As you can see,” Juhana continues, “this is a truly end-to-end approach to design. Everything that can be considered and optimised for the user in this product has been. We’re really adding value through design.”
identity, noun, the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others
Optimisation for the user is one of the most important dimensions to industrial design. Another is the product identity, and the way it reflects Wärtsilä’s values and ambitious goals. Juhana sees this as descending directly from the company strategy.
“In industrial design, we aim to distil Wärtsilä’s strategic-level drivers – lifecycle efficiency, reliability, serviceability and safety – into one strong product identity. When considering the implications of design on perception, this goes way beyond colours and where you put the logo. This is about what these devices represent and how their identity talks to people. In a way, we’re giving the strategy a voice.”
Pinned down to a single value he’d like to see Wärtsilä's customers perceive in product design, Ilari Kallio proposes reliability. “Establishing the idea that the company can be counted on to deliver and our products can be counted on in the field is hugely important. Everyone across the organisation works with that in mind.”
entrepreneurial, adjective, having the spirit, attitude or qualities of an entrepreneur; enterprising
The fact that both Ilari and Juhana work under the banner of Ship Power’s 4-stroke business line, yet have done extensive work on innovations bridging each of Wärtsilä’s other business areas leads us to enquire precisely how R&D functions in the organisation.
For Ilari, the key phrase is ‘entrepreneurial thinking’.
“If I see an opportunity or synergy with some other business line, there ́s nothing that hinders me from capturing that synergy. Even if we have our own responsibilities, it doesn’t mean we can’t collaborate proactively. Entrepreneurial thinking is our route to the easiest, most productive and most economical ways of working. Organisational structure doesn’t have to limit collaboration if you see there is a benefit.
“It’s just like running a small company: you need to find out who the best partners for you are. They could be internal partners or they could be externals. You don’t have to share budget in order to share knowledge and do collaboration. It’s a win-win.”
Juhana picks up the thread: “We’re a very small team and our agenda is innovation. The nature of industrial design is such that we often see a use for our competence across all of these business areas. Why should we restrict ourselves to a single product line? We do a huge amount of work for service business innovation, for example, where industrial design is playing an increasing role. If you look at a typical service design agency you’ll find UX designers, end user researchers, GUI designers: these are the skills we have right here.”
Design innovators evidently do not see corporate structure as any barrier to inventing and implementing new, beneficial solutions, but Ilari reaffirms that company strategy provides the direction for their work.
“The broad strokes are,” he explains, “decided at the management level. Directions like gas, fuel flexibility and Smart Power Generation are established there. But as they pass down through the organisation, finding application in each of the different divisions and then, in turn, the business lines, these decisions translate into a huge variety of different opportunities."
“One strength we have in Wärtsilä is the capability to see where the potential lies and understand where we want to be as the market changes and new needs become visible. What kind of products do we need? What value do we bring to our customers? How do we position ourselves? There’s only one quality that can help you answer these questions: customer understanding.”