What SPII EVOLUTION was for real, for us

What SPII EVOLUTION was for real, for us 1024 729 Spii

It was a day like any other, we all got to the office ready to start our jobs…but instead we found stickers and bananas on our desks. We didn’t know what was going on, but it was immediately clear it was going to be different!”.

Valentina had started off her career in Spii just few months before: when she signed her contract, she had no idea the Company she was about to start working for was planning something pretty out of the ordinary.

We have talked a lot, here in these virtual pages, about SPII Evolution in the past months: it was a path we wanted our readers to take with us, because we believe we are a pretty special company, and this adventure surely contributed in shaping who we are today.

But who is “we”?

A Company is made of its people, so it’s only fair to ask them their opinions, don’t you think?

A day unlike any other

spii evo 3

“It all started with stickers and bananas, a giant puzzle and unexpected new signs all the reaction was just a huge question mark on everyone’s face”, Valentina recalls.
Few things had been thrown in earlier as a “hint”, but no one had a real clue about what was going to happen.

At Fabio’s speech, later that day, they understood what it was all about: SPII was about to embark on a journey towards change, and everyone was being asked to take part in it.

“Everyone felt involved, it was very inclusive: for maybe the first time we were all together as ‘SPII’, not ‘this department’ or ‘that other’ – just one big family”, Vale remembers. “I kept thinking: ‘wow that’s cool’. I had heard of team buildings and this kind of activities, but never thought I would experience them”.

The beginning of a path

Sure, someone was worried: after all it was an extra effort the company was asking. But it was clear it was going to be an opportunity for growth, not only on the business side but also at a personal level.

It was a project to carry on within company time, not extra. The grumblers are always there, in any situation, but most of the people, even those who found something to complain about, were happy to have their voice heard, something they may not have felt so strongly before. It was a space for people to express their opinions“, Simona recalls.

The groups were formed randomly, getting together people that worked in the same company, but before that may not even have had a chance to talk, to truly connect.

This was something many people felt, and that’s why among the suggestions that emerged from SPII Evo, one of the first ones to be implemented was the Evo Room – a dining and rest area where everyone could enjoy lunch, a cupo of coffee, or just some chatting. A place to live.

Simo had been there long before SPII Evo, and could definitely see the journey in its whole length.

“It all started from there, it was the moment we began this path of growth and innovation. Surely it was there before and continued after that, but that was the starting point of something more ‘real’.
I’ve been with the company for 8 years now and I’ve noticed this sharp difference, a before and an after. A change in the idea that we had of ourselves before, in the corporate culture”.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

comfort zone sticker

When you visit SPII today, you can feel this vibe.

It may be the giant “comfort zone circles” sticker that meets you on the first floor, at the entrance of the office rooms, a constant reminder of that happy experiment. Or just the way people talk and behave.

What you breath in is the aftermath of SPII Evo, and the path it started.

So how does something like this “emerge”? Was it always there and it just needed some watering to blossom, or it was the project itself which created it?

Simo isn’t sure about the answer.
It wasn’t all immediate: SPII Evo was a first step, something different, that allowed for a change in perspective. It’s not that is wasn’t there before, it’s just that you don’t really feel it within you until you directly experience it.
As I said it was a path: from there, the human-centered vision also started to take form, as a piece of mold that had always been there but no one previously had actually turned into a recognizable shape.
When we all were asked to do so, the whole company was influenced, people felt they were part of this like never before”.

Probably the answer stands in the middle, then.
In everyday life, all caught up by your own things, you don’t even think about suggesting a change. Complaining it’s much easier: it’s always someone else’s fault, someone else’s role. It’s the “depends on me/depends on others” dichotomy.

It’s not an egg: it’s a seed

spii evo 1

Once you force people to take action and responsibility, you push them into a “depends on me” mentality.

That is, you plant a seed, you water it and then you confidently wait: this is how everything changes.

SPII Evolution was a physical space, an actual stage, with everyone listening to you. Really listening.
But also a mental space, a strong, explicit message.
If the management had just asked people to point out what they wanted to change, without the whole experience surrounding it, it would not have happened. It was the whole process that led us here“, Vale eventually suggests.

So the vision was already there: SPII Evo was the medium to make it real, give it structure, and get it across the company, to everyone.

“Ultimately it was a moment when the company said, ‘you are important, help us, we need you‘. It’s not something you can give for granted, ever”, Simo wraps up.

The courage to risk

When the day of the final event came, everyone was ready. Simona was in one of the “Water” groups, Vale instead was a member of “Air”.

And she laughs thinking that, just 6 months after arriving at SPII, she came to her workplace dressed all in yellow, with plastic bags and cleaning gloves on as she didn’t have any yellow piece of garment.

“At the beginning of SPII Evo, none of us would have thought we could ever get on stage dressed like that, in front of all of our colleagues!
But once we got to the final event, it was natural. It felt ok to open up, to laugh, to get to know each other, to put ourselves on the line, to RISK“.

A new way

In the end, there wasn’t just one winning project: many different ideas were born during SPII Evolution and then were applied.

It was a twofold improvement, both with the culture and the operations, such as with the production process.

And then it eventually turned into a new way altogether, a tension towards continuous change and improvement. Recently, for example, they have changed what the Reception looked like, and before that they introduced “break areas”, a water purification system, and so on. Small changes that feel like a continuous improvement.

To date, the process of changing the company, facilitating people, boosting appearance, functionality, etc, is always in progress, and it started from there, Simona is sure about it.

“It could have been something that didn’t really last, or went downhill, but no: despite any initial difficulty, it has continued to grow over time”.

