Bright lights, big cities
The QVARTZ Annual 2016
THIS IS ISSUE 10 OF THE QVARTZ ANNUAL Publisher QVARTZ Editors Sofie Wilms Hansen Torsten Hvidt Language editor Elin Bäckström Stage Layout Jacob Darfelt Photos Christian Stæhr KT Auleta Peter Rødsgaard Rasmussen Vern Evans Published in Denmark, Norway and Sweden Printed in Denmark CONTACT Sweden Birger Jarlsgatan 7 SE-111 45 Stockholm Tel: +46 (0)8 614 19 00 Norway Wergelandsveien 21 NO-0167 Oslo Tel: +47 22 59 36 00 Denmark Ryesgade 3A DK-2200 Copenhagen N Tel: +45 33 17 00 00 www.qvartz.com
The QVARTZ Annual
Contents 6 8 14 16 20 26
Bright lights, big cities Editorial
The great sprint of a fitness empire Meet Olav Thorstad, CEO of Health & Fitness Nordic Group
Navigating the silent revolution of data Perspective on the potential and the challenges of digitalisation
Pumping it up for the future Meet Marianne K. Knudsen, Senior Director, Head of Digital Commercial Offerings at Grundfos
When heritage meets performance culture Meet Jais Valeur, CEO of Danish Crown
Global reach Greetings from a few of our consultants abroad
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28 32 38 40 44 50 52
Why cities live and companies die Portrait of Professor Geoffrey West
Turning fiction into fact Meet Bjarke Ingels, Danish architect wonder kid and founder of Bjarke Ingels Group
The sum is greater than its parts QVARTZ in numbers
From Pyongyang to Cupertino Perspective on organisations by Torsten Hvidt, Co-founder of QVARTZ
So long, snail mail Meet Annemarie Gardshol, CEO of PostNord StrĂĽlfors AB
Flashes of lights A selection of the most iconic moments during the past year
Dear newly hired consultant-self A letter from Kent Harrison, Engagement Partner at QVARTZ, to himself
Bright lights, big cities
Bright lights, big cities
g “This is the echo of New York, all right, and if you have a love affair with it, you’ll recognize the truth in Mr. McInerney’s landscapes”. Such were the words from The New York Times when the groundbreaking novel “Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney was published in 1984. Obviously, McInerney’s choice of title came to mind when we decided on the theme for this publication. We too want the following pages to echo of big cities as we find ourselves, perhaps not in a love affair with them, but certainly quite fascinated by their allure and inner workings. Our aim with this publication is to inspire. With bright lights in the shape of four great cases, four inspiring perspectives, a fantastic letter written by one of our consultants as well as a lot of numbers. To us, these are bright lights for the slightly darker times of increased volatility and insecurity in the world. And we can add quite a few bright and iconic moments from the year gone by – from client events such as the Roskilde Festival in Denmark,
Vårsalongen in Sweden and an unforgettable Club Q in Norway, through the ongoing support for the fantastic NGO called LittleBigHelp and the work we did to strengthen the integration of refugees into the labour market, to the bright and shiny day where Vault ranked us as having the strongest company culture among all the notable consulting firms in Europe. See more of these highlights on pages 50–51. Big cities are the future. More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and among the developed countries, this figure is much higher – in some countries even above 90%. One intriguing fact, discovered by Professor Geoffrey West, is the completely linear relation between city size and economic productivity: a city that doubles in size becomes 15% more productive. It’s that simple, whether it’s in the US or in Germany. But why is it then that when a company doubles in size, it becomes less productive? We invite you to read our short portrait of Professor West and his amazing research results on pages 2831, but also our interview with superstar architect Bjarke Ingels on pages 32-37, where he shares his view on cities, their magnetism and why they are better at scaling than companies are. In addition to the perspectives on cities, we invite you to read our view on digital transformation, including our close cooperation with Microsoft and Teradata, as well as Professor Kris Ferreira from Harvard Business School, on pages 14-15.
Following this, we turn to reality. On pages 16–19, Marianne K. Knudsen, Head of Digital Commercial Offerings at Grundfos, the world leader in pump technology, reflects on a transformational digital journey. In addition, Annemarie Gardshol, CEO of PostNord Strålfors, shares her reflections on how 800 years of heritage can be turned into a digital advantage, on pages 44–49. Besides these dialogues on digital transformation, there are two other dialogues we would like to highlight. Meet the CEO of Danish Crown, Jais Valeur, on pages 20-25, who tells the story of how he took over a EUR 7.8 billion business from an iconic predecessor and created his own strategic context and vision, revolving around the concept of a Four-Wheel-Drive. Also meet the man of steel, Olav Thorstad, CEO of SATS ELIXIA, who led a consolidation in the Scandinavian fitness industry, became the clear market leader, and who has now started a modularised business model from the outside-in, on pages 8-13. Finally, in a perspective called “From Pyongyang to Cupertino”, our Co-founder, Torsten Hvidt, ties the aspects of big cities, digitalisation and large-scale transformation into a perspective on how to win, grow and organise in a networked reality, on pages 40–43. This builds on many of our client projects and dialogues – and we hope to engage you in further dialogues on this important topic. Plato has said “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”. We would like to thank Annemarie, Marianne, Bjarke, Jais and Olav for their contribution to this edition of the QVARTZ Annual – they are, to us, women and men who are unafraid of the light, indeed they follow it wherever it might lead. We hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired us. Team QVARTZ
CASE SATS ELIXIA
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The great sprint of a fitness empire The fitness trend took off during the mid-90s, and a fitness membership card has since become a fixture in many wallets. This has proven to be a golden opportunity for the industry, which has flourished due to the continuously growing demand. SATS ELIXIA grew as a consequence of this, and became Scandinaviaâ€™s largest chain of fitness centres. Eventually, however, harsh competition from both low-price players and niche clubs squeezed SATS ELIXIA into an unfortunate, middle-market position, which ultimately forced them to redefine their entire value proposition. 9
CASE SATS ELIXIA
“Being stuck in the middle is not an optimal situation for those of us who have read Porter”.
Between a rock and a hard place SATS ELIXIA is the result of a merger between SATS, Fresh Fitness and ELIXIA. In August 2014, the three joined forces under one organisation named Health & Fitness Nordic. With over 200 clubs, 500,000 members and a revenue of more than NOK 3 billion, they are the biggest fitness player in the Nordics. A merger can be somewhat of a challenging process – and this was no exception. However, after a year and a half, SATS ELIXIA found themselves on the other side of a somewhat bumpy ride, which had taken them through the implementation of internal processes and systems as well as a range of cultural challenges. “It has been a pretty rough journey”, Olav Thorstad, CEO of Health & Fitness Nordic Group, explains. “However, we made it all the way through, and eight months ago, we were ready to evaluate our situation and ask ourselves; where do we go from here?”
