CARVING OUT THE SPIRIT OF AIRLOG 1
Copy: Kjell Peterson Photo: Carlmagnus Johansson Design and layout: Thorn Reklambyr책 Print: Halmstad Tryckeri
Airlog Group is a privately owned independent Nordic based service provider of advanced logistic solutions. Our Global presence is based on partnerships with several of the worlds leading Global and Regional logistics companies. For further information please visit: www.airloggroup.com
Bjarne LinnesĂ¸, Johan Rosenkvist, Thomas Bonalumi and Christian HĂ¸y discussing new development opportunities.
”IN VINO VERITAS – CARPE FUTURUM”
“That’s brilliant,” said the gentlemen in unison. Outside the snow was deep and inviting. The sun was already slowly rising, but it was clear that there would only be little skiing that day. It didn’t matter, because they had succeeded in completing the task they had set themselves. Now all that remained was the long and exciting process of setting their plans in motion. The place was Alta Badia in Italy. The people were Thomas Bonalumi, Christian Høy, Bjarne Linnesø and Johan Rosenkvist. As well as being good friends, they are the senior executives of the Airlog Group and there are two reasons why they were in Italy: They were there to ski and have fun, but above all they were there to discuss new development opportunities for the company. They had long been focused on doing things a little differently. Although they compete in a very competitive and tough market, with apparently similar products and services to all their competitors, they have very much gone their own way – a way based on a different approach when it comes to customers and how best to take care of them. More about that later. On this particular day, they were deep in discussion about how to take the next step; to drive the business even further forward and to get the whole staff pulling in the same direction. 5
A different approach to driving the business forward.
After breaking for dinner, the discussions continued over a glass of wine. They all agreed that their employees were the company’s most important resources, and they discussed how the staff could play an even greater part in developing and embracing the company’s core values. How could the values be presented more clearly? Was it possible to find a symbol that was easy for everyone to unite around? It was then that the idea that everyone thought was so brilliant struck them: “We’ll build a totem pole!” 6
Now you may be wondering just how brilliant
this idea really is. Do they think they’ve become a Native American tribe? Are they going to start doing a rain dance? Do they intend to change their titles to chief and medicine man? No, it won’t be anything quite that drastic. As you read on, the pieces will hopefully fall into place, but for the time being we are going to leave this subject.¨
CHAPTER TWO ITâ€™S THE JOURNEY THAT COUNTS What Airlog does is provide logistic and forwarding services. We will not tell much about that here. Of much greater interest is how we do it â€“ because although this is a tried and tested business that has been conducted for ages, there are many things that can be done differently. The major differences lie in how we view our business. Airlog is a value-driven organisation. The primary focus is thus not on the processes as such, but on the core values that are allowed to guide the way the services are carried out. These values are touched upon here and there in the text, where they are highlighted in italics. The full list is presented in Chapter 5, but we can reveal here that they are drawn from three groups of stakeholders approaching the business from different angles: customers, employees and owners. They all carry equal weight in determining our values, and the idea is that all the stakeholders will share and respect every one of those values. The next chapter describes how the priorities of the various stakeholders are surveyed, but before that, we are going to go into a little more depth about the process itself.
Creativity in progress.
FROM WORDS TO ACTION A dynamic organisation must be open to change. That is a given. Everyone at Airlog has a firm belief that willingness to change is one of the most important factors for success. In this context, the focus is not just on the results of any changes, but at least as much on how the changes are implemented. It is naturally good if the leadership within a company ensures that all employees understand what is expected of them and what the company’s strategy actually is. Competent management is also able to make staff believe in the strategy, so that they work as one towards the same goals. However, employee participation improves the effect many times over. In the introduction, we mentioned the “brilliant idea” of building a totem pole. The aim was to
reflect the company’s values in traditional symbols, with a view to increasing participation and unity regarding our core values. The next brainwave made the idea particularly appropriate: Why not let the employees create the totem pole! TRADITIONAL ACTIVITY WITH AN UNTRADITIONAL EYE At a special kick-off event, all the staff came together and were given guidance on the symbols used within Native American and First Nation culture to visualize various characteristics. It felt entirely appropriate to take as our starting point the symbolic language of traditional peoples at one with nature, since sustainability and consideration for nature are key aspects of Airlog’s value base.
Leading the exercise was Ken Roulette – a member of the Cree/Ojibwe Nation in Canada. The employees were split into groups, each of which were given a value to work on. They got to decide whether they wanted to paint, sculpt or in some other way illustrate their value. The main thing was to come up with a symbol that they could document and explain to the other groups. These works formed the basis of the totem pole that Ken Roulette would later be carving from an old oak tree trunk. Of course the aim was to create a totem pole as a symbol around which to unite. But the important thing was the process, the journey – participation creating unity.