See you next time,

arm wrestling win win

‘Win or lose’ mindset? Change the game

‘Win or lose’ mindset? Change the game 1280 806 Spii
arm wrestling win win

No doubt we live in a hyper-competitive World. We are always encouraged, either explicitly or implicitly, to “be the best“, to crush our competition, to be the first.

We face life like we would face a race: you can win or you can lose, there is no middle ground.

Have you ever had the impression that there is something else, something missing?

We do. We’ve always had.

Our job is a matter of integration: we build pieces and parts that are not stand-alones, they need to integrate with something else, and something else after that, in order to contribute to the creation of something greater.

To move people, to make them feel safe, to put the human being at the center of a technological World.

It’s not a race: it’a a relay race. You only win if you contribute to your team’s success, if you integrate your skills with the ones who come next in line.

It’s an “infinite game“, as Simon Sinek puts it.

As we strongly believed this, we also knew that we needed to ingrain it into our mindset, across all the people at SPII.

So how to do it?

Change the game…of arm wrestling!

If you have read the previous articles about our Journey of Change, you know how we did it during SPII Evolution: playing.

Games are a powerful tool: they allow us to try things out in a playful environment, in fiction (or within a metaphor), but to learn the lesson for real in our lives.

So that when you change the rules of a game you have always given for granted, you change the mindset beneath it.

It’s like arm wrestling: if you partner up with someone, ready for a tug-of-war, your mind gets ready to beat your opponent, be stronger than they are.

But what if you are told that the goal is to achieve the highest score possible, and that each time your opponent’s wrist touches the ground, you gain one point?

Would you begin to see that…they are not your opponents?

That if you cooperate to bring each other’s wrist down as many times as you can…you both win? Your adversary becomes a partner, who can help you achieve your goals, while you help them achieve theirs.

It’s a win-win mindset. It’s cooperation over competition. It’s a completely new game.

One that you want to bring back to your everyday life, of course.

Bring the game into your life

SPII Evo worked on a key question that is broad and open, like “how to create integration?”, “how to create agility?“, or “how to improve the company for the benefit of everyone involved?”.

And it’s meta-work because you’re doing integration while you’re explaining it, you’re practicing agility while you’re creating it, and you are improving the company while you are brainstorming possible solutions.

It’s a powerful, powerful tool, something that can have side effects because it brings out the truth, it’s a litmus test. In fact, it can even be dangerous for a company, if the true intentions of the management are not coherent.

SPII’s desire was to create real CHANGE from within: so we needed to do a check on everyone involved, to see who was willing to see this change and be an active part of it.

Gaining a win-win mindset was essential to this process: we could not keep going forward in the direction we had set, if we were not all going to work towards the same goal.

We could not have the success we were hoping for if we didn’t learn to see 3 possible outcomes for every negotiation: either I win, or you win…or else, we both win.

This is what we should all aim for, always. And this is what we worked on during the months of SPII Evolution, and beyond them.

That is also why it was so important, few years later, to review our Vision and Mission, our Values, and to find new meaning within them.

Playing with it during simulation over simulation, game after game, made exactly this: it created something that got stuck in our minds, forever.

Do you want to try and change the game with us?

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol


One vision: from competition to cooperation

One vision: from competition to cooperation 1024 684 Spii

What do you think is the best way to make people cooperate?

Give them a common goal? Make them feel part of something greater, you say?
Yes, sure, it may work.

But what we found out to work best is something slightly different.
If you want people to truly cooperate at a deeper level you need to…add instead a little bit of competition!

You don’t believe it? Well, look at what happened with SPIIEvo and you will think again.

Divide to unify: the formula of Evolution

We have already told you how with SPIIEvo the whole company was divided into smaller groups, each of them identified by one Element (Water, Air, Earth and Fire). And how they all went separately through a journey of change, in order to find one game-changing idea each to propose to the management.

They would then compete with each other to become the “winning Element” that would offer the most interesting idea to improve the company.

What we didn’t tell you yet is that this all was a well-defined plan to actually make them cooperate at a higher level than ever before!

Every Element would include more than one group: week after week, during every edition of the activity, every one of them would experience the same thing, and they would be evaluated with a grade based on their results.
Water, Air, Earth and Fire 1 each got a grade, then Water, Air, Earth and Fire 2, and 3, and so on…

They were all separated. But really they were all the same, because each Element would then be counted together, as a whole: so the score of the group “Air 1” was added to “Air 2”, and so on. In order to win and gain more points, a transversal cooperation between competing groups was actually essential!

Edition after edition, a ranking of the 4 Elements was generated, to which every single team has given its contribution through its own overall score: this ranking is the basis of the gamification system of a program such as Evolution, which involves, focuses, and unites.

After each edition, the updated rankings are posted throughout the company.

The effect is twofold: on the one hand, the increasing involvement of those who have already participated in the event, and on the other, the increasing expectations of those who have yet to participate and don’t know what is going to happen.

This generates an incredible hype and also a transversal group spirit.
People from one element or another would wear the same colors, the same branded pins, and develop an incredible sense of belonging.
You’re creating not only attachment, but also a growing, exponential sense of expectation – all towards the final event.

But at the same time something special happens. A paradox.

By separating people into 4 different teams and many more groups, you create competition.

But on the other hand you promote identification with the company as a whole, you create a strong and cohesive company culture, based on a common language that can be understood and spoken only by the ones who feel part of it.

Human beings are programmed that way, attachment to the team is inevitable.