If, like many others, you have taken part in the fitness mega trend, you will not be surprised to find that fitness is an industry of harsh competition. Despite the industry being rather new, there are many players in the market, competing on both price and a wide range of offerings. Consequently, traditional ‘all-inclusive’ clubs like SATS ELIXIA find themselves squeezed between the low-priced companies and the more exclusive niche clubs. As Olav states, “Being stuck in the middle is not an optimal situation for those of us who have read Porter. But that was the situation we were in, and this created the basis for us to re-evaluate our strategy”.
Design by preference Knowing that SATS ELIXIA was already the biggest player in the Nordics, Olav was challenged by the board on how to utilise the fitness chain’s scale to its full extent: “We realised that we needed to become more relevant to more segments by modifying our memberships. In order to fight more effectively against low-price competitors, we
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needed to offer a gym-only membership, while at the same time introducing new services and new niche products to become more relevant to the members who traditionally preferred niche clubs. This led to a new strategy, centred on the needs of individual consumers, enabling them to pick and choose services and thereby designing their own individual membership. Their deal should fit their needs, not the other way around. In addition to this, we developed new concepts for the niche club segment in order to retain and recruit members. Also, we invested heavily in digital services, with the aim of improving our web sale processes and services. This has resulted in an increased web sale – going from 5% to almost 30%”, Olav explains. Don’t bet on commodities In times where we are exposed to target advertising based on our search history, and where Google can calculate your work and home addresses based on your geographical movements over time, the idea of customised memberships is not very far-fetched. To Olav, the idea came as a natural result of previous discussions: “Having a menubased membership structure is something that we have discussed for years. The challenge was to turn it into reality. The amount of small details that had to fall into place was enormous: the digital solutions: what should the members be
able to choose from, and how? What should the prices be? What pilot areas should we choose, and what about our current members, would they downgrade? The list of questions was long”. Olav continues: “We were afraid of reducing the margin on our generic products, since that was where we made our key profit. I believe this is a common challenge for premium players across industries. However, to succeed as a premium player, you have to make your money on what makes you unique, and not from taking a bigger premium on the commodities”. And that’s exactly what SATS ELIXIA did. With the new business model, they found that their members were indeed willing to pay when offered the opportunity to choose what to pay for. As obvious as it may sound, creating the flexibility of customised solutions has induced a feeling of substantially increased value for money among their consumers. “People don’t want to pay for childcare if they don’t bring their children to the gym. But they have no problem paying for other things, as long as they feel that the value increases. Of course, there are some members who only want to use the studio, but a lot of our consumers actually upgrade, adding more services to their membership. Consequently,
“You have to make your money on what makes you unique, and not from taking a bigger premium on the commodities”. 11
CASE SATS ELIXIA
“Our people have become much more positive, much more competent, and that is our key product. This is something that our competitors cannot simply copy”.
the average yield has not gone down with the launch of the new membership structure. We believe this is due to the fact that the opportunity to pick and choose according to the members’ personal needs gives an improved feeling of value for money”, Olav explains. The key finding for Olav has been that price is not the main obstacle for SATS ELIXIA’s members, it’s the established value. The members perceive the new membership structure as higher value for money, which is reflected not only in the financials, but also in a corresponding consumer satisfaction survey. A textbook win-win situation.
From ‘No, thanks’ to ‘Yes, please’ To SATS ELIXIA, the transformation of the value proposition has had an impact on the internal organisation as well. Quite significantly in fact. From selling a one-for-all solution, SATS ELIXIA now sells multiple products to both new and current members. “Our entire organisation now works with our core product. This means that every single member of this organisation has to know the product much better than they did before. This has created a great sense of pride throughout our organisation. The cultural effect has been extremely positive, and it was not something we anticipated when we started on this journey. Our people have become much more positive, much more competent, and that is our key product. This is something that our competitors cannot simply copy”. In the past, SATS ELIXIA closed the deal with three out of ten potential new members who considered buying a membership. Today, they have doubled the figures, and are now closing six out of ten. “When you close three out of
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ten potential membership deals, seven are actually saying ‘No, thank you’ to what you have to offer. When the statistics take a turn and 60% suddenly say ‘Yes’, this has an important cultural impact. It makes people proud to work at a place where customers actually want the product you’re offering”. Though the launch of the new SATS ELIXIA is still embryonic, the results are quite convincing. The numbers reveal increases in terms of both revenue and members. “In the pilot areas where we have pre-launched the product, we see an increase of 10-20% in terms of volume. These are the highest numbers I have ever seen in my nine years in the industry. We are of course very excited. However, it will be interesting to study the migration and retention effect over time. How will this affect the average lifetime of memberships? Our hypothesis is that when you can buy something that serves your needs more specifically, it will help on the retention rates as well”, Olav says. Peer training is the future “If our new approach becomes successful, I’m sure that our competitors will copy it as soon as possible. The next step for us is to continually develop new and better products and services for a broader range of members, by creating more relevant concepts such as weight loss and performance. Previously, we have been a bit too technical in terms of products, and we have to conceptualise much more in order to improve development”, Olav declares when asked about the future outlook for SATS ELIXIA. In the early days of fitness, members went to their local gym, lifted some weights or went for a jog on the treadmill, and returned home with an eased conscience. Today, digital platforms such as Facebook enable peers to create online running groups, where the members can track each other’s progress and cheer each other on. It has become easy (at least in theory) to work out at home with the use of one of the countless apps coaching you through sit-ups and push-ups on the
floor of your own living room. Accordingly, the borders between training at home, in the outdoors or at the gym are being erased. However, Olav wants SATS ELIXIA to become the starting point of all training, by providing the opportunity for their members to be part of a community. “I believe that in order to be a successful fitness provider in the future, you need to provide relevant training to your members wherever they are. Building a community is the key. We have 500,000 members – all with very specific goals – and they can find their peers among the remaining 499,999 members”, Olav explains. “For us to be successful in the future, we need to go beyond training at our clubs. We need to be present and relevant for our members, whenever and wherever they are. That is our ambition”. By focusing on the social aspects of training, Olav also sees a potential of strengthening the public health, which is becoming increasingly important with the ageing of the population. “There’s a big potential for fitness clubs, which are distributed across all countries in the Nordics, to work together with the municipalities in creating programmes especially for the elderly. Everybody can do strength exercises at home, but nobody does it, because it has to be part of a social interaction. It is not easy to become stronger, and it is very boring if you have to do it yourself. I think that the role of fitness clubs as social centres that bring people together is extremely important in regard to the public health. And it is something I hope will develop going forward”.
