, the ability to listen, communicate or work in a team is becoming more and more sought after at work. In the right environment, all talents are beneficial.

HEIDI STIRKKINEN is a Business Manager at OBH Nordica Finland Oy.

HOW DO YOU NURTURE AND DEVELOP YOUR TALENT? I regularly get involved in tasks where I feel a little uncomfortable, such as in using foreign languages. Getting stuck in easy routines means starving your talent. And this applies to every aspect of your life! Everyone can nurture their own talent everyday.


ON TOP OF MY AGENDA Yves Doz, a professor of business strategy, global technology and innovation at INSEAD, shares his thoughts on “generation one and two” in organizationthinking and three challenges facing Profile magazine readers.

Most organizations have been designed to repeat tasks and development processes efficiently. But today’s second-generation business reality requires creativity, mobility and flexibility, as projects are filled with uncontrollable variables. Most organizations are led by people equipped with traditional generation-one management tools and ways of thinking. These people lead a generation two or three workforce, a generation born with global networking mindset and laptop in their hands. This paradox between organization development and individual development must be solved or the results can be costly, even catastrophic.

What have You learned about

What practice has to do with talent Anssi Tuulenmäki? ANSSI TUULENMÄKI is the Chief innovation Activist, Research Manager at Aalto University’s MIND initiative.

WHAT IS TALENT? There is no such a thing as talent without practice. All talent requires a huge amount of repetition, trial and error. Nothing valuable can be achieved without hard work. In other words, talented people are just people who have the patience, willpower and strength to practice more than others.

IS TALENT SOMETHING YOU CAN PRACTICE? All talents can and should be practiced. For example, at MIND’s Gym of Management we offer guidance on how to practice talent that is related to innovations. MIND is a national venture that builds a prototype of a world-class innovation mechanism around the core of Aalto University. Just like in a gym, the trainees go through exercises that develop a certain muscle, which really is a relevant skill for developing a business and yourself as a ‘doer’ in that business. By practicing at the Gym of Management, we want to raise the quality of innovations, lower the barriers to try out new things, and put new ideas into practice.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KEEP IN MIND WHEN YOU PRACTICE YOUR TALENT? Often practicing has a negative sound to it. But in order to yield great results, practicing should be playful. When a talented person is practicing, he or she often sees significance in the little things that most of us just ignore. Use your imagination, devote time and energy to it, and take it to the next level. And most importantly: remember to give yourself permission to fail. Failures are very important in developing your talent. In fact, a talented person enjoys uncomfortable situations and making mistakes. 6

The third challenge concerns especially the Nordic countries and their welfare-state model. With ever raising levels of debt and grayhaired citizens, governments simply cannot continue to provide the current safety nets. But demands for increased individual responsibility and self-motivation do not match with people’s need for personal safety. The big question is thus how companies, individuals and governments solve this dilemma together.

The traditional generation-one management was relatively easy: just stick to a budget, contracts and preplanned projects. Everything worth something could be measured and decisions made based on hard fact and figures. But now valuable contributions are seldom measurable. Leaders must be able to create what previously could only be imagined, nurture a collaborative culture and set up projects without knowing their end results. At the same time, employees should be motivated to deploy their imagination, to contribute on their own and trust their own judgment.

What have You learned about

Talent and leadership Raija Kemiläinen?

WHAT KIND OF TALENT IS NEEDED TO BE A GOOD LEADER? I think the most important task for a leader is to make the other team members shine. When employees feel like empowered stars, the entire company wins. This triggers a snowball effect that leaves a positive impact on the organization’s reputation and bottom line. The true test for any leader is to see how well his or her team members are using their potential to the maximum.

WHAT DO EMPLOYEES EXPECT FROM A LEADER? Employees want their leader to show them clear direction and make them feel part of something special. In addition, employees need to trust and respect their leader. We want to learn something from our leaders – ideally, in both work and life. Leaders are essentially the leaders of hope. The ability to motivate the workforce also through stormy times makes a good leader great.

WHAT SKILLS AND QUALITIES WILL GROW IN THE FUTURE? Storytelling will become more important as the workplace becomes even more multicultural. The organization’s vision needs to be communicated clearly and in a captivating way to each and every employee regardless of his or her background and tribe. A leader needs to sense, listen and be present. They need not only to value diversity but also know how to uncap its potential. Also, ethical behavior, transparency, flexibility and informality will grow in importance.

RAIJA KEMILÄINEN holds a degree in consulting and coaching for change from INSTEAD Business University. She works as a consultant at Leader Point.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? First, you need to ask yourself why you want to become a leader. What do I have to give? Can I inspire other people? Be honest. Are you interested only in power or in watching people reach a common goal? It is essential for leaders to feel good in their own skin.



KNOWLEDGE Understand the power of networking to expand your career.

Want fame?

Learn to network

Charles Darwin is reported to have written 15,000 letters during his career. The case of Charles D becomes interesting if we assume that he received roughly the same number of letters as he sent.









The World of talent is not round nor equal. Feature1 The world of


Innovation is power. From a politician’s lips to a researcher’s fingertips, the allure of innovation has the power to move people, drive economies and spark exciting new trends. While a single innovative idea can create a profitable company, sustainable long-term innovation needed to create a globally competitive city, region, or country often requires a fundamental re-gearing of that society. It requires deep cooperation between the public sector, the private sector, and universities. It requires a wealth of ideas in the form of talent hubs – concentrations of highly talented people who are willing to network, to solve challenges, to share ideas.