And the entire EVOLUTION path leverages exactly this factor: edition after edition, people become more and more attached to the Element of their team, generating a spirit of unity and support.

One vision is all you need to have

So what?

After months of this both playful and serious competition, the day of the final event comes.

The 4 best groups from each edition and Element are on stage, in front of all their colleagues and friends, and have to present their ideas and convince the jury their one is the best.

So you will find yourself with 4 different groups, united under the flag of 4 different elements, competing against each other for the first prize and for the glory.

How can you make it possible for EVERYONE to win, at this stage? How can you keep everybody engaged, actively and purposefully participating?

This is where the real trick is done.

A new rule is introduced: the audience is divided once more into the 4 elements, and then additional points are offered to the element that belongs to those in the audience who find ways to improve on the ideas of those on stage!

Can you see it? This is explosive.
This way:

  • the audience must listen actively to understand and propose new solutions;
  • those who participate feel engaged because they contribute to make their element win;
  • but they ultimately find ways for EVERYONE to win, because it’s good for the company.

This is what you mean when you say “win-win solutions“!

Are you building a cathedral?

Do you see it now?

Competition doesn’t have to be a tool to declare a winner and a loser.
It can be a metaphor, a way to stimulate a company culture that is cohesive and cooperative.

It can transform the way people work, engage and consider themselves within a company.

Have you ever heard the story of the three bricklayers?

A traveler came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing and the man said he was laying bricks.

He asked the second man the same question and he said he was putting up a wall.

When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing, he said he was building a cathedral.

They were all doing the same thing. The first man had a job. The second man had a career. The third man had a calling.

The path of EVOLUTION that Unreal Training helped us walk by was not only designed to improve our company culture and stimulate new, innovative solutions. It was aimed at building a cathedral, and have everyone on board knowing they were working with a purpose.

Within SPII we all participated in SPIIEvo, everyone had to take part in it; the degree of discretion was with what commitment to do so.
Everyone had to decide which of the 3 workers working on the cathedral to be.

What do you think? Have you ever seen competition in this light?

See you next time,

spii evo 3

The right idea is not enough, it has to be a convincing idea

The right idea is not enough, it has to be a convincing idea 1041 741 Spii

If you truly want to change a company’s culture into one fueled by the knowledge that “it depends on me“, you need two important elements:

  • A management that promotes change, and encourages the people who work for the company to suggest how to achieve it;
  • Engaged people willing to put themselves on the line for the change they envision, offering solutions and new ideas to improve the company;

These are the fuel and the tinder that can start a positive fire, which burns down what is not essential, what doesn’t work properly, and from its ashes builds something beautiful and purposeful.

It is just the beginning, though: because good ideas are not worth much on their own. They need to have someone willing to fight for them, to see them through the good and the bad times.

Great ideas, most of all, need to be convincing: successful ideas are the ones that can be presented as solutions to common problems, with benefits for both the people and the company.

This was the kind of ideas that we wanted to scout for during our change management journey, SPII Evolution.

How do you create a pathway for people to not only gather ideas, but also to advocate and “sell” them successfully to the management? That was Evo’s challenge.

From good ideas to great ideas

The first part was easy. Well, easy if you see it in the perspective of a six-months long project, at least!

It was important to involve everyone in the process, from top to bottom. To create a strong sense of purpose in every participant, a desire to be heard, to give their input. This is why all the colleagues where divided in 4 groups: Water, Air, Fire and Earth.

Each of them was encouraged to build a strong identity as a group, for example finding a battle cry of their element or a motto, building competitiveness and desire to win.

But most of all, SPII Evo leveraged on one of the most important and universal forces that drives any human being: the desire to make a positive impact around us.

Through a set of activities, challenges and situations, we encouraged everyone to take a critical look at their surroundings with a proactive mind, and brainstorm ideas that could positively change the company, impacting both its people and its competitiveness.

And then?

From great ideas to convincing ideas

Once they gathered the best ideas, it was time to turn them into convincing ones.

And how do you do that?

Simple: you make sure people strongly believe in their importance, and then you give them the tools to properly present them.

Do you want a different chair? Do you believe it would benefit you because you would be more comfortable?
Great! But what’s in there for the company?

Does it improve your productivity? Does it reduce the cost of sick days? Does it increase morale?

A convincing idea is one that benefits each of the parts involved equally, one that is mutually beneficial.
One that you can present as a solution to everyone’s problems, that is achievable and convenient.
One you are willing to take responsibility for, because you truly believe it will be for the best of everyone involved.

These are the ideas that SPII wanted to encourage, find and carry out.

From convincing ideas to successful projects

The whole SPII Evo project combined elements of public speaking, negotiation, sales and much more. The goal was to stimulate people not only to find these ideas, but also to properly pitch them during the final event.

An official moment, when everyone felt thrilled and excited to present THEIR big idea in front of a jury and the rest of the company.

A staged event that needed to engage the audience, surprise, entertain and convince the management, and ultimately…result in real and long lasting change.

So when everyone on that great day showed up dressed with the colors of their team’s element, or shouted their battle-cry out loud, or even started playing “One vision” by Queen with an electric guitar…well, that’s when we knew it had worked really well!

Starting from real-life company issues, situations that sometimes weren’t even problematic until we started looking into them, some great ideas, convincing ideas, emerged.

Are you curious to know some of the changes that emerged from this incredible experience? A perfect example is the EVO room.

A dining area born from a need: the desire to get to know each other better within the company.

There are many ways to achieve such a goal: you could set up coffee vending machines, you could organize company events, and so on. But the best one, the one that best fit SPII’s values and its people, was to physically create a space for it.

