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Innovating Society ajută antreprenorii prin găsirea de soluții inovative la nivel de produs, strategie, oameni, marketing și transformare organizațională. Urmărește activitatea noastră pe canalele de social media:

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Innovation Insights from Timo Mashiyi - Veikkola (NL)

Timo Mashiyi-Veikkola is an agile coach, service designer and futures strategist based in Amsterdam. Presently working with the design agency Nordkapp, he has been helping companies navigate the future for more than 18 years. He has worked with global brands on topics such as the Future of Retail, Future of Work, Smart Society, Food Futures, Travel Futures, Future of Technology, FinTech and many others.

He has developed approaches in trend management, design research, ethnographic fieldwork as well as scenario planning and brand strategy. In addition to his futurist and strategic positions at Nokia and Dell, he has worked for clients such as ING, M&S, Mars, Bang & Olufsen, Panasonic, Absolut, LG, Herman Miller, Microsoft, Samsung, and Royal Carribean International. He has been a guest lecturer, facilitator and keynote speaker. 

On the 13th of November, we will meet with Timo in Bucharest, at the co-working space Commons Unirii to chat about Innovation, Futurism and how we can predict future trends in order to create products that will succeed in today’s competitive market.

In preparation for the Meetup, we had a chat with Timo, to see how Innovation looks like for someone who is an expert in this field.

Innovation Insights from Timo Mashiyi Veikkola

Timo, your professional background looks outstanding, how did it all start?

„I was working at Nokia, in The New Wireless Business Development team back in 2002 creating the first internal internet- based training program, when a colleague approached me for an interview on Brazilian insights as I had written my Anthropology master’s thesis on Afro-Brazilian culture. 

I was amazed that Nokia had an internal team of social scientists studying culture and its impact on future behaviours and design. Nokia was a pioneer in having an internal insights and innovations team. I was excited and flattered that I could be hired as an anthropologist to help design the future. From that point on I worked on that team as a Senior Futures Specialist for nine years. 

At the beginning of the 2000s, we developed the tools that are now referred to as “design thinking” and “lean” and “agile” innovation methods. Over the years we worked closely with design and engineering to design the concepts that today people use on their smart phones from contact lists to music, gaming and mobile commerce. 

It all started as a great opportunity and continued as a career in helping global companies navigate the future.”

Nokia phone on white background
Photo by Dmitry Bayer on Unsplash


What is innovation? There are a lot of misunderstandings so we would love to hear it from someone who is active in this field for so long.

„Innovation is, in my opinion, expanding relevantly on current and past products, ideas and fields. Unless something emerges that the world has never witnessed before, then innovation is the improvement on ideas and concepts. Long story short, innovation is directional curiosity. 

Innovation is the cumulation of insights and information, meaning what one reads, hears, observes, through their cultural background, their education, the discussions with friends, the media, etc. Then at one point it collides with intuition and a new idea or concept is created. I call it informed intuition.

Thinking that innovation is only new technologies would be a colossal understatement.

Innovation encompasses anything newly designed/created that has an impact on the world around us.”


What is considered innovative?

„Being innovative means adding value. 

If the new concept, product, service or even field does not add value to the world around us, I would not consider it innovative. In addition to value it must add distinct novelty in its purpose and thus changing a behaviour. Often a new business idea or a start-up is thought to be innovative but at closer inspection they are just copies of products, ideas and fields that already exist, and the necessary improvement to be considered an innovation lacks completely.”

Sticky notes on whiteboard
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash


What types of companies can especially innovate?

„Companies that are considered innovative are the ones that foster and encourage curiosity. Curiosity is a prerequisite of innovation, but it is not enough. For a company to innovate it also needs the right filters to identify the viable and valuable ideas and the guts to make them happen.

There are numerous companies out there who stumble on amazing ideas but lack the tools, the openness, the budgets, the vision to turn them into reality. Those companies cannot be called innovative. 

It is not about the size, but about the vision and the strength to take risks and try to turn that vision into reality.”


What are the pre-innovation steps a company must take in order to set the field?

„The first step is to hire me. Seriously speaking, the main step for any company is to have a clear vision of their future. This is founded on the PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, ecological and legislative) trends that not only affect today’s society but that of the next three to five years. Through trend management and scenario building a company can establish its vision. This can then better frame where innovation takes place. Each time we converge on an idea, concept or field we have used a lens to put the innovation more into focus. Research goes hand in hand with innovation. As in scientific approaches to innovate we also need to constantly invalidate. 

And if I am to mention a second step, this would be it – have the right lens that filters out the less valuable ideas.”


We see that you worked with a lot of big companies. How does innovation happen in one of these established companies that don’t have, let’s say, the „freedom” that small companies such as start-ups have?

„Having worked in two global organizations Nokia and Dell as well as consulted for many other global brands I have experienced much freedom to innovate. My role in these organisations has been to bring “the outside in” to very creative teams. I would say that the key difference between large organisations and start-ups is the access to resources – human and financial alike.

As an agile coach I have been bringing to organisations agile methodologies to make exploration of innovation more streamlined. The key is to have an innovation mentality. Have the right tools to experiment and discover the right solutions.”

Hand drawing on paper with marker
Photo by bonneval sebastien on Unsplash


What is the place of human beings in the innovation process, compared to the technical/administrative factors?

„People should always be at the centre of innovation. One must understand the behaviours, needs and challenges of people to best realise the opportunities. This is why tools such as trend management, personas and scenario planning play a key role in innovation.

However, we must also keep in mind the technical limitations which can be explored after the divergence of ideation. Lens such as industry, brand, field, features and technological development are used to narrow the focus of relevant innovation. Administrative factors are the necessary evil in any creative process but without it many innovation initiatives are not possible.”


Innovation Culture vs Technologies and Processes? Is one more important than the other or how do they stand?

„My moto is “always believe in the process”. Innovation is about using tools to arrive at your desired result. These tools and methodologies create a process. At the end of each stage you put a specific tool aside and from those results, choose another tool and proceed. Innovation does not come from thin air but is the result of a lot of hard work. Innovation and process are intertwined. Culture is based on values and ideas; technology and processes are its enablers.”

Office meeting
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash


Looking at your current experience in Romania, where do you think we stand in terms of innovation?

„Having now worked in Romania for around seven months I have noticed that there is a lot of innovation initiatives and the level of skill and the vibrancy of ideation is very strong. There is a strong creative drive to innovate. Romania has a long history of great innovations and I envision even more in future. Education and the transfer of skills and knowledge are the keys to success. It must be encouraged and nurtured. 

I am working with an incredibly talented and visionary team here in Romania and see the hard work put into innovation, design and branding. The level of innovation I have seen, not only in technology but in concepts, ideologies and the creative fields is significant. I have been so privileged to work here in Romania and a part of my heart has been captured by Bucharest, Romanian culture, its art and architecture and most importantly, the people.”

Timo shed some light on Innovation, what it actually means and how it is properly done.

On November 13, you will get to meet Timo at the Meetup – Designing for Future,where he will talk about forecasting industry trends in order to design products and services for the future. The Meetup will take place at Commons Unirii and will start at 18:30.

You can save your seat at the link below. 

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Innovating Society ajută antreprenorii prin găsirea de soluții inovative la nivel de produs, strategie, oameni, marketing și transformare organizațională. Urmărește activitatea noastră pe canalele de social media:

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