The Designing Adaptive and Creative Organizations course at Aalto University teaches students to apply theoretical frameworks related to the field of designing organizations to company-based projects. Building on the long tradition of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management to collaborate with companies, this master’s level course aims at helping companies to solve organizing challenges, while enabling students to develop their competence and experience. Professor Marina Biniari is the professor in charge of it, and Lauri Pietinalho, a Ph.D. student, is responsible for securing the company projects.
‘The course combines theory with the challenges of business life, and this time the course focused particularly on the organizing challenges the adoption of digital tools or strategies may impose on companies. In some cases, the cooperation between students and companies continues after the course, for example in the form of an internship or a Master’s thesis,’ Marina Biniari explains.
In spring 2020, the companies that the students worked with included Nokia, Wärtsilä, Osuuspankki, Tieto and Fortum.
Solution Manager Pauliina Erätuuli, who represented Nokia Software on the course, brought along the company's artificial intelligence projects for the student group to map out. The aim was to obtain an external perspective from the students on Nokia’s artificial intelligence-related development projects, and the utilisation of the information involved to improve the efficiency of the organisation's activities. The students carried out interviews in Nokia Software division including data science, product management and product development.
‘I was really pleasantly surprised by the cooperation with the students. Although they did not have any consulting experience, they did well at getting to grips with the topic. The results of the work were good throughout, and it was a pleasure to work with them. “
The students working with Pauliina Erätuuli were Mazen Bahaa-El-Din, Angélica Méndez Reyes, Juho Valkola and Rasmus Hakala. Both the students and Pauliina Erätuuli felt that added value and new possibilities had been generated by applying theory to the company's situation.
In the project led by Nokia Software Agile Transformation Lead Johanna Reunanen, the students were able to analyse and develop the operations of a global virtual expert network involving dozens of specialists (Lean-Agile Center of Excellence). Interviews were carried out both with Nokia's domestic operations and also remotely with company personnel in India and the United States.
‘Through the interviews, the students made good findings on topics such as how communication could be developed and standardised and how the virtual expert network’s operations and forms of collaboration could be developed. At the same time, they also found examples of what works well, of good practices could be disseminated further.’
The Nokia virtual expert network was mapped out by students Afnan Ahmed, Clément Gobin, Aleksandr Nariadchikov, Leonidas Karavanas-Papadimos and Severi Huuki. The group learnt in particular how to communicate with company representatives and make clear and concise proposals.
‘The interviews enabled everyone’s voice to be heard. The improvements suggested were classified well into short-term, medium-term and long-term proposals, which makes it easier to see what is worth focusing on first,’ Johanna Reunanen adds.
The corona situation during the spring did not undermine the progress or quality of the nine company projects conducted this year as part of this course. The flexibility and agility of all companies’ project managers and employees enabled the timely collection of data. Further, all groups of students received continuous coaching from Professor Biniari until the final submission of their projects.
Aalto University's strategic corporate partners are Nokia, Saab, ABB and Neste. The next Designing Adaptive and Creative Organizations course will run in early spring 2021.
Designing Adaptive and Creative Organizations
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