A dining area where one could rest, meet others, engage with colleagues, eat a home-cooked meal and share it with a friend.

It was not the only right answer, but it surely was the one that best answered to a need that both the company and the people had.
And it was all completely born, raised and developed from the team who originally had it during SPII Evolution.

Because by the time the jury and the management agreed to it, it was already clear: they didn’t just suggest that idea, they had successfully sold it to the company and had become advocates of change.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol

spii evo 2

Does change need to start from above?

Does change need to start from above? 1379 729 Spii
spii evo 2

We have mostly been led to believe that “real change starts from the bottom up“. That any important, consistent change needs to originate from the mass, the people, because if it comes from above, from the leaders, then it means it was prompted, induced.

Sure, for it to be true and permanent, change has to be really pursued from the very people that need to endure it.

But we believe that, in a company, this is not enough.
When we want REAL change within an organization, there needs to be harmony, there needs to be cohesion.

This is why we think that some changes need to start from above as well.
We believe that if the management is not the first line fighting for change, actively demonstrating that it CAN happen, it will never actually do.

This is what we learned during the journey of SPII Evolution.

How do you start a change?

Change is not something that happens on its own: like a fire, you need the right tinder and the perfect fuel to start a flame. If you only provide one of the two, you will not gain much.

So when a company wants its people to be directly involved in the improvement, well…it needs to ask them how!

Usually, the contrary happens. Often are those “above”, the management, the ones who decide which change needs to happen, based on their analysis and knowledge, and pass it on to the various people within the company.

This approach may work well in some cases…but what if the management doesn’t have the full picture of what’s going on “below”?

If you think about it, it’s not them who actually move the levers, push the buttons, engage with clients everyday, use software and hardware, etc etc.

Maybe they have surveyed and questioned the people who actually do it, but still, they may not see it all.
They could not even realize if there is discomfort, if something out of their radar is wrong, because it’s not what they deal with every day.

So how can a company have the full picture?
How can the management really understand what kind of change is needed?

Well, it can just ask!

If the management does this, if they really ask for their people’s point of view, and listen to it with passion, curiosity, and critical spirit, something “magical” can happen:

  • People feel empowered and involved, with a real chance to have a say in their company’s direction.
  • It provides the company with hands on consultants, who really see what’s going on because they deal with it every day.
  • It removes every alibi for people not to change: both the management and the staff are bound to change, because no one can say “ehy, it didn’t depend on me“.

This is how you not only encourage change, but also a “depends on me” culture.

Leadership is the perfect tinder to spark change

SPII EVOLUTION was designed since the very beginning as a journey that would engage the top management first.

In order for it to work for the whole company, the leaders had to become both an example and a sponsor.

This brings a powerful message: one of willingness to listen.

Most of all, one of openness to new solutions that can bring real value, to the company and to each of the people who work there. Solutions that will become projects.
Projects that, if good and well structured, will become reality.


With a 5 step program called SPII EVOLUTION, each of them designed to transform the participants into an army of the best consultants a company could wish for; because no one can find more effective solutions than those who know the situation hands on.

During this journey, which spans across months, all of the people working in the company are divided into groups and led through a number of steps designed to brainstorm, define and ideate tangible solutions to improve the organization.
Each group competes with the others in order to find and suggest the best course of action.
And the management listens. It REALLY LISTENS.

It’s a game-changing moment.
You can’t fake it, you can’t pretend to listen and then go on with your own ideas. If you do, you will end up losing this energy that is growing…or worse.

It is a powerful tool, but it can also be dangerous: it takes courage to go with it until the end.
But if you do…then what happens can be incredible.

The incredible power of leaders who sponsor “DDM”

What does all of this lead to?

To a change in the company culture: as we wrote in a previous article, a culture that changes from “it depends on others” (Dipende Dagli Altri or DDA) to “it depends on me” (DDM, Dipende Da Me).

It’s not for everyone to do that kind of training: encouraging the whole population of a company to engage, to bring out, to give input – it is a great challenge.
But if the management dares to ask each and every one of them to propose the most drastic, craziest, dreamiest thing they can imagine, and then listens to those inputs and implements them…it can turn a company around completely“, said Fabio Tognetti about the experience of SPII Evolution.

spii evo 3

Today you can breathe this kind of culture all around SPII.

It starts to turn a wheel of change that falls back on everything: even the newly hired who didn’t actively participate in the program find themselves permeated with it.

Sentences like “if only I had…”, “if it were this way…“, “if it hadn’t been done that way…” are banned from the vocabulary.

They all become one:
“what do I do with what I have? How do I get the best out of it?”.

It’s like getting home late at night, starving, just to find out that your fridge is half empty.
You can start whining, and complain because you didn’t have time to go for shopping.
Or you can take on the challenge and prepare yourself a creative dinner with what’s there.

Bottom up…AND top down!

This is what happens when change is encouraged from the top…and then takes place from the bottom.

That kind of change is really “integrated“, and its impact can resonate through time and space.

This is the power of a leadership style that encourages people to change by becoming advocate for it.

As Paola put it during the final event of SPII Evo, just before she and the rest of the management started listening to the presentation of the different projects:
“that enthusiasm you see in me is more yours than mine, because I am just a mirror”.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol

spii evo 4

It depends on me: the strength of a new company culture

It depends on me: the strength of a new company culture 1397 750 Spii
spii evo 1
Fabio Tognetti at SPII Evolution

What would you do, if it all depended on you?

What would you do, if you didn’t have any more excuses such as “it’s out of my control” or “I’ve always said it should have been that way“?