While trumpeting innovation often makes for great sound bites, political leaders are often at a loss as to how to achieve this desired outcome. In fact, the journey to self-sustaining innovation hotspot is a complex one that demands far more detailed planning and structural changes than Costner-esque platitudes of “build it and they will come.” It is not a question of a first step, but many leaps taken in parallel. TEXT: MAURICE FORGET, ILLUSTRATIONS: TERO HARSUNEN


“You can discern the essential elements driving innovation and attracting more talent to an area.”

In the wake of the recent fundamental restructuring of the Finnish university system, Aalto University is repositioning itself as the primary facilitator in Finland’ss efforts to be a major global talent hub and innovation center. According to Tuula Teeri, PhD, president of Aalto University, the initial reasoning for this reconfiguration stems from an understanding that the Finnish university system had several weaknesses when benchmarked against various top-tier schools around the world. “By comparison, the findings demonstrated that as a nation we were not international enough. Also, our scientific and research visibility is not really where it could be for a country like ours, which has such a strong reputation for being self-sustaining in its innovations,” she says. Teeri feels Aalto is not as competitive internationally in its recruitment because the university does not have a career system comparable to other international universities.



John Kao, the bestselling author and chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, has spent a considerable part of his life chronicling the origins of innovation. In a 2009 Harvard Business Review article entitled “Tapping the World’s Innovation Hotspots,” Kao cites four different models of innovative success. These range from Singapore’s massive biomedical-focused Biopolis center, to the utilization of sheer volumes of people to produce results like those seen in China, to the gravitational pull of cool spots like Silicon Valley, to the large-scale ecosystems like Finland where society has been reorganized to promote innovation. While the models vary in approach, it is still possible to discern the essential elements driving innovation and attracting more talent to the area: an area rich in opportunity for career and business growth;; a comprehensive government agenda that supports innovation; thee availability of state or private investment to support rapid transfer e of technology from discovery to start-up; and the active development e and grooming of talent, either through a complementary universityy system or by drawing talent in from abroad.

GOVERNMENT AS CATALYST. As a major agent of

SEE MORE: “Tapping the World’s Innovation Hotspots” by John Kao in Harvard Business Review (March 2009).

change, government has a dominant role to play in developing talent hubs. According to Kao, the role of government is to “make policy, create free cash flow for society, do procurement, create education policy, and set the rules of engagement for business. So, by definition, government is implicated.” However, Kao is quick to point out the limits of government involvement. “What I think we are beginning to see is a model of societal innovation in which government, private sector, civil society, NGOs, and thought leaders can all come together around a common innovation agenda. And in that kind of a scenario, government is the enabler and may in fact even be the convener, but it is not going to be thee vehicle through which all the work is going ing to be done.” Similarly, y, governments govern must remember that innovation is a complex organic process that cannot be engineered top-down. Kao alludes to the rather dire failures of Japan’s industrial policy of the 1980s. “The assumption was that government bureaucrats knew better than everyone else. There was investment in big-ticket initiatives, like supercomputing, that wound up having very limited ROI because, among other things, they didn’t anticipate where the market was going.” FAR-SIGHTED PLANNING OR SHEER DESPERATION.

Amidst the current economic climate, it is often tempting for policy makers and business leaders to adopt a limited-spend approach, but Kao counters that he

World-class in the running But look for this to change – soon. Aalto University has laid out its long-term strategy to strengthen its position. As Teeri reveals, the university will focus on its core competencies in the areas of research and education. “In order to be good at it, we have to attract the best people. In order to attract the best people, we need to have a career system that affords them the same career potential as in other countries. It’s a myth that it’s very difficult to get people to relocate to Finland. Good scientists will always come where there are other good scientists.” She says that scientists are driven by curiosity and the seduction of solving problems. “You can, of course, have

questions stemming from mere thirst for knowledge, but you can also find equally interesting and rewarding questions to solve in society or industry.” By partnering with leading companies through its Aalto Design Factory, Aalto Media Factory, and Aalto Service Factory, the university offers researchers opportunities to solve challenging applied problems that directly benefit companies and society. At the same time, the multidisciplinary approach of the university enables for the cross-pollination of ideas for even greater innovation. Essentially, the result should inspire the university’s researchers and students nts, while providing aspiring international ttalent with opportunities to join the endeav avors. Teeri notes that Aalto Universityy will track its success along key perfo erformance ormance indicators. Its ultimate goal is to become recognized as a world-class univversity. sity

would make the counter-intuitive statement that during recessions investments in the future create the best long-term benefits. Economically speaking, there is considerable truth to this view. Infrastructure can be purchased and implemented much cheaper while talented people are more willing to relocate in search of work. Kao also notes the classic Keynesian economics at work. “As long ong as you put more money into the economy and into circulati circulation, you are going to get a positive economic result.” . If that money is spent on develo developing talent and innovation, that is even better. ter. A reces recessionary period can also provide the most compelling impetus for implementing an innovation agenda. While the agenda still needs to be far-reaching in vision and plan, the major decision-making

