- IMD Business School
IMD Impact Stories · Strategy

How IMD inspired innovation at Stora Enso

Custom program participant tells how IMD helps instill new ideas
February 2016
 - IMD Business School

IMD has long worked with Stora Enso, the Finnish provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wood and paper, on custom executive development programs.

The Pathbreakers program, which was born out of the IMD/Stora Enso collaboration, has been running since May 2015 and is coming to an end. The Pathbreakers are a group within Stora Enso who collect innovative ideas from all around the organization and present them to top management.

The results have been convincing and the next program will start later this year. One of the Pathbreakers, Marianne Andersson, Director of People Business Intelligence, discusses her experience with the program.

Who are the Pathbreakers?

“The Pathbreakers are a group of about 50 managers from different countries, divisions and functions. The Pathbreakers program kicked off at the IMD led Mega Dive event Reconnect 2015. The idea was to create small groups of five or six people who would work together to further explore some of the innovative ideas that came out of the Reconnect meeting.”

What have you been working on during the program?

“The main topics of the program were driving change and innovation. We worked with Professors at IMD and heard stories from representatives of other companies about how they drove change and worked with innovation in their companies. For example, we heard how Procter & Gamble works consciously on innovation by encouraging different groups to work cross-functionally. We looked at examples of prototyping and learned about the importance of trial and error in any change process. We also worked on our own individual development since driving change starts very much with us as individuals.”

Tell us about the project that you have been working on

“Our group chose to tackle one of the really big issues we see in the world today – food waste. Almost one-third of all the food that is produced never gets eaten. As a renewable materials company, Stora Enso has an important role to play in offering new solutions for how food products can last longer before they are consumed. It may sound like a really big and blurry project, but the idea we finally presented to the Group Leadership Team is really concrete and tangible.”

Can you mention some other projects?

“The projects varied a lot. For example, one of the project groups has been working to develop a cloud solution for data collected through intelligent packaging applications. So the projects were not only related to products but also to services and new ways of working.”

What happens next with the projects?

“Two of the projects will be presented to Stora Enso’s Board of Directors in early February. Many of the other projects will still be investigated further to see if there is potential to use the suggestions or results in practice. The project I was part of is now proceeding.”

What are your personal reflections on the Pathbreakers program?

“It has been very rewarding to step outside my normal daily responsibilities. Working on the project has included many opportunities to learn. The program has also provided a chance to get to know many new colleagues at Stora Enso, which I personally think is extremely important since it will be much easier to connect to each other and work across functions now since we know each other much better.”

Following the success of the IMD led Reconnect 2015, a Mega Dive for 300 Stora Enso executives, Reconnect 2016, will take place in the spring and will focus on idea generation.

IMD creates a wide range of Custom Programs for clients by developing a deep understanding of their organizations, business challenges as well as learning and development goals, and embeds learning through carefully crafted processes that blend together many different tools and approaches.