What would you change in your life, in your work, in your city…in the world?

These are daring questions, indeed. Most of us would probably answer “why bother thinking about it? It’s not the case. It does NOT depend on me”.

Well…at SPII we believe in a different approach.

And SPII Evolution, the journey of change management we undertook to move our company from the past to the future, had exactly this as one of its main goals.

SPII Evolution

Who does it depend on?

This was one of the most pressing questions we were facing when we joined the international group that Schaltbau was.

Who does the success of this new venture depend on?

It is easy to think it is someone else. There is always a CEO, a boss, a colleague, a “someone” who takes decisions. Sometimes it’s even fate, luck or destiny.

Truth is, as long as it doesn’t depend on us, life is easier, isn’t it?

Well, in 2016, at the dawn of a new beginning for SPII, we couldn’t afford that.

So the great question we asked ourselves with Fabio Tognetti when crafting the journey of SPIIevo was: how do we make everyone feel that everything changes, now?

There and then, we wanted to dismantle that negative culture that says: “it’s always been done this way“.

We wanted to make people feel and believe that change was not only possible, it was THEIR JOB to make it happen – no one else.

How? Well, easy. Just showing it to them.

So we issued the challenge.

It depends on YOU: the challenge of SPIIevo

spii evo 4
During the keynote at SPII Evolution

DDM or DDA? This was the challenge.

Choosing between two different ideas, two different cultures, two different points of view over life: it “Depends On Others” (DDA is the acronym od “dipende dagli altri” in italian) versus it “Depends On Me” (DDM, “dipende da me”).

We asked all the colleagues to think what would they change, if it depended on them.

And not just to think about it: to actually work on their idea, test it, try it, work on it, champion for it, and then…sell it to the company.

For this challenge, the whole SPII was divided into four groups, four basic elements: fire, water, air, earth.

Each of them would spend months ideating, questioning, testing and preparing, to be the change that they wanted to see in the company.

The final goal was not only to present concrete projects at the final event, in front of a jury, but also to put themselves on the line and implement the winning one, the most interesting for the company.

They had to really sell the idea, to negotiate for it, to convince the management.

Because there is no “depends on others”, it is always a “depends on me”. Even when it does depend on others, if I am able to show the other side the benefits of my idea, it can still turn into a DDM.

There is not a “company that should implement change”.
YOU are the company!
Then, be the change. Do not wait for it, and do not resist it.

It was a challenge aiming for a shift in mindset, to convince people they didn’t just have to suggest ideas, they had to sell them and make themselves advocates of change.

Spii needed to generate awareness, which is something dangerous because it is linked to a very sensible topic: responsibility.

If I don’t know that I can do something, then I may not do it and be good with it. But if I know, and I decide not to do it…then it is my fault.

More than company culture: a personal choice

spii evo 5

The pathway that SPIIevo rolled out in front of everyone at SPII was one of great awareness. A personal choice that is not limited to work, but embraces one’s whole life.

“An experience of evolution”, as Fabio defined it.

Within the company, it surely helped to eradicate the typical culture of fruitless, unproductive whining and moaning.
It’s not up to me, do you know how many times I’ve said it should be done this way?” it’s probably something you will never hear, walking down the halls of SPII in Saronno.

This path, the whole SPII Evolution experience, it’s been a gift to everyone, to carry for a lifetime, even when times get hard and it is difficult to see through the “DDA”.

This is why the prize for the winners was a symbolic one – the dialogue in the dark experience at Milan’s Institute for the Blind.
Because, as Paola explained it: “when you’re in the dark you have to use all your senses to figure out how to find the right way“.

In life and in work, there is not always sunshine: sometimes there is darkness, and it has to be faced. Some things depends on others, it’s true, but it is important to understand that even when the result it’s NOT up to you, it’s still up to you how to react.

What do you choose, then?
Who does it depend on?

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol


Towards a Digital Humanism: let’s put mankind at the center again

Towards a Digital Humanism: let’s put mankind at the center again 1707 2560 Spii

Do you remember humanism, the philosophical stance that emphasizes the potential and agency of human beings, individually and socially? Philosophy may look so distant from our modern World, filled with technology, competition, changes and challenges…but it has never been so topical.

That is why we found so important and inspiring to take part in the “philosophical debate”, today simply called a webinar, hosted by Elli&Rini to celebrate its latest creation, PIANETA, during Milan’s Design Week.

A digital roundtable that was a chance to gather together professionals from different backgrounds and fields, in order to discuss of one of the most pressing matters of our time: technology, and it’s role in relation to mankind, to our future, to our culture, to a city like Milan and to Covid-19.

A matter that has been defined through the title of the event: Milan redesigns a sustainable space&time within a new Digital Humanism“.

Digital Humanism: an idea that resonates with our Vision and Mission

Digital humanism is the result of a hitherto non-experienced convergence between our complex cultural heritage and a technology that has produced a social sphere that has no precedent. This convergence, instead of simply forming a link between antiquity and now, has redistributed concepts, categories, and objects, as well as behaviours and associated practices, all in a new environment. Digital humanism is the affirmation that current technology, in its global dimension, is a culture, in that it creates a new context, on a global scale.

Milad Doueihi, Professor of Digital Humanism at Paris-Sorbonne University

This statement is the basis from which took off our philosophical debate. An event that couldn’t be other than digital, could it?

In front of a screen, we found ourselves talking about the implications of an idea that is very dear to SPII, so dear that is forms part of our VISION: to put the Human Being at the center of a fully automatized and robotized world of the future.