often requires some momentum to set it in motion. As an expert in Asian innovation, on, Teppo Turkki, inland’s Innovation Fund, cites the director of Sitra, Finland’s the case off Singapo Singapore, which experienced a rapid economic decline during China’s equally rapid ascent. There was a time when Singapore lost much of its position as a major business hub in Asia. “So, the Singapore government became active in taking a positive approach to foreign talents by attracting them in. They changed their immigration policies and work visa schemes and were more willing to give permanent residence to talented, well-educated people.” Kao also feels that most of the time governments really embrace change when there is a need. “Finland embraced it because they had a problem. Singapore is a survivalist country that’s always worried about being on the knife’s edge. Innovation was not seen as a luxury, it was seen as a necessity.” Though Kao clarifies that even in a dire situation, these countries have always been focused on their long-term objectives. UNITED THROUGH UNIVERSITIES. In many ways, universities are the linchpin that keeps the talent hub in motion. While the government sets general policy, the universities represent the vehicles for the transfer of ideas and technology. Publicly funded institutions especially have an inherent mandate to train the citizens of that society with applicable and marketable job skills. Most studies suggest there is a high correlation between education and economic growth. The other area where universities impact innovation is through the transfer of technology with the private sector. Both Kao and Turkki agree that regardless of the type of model for transferring the technology, not-for-profit or for-profit, the model needs to fit with the culture of the country. “If you look at Stanford University,” says Turkki, “I think they have a pretty well-organized system for tapping intellectual property where they can quickly start a company to exploit this. One-third of the resulting profits go to the professor, one-third to the university, and one-third goes to the team.” To which Kao highlights that the for-profit motive can also be a major drawback in some academic cultures where this is a perception that business is somehow dirty. For whatever reasons, some assert, says Kao, “academics are not supposed to make money and they’re not supposed to start companies, they’re supposed to just diligently work in their labs.” At the other end, the university management programs are set to play an equally critical role in developing the leaders of tomorrow who know how to network and can lead by example. A different kind of leadership is needed to manage innovation. “When the world is complex and unpredictable, leaders cannot know everything, so they need to base their decisions on trust,” feels Turkki. Previously, most MBAs were based on the traditional, industrial age context. The concepts of management and leadership are changing. “You can talk about new leadership in the age of interaction, which requires a different kind of sophistication – you have to be able to get the employees to dare to innovate.” 11

W Sari Baldauf has been ranked as the most inuential females in Europe by the Financial Times newspaper. She is a former head of Nokia Networks and current non-executive board member on many companies.

Feature2 Managing

Erika Sauer, PhD, works as a leadership consultant for Psycon and is the widely cited author of titles such as Johtajuuden uusi taide (The New Art of Leadership) (2010), which is written together with A. Ropo, A-M. Mikkonen and P. Salovaara.




Identifying, attracting, sustaining and making the most out of talent requires respect for other people. You also need an inherent understanding about what makes talent tick. 13

Sometimes we don’t even want to see talent, because coaching it to a state where it creates value would take time and effort. “Many of us don’t want to think about tomorrow’s needs today unless the reason is spelled out to us.” This, in short, is why talent management must be incorporated into strategy. To enable organizations to identify all its talent and talent-needs and manage them all – and not just concentrate on top-of-mind talent.


Sari Baldauf

never underestimate the importance people put in their job. Ours is an era of looking for meaning and one of the foremost places people seek for it is their work. “It is an increasing trend that most all people share. Talented individuals whose identity is strongly linked to their professionalism are especially particular about this,” Erika Sauer begins. Managing, or rather guiding and leading these individuals, is surely a challenge, but not one that all organizations get a chance to tackle. For according to Sauer, many organizations have no idea what their talent potential is. “We all recognize the geniuses and stars who are creating value for the organization right now. But what about tomorrow’s talent? Identifying talent that we will need in the future is one of the most crucial strategic issues organizations face today,” Sauer points out. She says that often times we fail to notice talent around us, because we have no need for it today. 14


As anyone knows, talent is always available for an organization, readily even. Yet few and far apart are the organizations with the capability to go out and grab the best. Aalto EE spoke to Sari Baldauf and Erika Sauer to gain insight on the Do’s and Don’ts of Talent Leadership. A crucial factor separating new global stars from tomorrow’s bankruptcies lies in the outlook they take on talent. Whether or not management, leaders and the board of directors are quick-witted enough to see talent as a strategic question – therein lies all the difference.

TWO SETS OF RULES OF THREE. It is only after you recognize talent that you can start supporting it in the right way. As Sari Baldauf explains, there are three things that talent looks for in an organization; and three deal-breakers without which talent will leave. Baldauf starts with attraction. The first thing a talented individual seeks to find out about a task is whether or not allocating time to it will affect their talent. “Will they learn? If yes, what? Will their market value as an employee improve? Will they be able to take on even more interesting tasks in the future due to new skills learned on the job? Or may their unique know-how deteriorate should they choose to take on a task?” she asks. The second thing that a talent looks for in an organization is money. “Of course,” reminds Baldauf, “it is not the only aspect that talent is drawn to, but one does not live on high-flying ideas alone. An organization needs to pay a competitive compensation.” Finally, the third thing that attracts talent is what it is like to do the job. “I am speaking here about the work environment, the overall atmosphere, the organizational culture. How attractive the country, organization or team a talent is considering joining looks to the outside world.” Sauer concurs with Baldauf’s rule: “These are interesting times. On the one hand, people are looking for more meaning in their work; and, on the other, work is losing its stance as the single foremost foundation of an individual’s identity. People are not committed to their employer because their employers don’t seem committed to them.” So, there are no more jobs leading straight to a golden retirement. Thus, it makes sense to put all your effort into enhancing your own talent as a professional. “It is something you can haul it to the ends of the earth and don’t even need a cardboard box to carry it in!” Sauer points out.