OLAV THORSTAD CEO OF HEALTH & FITNESS NORDIC GROUP As the CEO of a fitness empire, you are somewhat obliged to go to lengths with your own physical training. Olav’s fitness conscience, however, is as clean as can be. Besides the mandatory Norwegian national sport of cross-country skiing, he enjoys running as well as kayaking during the summer. Also, he does strength exercises together with his personal trainer a couple of times a week. All of this alongside a job that most would define as being rather demanding, and (most importantly) his family life as a husband and a father of three.
“It is not easy to become stronger, and it is very boring if you have to do it yourself”. 13
The QVARTZ Annual
Navigating the silent revolution of data Imagine if you were the CEO of a major ferry operator. You need new ferries for your fleet, and end up investing billions in top-of-the-line ships. Once they’ve been delivered and you’re ready to sail off onto the next S-curve, the ferry manufacturer calls you up, asking if you want to sign an expensive subscription for the data from your ships. As it turns out, you’ve only bought the physical ships – not the data they generate. Predictive maintenance enables companies to do things better, smarter and faster. But without the data, you’re blind as a bat. Now imagine you enter your local grocery store on your way home from work. The familiar beep in your pocket urges you to check your phone, where an SMS tells you your favourite cereal is on sale in isle 4A, two metres to your left. Only thing is, you hadn’t told anyone you were going shopping.
Big things are happening in the most invisible of revolutions. The world is becoming more digitalised by the second, and we’re all aboard the same ferry, sailing largely unknown waters. The fight for data, as exemplified by our ferry company CEO in dire straits, has only just begun. As of now, it’s each company for itself in the battle to claim ownership of the data. One thing is certain; the winners will hold the key to immense knowledge and infinite potential.
The Internet of Things connects billions of physical devices, vehicles and buildings – from pacemakers to cars to TVs to alarm systems, and everything in-between. The ability to control and monitor devices from a distance opens up entirely new possibilities for our ferry company CEO as well as the rest of us. Imagine if the new engines in our CEO’s fleet could provide data that would enable technicians to predict an error long before it occurs, or to identify the most effective routes under changing weather conditions – saving the company both time and money? Numerous factors such as utilisation, revenue and repair costs can be paired with data about routes, weather and types of load carried by the ferry, which together can give us an instant, advanced snapshot of the ferry’s status. You just need someone – or something – to make sense of the digits. And that’s where the fun begins.
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Delivering excellence through cooperation With the omnipresent digitalisation in mind, the fact that roughly 75% of all IT-enabled projects fail seems puzzling. However, very often, this is due to a discrepancy and lack of communication between IT and the rest of the company. QVARTZ helps companies through their entire digital transformation journey. Our way of working with clients is summed up by the sneezelike acronyms TSEM, which is short for Tackle & Solve, Engage & Mobilise. It’s our belief that if you take one of these disciplines out, the others will fail. By teaming up with our partners (among these the two industry world leaders Teradata and Microsoft), we are able to deliver excellence on all parts of our clients’ digital transformation journeys.
Digital transformation What’s remarkable about the digital revolution is not that the world is changing – that’s fortunately always been the case. What’s remarkable is the pace at which change is happening. 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. And data is rapidly becoming a central part of the world’s large economies. People around the globe are engaging with each other in new ways, creating completely new behaviours. The traditional notion of an organisation is becoming more and more outdated, and companies are forced to adapt to the digital world and new ways of working. To navigate in this digital era, we need to understand not only the ‘why’ and what’ of digitalisation, but also the ‘how’. In collaboration with our partner Microsoft, QVARTZ has published the Digital Transformation Report 2017, focused on how to create a digital-first business. Corporate executives from 20 of the largest Danish companies, among others Arla Foods, Danske Bank, Maersk, Novo Nordisk and Vestas, explain what they do to build digital-first companies and get digital transformation right from a business perspective. 18 out of the 20 companies place digitalisation as one of their main executive priorities, but many are still in the early stages of digital maturity. Download the entire report at qvartz.com/whitepapers.
Big data on the big agenda Ever heard of the Morton’s Steakhouse big data publicity stunt? The Chicago-based steakhouse got amazing PR coverage when one of their frequent customers jokingly shared a tweet wishing for his favourite dinner to be delivered at Newark Airport where he would be getting in late after a long day. Morton’s social media department saw the tweet, discovered that he was a frequent customer, pulled the data on what he typically orders, found out what flight he was on and promptly sent a waiter to serve him his dinner at the airport. The publicity stunt was covered by all major news outlets, giving Morton’s Steakhouse massive coverage. All they had done was tap the right data at the right time using simple analysis. If you had all the data you needed, what decisions would you make? Which burning questions are yet to be answered? The challenges of handling massive amounts of data lie not only in the analytics part, but just as much in understanding the possibilities of what your data can actually do. An expert in this field is Professor Kris Ferreira of Harvard Business School. She knows exactly how big data and analytics can deliver a competitive advantage. During a visit to QVARTZ’ Copenhagen office, she gave two inspiring lectures. Using tangible and real-life cases, Professor Ferreira demonstrated how companies are using rich data sources to make better strategic decisions.
Professor Kris Ferreira is an award-winning researcher and lecturer at Harvard Business School, specialising in analytics and strategy.
Bright lights, big cities
Pumping it up for the future
The worldâ€™s population is rising, and the demand for fresh water rises with it. This is good news for the world-leading pump manufacturer Grundfos. Unfortunately, competition is harsh and increasing, making it necessary for the 70-year-old Grundfos organisation to transform itself from a conventional hardware giant into a company fully capable of delivering customised digital solutions alongside its world-renowned pumps.