We already live today in an (almost) fully automatized world, where it looks like technology is at the center and mankind is rotating around it: a point of view we would like to invert.

This is why SPII’s MISSION is to provide the best interaction conditions between man and machine, by means of technology, style and ergonomics.

This is why we created a product like Intelliarm: putting a human being at the center of the design.

During the webinar our CTO Silvio Zuffetti brought two more examples of how our Vision and Mission are taking shape, bending design, through technology, to human needs.

Digital Humanism applied to industry

Another example brought us far from our usual field (railway mobility) but closer than ever to our MISSION.

Avanchair is a startup born out of the need to move of the founder Andrea Depalo. Despite (or thanks to) his wheelchair: an idea, then a patent, then a crowdfunding campaign, and the dream is becoming a reality. How? Well, the technology leveraged comes directly from industrial automation and robotics.
This is what Digital Humanism means for us: human needs that leverage machine technology to improve people’s well-being.


The last example echoes 3 words from the webinar’s title: digital, space and time.

V-Desk is a virtual simulator that allows to use VR to immerse people in an experience that is every bit as “real” as the original thing. A breakthrough innovation that can change our industry and beyond.
Typically validating ergonomy and style requires building huge and expensive mockups for people to see and touch things, with long technical times, limitations due to space and distance, etc. Working as we do with the whole world, it becomes almost impossible to proceed that way.

V-Desk allows to overcome this limit – to step “over the edge” thanks to technology, overcoming problems and improving solutions.


Designing for sustainability means starting from people and their needs, using technology in the best possible way to draw the square and the circle that enclose a modern Vitruvian man, at the center of innovation, thus obtaining a design that serves mankind, not the contrary.

In our first example – Intelliarm – this means improving working conditions, in the second one – Avanchair – living conditions, and in the third one – V-Desk – we reduce constraints such as space and time.

What does Digital Humanism mean for the rest of us?

It has been interesting to find how our Vision and Mission resonate with so many of us, in so many different fields and situations.

Architecture and its challenges

Such as with Giovanni Antonelli Dudan, architect & interior designer who designed PIANETA with Elli&Rini.

To create it, he asked himself a fundamental question: what are we moving towards to, in the office world?
We spend most of our time in there, but that space is changing quickly and adapting to demands of mobility, fluidity, etc.

Office space and daily living take often place in the same space, now more than ever. We need areas dedicated to concentration, spaces designed for sharing, and others dedicated to relax. Technology allows to combine these spaces, acts as a bridge.

To design this project he started from that: from a human being and his needs.
An office is a closed space, a place to concentrate, to isolate oneself. But it can also be an area of openness, of connection, of sharing. They wanted to go beyond the apparent limit of closed vs. open space. To create something that was both, at the same time.
And PIANETA was born.

The legal perspective

Laura Gobernado Guzman, corporate and real estate lawyer, agrees with us. From her legal perspective, she believes the great challenge of digitalization for humans is its rapidity. The pandemic era proved to be an exponential acceleration of this issue.

How can we handle it?
Firstly, through education: we all need to understand and be prepared to this world, to be in charge of it and not its subjects.
Second, we need regulations: the respect for human rights (which thrives in humanism) in the digital age will depend largely on our ability to give them legal protection.
This means strict rules will be needed to regain democratic control over data, privacy, information, time, etc.

One of the biggest challenges will be to integrate digitalization without losing the value of people’s work (does it sound familiar? The person at the center), and to give it a purpose that benefits human beings and not the opposite.

The spaces we live in

Marco Rossi, Interior designer at Cosentino, has met Digital Humanism in his work often.

A kitchen with “integrated” Digital Humanism

He remembers for example this kitchen’s design, in which a very special monitor was integrated into the wall: its purpose was to show works of art, with a very high level of details and resolution. He reflects that technology serves us today not only to go forward, but also to go back, to rediscover the classics, art, culture in a new way. Even in the home and at the office.

Digital humanism recognizes the importance of technology and the needs that belong to human beings“: he agrees with this, ad materials and technology are collaborating in an increasingly close way, and he sees this everyday.

The luxury of experimentation

Not many industries should understand the most secret and inner human desires and needs, as luxury and fashion. Erica Corbellini, an expert in this field, brought her vision on Digital Humanism to the debate.

“We talk more and more about brands having their own signature, their own humanity somehow, but we need it to be a digital one, which serves for customization, for authenticity, to create a connection with the customer. The pandemic has been a catalyst for transformation, new mediums and habits have emerged”.

In order for a brand to be cool today, it has to be relevant: it has to try new things, new ways of doing old ones. In doing so, a brand communicates a willingness to experiment, but above all to adapt, to put contemporary man and what he lives at the center.

The digital medium allows luxury brands to do all of this, because it allows them to reach everyone directly, in a one-to-one relationship, despite time and space.

A new music

A voice outside the choir (pun intended), the one of Alessandro Solbiati was not coming from any industry – he is a musician and a composer, and a brought to the table a philosophical discussion about the role of music in relation to the human being.

“The whole history of music would not be what it is if musical instruments had not been invented. And as new ones gradually emerged, so did the possibility to bring music to more and more people: from an exclusive audience at the king’s court to concert halls, theaters, and so on. So music adapts to man, and vice versa”.

The same happened during the pandemic: music, a shared experience by definition, was forced into isolation. But thanks to digitalization, it was possible to create some other forms of shared music such as a a meta-orchestra, made of individual instruments combined and multiplied.
Something that cannot exist in the real world, an example of the possibility of further expressions of mankind thanks to the digital tools.