WHAT MAKES TALENT QUIT. It seems the three keys to

Erika Sauer

“If staff is not treated fairly, talent will leave. It is as simple as that.”

attracting talent can be summed up as the opportunity to enhance one’s talent, compensation and an environment that lets talent concentrate on creativity. In addition to these, Baldauf underlines joy. “Work needs to give people the joy of achievement; they need to know that they are doing something meaningful and that they can make a difference, in addition to which they need to feel appreciated. Some leaders seem to have a hard time grasping this.” This brings Baldauf to the three deal-breakers that do not make talent tick. The things that make them quit. “An employee needs to feel an overall sense of fairness in their workplace. If staff is not treated fairly, talent will leave. It is as simple as that. Respect comes right after fairness, together with trust,” Baldauf pinpoints. The environment must allow talent to shine. “It is also important to note that there are specters of different kinds of talent needed in any organization,” she reminds. Leaders must show due respect to the people behind the success and trust their expertise. “If you can’t trust your employees to do the job, either you have hired the wrong people, or you have an attitude problem!” Sauer has noticed these trends in her work as well. She notes that you can still come across ‘Besserwissers,’ people who think accomplishments necessitate backstabbing others. As managers, these people often fear other people’s talent. “They can’t handle the insecurity of talent,” she says, bluntly. “Talent is risky and unsure – and thus anything akin to the subject is labeled unrealistic, childish even. But talent, just like everybody else, needs to feel supported and appreciated or it will leave. A manager should never fear employee talent; it is a sure way of ensuring it walks straight out of the building.” ROTATING LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING TO TALK. Finding the right

people to do a job and nurturing their talent does a lot. Finding the courage to rotate leadership can do even more.

BOOK TO READ: X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed by Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman (Harvard Business School Press, 2007)


GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE. When listening to both Baldauf and Sauer, you can’t help but notice certain similarities between their views and those of Professor Deborah Ancona, known best for her work concerning X-teams. Although not matching eye-to-eye on all points, these business minds agree on a number of basic principles. Cooperation, global collaboration, networking across boundaries come up whomever of these three one is listening to. Teams and talent should never be too inward focused and concentrate solely on their own tasks, team work capabilities and needs. Creating an environment where people cant wait to get to work and show what they have in themselves today also ring true to all. Sauer explicitly brings up the need to interact with the outside world: “Whatever the team’s task, it is evident that it must not focus inward. A team must be open and attain resources, ideas from the outside. The biggest obstacles most talentcentered teams face seem to have to do with openness. They are not used to actively offering information about


“Talent without social skills and the ability to communicate is not talent.”

“It is crucial that companies realize that teams creating the future can hardly be led by one person. The team’s selfleadership is largely based on it getting a new leader from time to time,” Sauer says. Another crucial point alongside finding the courage to rotate leadership is assuring that cooperation and communication skills are considered a key talent. These issues are mentioned so often they seem cliché. But communication skills are brought up time and again for a good reason. Even today they remain one of the key areas that most all organizations could improve drastically. “I cannot emphasize communication skills enough,” Baldauf reminds. “Talent without social skills and the ability to communicate is not talent. Not from the perspective of a joint effort, which any organization inherently is.” Social skills have little to do with pleasantries in Baldauf’s mind. Yet again she is referring to respect. When true professionals respect each other, they will appreciate that it is always worthwhile to hear the other person out. Voices may be raised when people are passionate about their work, and within a mutually respecting environment, this will not lead to conflict. At best, it can create groundbreaking synergy. It’s about the issues, it’s not personal. “I have been responsible for, and part of, many kinds of teams in my time. The very best have undoubtedly been ones consisting of diverse people with different talent bases and styles – and nothing but respect for each other,” says Baldauf. “Outsiders would come in and think we were fighting, when in fact we were just being passionate about business and finding the right solution!” If communication is key for talent, it is crucial for talent management. Sauer sees it as one of the key prerequisites of tomorrow’s leaders. “Whoever rises to the top will be able to communicate with eloquent clarity and show utmost respect to others. She or he has a genuine talent in social skills and is able to take people into consideration on a personal, meaningful level that enables them to grow. The great future leader will do her utmost to help employees outshine herself.”

what they do and they do not attempt to share it in the right forums. If a team wants to succeed, it has to get others exited about what you are doing as well!” Baldauf ’s message is a challenge to all leaders, be they organizational, national or global, to strive to create an environment where talent can flourish. For her, teams, organizations and countries are all treated in the same way. One moment Baldauf is speaking of a named company, the next she has moved on to discuss the attractiveness of Finland or the Silicon Valley. She emphasizes how all of the above need to pull their resources together and do their utmost to make themselves attractive to talent. “With today’s technology, work can be done anywhere. People from all around the globe can and will come to join your company, if you make it attractive enough. Leaders should strive to make their organizations what I like to call ‘honey pots’ – work environments so attractive that they naturally lure the best and the brightest talents,” Baldauf challenges. Yet the buck does not stop there. Regions and countries must take part in the global game of attracting talent by creating talent-drawing hubs and nodes. “Teams must work hand-in-hand with the customers to find genuine ways of creating value. It is only through boundary-crossing cooperation that we can find success in years to come,” says Baldauf. Sauer, currently based in Indonesia, sees great futures for those regions and countries that are able to play their cards right; both in attracting people physically to their country and in offering virtual work environments that allure talent from around the globe. “If there is one thing you should never underestimate, it is the motivation that drives a person who sees opportunity for a great change for the better. In Asia, people have real tangible evidence of individuals being able to change their lives radically by working hard for a number of years. I see this every day in Jakarta. It motivates people to literally work nearly around the clock.” Sauer compares this thinking to Scandinavia, where the driving motivation is to maintain or slightly enhance the standard of living. “Who is more hungry? Finland and other Nordic countries need to concentrate on the areas where we are exceptionally talented as countries: our functional and dependable social structures, education system, infrastructure and safety. And hopefully, in years to come – talent management.”