Nokia 6230 Remember the Nokia 6230? It was quite a hit in 2004, sporting cool features such as an MP3 player, a video recorder and a colour display. Back then, Grundfos had developed technology enabling text messages to be sent directly from Grundfos’ pumps to the pump owners’ mobile phones. The messages contained information about the status of the pumps, basically making this an early facilitator of predictive maintenance. Unfortunately, however, Grundfos didn’t commercialise the solution and capitalise on the opportunities it offered. The times of the first mobile colour display seem far away now, but predictive maintenance is increasingly becoming the new rave in many business models across industries. As part of a large-scale digital transformation process, this “old” feature has now become a top priority for Grundfos as well. A Poseidon of the North As the world’s leading pump manufacturer, Grundfos supplies water to almost 800 million people every day throughout the year, as well as heating to numerous buildings and other facilities. Though the water business may seem like a fairly stable place to be, given the increasing demand, Grundfos is experiencing pressure from all sides. “We’re in a highly competitive and fragmented market with more than 9,000 pump manufacturers across the world, but only a few with a true global presence. We have had a leading position in the market for years, but we can definitely see that the products are becoming commoditised, so price is becoming increasingly important and that puts pressure on us as a company. We also see a lot of digital offerings in the market place right now, with buildings becoming smarter and smarter, creating demands for new solutions”, says Marianne K. Knudsen, Senior Director, Head of Digital Commercial Offerings at Grundfos.
Moving from a conventional hardware company to combining hardware with advanced software services sounds like a major transformation, but also a compelling story. Marianne, however, has no desire to toss away the core business of Grundfos: the production of hardware and trendsetting water technologies, in favour of becoming a software company. “We still believe that you need a pump to deliver water. That won’t go away. Digital bits and bytes can’t deliver anything but data. You still need the physical element”, says Marianne, and continues, “but you can do very much around the pumps and that’s what we’re really looking at today. This is where we would like to utilise digitalisation. We sell more than 16 million pumps a year and we’ve been in the market for a long time. We have a huge installed base out there where we could build other offerings than just delivering pump functionality. Ultimately, this will enable us to deliver better customer value and experiences”. Nevertheless, this is a huge transformation for Grundfos. “For so many years, we have relied on really good relations to our distributors, our installers and the consultant engineers. That has really been our route to market. And now we also need to focus on home owners, hospitals, water utilities and all the other types of end users”, says Marianne. She explains: “They don’t know us, they might know our brand, but they don’t know what we can do for them. So for us to build a direct relation
with them, we need a new mindset in our company”. To Grundfos, it’s time to start thinking beyond the technologies embedded in the pumps. “We have the best hydraulics in the world, we develop the most energy-efficient pumps in the world, and now we want to move our sales beyond the pump. How can we develop software as a service offering? Predictive maintenance, monitoring, optimisation, fault-prevention and prediction? This will require a completely new mindset”, says Marianne. Following the light A couple of years ago, Grundfos initiated their 2020 strategy. As part of the strategy work, Grundfos outlined where they wanted to be – both within the strategy period and beyond, and how digitalisation could be utilised to enable the strategy. “For us, it was important to say that this is not two strategies; we have one strategy, and we know where we want to move the company. Digitalisation needs to be an enabler for delivering on that strategy”, explains Marianne. The enabling through digitalisation in Grundfos is built around four key lighthouses. The first one is customer relations, particularly improving the contact to end users. “As a homeowner, you might not be interested in knowing what type of pump you have in your basement, but you are interested in the heating you have in your room. So how can we play a bigger role in ensuring that you have the exact temperature you want?” says Marianne. The second
“We’ve actually worked with this for many years already, we just really haven’t paid enough attention before”.
Bright lights, big cities
“Digitalisation needs to be an enabler for delivering on that strategy”.
priority is to connect Grundfos’ products to the cloud. As soon as they are connected digitally, Grundfos will be able to start analysing their data on a large scale and make an impact in new areas: “How can Grundfos help a city optimise its water supply to accommodate all the needs of the people in the city – all day long? Digitalisation is what can enable us to create that overview of the peaks and low periods of water consumption in an entire city”. Once Grundfos has established a closer connection to the end users and connected their products to the cloud, their third lighthouse is to deliver new business models; new types of services defined by the needs of the different client segments. “Maybe we can help guarantee the uptime of running pumps within a hospital to ensure that there’s always heating and cooling and the exact type of purified water that they need”, says Marianne. The fourth and final step on Grundfos’ digital journey is to ensure that their entire value chain is digitalised to ensure a seamless flow from the suppliers through the organisation and to the end users. Detecting disruptors When Grundfos embarked on their digital transformation journey, it was like looking at a blank piece of paper; everything was possible, Marianne explains. “What we did was to interview 30 thought leaders around the world. Everyone from our distributors to professors to consultants to writers to start-up companies, and asked them: ‘What do you think can disrupt our industry and our company?’”. Through this exercise, Marianne and the rest of the leadership team gained a lot of insight into how other people view the pump industry and Grundfos as a company. “It was fantastic to get all of that insight and then to see what type of dialogues we could initiate with our employees, leaders and managers on the topic of digitalisation – and disruption”, Marianne says.
Alongside utilising thought leaders as inspirational sources, Grundfos also turned an eye to large international companies such as GE, Apple and Google to gather a trick or two from how they use digital technology. However, it became strikingly evident that there is no fixed formula on how to conduct a digital transformation. “We might have been a bit naive in the beginning, but we definitely found out that hard work is required. And also some tough decisions along the way”. On a positive note, Grundfos’ management team was surprised by the amount of excitement they were met with in the organisation when the employees were engaged in the project and mobilised to be part of the change. “When we started talking with our colleagues in various places and levels, we discovered a lot of ‘skunk work’ on different digital solutions. A lot of experiments just started coming out of the woodworks as soon as we put digitalisation on the agenda”, says Marianne. “You could say that we’ve actually worked with this for many years already, we just really haven’t paid enough attention before. And now, with the clarity of our strategy, we can also start to nudge the projects in the right direction”.
MARIANNE K. KNUDSEN SENIOR DIRECTOR, HEAD OF DIGITAL COMMERCIAL OFFERINGS AT GRUNDFOS Before joining Grundfos, Marianne was a management consultant for 10 years, and spent quite some time in Switzerland. In 2008, she was invited into a group called “Everest 2009”, which wanted to draw attention to and celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the human rights declaration by climbing Mount Everest. The group had the ambition to carry the 30 articles of the declaration all the way to the highest point on Earth, to symbolise that human rights are meant for all of us. Marianne didn’t make it to the summit, but the initiative fundraised a lot of money for Amnesty International and spurred much attention to human rights.
