Ensto's management model inspires innovation
Ensto’s management model is based on customer needs, offering solutions that emphasise energy efficiency and sustainable development.
Ensto, a manufacturer of electrical systems and supplies, is one of the industry leaders in energy efficiency, sustainable development and smart power grid solutions. Ensto’s Director of New Technologies, Matti Rae, says that focusing on products that promote carbon neutrality was the clear strategic choice. “The ‘Ensto saves your energy’ customer promise makes us focus our thinking on energy efficiency and sustainable development,” says Rae.
He stresses that everything starts with the customer’s needs. Client companies in different sectors want cost-effective solutions. Stakeholder demands for responsibility are also increasing. “The demands vary from product to product, but sustainable development means, among other things, the reliable delivery, long-lasting durability and recyclablity of our products. A key aspect of lighting fixtures is energy efficiency.”
Innovation on the customer’s terms
When competition is fierce, achieving success requires that the products developed by a company are the best in the industry. With Ensto’s management model, the emphasis is on continuous innovation. “Here at Ensto, innovation isn’t just free-form brainstorming – development is based on the needs of our customers. This requires an ability to define and analyse the customer’s problems, so that solutions can be found for them.”
Rae stresses that management always requires making choices and concentrating on what is essential. “In the Ensto strategy, when we’re developing innovations, we focus on a few key areas where we want to be world leaders. Choices have to be made, because a company the size of Ensto can’t focus on too many things at the same time.”
Increasing staff skills
More and more company management models are placing an emphasis on responsibility and sustainability. This means acting in accordance with the company’s values and strategy in every aspect of operations. In a family-owned company like Ensto, sustainability means, for example, goal-oriented management and long-term company growth. “Sustainable development management can’t be separated from other areas of management. It is built right into everything we do.”
Rae adds that management fundamentals include the optimal allocation of human resources and continuous development of employee skills: “Supervisors have to create the right conditions for working. Employees should also have an opportunity and even a duty to train themselves and develop their skills.”
Work as a hobby
Matti Rae points out that a manager’s own example creates a positive atmosphere. An encouraging attitude and the ability to provide constructive feedback are needed in everyday management situations. He emphasises that the supervisor’s most important task is to help subordinates blossom and come up with new ideas. “This requires setting hidden talents and skills free. Each and every one of us has abilities and traits that are useful for work. We count on the power of free will. People really want to invest themselves in interesting things.”
Rae compares this to hobbies: enthusiastic amateurs completely dedicate themselves to doing something meaningful, making every effort to further improve their abilities. “If the work we assign can foster that kind of passion, then we’ve succeeded as managers.”
According to Rae, the most challenging thing about management that encourages innovation is finding suitable tasks for employees that will motivate them and ensure the development of their skills. “This isn’t always easy. It might be that an employee has been doing a job for a long time where there is no more room for growth. Moving to the next level requires finding the right kinds of work assignments in-house.”
Competition inspires innovation
Intended as a way to inspire innovation, the Ensto Innovation Award competition is held by the company each year for all employees. The goal is to come up with new products and services, ideas that develop processes and new inspirations. The competition idea entries are given points according to certain criteria. The scoring model puts an emphasis on, for example, the commercial value, patentability, environmental friendliness and energy efficiency of the idea.
Matti Rae says that around 10 per cent of all Ensto employees have participated in the competition, which has been held for the past four years. “The Innovation Award competition inspires people to develop their own products and services, which generate added value for customers and provide us with commercial success and turnover.”
Text: Matti Remes
What can you do yourself?
Sitra has put together a toolkit for companies (in Finnish only). It covers operational areas that are key to achieving carbon neutrality: strategy, leadership and culture, new business opportunities and carbon efficiency. The toolkit presents companies with information on the benefits of carbon neutrality by offering ideas, models and examples of methods which some companies have already used to come up with successful solutions. You can use these tools to set your business on the road to cleaner solutions and carbon neutrality, thus maintaining your competitiveness.
Download the toolkit (PDF, in Finnish) to your own computer or view it directly on our website. When you open the PDF version in Adobe Acrobat Reader, you will be able to navigate by clicking on the content and sections you want to read more about. You can also move forwards and backwards using the arrow buttons if you wish to read the entire document.