Entrepreneurship and maker mindset for a new company culture - interview with Carolina Marini

Since 2015, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Latam Corporate University (Isvor) in Betim (MG) has had a strong ally in the development of entrepreneurial culture and maker mindset: Isvor FabLab, which features a 3D printer, a laser cutting machine , a large format CNC, a precision CNC and cutting plotter.

To talk about how this dynamic and versatile place has contributed to empowering FCA employees and other clients, and how it opens doors for new mindsets in organizations, we interviewed Carolina Marini, FCA Design Intelligence Creative Director and Fab Manager at Isvor FabLab. Check out!

carolina marini

1 – What led Isvor to deploy a FabLab in its facilities? How does it change the way students learn and have access to content?

Places such as FabLabs provide access to digital fabrication tools that help developing and practicing maker skills. We believe these skills are fundamental for a more contemporary performance and aligned to personal and professional challenges.

2 – What is Isvor FabLab’s role in FCA’s innovation strategy?

The FabLab has two important roles in FCA’s innovation system. First of all, it should be a place with easy access to digital prototyping tools – any employee should use the tools in an integrated way – with the help of a “guru” who knows the tricks of all of them – , to work on their ideas and build prototypes. The other role to support the innovation team in making their prototypes faster and easier, since the necessary resources are not always available at the right time.

3 – You work with some personas at FabLab Isvor, each one of them representing a mindset. Could you tell us more about them and their importance in the corporate environment?

The idea behind the ​​personas is to understand how they act and how people behave when solving problems or learning.

A person may have similarities to one of them, but also act like another persona at times

These personas are:

  • EXPLORER: studies, evaluates, and appropriates aspects of a particular problem, context, or scenario. He is able to understand and unfold them into elements that are relevant to a specific reality.
  • HACKER: is dedicated, with unusual intensity, to modify something (software, machine, process, organization, etc.). He works to achieve extraordinary solutions and effects (out of the ordinary and normal order), bypassing barriers that would normally stop him from proceeding, with the help of skills to gain speed and scale.

MAKER: Works by doing (building, performing) and uses technology to quickly materialize concepts in the form of prototypes. He is able to work with seemingly distant disciplines to materialize ideas.

  • NETWORKER: Is able to attract people, start and encourage collaborative networks around problems, ideas, opportunities and causes. He uses personal mechanisms and technology to converge efforts around a purpose.

4 – Learning-by-doing, experimentation and prototyping encourage a more proactive, autonomous, creative and collaborative attitude. How can these skills be encouraged in the business besides the corporate university environment? 

As we always say here: it’s not about things, it’s about people. People don’t need a FabLab and 3D printers to develop a more innovative attitude, things are just tools for that. Remember that it is not the iron that makes the blacksmith, it is the blacksmith who makes the iron!

Developing new attitudes depends on a new way of looking to the world. And this is what we propose: to help people look and face challenges, problems, and especially opportunities, in a different way.

That happens in companies when new approaches are developed, new ways of working are implemented and when people offer their talent available to collaborate with others.

Learn more: Everything an education-focused makerspace should have

5 – Entrepreneurship is also encouraged in digital manufacturing laboratories and makerspaces. How has intrapreneurship been worked on at Isvor, especially after the creation of Isvor FabLab?

The maker culture is all about entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. Putting your idea into practice and presenting a prototype is a huge step to make things happen. That means breaking down more personal than organizational barriers. Businesses are full of good ideas, waiting for someone to turn them into something that can change their reality. We need to vent this, but if people are not prepared and empowered, the process will not work.

6 – FabLabs are usually associated with disciplines such as Engineering, Design, Electronics. Has it also been used by the administrative areas of FCA (or other clients)? How has this experience been?

The place itself has much demand for diverse activities. From marketing teams to human resources teams, people are experimenting new ways to develop their ideas about things or behaviors.

The experience is always impactful. Seeing people, often closed, working together is very rewarding. Watching teams make the most of each member’s talent is not common in competitive environments. But in a collaborative environment, like a FabLab, it is.

7- What are the main results that you have already achieved with the FabLab experience?

We managed to change a lot in Isvor itself. The way we develop and deliver our training interventions is completely different today. In addition to being more collaborative, the whole process became more agile and assertive. Now we build more prototypes, experiment and make more mistakes. All of that helps us be more innovative and customer-centric.

We have been working on these aspects with our “students” and, little by little, we realize that some of them have already changed the way they work. We notice that people are more collaborative and more likely to prototype.

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