CASE Danish Crown
When heritage meets performance culture The past 30 years have exposed Jais Valeur to almost all major categories in the food industry; from beer through dairy products to meat, as well as a wide range of geographies; from New Zealand through China to rural Denmark. Today, he finds himself in one of the backbones of the Danish farming economy: Danish Crown. As newly appointed CEO, Jais juggles 26,000 employees and 7,600 farmers, almost 100 international production and sales subsidiaries and an annual revenue of EUR 7.8 billion. From his first day as CEO, in early 2016, Jais has maintained a firm focus on creating followership, as he is convinced that this is the way forward in an organisation built on cooperation and long-term commitment. 20
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CASE Danish Crown
“Farmers think in terms of generations, not the next quarter or the next year”. 22
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Returning from a near-death experience “I was intrigued by the sheer size and importance of Danish Crown on a national level. Danish Crown is responsible for 4% of all foreign currency flowing into Denmark. So, you could basically argue that you only need 25 companies like Danish Crown to keep the Danish economy running”, Jais says as an initial contemplation on joining the company. “It has turned out to be a very exciting first year – and a lot of hard work. But that didn’t come as a big surprise”. In January 2016, Jais was handed the keys to the CEO office, and 365 days later, he finds himself in the privileged position of being able to look back at his first full year. In the time that has passed, he has managed to gain thorough insight into a new industry, launched a new strategy, created strong followership in the organisation and embarked on a positive growth agenda. Not too bad for the first 365 days in the driver’s seat. Prior to Jais’ entry, Danish Crown had been through what can be defined as a near-death experience. During the past 10 years, they had been increasingly challenged on their competitiveness and consequently had to terminate 7,000 Danish workplaces. “I think it was the right decision to make by the previous management in order to get the company back on track. Despite having been through this rough process, the company was in a good place when I took over as CEO”, Jais explains. With this foundation, how do you turn the mood from cost cutting and job reductions towards creating traction and a positive growth agenda? This was on the top of Jais’ to-do list when taking on the job.
The first 365 days “What you tend to underestimate when you start a job like this is that you have to deliver change through leaders you don’t actually know. I came out of a company where I knew the leaders. I knew who could perform and who couldn’t. So, coming into an environment where you don’t know who has which capabilities is the challenge that has surprised me the most. It’s essential to create some sort of followership. If you want to be a leader, it’s good to have someone who wants to follow you”, Jais explains with a smile and continues, “if there’s one piece of advice I would like to pass on, then it would be to create followership. Initiating a strategy process with leaders you don’t actually know, that has been hard work”. Commencing the job, Jais had a three-legged strategy on how to get settled. First and foremost, he needed to get a thorough grip of the company and industry. As there was no immediate burning platform, Jais had an eight-week transition phase along with his iconic predecessor, who had been in the job for the past (impressive) 28 years. “It’s actually a big deal to enter a job like this, with the complexity of such a big corporation”, Jais says, “I had a very detailed plan for how to prepare myself; how to learn as much as possible about the people and the company without being the real CEO – yet. I worked 24/7 during those weeks, and looking back, it was a wise decision to spend a lot of time on this. In addition, I had a plan for my first 100 days, which listed a number of things that I needed to get started as quickly as possible, to get traction later on. And I stuck to that plan”. On top of the 100-day plan, Jais also had a list of what he wanted to have accomplished by the end of the first year.
Managing the interests of 7,600 cooperative owners As a cooperatively owned company, Danish Crown was part of the trendy “sharing economy” way before that term became politically correct. Danish Crown is owned by 7,600 pig and cattle farmers spread across Denmark. The owners deliver the raw material to the company, and share the profit accordingly. “One thing I have learnt from working with farmers over the years is that they are very resilient people. More so than any other group I have known. In contrary to many other industries, farmers think long-term. They think in terms of generations, not the next quarter or the next year”, Jais describes. Setting the market prices each Thursday, Jais is measured as a CEO on a weekly basis, in terms of whether or not the company is delivering value. Hence, there is a constant balance between short-term metrics and a longerterm perspective. A balance that Jais believes the farmers are handling quite well. “It’s an unusual structure to be cooperatively owned, which is built on personal relationships and the fact that people know each other. I believe I can add even more of a performance culture into the mix, and together with their long-term perspectives, I think that’s a pretty powerful combination”. Upgrading to a four-wheel drive Creating traction and generating growth were (not very surprisingly) at the top of Jais’ first-year-as-CEO to-do list. Given the size of Danish Crown, Jais and his team have worked both top-down and bottom-up in the process of setting a new direction, building on the DNA of the company. “From a top-down perspective, I have spent a lot of time on the board and senior management level during this year, which has been brilliant in order for me to build relations and get commitment to the direction, but it has also been a big learning experience for me. We have discussed our portfolio and organisational structure, and we have looked into which success factors are relevant to a company like ours. This has opened up for both internal and external benchmarking”, Jais explains and elaborates, “simultaneously, we have worked bottom-up by having our local business units define their own
CASE Danish Crown
Bright lights, big cities
aspirations and execution plans based on a unit-specific top-down challenge. This has led to clear deliverables, which are owned by the local teams and not by me as the new CEO. It’s been a really strong process, but also a huge undertaking”. During the strategy process, Jais and his management team have utilised the terminology of a four-wheel drive, referring to the rear wheels as the upstream activities related to the farmers, while the front wheels are a reference to the interactions with the consumers. Going from a company focused on the rear wheels, the objective for the new strategy is to add an enlarged consumer focus to the equation. “The intention of this strategy isn’t to go from a rear-wheel drive to a front-wheel drive, but from a rear-wheel drive to a fourwheel drive. That is the fundamental part of the strategy. We need to get closer to the consumers, deliver more value to them and interact more with them. When we look at the competitive context, we see intense competition on both a European and global scale. We are part of a hyper-volatile environment where our competitors seem to be struggling, whereas we seem to be performing”, Jais explains. He continues: “The local ownership has been vital for our strategy to go live. You can make the world’s best strategy, but if you can’t make people own it and believe it, you can’t make it happen. I believe this process of delegating responsibility to the local management teams has been essential for the initial traction that we are seeing”.
“Farmers think in terms of generations, not the next quarter or the next year.”
Aiming for love According to Jais, creating organisational followership is primarily a matter of strong communication. When entering Danish Crown, he found that purpose and direction could be used to energise the organisation. It is Jais’ personal ambition to establish a strong communicative platform for Danish Crown: “We are a production company. You could say that we kill pigs and cows for a living, and if that’s our narrative, it’s not exactly a very noble purpose. I’m working on formulating a fundamentally positive purpose for the company, centred on food. At Danish Crown, we’re all about creating great food and enabling people to prepare a fantastic meal. Creating a purpose and finding a core is very important. But it takes time to incorporate these elements in an organisation like this”.