“Strive to make your world a place that attracts the best and the brightest.”

Aalto Leadership Lab: unfolding the tenfold

Aalto Leadership Lab explores opportunities to create new leadership. It looks into the unknown but imaginable and has the goal of making new frontiers possible in collective accomplishment. Aalto University is well-aware of the groundbreaking nature of its Leadership Lab. The lab also forms a part of Aalto University Executive Education. Professor Liisa Välikangas explains that one of the key terms tied to the lab is 10X: “We are creating pilots and experiments that will outline the contents of Aalto Leadership Lab. Right now, we are uncovering what can be learned from leadership in extreme situations and how to create extreme leadership, leadership 10X.” By 10X leadership, Välikangas means developing leadership to such a level that it will cause a tenfold increase in organizational competence and talent. “We are combining scientific reach, experimental learning and pedagogic innovations. Our approaches include something we benchmarked from surgeons: ‘See one, do one, teach one.’ Learning in extreme environments and bringing the lessons learned back to every day practice is another example.” Once fully up and running, the lab will welcome both middle and top management, “or even young talents who want to learn leadership in a totally new way,” Välikangas promises. AN INNOVATION IN PROCESS. The Aalto Leadership Lab aspires to provide new insight to crucial questions. Välikangas presents just a few, as appetizers to what lies in the future: “Key questions include themes such as how does one lead a super-innovative organization? How to operate in extremely low-resource environments, such as developing countries? Can we find leadership models and lessons in these and other extreme situations that could be utilized in the global competitive environment?” These and many more explorations take the Lab participants back to the drawing board. “We need to experiment on completely new approaches for learning and exercising leadership.” The Leadership Labs are currently being designed one at a time. Välikangas explains the rationale behind the method. “Our Lab is an innovation in process. We do not want to tie things down too soon. Our goal of 10X leadership is so bold that one can’t expect to reach it immediately. This is a completely unique pioneer venture. I wish to emphasize that we are not seeking to enhance efficiency. We are enhancing impact. All this calls for courageous new thinking and many new approaches,” she explains. 17

Feature3 Searching for Talent



Not everyone wants to work from an office or during regular working hours anymore, says Päivi Castrén from Wärtsilä. Keeping people satisfied means opening your mind to new approaches.

Select people whose values match those of your company. Then, think of ways you can keep them. This will ensure your future performers are more than mere shooting stars. The process used by global companies to recruit, develop and retain future talent has become routine. Nevertheless, companies do not always consider how individual traits can suit the company culture. This may lead to poor results. “Directors, including those in human resources, have copied talent management processes from star companies, such as General Electric (GE) and Procter & Gamble,” says Günter K. Stahl, a professor of international management at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and a visiting professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD. GE uses forced ranking to divide its managers into three categories: top performers (20 percent), highly appreciated (70 percent) and the rest (10 percent). This approach, feels the professor, is well-suited to a meritocratic business culture, which emphasizes the performance of employees and rewards top performers more than others. “It does not work, however, in a collective culture that rewards groups.” A big Asian bank, for example, wasted its money by not telling its top performers that they had been assigned to the talent pool. “The management worried that other employees would lose their motivation,” says Stahl. He explains that over 50 percent of the US companies that have tested GE’s ranking system have experienced huge problems with implementation. In addition to matching the company culture, talent management processes must

exhibit a strategic and internal fit. “Only then can a business beat other companies in the competition for future talent,” Stahl points out. This was the finding of a study conducted by Stahl and an international group of researchers, which reveals the best talent management practices of 37 successful global enterprises. CLOSE TO THE COMPANY. Hundreds of applications and dozens of job interviews: this is to be expected in spring 2011 when the Nordic divisions of cosmetics giant L’Oréal launch their joint Nordic Talent Program for trainees. There are around eight spots available in the management trainee scheme, but the numbers will grow in the coming years. “We will strengthen our talent pool by reinforcing our management trainee programs in L’Oréal countries all over the world and appointing specialists focusing on recruiting more experienced profiles for the fast growing markets in Asia and Latin America,” says Jenni Gallagher, HR Director at L’Oréal Finland. It seems that many other companies are thinking along the same lines, as there are more and more traineeship programs. These include three global trainee programs within Wärtsilä for recent graduates and soon-to-graduate university students. Wärtsilä is a supplier of power solutions to the marine and 19


energy markets. The programs are known as Top Finance Graduates for Wärtsilä Future Business Leader Program, Information Management Professionals and R&D Professionals, that is, one program each for financial administration, IT and product development. Each accepts six to fifteen future managers and experts. At the same time, recruiting the right kind of trainees is getting tougher than ever. Günter K. Stahl “In the coming years the baby boomers will exit the employment markets and companies compete hard for young talent,” says Päivi Castrén, Wärtsilä’s Vice President, HR. Jonna Söderholm, Head of Career Services at the Aalto University Scool of Economics, adds that current and future students are more critical towards companies than before, which makes the mission even tougher. “Students expect concrete and fun things from companies. These can be workshops, where the students have a say on company matters, a relaxed cooking event or something that moves the students away from their own comfort zone. For example, business students can be asked to consider technical issues such as product specifications.” Söderholm feels that being innovative and using a wider variety of recruitment methods are the only ways to differentiate oneself from other companies. Being among the first to implement new ideas is the key. For example, L’Oréal is at the forefront. The company looks

Jenni Gallagher says L’Oréal is constantly on the lookout for people with a wide-range of interests and an entrepreneurial spirit.


