Startup spirit becomes visible in flat hierarchy and continuous renewal

One of the challenges older, established companies – especially large ones – face today is how to retain an active, flexible mindset and be open to change and opportunity. Going deeper into its second century, Kiilto continues to embrace a startup mentality. Tomi Takala and Christopher Mills draw comparisons between Kiilto and today’s flashy newcomers.  

Tomi Takala, Business Area Director for Kiilto, says that the company has many traits of an up-and-coming startup.

“I think that there’s a can-do attitude at Kiilto that is very important. There’s also energy and entrepreneurial spirit here that are vital for startups, too,” he says.

“In addition, we have a process of continuous renewal which means that we’re always challenging ourselves in a constructive way,” says Tomi who’s been with the company since 2017.

Culture brave enough to try new

Christopher Mills, who’s been working at Kiilto for over ten years now, started the year 2021 as Kiilto’s Head of Innovation. He believes there’s a certain “craziness” in the Kiilto culture: the willingness and ability to dive head-first into new challenges, be they business models or emerging markets.     

“I feel that ‘Startup spirit since 1919’, one of our cultural cornerstones, is a great reflection of who we are as a company: we are constantly evolving and developing. And even though the company is 100 years old, it is clear that we are never ready and haven’t achieved all the things we want to achieve – so we keep going forward, trying out new things,” says Christopher.

Great ideas can be found from anywhere

Tomi and Christopher point out that being agile and innovative are keys for just about any business today – and that the trick lies, quite often, in recognizing that a great idea can surface from anywhere in the organization.

“For example, we’ve had our digital idea box open for all the employees since 2013, so that anybody can step forward and come up with something that helps us to improve,” Christopher says.

Tomi agrees that there’s something about the ‘low threshold’ approach that is deeply embedded in the Kiilto DNA. He has recognized an everyday example: when having lunch at the canteen, people tend to vary where they sit, regularly choosing a different spot than the day before.

“This means that one day you’re sitting next to the CEO and another day you’re sitting next to a technician. We have minimal hierarchy and no barriers,” he says. 

Eye on value 

One of the most important results of renewal is generating ever-increasing added value to the customers. According to Christopher, Kiiltonians have always demonstrated great drive in developing customer relationships.  

“We always want to go the extra mile for the customer – and have fun doing it, too: enjoying cooperation, learning something new and achieving our goals.” 

Video: Startup spirit since 1919 / Kiilto Culture