Air Force: Demola Helps to Perceive the Views of New Generations

7 Mar 2019
by Riikka Kämppi

Young people's values, attitudes and views are considered more and more important in many organisations, including the Finnish Defense Forces. One of the goals of the Air Force’s Demola innovation challenge is to understand the mindset of future employees.


– With the help of Demola, we have combined our own vision with talents from different fields outside our organisation, and together we are coming up with ideas to complex challenges, says Colonel Petteri Seppälä who acted as Commander of Satakunta Air Command until February 2019.

The Air Force was convinced of Demola's innovation challenge model, which combines the organisation's own experts and university students from various fields. During the eight weeks, the project team will find solutions together to the organisation’s challenge.

– Demola helps us understand the views of future generations and find things we would not necessarily find, Seppälä concludes.

Fuel for developing employer image

The purpose of the Air Forces’ “Generations Y and Z” Demola challenge, launched in the beginning of the year, is to find out what are the values, attitudes and motivation factors for generations who are soon entering the labor market. In addition, the project focuses on how young people's values fit together with a traditional organisation representing stability.

According to Seppälä, the views of today's students are likely to differ at least in some respects from the views of more experienced personnel in the Air Force.

– It is good for us to expand our knowledge of the young people's mindset. In this way, we are able to better understand the values of our future employees and thereby influence our recruitment and our attractiveness as an employer, Seppälä ponders.

"An eye-opening experience"

Riitta Penttinen, Research Manager of the National Defence University, is taking part in the Air Force’s Demola challenge.

– It has been very interesting to get involved. In our own operations, preconditions are often stricter, while Demola focuses on wild ideas and new, creative solutions, says Penttinen.

In addition to Penttinen and another representative of the Air Force, the Air Force’s Demola team is composed of National Defence University students and (new) Tampere University students from various disciplines.

– The project has been incredibly eye-opening. We have had the opportunity to hear what kind of impressions students have of our operations. Likewise, students from different fields have been able to reflect on whether their impressions of us correlate with the reality, says Penttinen.

Co-operation between Demola and Air Force will continue during 2019 with a new innovation challenge. Both Petteri Seppälä and Riitta Penttinen are expecting the co-operation to bring new perspectives and ideas to challenges that are familiar to the Air Force:

– It is interesting to see what kind of new ideas come up from the Demola challenges and whether we can develop some aspects of our own operating culture, too, based on the challenges’ results.