Thoughts on inspiration, creativity and innovation

Describe the things that are of deep interest to you personally that do not involve your work or your personal relations with family and friends? What do you like to do only for yourself and your own pleasure?

This was one of the questions asked in the guidelines of Personal and Professional Identity Narrative (PPIN) which all of us trainees were to write before our second module at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland. There were also many other parts to cover in PPIN, such as family background, significant events in early life, significant relations in life, regrets, professional identity and future. However, to me this was probably one of the most challenging parts of the narrative. Not because I do not know what I enjoy doing, but because usually the pleasure that I get comes through people and spending time with people who I really like and trust.

I guess the meaning of this kind of question is to awake us by thinking of the things we get energy from, the things that can truly inspire us and what we enjoy doing just for ourselves, and only for ourselves. For me, this means one of the things where inspiration and creativity is born from a true interest. A place where I can only be myself and just perform to myself. A place where I am not judged, evaluated and free from outside and especially inside pressure, where I am simply enough and enjoying being me and what I am doing. This is a state where I am pretty stable, secured, unpressured and positive. To me this place and state feels very inspiring and creative.

I work in Biochemical Sales at the Innovation Centre for Biomaterials which was recently opened in December 2015. Obviously, one of the chewed topics here has been innovation - What is it actually? How is it created? When does it start and end? How is it executed and how can we make people more innovative? For sure, everyone has their own aspects on what innovation and creativity is in their opinion and perspective. This is because we are all different and unique. Thus, I guess another aspect to creativity and innovation is to be different from each other in order to be able to view different perspectives. Working and spending time with people who are different from ourselves usually push us to think differently. Different aspects, different opinions, different behaviours and different expectations can really lead to something golden. Often these differences make us eventually understand each other (as well as ourselves) better even though it might not always make us feel comfortable.

As Stora Enso is in the middle of its transformation in becoming the Renewable Materials Company, difference is increasingly taken into consideration. It is not a coincidence that there are five different nationalities represented in the Group Leadership Team at the moment (However, still only 3 out of 13 of the members are women). In addition, as a Grow Trainee representative, I can also happily tell that in our Trainee group we have seven different nationalities altogether (and half of us are women!). On top of that, at my home unit, the recently opened Innovation Centre for Biomaterials, we are already 15 different nationalities amongst around 50 employees, and more people from diverse backgrounds will be coming. However, not always only 

cultural background or gender address that we are different from each other. There are also tiny little things that make us different. In order to recognise these little differences, we should interact with each other more. We should learn from each other and get to know each other better, listen to each other and have empathy for others as well as for ourselves. I think Stora Enso still has a long way to go in this transformation process and making the company more diverse, but we are well on our way.

Now I have come to a situation where I have two totally different sources of inspiration and creativity. Firstly, the secure comfortable place and state where I can only be me without any judgement from outside or inside, and secondly the differences in people that push me to think differently, and perhaps make me feel a bit uncomfortable. While working in many diverse teams and groups either in the Trainee programme or in my home unit I have realised that I need both of these sources of creativity, not only for work, but life in general. I am more capable in taking advantage from the differences I see around me if I am balanced securely on my own two feet through the things I get truly inspired by doing only for myself. If I am not able to feel at home in my own thoughts, activities and behaviour, it is rather difficult to understand and adapt different aspects from others. This is why I think we all should embrace the things we personally love to do and where we get energy instead of concentrating on things other people might value. Also, we should embrace difference because it will open our minds.

So what are the things that I really enjoy doing only for myself? In my PPIN I wrote that I love doing sports (usually with friends though), I also love doing things with my hands and spending time in nature. In addition, I have to admit that I have become addicted to TED talks, as they are a true source of inspiration for me. Hence, I will finish this post with a link to a TED talk by Margaret Heffernan that I very much agree with. She is a former CEO of five businesses and talks about how companies should forget all pecking orders at work, as everyone are equally valuable. She also addresses that employees should get to know each other better in order to create a secure environment because it is crucial when doing breakthrough work.

TED talk by Margaret Heffernan - "Why it's time to forget pecking order at work" I wish you all a very inspirational rest of the week! (

Sincerely, Laura

#storaensoGROW #InnovationCentreBiomaterials #trainee #biomaterials

Laura Suikkanen

Biochemicals Sales Assistant, Innovation Center, Stockholm (Biomaterials)

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