for talent through innovative business games, online networks such as Linked In and using various face-to-face events. With the help of Career Services at the Aalto University School on Economics, the company organized a full-day talent management workshop that was targeted at international graduate students of economics. “We wish that the group of young talent that applies to work with us becomes more diverse. Young people appreciate that they have foreign colleagues. An international environment also helps us commit young talent to our company,” explains Gallagher. In the workshop, L’Oréal presented its talent management concept and had students analyze both its former and current system for evaluating performance and competence. To round it off, a merchandisJonna Söderholm ing manager who had advanced from junior product manager and had an international experience before his current position, talked about his own career development. “Everyone was very satisfied with the outcome of the day. I realized that today’s students do not want work to be the only content in their lives. However, that does not mean they are looking for an easy life,” says Gallagher.


alues instead of competence. Companies are looking for future talents who will not defect to a competitor as soon as they complete their traineeship. According to Günter K. Stahl, this is why more and more companies have begun to emphasize the applicant’s personality and


Attractive employer 1. What makes an employer attractive to you? 2. Where will you seek work once you graduate?

JUNE LIU, 23 Environmental Design, Tongji University, China 1. I value learning above all things, so my colleagues should have more experience and wider horizons than me. I also want to have a kind boss who communicates fluently and maybe even becomes a friend. This can stimulate the staff to work harder. 2. Probably in big corporations such as Nokia, HP and Elle Deco. There, I can learn to communicate with different departments, manage time efficiently and broaden my understanding beyond my own major subject.

the management with their views of Wärtsilä in 2020,” says Castrén. OFFERING TOO MUCH AT THE OUTSET? A big German company

created a new trainee program where it recruited recent graduates from top European universities. It sent them on foreign assignments of 18 months because it considered international experience to be necessary. The trainees then returned to the headquarters. Within one year, 60 percent of the participants had handed in their notice. What went wrong? “They got bored with work because life in Shanghai and New York had been much more exciting, and because the salary did not meet their expectations. HR had not given enough thought to how to keep the trainees in the company but focused too hard on development,” says Stahl. Stahl, Castrén and Gallagher believe that companies can commit talent by emphasizing their career and future development opportunities. “Future leaders need individual career plans. They need sufficiently frequent new challenges, a personalized training program, as well as confirmation from their superior or HR that they are considered to have potential. Whatever their position, people still need to occupy it long enough to really learn,” Gallagher points out.

reat deal of sparring. Once the participants for the trainee GUO YU, 23 program have been selected, Regional Economics, Tongji University, China the carefully planned learning 1. I think that an attractive employer is all process can begin. After twelve months, about leadership. My ideal boss has a strong the new talents of L’Oréal and Wärtsilä have ability to analyze and deal with problems. a comprehensive overview of the company’s He or she leads people with passion and gives business. me helpful advice about my career and work. 2. I do not know yet. Both companies offer their trainees a permanent employment contract and the ELINA VAALTO, 23 opportunity to work at home and abroad Organizations and management, in periods ranging from four to six months. Aalto University, Finland L’Oréal’s trainees gain experience in 1. It is important for me to get challenging their own sector and in another function. duties. However, I do not want to dedicate my Marketing trainees may learn more about, whole life to work. In my dream job, I could say, logistics. Wärtsilä’s trainees, in turn, telecommute two days a week or sometimes get acquainted with their own function in work a four-day week without it having different business units. For example, a a negative impact on my career development. finance specialist gains insight into everyI also dream of good advancement opportunities in the company, as well as of versathing from financing to business planning. R practices under presThis is topped off with induction, coach- tile motivation methods. These include perforsure to change. The trio mance-based pay and recreational benefits, ing, trainee meetings, as well as sparring by also emphasizes the roles such as the possibility for an hour of exercise the superior and possibly a separate coach of a good work atmosphere, in the middle of the workday. in the fields of work and career planning. pleasant co-workers, values, rewarding 2. SOK, Sihti, Finpro, Plan Suomi. The superior also oversees the assessment based on capabilities, and flexibility of the trainee’s performance and developof work in retaining talent. ment using global tools. Castrén and Gallagher believe “One clear trend is that management at different levels is more that young people’s wishes concerning work flexibility will closely involved in recruiting and developing future talent and in become increasingly concrete over the next five years. encouraging people to make career jumps,” says Stahl. “One open issue is how working from home fits into our faceIn fact, the development of subordinates is one of the aspects to-face culture,” Gallagher points out. L’Oréal uses to evaluate the work of superiors. Castrén also discusses so-called ‘outwork.’ “There are peoStahl also stresses the attention given by top management: it helps ple who want to from home a great deal, others are interested in to retain talented people in the company. working outside the normal office hours and some want to com“Trainees appreciated our top management being involved at the mit to periodic projects. This means that HR is facing a huge job start and end of the programs as well as during them. At the closing in drafting new career paths, employment contract models and seminar of one of the programs, groups of young people presented bonus systems.”


22 23 24 25


values, as well as their fit with the company culture. Southwest Airlines and IKEA are examples of such companies. “It is easier to teach people new skills than change their personality, attitudes and values,” he explains. Jenni Gallagher has first-hand experience with this. “It’s been a great disappointment to me if a trainee has shown insufficient passion towards the cosmetics and beauty business. We are putting more and more emphasis on a genuine interest in and understanding of the business in job interviews.” When recruiting future talent, L’Oréal also stresses human leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, the ability to achieve results and a wide-ranging interest in various topics. Wärtsilä aims to sift out flexible performers who enjoy challenges and are ready to move abroad.


University students’ voice:

Finding your own talent.

