Recipe for Growth - Recap of Kaski NOV 17th 2015

On Tuesday, Kasvuryhmä organized an event at Musiikkitalo in Helsinki. The event, opened by President Niinistö, brought together 120 Finnish midsize companies with an ambitious growth target of almost doubling their turnover by 2020.

This is a recap of the most powerful insights brought by the top notch speakers.

What is required for a company to grow?

Entrepreneur mentality. President Niinistö spoke about the importance of entrepreneur mentality when it comes to creating growth and successful companies. He especially emphasized the importance of the ability to tolerate and handle risk. Being an entrepreneur means that you take responsibility for investing time and money in something that might not work. If you have trouble sleeping every time you face a difficult situation, it will be difficult to focus and build something awesome. You need to believe in success and work hard to allow yourself to be lucky.

 “Growth does not come from efficiency or fiddling.” –Annu Nieminen, CEO of Kasvuryhmä

Vision to lead growth. Entrepreneur and investor Kees De Jong talked from his own experience on adapting one's leadership style according to the company’s growth phase. He offered three principles for growth leadership. Firstly, don't be satisfied with what is, but keep pushing forward for bigger things. Secondly, focus on learning, and allow yourself to develop and grow together with you company. And finally, make sure you have support, so that you have the strength and ability to grow.

“I don't like it when the first thing people mention about Supercell is money. That's not what we focus on." – Ilkka Paananen, Supercell

Attractive positions and great people. Professor Petri Parvinen talked about the need to create positions that attract the most highly skilled people. If you want to be #1, you need to create jobs for ambitious people that want to make things happen. Young talents won't accept positions where they have to work on something mundane for 2-3 years before being allowed to do something meaningful. Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen expanded on this, claiming that it's not enough to find the best people in Finland; if you mean to take a stand in global competition, you need to find the best people in the world. A personal reflection on this is that it's not enough to find the best people, they also have to want to work with you.

“When times are bad, it is a good time to invest in your people.” -Matti Alahuhta

Investing in market knowledge and people. Former Kone CEO Matti Alahuhta lifted up the need to invest continuously in the ability to grow. Alahuhta pointed out that companies should, in all business situations, invest in developing their people and knowledge of the markets. McKinsey Principal Anna Granskog pointed out that when it comes to listening to the market and understanding customer needs, a diverse background can be an advantage, as people who have been in the same field for 30 years have a tendency to always see the same things.

Vision and meaning. St1 Chairman Mika Anttonen's closing speech was probably the most emotional and impactful of the event. He insisted that a company needs to have a purpose for its existence. Without a purpose, there is no reason to grow. Moreover, the purpose needs to shared and understood by everyone working for the company. Everyone must see that they're doing what they're doing, not to make money, but because it's connected to the purpose.

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Thanks to everyone at Kasvuryhmä for this wonderful event! It was fun to get the chance to participate. The work you do will result in something that matters greatly.