CHAPTER THREE MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL Being able to fulfil the ambition of being customer oriented and always providing the best possible benefit for customers naturally requires an understanding of what the customers want and expect from their supplier. To this end, Airlog has carried out a comprehensive customer survey every year for several years now. As well as establishing what customers want, the survey’s questions also focus on how customers feel that their expectations are being met. This is one of the company’s most important tools, providing us with an excellent picture of how well we are fulfilling customer’s requirements and whether they feel that they are getting value for money. We can take pride in the areas where customer satisfaction is high. It is always good for an organisation to feel that they are doing the right thing in the right way, and that it is appreciated and rewarded. It gives the work meaning, raises morale and ensures job satisfaction. However, it is the areas with room for improvement that are of real interest. This is where the company can develop, facing employees with challenges that prompt them to put in even more effort – to be proactive in finding new solutions and approaches that make customers even more satisfied, to take up customer wishes and ideas that in some cases can lead to brand new services.
THE COMPANY’S MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE A company can only function well if it has competent employees and everyone is pulling in the same direction. This is why we also conduct regular employee surveys to identify the priorities of our staff, how they feel about their job security and what makes them enjoy their job and have fun at work. Naturally the aim is for this to be interpreted as caring about the well-being of employees. Because that is what it’s about! But the surveys are also driven by the crass reality: Happy people are more efficient! Customer relations are strengthened through the commitment and positive conduct of staff, generating an environment where creative solutions flourish. This is by far the best way to develop a company. Based on the wishes and expectations of employees – and in symbiosis with customers.
Some of the creative art work made by the staff to symbolize Airlogâ€™s core values.
BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
Many of Airlog’s competitors are global players with thousands of employees and offices all over the world, Airlog is an independent company with a Nordic base. You might think it is tough competing with these giants. And it certainly is, if you let yourself feel intimidated. But size isn’t everything. Here at Airlog, we have chosen to turn smallness into an advantage. Short decision paths, closeness to the customer and simple, clear contacts are good for business. Communication and rapid response are a high priority at Airlog. Our outstanding craftsmanship is essential – and well appreciated by our customers, as shown in our customer surveys. One of the clearest examples of this is accessibility. Customers always have the same personal contact at Airlog from beginning to end. You don’t have to think about who you need to speak to for a quotation, a booking, delivery confirmation, a customs issue and so on. At Airlog, you simply get in touch with your contact, who handles every step of the process – all the way to a satisfied consignee receiving the goods.
S S A L C n i T S
Of course this brings benefits for the customer in the form of simpler handling, but it also increases the quality of the services, saves time and minimises the risk of error. And if any problems do occur in the process, it is very much easier to identify and rectify them.
opportunities to expand the range of services even further. The key point is that growth must be profitable and controlled. It must not lead to a drop in the level of service or to losing the soul of the company. These factors are considerably more important than growing.
There is no suggestion that growth is opposed within the organisation. There are many benefits to becoming larger, for example when it comes to resources. Although we already have advanced IT systems in Airlog, growing could mean increased
So it is perhaps no surprise that Airlog is quite happy not to be the biggest. In our view, it is more important to be the best. Our aim is always to live up to our motto: â€œBest in Class!â€?
A COMPASS FOR LIFE
Practising what you preach is an old rule that most people would support and we all know that we keep on learning for as long as we live. Airlog is seeking to combine these two wisdoms into a guiding philosophy for its business. On the next page is a list of the key values that will guide the way Airlog acts. They are based on feed back compiled by asking the stakeholders – our customers, employees and shareholders – what they think is most important. We have all agreed on a total of 19 values that everyone should be able to embrace. These are the values that together make up the totem pole that we started talking about in the first chapter – the symbol that will physically remind us what the company is and what we stand for.
Value for money
Accepting challenges THE COMPLETE TOTEM POLE Airlogâ€™s totem pole also has a twentieth symbol: A FACE. This symbolises the human factor as a distillation of all these 19 key points. Airlogâ€™s entire business is based on human activity, and all the activities are carried out for other people. That is why a human face forms the base of the totem pole, in the same way that the foundation on which Airlog is built are people.
Profitable growth Communication
Fun at work Nordic platform People
Customised IT Rewards
Leadership Sustainability Independence
Closeness to the customer
Ken Roulette, member of the Cree/Ojibwe Nation in Canada, has compiled the staffâ€™s art work into a beautiful totem pole.
AROUND THE CAMPFIRE
You have probably noticed how proud we are of our totem pole. Not just because it looks so stylish – and we think it does – but because of what it symbolises: a combination of the values held by the customers, employees and owners condensed into a single symbol. A shared set of values that we can all commit to, and that are embodied in a clear physical representation. However, we are even prouder of the way it has come about. The fact that the content has been shaped by asking all our stakeholders what they think is important, and then seeing the staff interpreting the values and translating them into symbols that now make up the totem pole. That’s huge! Of course, the fact that the totem pole has been completed in no way means that the work is over. Living up to them is a constantly ongoing process. We will always work to be better at carrying out our job and at exceeding our customers’ expectations. The totem pole reminds us what is important and how we should act.
Curious to know more? In this book, we have described what drives us and how we intend to act. However, we havenâ€™t really touched on what we actually do. If you would like to know more, we recommend that you visit www.airloggroup.com Visit us regularly to follow our progress. We would also like to know how you think we are living up to our values. Get in touch and tell us! Or send us your tips, questions, praise or other comments. And of course, you are always welcome to come and share a peace pipe.
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