Speaking of noble, Danish Crown, despite their size and market share, don’t find themselves in the privileged situation of having a large number of dedicated and loyal consumers in neither their own home markets or abroad. This is an area wherein Jais has high ambitions and sees great potential: “Our consumers and customers don’t love us today. They like to buy our products, but I think we need to take this to the next level of interaction. It has to do with talking much more about world-class meat delivered by the farmers. We need to include our heritage in the narrative, and communicate what we do and how we do it. This is part of an innovation agenda where we really need to step up our game”. Setting the pace In terms of surprises in the job, Jais has found rather few. “Within six weeks in the job, I made a note to myself of what I had seen and what I thought needed to be done. I had one note in there mentioning our UK business, and that it might not be as good as we thought. That turned out to be an understatement. Then, on the other hand, I have had many positive surprises”, Jais says and continues, “my ambitions for Danish Crown is to create a company which is loved by our customers, to be number one in Northern Europe as a food company and to be number one on a global scale in the market of casing and ingredients. If, one day, I can deliver a company like that to the next CEO, then I will be a very happy man. However, I also believe our owners would be pleased because we would then have a much more resilient and robust company”.
JAIS VALEUR CEO OF DANISH CROWN Jais has deep experience within cooperatively owned companies, having spent 15 years in Arla Foods’ management prior to joining Danish Crown. He has an international background and has lived in several different countries throughout the years. Somewhere along the way, Jais picked up his love for Italian motorcycles. His garage contains one of the faster models, and Jais takes it out for a spin as often as he gets the chance.
“We kill pigs and cows for a living, and if that’s our narrative, it’s not exactly a very noble purpose”. 25
The QVARTZ Annual
Global reach The world grows smaller everyday as easy-to-use high tech gadgets allow us to communicate independently of time and space. However, at QVARTZ, we believe in relations. And relations are built through interaction; of people sharing ideas and perspectives face to face. In 2016, we sent 243 of our people out to connect to the world and each other. Together, we have left our footprints in no less than 53 countries.
Emma Elofsson Consultant, Schwarzsee Rasmus Krogsgaard Senior Consultant, Tulsa: “In Q4 2016, an extensive strategy project took me on the following route: Copenhagen-Stockholm-Oslo-Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Fort Lauderdale-New York-Tulsa. The Tulsa client and I hit it off really well, so he let me borrow his gigantic four-wheel drive for my entire stay at the site. Pretty cool”.
Henriette Karlsen Senior Consultant, Montreal: “During my four months in Montreal, I was working closely with a really cool client on how they could optimise internal collaboration in order to win more customers in the future. Aside from it being my first trip to Canada, I also got to experience a lot of other “firsts” with my team over the weekends; my first punk festival, my first attempt at mountain climbing and my first time spending a Saturday night watching a mixed martial arts match”.
Jakob Wikefeldt Senior Consultant, Miami: “Last autumn, on a project aimed to accelerate product innovation in the marine industry, my team ended up in Florida. In the Sunshine State, we found ourselves at the largest boat show in the world: talking to industry experts, engaging in conversations with customers and suppliers and eying the competition. Needless to say, our smiles went from ear toear during our time in Florida”.
Anders Brahe Engagement Partner, Mount Aconcagua
Henrik Klaaborg, Søren I. Kristiansen and Mads Krabbe Senior Consultants, Zimbabwe
Bright lights, big cities
Harald Hoch Senior Consultant, Reykjavik: “I spent five weeks working on a project in Reykjavik for one of Iceland’s major insurance companies. We helped them design a new KPI- and incentives structure, which will be tested in a set of pilots. Apart from being on an intriguing project, which deepened my understanding of the insurance industry, it was very interesting to work with a whole new team together with the client and to see the spectacular nature”.
Yuran Chen Consultant, Beijing:
Patrycia Zaporowski Consultant, Bucharest: “For the past couple of months, I have worked on a commercial excellence project with roll-out in selected markets in Europe and Asia. For me, that has meant visits to Oslo and Bucharest for workshops at the client site, engaging with the local teams and experiencing very different cultures as well as cuisines. Further, I have been able to use my Polish language skills to conduct interviews on a Denmark-UK-France trip. It’s really inspiring to work in a global environment across time zones, spanning from Portugal to Indonesia and Australia”.
“At first, it was hard to believe that as a consultant from QVARTZ, I would have the chance to work in Beijing, the place where I was born and raised. Speaking the same language and sharing the culture, it was such a fun and pleasant experience to work closely with the local team. Together, we provided first-hand market insight into the Chinese strategy for a global player within the wind industry”.
Amanda Chin Manager, Asia
Jacob Westerberg Manager, Venice: “Last spring, fellow consultant Caroline Brandt and I found ourselves overlooking the Grand Canal from a rooftop restaurant in Venice, Italy. This happened after we, with a 24-hour notice, were asked to travel to Venice for a meeting with a key stakeholder of our client. The meeting went really well and we ended up starting a new project with the same client, which will run during the spring of 2017”.
Morten Mondrup Manager, Sydney: “I have spent four action-packed months in Sydney, working for our Australian partner, Port Jackson Partners. I have gained industry-specific knowledge that was vital for the project I was working on, learnt to play touch rugby during our weekly Tuesday matches against other companies, and had the opportunity to explore the country”.
PERSPECTIVE Geoffrey West
Why cities live and companies die
Is the Maersk Group a great whale? Is Stockholm an elephant? Why do cities live forever, while companies donâ€™t? Experimental physicist Geoffrey West, who holds a degree from Cambridge, a PhD from Stanford and a day job as a professor at the Santa Fe Institute, is the man behind these kinds of questions â€“ and their answers. By applying the logic of physics, West has found a remarkably consistent set of mathematical laws that govern the growth and lifespan of plants and animals, and a still more surprising set of rules for the growth and lifespan of cities and companies. 28
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Geoffrey West 29
PERSPECTIVE Geoffrey West
The biological laws of cities and companies Biology is often used as a metaphor in politics, business and economy. We talk of the ecology of a market place, the culture of a city and the DNA of companies, but is this just “metaphoric bullshit” (using West’s own words), or is there some real substance to it; a lesson to be learnt that we can utilise in a meaningful way? West has approached the study of social constructs such as cities and companies on the backdrop of the “scaling law” applied within the field of biology. The law shows that if you double the size of an animal, it doesn’t require twice as much energy to stay alive, but only 75% more. This so-called sublinear scaling can be drawn on a graph with a simple diagonal line between the X and Y axes. And the law is remarkably consistent, whether it is applied to mammals, fish or insects. Even trees. Larger species simply utilise their energy more efficiently than smaller species. The scaling law can be extended to a wide range of physiological variables, including an organism’s time to mature, its growth rate, life span, etc. It didn’t take West long to start pondering whether the law could also be applied outside the sphere of biology. Cities and companies, for instance, actually have much in common with organisms.