REACHING THE TOP of your game means understanding those things you are truly good at. This takes some soul searching. Are you up for the challenge?


Know yourself.

For many of us, our current job is likely the byproduct of answering a job search that is close to what we studied at university. While this is certainly a sound idea, it does not necessarily get to the core of what we are truly good at. Talent comes in many forms, from concrete skills that are fairly easy to measure, such as mathematical skills, to those attributes that are harder to pinpoint, like whether you are a leader or a follower. Every now and again, it is a good idea to sit down and do some self-assessment. What are my strengths? By understanding ourselves, we can be more honest about the direction we want our careers to take. And then make the decisions that guide us towards our goals.


For some inspiration, look to Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation. Morita was expected from childhood to take over the family business, but decided to run an electronics start-up. This was no easy decision at the time, as he was the oldest son of a family whose enterprise dates back to 1665 and heavily expected to take over the business from his father. But, instead, Morita found his true calling in mathematics and physics. What is your calling?


for updating your resume As a rule, the candidates who provide employers with the best resumes and cover letters are those who are short-listed and succeed.

1. KEEP your resume simple and easy to read. It must sell you.

6. FOLLOW the summary with, for example, the following sections: major achievements, career history, qualifications/education, additional information.

2. EMPLOYERS may find overly complex layouts and graphics off-putting.

7. AVOID simply listing job titles; also explain what your duties included. Use action verbs to describe your work.

3. A POSITIVE approach and strong presentation are good elements.

8. THE IDEAL length of a good resume is 1–2 pages. If you find it difficult to fit everything on two pages because of, say, a long list of courses or publications, consider using an appendix.

4. THE WAY you present your resume effectively demonstrates your ability to communicate and especially to explain a professional business proposition. 5. A SUMMARY of 8–10 lines at the beginning of the resume can be an effective way to present your special skills. Describe your strong points, competence and qualifications in a few sentences.

9. PUT yourself in the employer’s shoes: write a description of the person they are looking for. The better the match with your resume the more likely you are to be called for an interview. 10. UPDATE your resume every now and then even if you are not looking for a new job. It is surprisingly easy to forget your previous duties, and it may also help you sell yourself in-house.


You may have the mind of a rocket scientist, but if you can’t get along with people, you can kiss your chances for success in the workplace goodbye.

Social intelligence, while hard to quantify, is incredibly important. People who are people-savvy just get it. They walk into any situation with quiet confidence, size up the characters and tailor their responses so that they people around them feel comfortable and want to hear more. These are people who are nice whenever they can be, tough when the situation demands it, but always fair. For them, diplomacy is paramount. So, how do you know if you have social intelligence? Find out all the elements in the book Social Intelligence (Random House, 2007) by Daniel Goleman. A related topic is emotional intelligence, which includes having the confidence to hire people who are smarter than you are. Read more at Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (TalentSmart, 2009) by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. The book includes a test that lets you score your EQ.

You can use Toolbox materials at work, to link with your blog, when giving a presentation – or forward it to colleagues. The background ideas are available in a variety of web sources.

In slides: In pdf-format:

The whole magazine: 23

Soc ial M edia ”–

new slet ter ser vice

Nix u Lt d, w ww .nix m

“Sm artB rief on

Heindrick & Struggles,


hackers! to read Harvard Business Review on Managing Yourself (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown & Co, 2008)

Geoff Colvin, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else (Portfolio Trade, 2010)


WHEN NIXU LTD. needed workers last April, they tried something different. Rather than place a generic advertisement in recruitment service, they created a website and challenged people to solve a complex problem. The information security consultancy firm was looking for ‘white-hat hackers,’ persons who were ready to use their skills to hack for good purposes. They ended up hiring two applicants who, based on their resumes, would never have met Nixu’s standard qualifications. “We promoted the challenge on Facebook and through other social media groups,” explains Timo Kotilainen, chief executive officer for Nixu, which is based in the technology hub of Espoo, Finland. Kotilainen knew that hackers rarely look for jobs through typical channels. “We had about 200,000 downloads from people in 66 countries. Nineteen people passed the test and 12 were interviewed.” This unconventional approach has worked out well. “One of the guys we hired was working in an electronics store and was hosting 30 servers in his living room. Working with computers was his hobby,” smiles Kotilainen. “He’s extremely motivated and has told us many times this is his dream job.”

Putting comparative advantage to work While you’ve likely heard of comparative advantage in the context of international trade (countries should not try to be self-sufficient, but should specialize in the things they do best and trade for the rest – everyone wins in the process) this same theory also applies to your natural talents. Say you and your college are asked to write portions of the company’s annual report. If you understand finance better than Warren Buffett, then it is easier for you to write those portions of the text where you explain the financial results. If your colleague is better at understanding the company, she should write the business overview section of the report. It’s easy to see you each have a comparative advantage in one activity. This is because you have an absolute advantage (you are clearly better at one thing over your colleague).

But what if you are a finance guru who understands your company’s business from every possible angle? The answer is to look at your opportunity costs. If your ability to interpret the business overview is only a little better than your colleagues, then you are both better off if she handles the business description and you write the financials. This is especially true if she is a little cheaper for the company than you are. As a result of dividing efforts, you both hand in the report in time for the deadline. The moral of the story is this: figure out what is worth concentrating your time and leave the rest to someone else.


