Stora Enso, a leading global company in the paper, biomaterials, wood products and packaging industries, realized that to compete in an increasingly digital world it had to rethink everything from strategy to corporate culture. The company partnered with IMD to co-create a unique learning journey that shaped the company’s future and addressed critical business challenges. The learning journey was built around a number of key design principles: 1) Based on business challenges deemed critical for Stora Enso’s success; 2) Group Executive Team (GET) involvement throughout the whole program; 3) Real world, real learning and hence fast paced and explorative; 4) Unique development opportunities for participants; 5) A continuous connection to the home team and other change agents within Stora Enso. Contrary to many programs for which participants are chosen according to rank or title, Stora Enso opened the selection process up to anyone in the organization to encourage diversity. For the initial Pathfinders program, participants were charged with a singular goal: create the company’s future. Working as a “shadow management team,” the Pathfinders made several recommendations to the GET; these were adopted, including the development of a new company-wide Purpose and Values statement. Participants in the subsequent Pathbuilders program were tasked with building the company’s path forward. They did so by addressing key business challenges submitted by leaders from throughout the company. This resulted in new initiatives in the areas of supply chain, new business development and internal reorganization. Throughout the Pathfinders and Pathbuilders programs there was significant GET involvement. CEO Jouko Karvinen and at least two other GET members were present at every module. Additionally, program participants presented their recommendations to the GET and the Board of Directors. This added up to life-changing experiences for participants and significant business impact for Stora Enso – the results of a truly pathbreaking partnership.
Our objective in this case is to stimulate discussion and reflection on how to design and implement an impactful and effective learning and development intervention between partner organizations. The Stora Enso and IMD partnership also provides insights to other companies engaged in transformational journeys.
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