The answer is “digital living”

Digital Living from Sergio Vaccarini

Finally Sergio Vaccarini, the “Rini” from the Elli&Rini Atelier, took word to talk about the “digital living” that takes more and more place in the “digital places” that we inhabit.

Digital living is a branch of development in search for this new balance: between a man that is is hyper-connected, and environments that are becoming smart, where everything is activated and becomes a source of transmitted or received information.

“Man IS indeed at the center, but also in the middle of a bombing of information, of a storm of calls to action. We no longer go looking for info and experiences in a physical place, they find us”.

The result is “hyper-estrangement“, a feeling of being there with the body but somewhere else with the mind. We need to build places and spaces that recognize this, and adapt to it.

Spaces into spaces“, that serve different purposes – the goal of PIANETA, indeed.

A creation that combines a human centered design from Elli&Rini and Duda design, plus technology and know-how from SPII and Cosentino, in order to provide an answer to all the above.

Pianeta from Elli&Rini


It began as a webinar, a meeting to confront among professionals on the challenges of our time, especially after the pandemic, that saw technology increasingly mediating social interactions.

It ended up into a philosophical quest, looking for answers to difficult questions. Some of them we found, some are yet to be pursued.

The only thing that is sure is this: we are all called to become the heroes of our future, so that we own technology and it doesn’t own us.

If attention to mankind remains at the center, we believe we can only do well.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol

journey change

A journey called Change

A journey called Change 1280 717 Spii
journey change

Any change process is a long, complex journey: it doesn’t happen in a day, nor in a week. It spans for months, it involves all of ourselves, it challenges our ideas and perceptions. But when it is over, you know: nothing is going to be the same.

When Paola was appointed CEO of SPII, and this company from Saronno became the Center of Competence of the international Schaltbau Group, she had very clear that this kind of change was needed.

It was not just a new signature on official documents and a new logo on the website: the small SPII was now a global centre of expertise, whose products would be shipped all across the World and used to move billions of people…it was an extraordinary opportunity, but also a tremendous challenge.

Within the company, the mood was various: everyone was excited for the news, but some were worried, doubtful: “how will it be? What can we expect? Will this change overwhelm us?“.

It was clearly time for a huge mindset shift: a pathway to a different view of what change is, and how to welcome it with confidence and the willingness to be positively surprised.
It is more than preparing for change, it is inciting proactivity: make others picture the New World ahead, even if they cannot see it. It’s already there, it just depends on us how to reach it.

SPII needed to embark on a journey to cross a challenging sea and reach an unknown port, with its new captain at the wheel. They just needed help tracing the best route.

SPIIevo: a journey towards evolution

spii evo puzzles
One of the puzzles and clues SPII employees found on the day of the initial keynote

When Paola contacted Fabio Tognetti, she only knew the destination she had in mind. The route was all to find.

The time was right, the chance to really touch and move people was inspiring, the goal was ambitious: it was the beginning of 2016 and they decided to set sail.

The name of the vessel? SPII EVOLUTION.

For friends, SPIIevo!

A true journey for change through months of activities, processes, challenges and games…because only if you play and have fun you can really achieve growth.

The goals were clear:

  • change the mindset of everyone within the company
  • develop responsibility and proactivity
  • reinforce a sense of belonging
  • provide useful skills like negotiation, selling, team work
  • ultimately, turn SPII into an agile company, one that not only doesn’t fear change, but welcomes it.

All of this can’t just be “taught”: it has to be experienced, in a context that is motivating and brings out the best in people.

So, together with Fabio and his team, SPII developed a complete program that would last six months and would challenge everything they thought they knew.

It began with a keynote: not the classic staged speech, but an immersive experience with twists and turns, mental restructuring, challenges and exercises.

The message is loud and clear: change happens, whether we want it to or not; it’s all in how we approach it.
Resisting, accepting or surfing it out are the only three possible responses, that have three very different effects.

During this event, people were presented with the program ahead: the whole company would be divided into smaller groups, and they all would have few months of preparation to come up with a game-changing idea.
Something that was needed, something that would make life/work better, something that could actually be implemented by the company.

At the end of the journey, the different teams would present all their ideas in front of the whole company.
A great, festive event, with the tension that comes with every challenge and the release of energy that emerges when change, finally, explodes.

The winning projects would become reality – the management was listening, change was REALLY possible. It depended on them to make it happen.

Fabio Tognetti presenting SPII EVOLUTION

The DNA of change

Why are people resistant to change?
There are 3 main reasons for it:

  • because they don’t know how to do it
  • because they don’t want to
  • because they can’t

These reasons may be real or they may be all in our heads, but as long as we believe in them, change is impossible.

We need to dismantle every single one of them, one by one. Once they all have fallen, we can see the truth: it depends on us.

SPIIevo wanted to create a playful environment where people could actively dismantle all of the above excuses: they would find within themselves the willingness to change things they didn’t like; they would learn how to pitch their ideas so that they are interesting, engaging and doable; and finally, they would have the concrete chance to make those changes reality.

This is why you need a metaphorical journey to achieve it: real change is not something that happens overnight, you need the time to explore it and the tools to craft it.

And most importantly, you need to learn that you CAN do it, that it is possible even if you thought it wasn’t, if you thought you were already giving all you got. You need to learn there is always space for more.

It’s like when Fabio asked the audience how many one-legged hops they could perform in one minute: people were guessing 30, maybe 60?

But when a whole theater, filled with hundreds of people, started to jump on one foot, they were shocked to discover at first hand how badly they underestimated themselves. How much we all do.