If you want a practical guide on how to use social media to find talent within your company, look to a book called The Social Factor (IBM Press, 2009) by Maria Azua, vice president of Cloud Computing for IBM Enterprise Initiatives. Azura established something called the IBM Technology Adoption Program, which lets employees submit ideas that are tested and taken to market. This book gives loads of real-life examples on how you can use blogs, wikis and employee profiles SEE MORE AT inside companies and http://thesocialfactorbook. what they can do for com/index.html your business. Azura also gives guidance on public networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


When you think of new talent, chances are the face of someone young and fresh to the company appears in your mind.

When it comes to talent, senior employees are probably where you should look first. While sometimes bypassed, senior staff have a long range of accomplishments they can bring to the table. Seniors are not easily dazzled by smokeand-mirrors and understand substance from fiction, which comes in handy when important decisions are made. While younger staff members may have more enthusiasm, with age comes patience – and the wisdom to carefully ponder the consequences of actions.




Aalto Executive Education Academy.

HSE Executive Education Singapore is now Aalto Executive Education Academy. The subsidiary will continue to take care of business in the Asia PaciďŹ c. MORE INFORMATION


MEET ADMISSIONS OFFICERS and alumni face-to-face in a relaxed environment to discuss MBA options and the impact they will have on your career. The EMBA fair will tour some twenty cities around the world in the next few months! Arrival in Singapore is scheduled on November 21.



EMBA on tour

According to a survey... published in Finland’s biggest ďŹ nancial weekly, Finnish companies want to engage in educational cooperation with Aalto University Executive Education. Aalto EE’s steep rise is also seen in the estimates of education-market growth: a full 45 percent of the respondents expect Aalto EE to increase its market share. The survey also indicates that Finnish companies plan to step up their investments into education. Forty percent of the respondents expect to see growth.

International Week NEWS


In July, Aalto Executive Education Academy in Singapore and The Peak magazine held a joint event with Professor Bernd Schmitt, a visiting faculty member and guest speaker. Some 40 guests from a variety of industries turned out to listen to the professor’s ideas on branding.


Follow Aalto EE


Over a hundred EMBA students from Seoul, Singapore, Poznan and Helsinki gathered for the HSE Executive MBA International Week this August in Helsinki. One of the highlights of the week was Harvard Business School Professor Frank J. Barrett’s two-day session about transformation and innovation. Join Aalto EE Facebook page and see pictures from iWeek.

EVENTS TO MARK IN YOUR CALENDAR NOVEMBER 27: EMBA graduation ceremony in Singapore

Thirst for Knowledge Award: This year Aalto EE awarded its twelfth Thirst for Knowledge Award. The award was given to the OďŹƒce for the Government Employer, the Finnish Ministry of Finance’s department for Government Personnel Management. Based on customer feedback, the Best Teacher of the Year Award was given to Aalto University’s Professor of Strategic Management Tomi Laamanen.


Many of the most brilliant schemes were useless in their day.


Farming Leonardos enaissance Man and Leonardo Da Vinci. The words are almost synonyms. He was the embodiment of man reborn in an age emerging from centuries of darkness who added his own searing light of genius onto it. These are gross oversimplification, of course, yet no one can explain how Leonardo excelled even his many brilliant contemporaries. His world was rapidly expanding – in economics, the arts, politics and science – its horizons stretching from distant China to the new Americas. It was also one of constant warfare; yet one more stock ingredient in the crucible of new ideas. If we could replicate such a cauldron, could we create our own Leonardo? The idea is certainly seductive, but is it feasible? I don’t mean gleaming sci-fi biobots with superpowers. They may take a few years yet. But can we create a society, or a web of companies, or universities, that can simulate the furnace that made Leonardo and manufacture twenty-first century Little Leos on an educational production line? And once you’ve got them, can you identify them, put them to good use – and control them?

no choice but to invent. For such people, invention is a way of life, a passion and an end in itself. Leonardo’s ideas could be understood by an educated contemporary. Had he sat alone in an attic dreaming, he might have been isolated from nurturing streams of thought and from the feedback that might turn a whimsical idea into a practicality.

MODERN WORLD MEETS ANCIENT. It has been suggested that Leonardo’s bubbling, anxious society might have a parallel in today’s social media. Trawl through enough Facebooks, Twitters and YouTubes and you will find enough brilliant ideas to keep us busy for centuries – if they don’t blow us up. But can a modern organization exploit these virtual, twittering DaVinci’s? I would say the answer is “yes,” as PASSION FOR PRACTICAL WORK. Leonardo had a long as we remember the bit about blowing ourselves up. practical bent: “Things of the mind left untested by the Modern mind-farmers must be clever enough to senses are useless.” So, he did not merely sit and reflect. distinguish between the useful and the potenHe had to come up with the goods and find belligerent While you tially disastrous. And to understand that many patrons to employ him. Sadly, war and conflict have so might think of Leonardo’s schemes were useless in his day. networking is often been the stimulus to invention. In World War II, both see more You’d be insane to leap off a skyscraper in one new, sides flew squadrons of advanced planes from blank on p. 8. of his helicopters. Yet only five years ago a surdrawing board often in less than a year. geon was inspired by his anatomical studies to If necessity is the mother of invention, surely ignorance perform heart surgery in a radical new way. is the father. Many of the greatest schemes have come The trick is not only in having the initial from those with little or no formal training. WWW.MUSEOSCIENZA.ORG flash of genius. It is also in recognizing it and Leonardo trained as an artist, not a knowing when the time is ripe to use it. scientist. And sometimes invention and Witness the brilliance in his home grounds. ignorance spawn a state of mind that has 27









Profile for Avidly Agency

Aalto EE Profile 3 2010  

Magazine for Aalto University Executive Education.

Aalto EE Profile 3 2010  

Magazine for Aalto University Executive Education.