“Allow a little bit more room for bullshit”. A whale is a scaled-up horse West discovered that cities, like any living organism, abide by scaling laws, and the same goes for companies. However, the basis for comparison proved far more complicated than what may be assumed at first glance; within biology, you have infrastructural networks – like neuron pathways in the brain or protein connections in the DNA, but cities and companies have both infrastructural networks as well as social networks between the humans who are part of those systems. However, despite the obvious complexity and scale, West claims that New York is no more than a scaled-up Santa Fe: “It’s just like with organisms. A whale doesn’t look much like a horse, but it is in fact a scaled-up horse to an 85 to 90% level”, West said in an interview with Strategy+Business. By going through an exhausting amount of data, Professor West and his team have proven scaling laws for social constructions such as cities and companies similar to the ones identified for organisms. New York is actually just like a big whale, claims West after having studied the scaling relations between the population of different cities and a range of attributes such as productivity, consumption, infrastructure, innovation, crime and all the way to the number of gas stations. His studies have found that just like living organisms, cities scale sublinearly by a factor of .85, meaning that they enjoy a 15% benefit in economy of scale as they double in size – from higher wages and amplified innovation to increased crime and rise in contagious diseases. Believe it or not, his studies actually show that people walk measurably faster in New York compared to their fellow countrymen in San Francisco. In Tokyo, they walk even faster. The increased productivity might explain why more than 50% of the world’s population now live in urban areas. In highly developed countries, the percentage of people living in cities is in the 75–90% range – and rising. Humans across the globe are simply moving from rural to urban areas in order to enjoy the buzz and opportunities offered in the cities.
Why are companies fragile? When West turned his attention from cities to companies, he embarked on his research with a big question: Why is it that cities are very robust and viable, while companies, like organisms, are relatively fragile? In coherence with the economy of scale principle, cities thrive in their growth. And according to West’s findings, the scaling laws apply to companies as well. However, in contrast to organisms and cities, companies become less efficient as they grow. Through an analysis of more than 25,000 publicly traded companies, West and his team found that the average lifespan of a company already on the stock exchange is about 10 years, after which most companies go bankrupt, merge or are acquired. “If you look at all of the biggest U.S. companies; those that have lasted around 100 years, you’ll see that relative to GDP, they’ve all stopped growing”, explains West in an interview with Percolate, and continues, “they become too big to easily adjust and ‘reinvent’ themselves, spur a major innovation, or open up again into the marketplace. Now there are exceptions, but the general rule is that companies tend to get stuck and die. They just aren’t quick enough, and timing and speed are important for survival”. West’s statement turns the attention to the underlying dynamics of this significant difference between cities and companies, and perhaps more importantly: What can companies learn from cities? Why does a city increase the productivity per capita as it grows, while a company decreases profit per employee as it grows?
Bright lights, big cities
Flourishing diversity In order to answer these questions, West pinpoints one of the most interesting differences as being the inherent diversity between the two: “Cities are not run top-down. There is a mayor and a city councillor, but they don’t run the city in the sense that the administration runs a company, and it can’t be that way. And that is the dilemma. Because you can’t run a company in the same kind of randomness as a city. You can’t let everyone do whatever they like”, West said at a Transition Conference for Percolate in 2015. A city is composed of more minds from more places and with more perspectives, interacting in the same place – and this leads to entrepreneurship, innovation and sustained growth. Herein lies the contrast between a city and a company. While a city continuously becomes more multidimensional, a company typically becomes more undimensional, narrowing its dimensions, activities and tolerance for extremes over time. “You can understand this because when it starts off, a company tends to be quite diverse and multidimensional because it is not quite sure of its product space or where its markets are going to be. But very quickly, it has to narrow down to one or two key products in the market, and at the same time build up a bureaucracy and an administration to run it in order to make sure that the bills are paid and the floors are swept”, West explained in an interview at a RiskMinds conference in Amsterdam. These restrictions form the core of the dilemma; companies build bureaucracy to control costs, keep focus and deliver short-term results, and consequently, they continually narrow their room for diversity. As opposed to cities.
“When you walk down Fifth Avenue, you see crazy people. Because cities accommodate all of us. If you visit General Motors or American Airlines, you don’t see crazy people. Crazy people are fired”, West said in an interview with the Edge. People stay within the boundaries of their job description and, according to West, way too few wander the hallways brainstorming on how to innovate the company. The rigid frameworks end up killing the very nature of the initial business idea: “The administrative aspect [of companies] squeezes out the more creative aspect, which in the end leads to extreme vulnerability”, West concluded at the RiskMinds conference. Postponing the inevitable “I think there are tremendous lessons to be learned from biology and from cities that could be incorporated into the philosophy of company cultures”, West pointed out at the Transition Conference. “It is not that these ideas are so original, it is more that they can be seen in a quantitative mechanistic framework, and […] despite the fact that all companies can be seen as unique, and each situation as unique, there’s an extraordinary regularly set of laws, if you like, that are operating”. In the end, the key lies in the ability to foster diversity, to reinvent ourselves and to open up for multidimensionality. A challenge that West, for one, strongly encourages companies to take: “Let it [the company] be much more open to having mavericks, naysayers, and people with odd ideas hanging around. Allow a little bit more room for bullshit. You need some mechanism to somehow break this straitjacket that big companies take on as they grow”, concluded West in the interview with Strategy+Business.
“If you visit General Motors or American Airlines, you don’t see crazy people”.
GEOFFREY WEST PROFESSOR AT THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Rumour has it that West does not eat lunch. He is believed to have a mild allergy to food, since meals make him both sleepy and nauseated. According to reliable sources, he subsists on nuts and black tea. West was born and raised in London’s harsh East End in the aftermath of World War II. His bright mind earned him an undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in physics from Stanford University. West’s TED talk, The surprising math of cities and corporations, has had more than 1,500,000 views.
PERSPECTIVE Bjarke Ingels
Bright lights, big cities
Turning into fact
â€œArchitecture is fiction of the real world; of turning dreams into concrete reality using bricks and waterâ€?. Meet Bjarke Ingels, Danish architect wonder kid and founder of Bjarke Ingels Group (often simply referred to as BIG), who among many other feats has equipped a power plant with a ski slope and a chimney puffing giant rings of steam. This may sound like science fiction. But to Bjarke, this is the quintessential world-altering potential of architecture. According to him, companies could learn a great deal by looking at how cities are able to turn their decay, redevelopment and cultural characteristics into winning variables.