The whole SPII jumping and learning at SPIIevo

How many jumps can you do? How many changes can you face?
Maybe it’s time to find out.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol

Female voices, loud and clear!

Female voices, loud and clear! 1024 553 Spii

It’s always a pleasure when your company is recognized at an international level, with requests for speaking at public events.
And when the theme is as delicate and beautiful as the one sponsored by Femal Voice in Mobility, it gets even better.

Our CEO, Paola Foiadelli, was asked to participate to the online event held on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, and she was happy to join the voices of female entrepreneurs, managers and any professional in the mobility sector.

Because more and more we do hear female voices, speaking loud and clear from positions of responsibility and power across the globe. And even if the way to go is still long, more and more we are not surprised from it anymore.

As Paola said during the speech, “it’s not a standby – it’s a very slow progression, but it is undeniable it is happening.
I already see a great evolution compared to 5 years ago, when I became CEO. There were not many female managers back then, especially in the electromechanical environment we belong to. People at events used to address the audience with “Paola and gentlemen”.
Today in SPII, 40% of our white collars are women, and it is not uncommon to see female managers accross the industry. I see many situations where this is not extraordinary anymore, it’s normal. The culture is changing, it just does it slowly“.

Why we need not to speak louder, but clearer

female voices panel

Diversity creates value – that is something everyone understands by now. There are studies and researches of any kind to back it up. Still, why it is so difficult to really achieve it? Why do we still need to celebrate women one day of the year, or to hold events like the one we attended to?

Probably because we need to remind ourselves the reasons for it. Diversity is not about assigning “quotas” for women because it is politically correct to do so. It goes beyond male and female – we need diversity on gender, sexual orientation, self perspective, body shapes, etc.

And we need it because it’s with these diverse approaches that we can gain success in a modern, globalized world.

A success based on soft skills like empathy, listening, support, empowerment, resolving conflicts, mentoring and giving feedbacks.

These skills are the ones SPII has been cultivating all along, and that allowed us to become Center of Competence of the Schaltbau Group.

These skills are not a “female trait” because of some genetic difference, but they are indeed typical to them because of our culture. For centuries women exercised them in the privacy of their homes, and today they are finally recognized also on the outside, in companies and leadership roles. Smart working is a great example of that, and in SPII we are used to it since well before the pandemic.

It’s about choosing the right female role model. We don’t need stronger women, who speak louder and change themselves to adapt to a male-oriented world. We need to reconsider the traits of leadership.

Without Hermione, Harry Potter would have probably died in the first book. Sometimes support is THE main role, not a secondary one: you can be a leader that supports others and empowers them to become the best version of themselves.

The future starts in the present

female voices event

Innovation is about supporting creativity: thinking outside the box thanks to a culture that allows trial and error. This is how the agile models are born, this is how many women, in our industry and beyond, found the strength to venture on to new roles, bringing new leadership styles in the business culture.

The female way to do things is often just about showing that something can be done in a different way, or about changing the rules of the game in order to do something that seemed impossible before.

This is how we prepare today a future of diversity tomorrow.

“We need to teach our children that it’s not a matter of gender, it’s and approach to life. Studying STEM is important for everyone, because you never know where your passion lies, what you can achieve.
We have to allow young girls to try freely different things and express their potential.

In Spii we have a strong network of internships with schools: many teenagers join our company for some time every year, and more and more they are girls. When they arrive, they are surprised that trains are driven also by women, that there are women in the production process, etc.
The more we present these kinds of role models, the more new generations will give them for granted and it won’t be necessary to introduce them as “special“.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol

happy women's day

Happy everyone’s day

Happy everyone’s day 1280 856 Spii
happy women's day

Today is a special day. A day to celebrate the force of creation, of change, of resilience.
A great day to remember what we should know everyday.

A day to celebrate the colleagues and team leaders sitting next to us, for the great job they are doing.
To be amazed by the decisions taken by our boss or manager, for the strength and the leadership shown.
To appreciate the relentless work of the assistant, the smile of the caretaker, the attentions of the train crew.

A day to remove the world “female” before any profession, not because it is more or less politically correct, but because it is just superfluous.

Today is the day of Francesca, who smiles at passengers boarding the train she works on because she loves her job. Or Ilaria, who can give for granted the fact that she is driving one.
It is the day of the Russian women, who can start doing this job for the first time in history.
But it is also the day of the countless women who, around the world, still can’t pursue their dreams.

It’s a day to remember that there are no limits, unless we decide so. That WE, humans, can do everything – when we are not told that we can’t.

Choose to challenge

hornet story

In 2021, the International Women’s Day theme is to challenge. Because that’s where change starts.

Do you know the story of the hornet? It’s said that, given the weight of its body and the dimension of its wings, he should not be able to fly. Yet he doesn’t know it, so he flies on and well!

Be it true or not, our challenge for everyone today is to dare being like the hornet.
Ignore what you are told you can not or should not do, just fly.

Just go #WhereverYOUCan.

Choose to include

Our call is for everyone – men, women, and all that falls between.

Because today should be a day of inclusion.
And Inclusion is for everybody, not just for women.
Inclusion means that we understand we can’t do anything alone: we need to join forces to succeed, despite of sex, ideals, roles, etc.

Today is a day when no one should feel excluded, much less so should men. There is no “International men’s day”, and we don’t want them to think we don’t value their role as we do! 😉

Today is a day to celebrate women in all of their forms. But most of all to celebrate friends, colleagues, bosses, train drivers, train managers…without any addition to it.

Happy International Everyone’s Day from SPII!

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol