The future reimagined

X-celerator 2020: Innovation at a safe distance

Future of Growth

Posti’s X-celerator 2020 programme has come to an end – even despite the restrictions brought to us by the lockdown period. How did the programme attendees feel about working on new innovation together as a group, yet separately and solely on digital channels?

This spring, the ability to innovate, to embrace digitalisation and to renew has been put to the test around the world unlike ever before - but in Posti’s X-celerator 2020 programme, tackling these challenges has been at the very core of its existence from the start. X-celerator, the “arm for breakthrough innovation” at Posti’s Parcel and eCommerce Business Group, promotes intrapreneurial spirit and helps teams create, test and pitch fresh ideas with business potential. The mission has never been more relevant than it is now.

We talked to some of Posti’s X-celerator teams to find out a bit more about the people in the program, how they got involved and what it was like to work on innovating new services together – however remotely.

X-celerator brings Posti together

We checked in with two different X-celerator teams to hear a bit about how things were going in just days before the final pitch event. Even though we were close to the end of the program, we first wanted to hear why people got into the program in the first place.

Our first trio, composed of Anna PielaMari Korhonen and Inka Touru, is a dream team for any innovation project. Anna’s specialty is out-of-the-box thinking and seeing the bigger picture, Mari is well versed in bringing concrete thinking into creative concepts, and Inka knows how to build ideas into products that are commercially viable. How had this team felt like working on X-celerator 2020?

“I was excited to get a chance to work with this team and Anna’s original idea was great. The programme has given us an opportunity to develop an idea from scratch with a systematic approach”, Inka describes the outset. Mari agrees and adds: “It has been really interesting to see how quickly we can get from idea to execution. X-celerator has been a great first step into systematic innovation work that also builds our intrapreneurial mindset.” Anna additionally gives thanks to the environment for creating new ideas: “When I signed up for the programme, I was looking forward to the coaching and the full responsibility to work on something of our own.”

Our other team is a duo of Petra Lilius and Jani Rahja. Both would describe themselves as people who are great organizers and able to get things done. “Our idea revolves around the circular economy and consumer behaviour”, Jani starts out explaining what the team is working on without giving away too much detail. He continues, “The idea was Petra’s initially and when I heard her present it at an X Labs event, I became interested and joined Petra’s team.”

Jani and Petra both have previous experience in running transformation projects, yet the X-celerator project is not just that. “The best thing in an innovation programme like X-celerator is that you get to see our organization from a new perspective. I get to see one side of Posti in my day-to-day work, but through the programme I have been able to network more with other people at Posti and see how other teams approach their work” Petra elaborates.

Working together in the digital space

The X-celerator programme was thrown a curveball when the COVID-19 lockdown began and all teams had to start working from afar. How has working from home affected the co-working efforts of these two teams?

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When talking with the five members of the two teams, one thing that stands out as a challenge is the lack of co-working on problems and creating something new in the same physical space, and the ability to interact with the other teams and see what they are working on. 

“Instead of working together on a whiteboard we have had to work from separate locations” Anna starts and her teammate Mari adds “The distance doesn’t help with creative work. Working in the same space with people gives us energy and makes it easier to create ideas together.” Jani from the other team would agree: “If we could have worked using the same spaces, there would have been more interactions between everyone involved in the programme.”

Then again it is not all bad news, as Petra put it: “Our team was really quick to adapt to the new situation and thanks to my teammate Jani, who is very organized, we were able to keep going. Of course, our work on the project did change a bit now that we have not been able to see other teams that are in X-celerator 2020.”

Innovation programmes teach as much as they create

Whether here or there, what have these two teams learned from X-celerator? What would they bring with them to other parts of Posti based on their experience?

Jani and Petra would emphasize the time needed to really work an idea into a solution that customers would actually want to use. As Petra would put it; “one thing I have learned is to be more patient. It takes a lot of patience to work through certain bottlenecks and solve emerging challenges throughout the innovation process.” Jani would agree: “The best lesson has been that one should not think that an idea alone is good enough, but that there always needs to be a clear connection between the idea and customers’ actual needs.”

The trio of Anna, Mari and Inka would underline similar learnings. Inka starts: “One of the most rewarding things has been the discussions we have had with customers.” Mari continues: “When we started to see the solution come to life: this is how we could solve our customer’s problem because these are the pain points the customer is coming across currently.” Finally, Anna would add as an overall perk from the X-celerator programme so far: “Now we all have a new level of confidence to even throw out ideas into the trash bin if they don’t really bring added value to the customer. This allows us to really think hard about what would create the most value to our customers and keep working from there.

From an outside-looking-in perspective, it seems that the X-celerator 2020 programme at Posti’s X Labs seems to bring together immense amounts of brain-power, even from a distance and despite not being able to work within the same space. Eeva Tiainen, Business Strategist at Posti who was responsible for running the X-celerator programme would agree: “One of the best lessons for everyone involved was that an idea alone is not enough. To succeed and proceed you have to find a clear link between the idea and the customer’s actual need. It was lessons like these that really energized and excited our teams and colleagues.”

Another reassuring and positive aspect of X-celerator is the steadfastness of the teams involved – these people, quite apparently, are not bogged down even during the lockdown, but will keep going forward and solving big problems no matter what kinds of wrenches get thrown into the works.

Would you like to be on one of Posti’s X-celerator upcoming teams? For starters, you would need to have a job at Posti to attend, so why don’t you check out our open positions here and get to work!

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