Esko Hannula’s Three Skills of Advantage book launch

Esko Hannula book launch

Qentinel CEO, Esko Hannula launched his work of non-fiction, Three Skills of Advantage to an appreciative audience at Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall on February 16. The book received positive reviews from a panel of business leaders who went on to discuss some of its main theories.

Addressing the gathering, Hannula said that managers need to practice the skills of quality, agility and decision to succeed in an uncertain, complex and dynamic world.

“We live in an economy of speed, governed by systemic complexity and dynamism. Changes in the operating environment date even the best of plans and decisions. The detailed planning and centralized decision-making that we have been culturally and educationally programmed for, no longer work. Everything is uncertain,” Esko Hannula declared in the book.

Hannula has spent more than 25 years in leadership positions developing innovative products, solutions and technology. Three Skills of Advantage represents a compendium of what he has learned during his extensive career, primarily that it is impossible to control reality and that we must learn to manage uncertainty.

“We cannot control risk. We can only manage ourselves in relation to risk. Some years ago, I myself stopped talking about risk management completely. I started to talk about managing with uncertainty. As a concept, uncertainty is easier to accept and process than risk. Managing is also a more realistic mindset than controlling,” the writer pointed out.

Practice makes perfect

In the book, Hannula compares practicing the three skills of advantage to the approach a musician takes in preparing for a recital or performance. Behind every performance by a professional musician lies years of practice – compared to the average manager. Musicians spend time finessing their techniques to perfection and release all their creative energy in a unique musical experience. Finnish vocal talent and star of the British X-Factor talent search competition Saara Aalto is featured in the book, explaining her approach to excellence.

During the launch event, internationally renowned Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen delivered a compelling performance of three études by French composer Claude Debussy, each piece dedicated to one of the three skills of advantage. Jumppanen said that as a musician, the skill of inspiration is most important to him. See his interview on a video.

Panel ponders managing with uncertainty

A panel of forward-looking business leaders commended the book’s key insights and discussed the challenges facing autonomous organizations. Helsinki customer experience developer Sami Paju provided insights on how to maintain a common direction while avoiding chaos. Tarja Pääkkönen of the board-level networking firm Boardman described the role of inspiration and faith in developing strategy in an environment of uncertainty.

COO of the consumer finance company Euroloan Group Joachim von Shantz advocated for processes to manage risk. However, he noted that not all risk can be avoided. “If an unexpected risk appears out of left field, then we are already dealing with a problem. They [risks and problems] are dealt with separately,” he added.

Minna Nissinen, a senior vice president of the investment and corporate services group Salomaa, picked up Hannula’s thesis that an environment of uncertainty requires the skills of both bold pioneers and meticulous planners. “This perfectly ties together and crystallizes the spirit of our times, the need for active assumptions for management, a decision-makers most important tools, responsibility for decisions and their consequences,” she declared.

Three Skills of Advantage will soon be available in Finnish online and as an e-book from Amazon. An English version will be published in April.