PERSPECTIVE Bjarke Ingels
A work in progress Back in 2007, we passed the 50% mark of global urbanisation, meaning that more than half of the world’s citizens live in cities. Statistics show that countries with more than 50% urbanisation on average have a five-time higher income level than countries where the majority live in rural areas. This explains, at least in part, the rapidly increasing urbanisation and the sizes of our cities. There are now 31 cities in the world with more than 10 million inhabitants – so-called megacities. The concept of megacities and the trend towards urbanisation prove one of Bjarke’s key points. He describes cities as entities that all have a starting point, but no finish line. “A city is work in progress. It’s always waiting for new scenes to be added and new characters to appear. Our cities are the way they are because that’s how the generation before us shaped them, before they passed on and left the continuation to us. Cities will never reach some final stage, since they always have the potential to become more adapted to the current reality, culture and technological possibilities”, Bjarke explains on the phone from his office in NYC. He elaborates: “And that’s because life constantly evolves – Darwin taught us that. This has only been accelerated by the fact that technology consistently gives us new opportunities and changes our behavioural patterns. Our values and moral standards gradually develop, and this causes our life patterns to change as well, influencing how we live and where we live”.
“You don’t have to be faithful to a single idea”. The opportunities of decay The alerted reader may have noticed a parallel or two between Bjarke and Professor Geoffrey West, who you might have encountered on pages 28–31. In fact, the two pioneers know each other from a former project, where BIG drew on West’s perspective on cities. West compares cities and companies, and points out that cities are highly resilient, hardly never die and seem to grow automatically, whereas companies have an increasingly shorter life span. According to Bjarke, one explanation to this fundamental difference between cities and companies is found in the process of redevelopment (or rather the lack of it): “Redevelopment is often used as a negative phrase, but really, it can be a rather positive mechanism. When an urban area falls into decay, the property value decreases, which suddenly makes that area accessible to new groups of people. We often see that when a particular industry slumps – perhaps production is moved to China or the like – it leaves behind empty spaces. Then, a group of people with more ideas than money
will move in. These people then create galleries of companies that fill the empty space, and they don’t quite mind being in a ‘rough’ neighbourhood because they get to shape it according to their values and wishes. The entrepreneurial spirit and opportunism seen in urban development is like taking an object that is basically just standing around collecting dust and turning it into something completely different, creating new unforeseen opportunities. The big question is how to genetically engineer this mechanism into the context of corporations”, Bjarke says. Introducing: Bigamy BIG’s work is defined by informed design solutions, using the newest technologies and local characteristics to create unique architectural experiences designed for people. “We always try to dig out as much information as possible about a situation before we intervene. What could be the greatest potential or
Bright lights, big cities
the biggest challenge? I believe it’s all about asking the right questions. When I studied architecture, I was often asked why buildings all look the same. People have the idea that buildings previously came with ornaments and decorations, while today, they have been reduced to container space. Boxy and boring. This happens when we just duplicate what is already there instead of thinking what could happen next”. Inspired by the movie “Inception”, Bjarke has been determined to change this duplication through his unique work. The movie revolves around a thief with the rare ability to enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. The characters design their wildest dreams, without the limitations of the real world. “The architect hero in the movie describes how he and his wife would love to live in a house with a garden at the top of a high rise. In real life, you would have to choose, but in a dream, we can get it as we want”. With Bjarke’s approach to architecture, however, the leap between dream and reality is not an impossible one. “We made a building in Copenha-
gen called ‘The Mountain’, combining a parking structure and an apartment building. By turning the parking structure into a manmade mountain of cars, we turned what would have been a stack of apartments into a cascade of homes with gardens. Penthouse views and big lawns – our movie character’s dream home”, Bjarke explains. In BIG, the term Bigamy is used to describe the ability to take multiple desirable elements that might seem mutually exclusive, and merge them together into a new genre. “You don’t have to be faithful to a single idea”, Bjarke emphasises, “you can literally marry multiple ideas into promiscuous hybrids. The beauty is that architecture doesn’t just allow you to dream stuff up, it also allows you to alter the facts”.
A faceless choir of screamers Though Bjarke is in the business of turning dreams into reality, he still argues that the desired reality should respect and reflect the distinctive environment of each location. “Even though we accept and adapt to new things and new possibilities, we must remember to cultivate and develop the existing local characteristics. Every city has its own history and its own geography, its own climate and its own demography, which – even though you have universal possibilities – makes the potential and the implementation venue-specific. Even though we all have to react to a global presence and development, we have to cultivate our own specific qualities instead of being part of a faceless choir of screamers”, Bjarke reflects. This approach of utilising and adapting to the unique possibilities at hand rather than reflecting an international trend is repeated time and again in BIG’s
PERSPECTIVE Bjarke Ingels
architectural constructions. “Again, this presents an interesting opportunity for reflection in regard to how companies and organisations are structured. There are countless companies out there with generic organisational structures and cultures, composing limited distinct differentiation”, Bjarke explains, implicitly accentuating the obvious risk of international companies searching for efficiencies and cultural anonymity becoming not only poor in taste, but even worse: tasteless. The olympic hangover Being an architect, Bjarke points out Barcelona as an excellent example of a city that manages to promote its distinct features and empower itself at any given opportunity: “Barcelona is very successful as a city. Compared to many other cities, Barcelona has been very systematic in their city planning politics. They’ve invested in public spaces: if a house was condemned, it became demolished and the place was made into a new square, giving surrounding houses a view to an open area. This has led to a privately financed upgrade of the property market. A model that has inspired more or less every other modern capital”.
In 1992, Barcelona hosted the Olympics. Most other Olympic host cities have experienced what Bjarke refers to as an Olympic hangover; after partying for billions, they find themselves left with empty facilities and useless infrastructure. Barcelona, however, used the Olympics to build a ring road around the city. In extension to this, they also invested in public areas. One of the major projects that were realised was to clear the waterfront of industrial buildings and establish a modern marina. In fact, the reason that Barcelona can offer its inhabitants and visitors beautiful beaches today is due to the Olympics paying a visit in the early 90s. “Every time Barcelona faced a necessity, they combined it with pleasure, as kind of a social infrastructure hedonistic sustainability project. They’ve been extremely progressive in the way that there’s always been a grand idea behind the
investments they’ve made. As such, the more Barcelona develops, the more Barcelona becomes Barcelona”, Bjarke explains. “I actually think that they have been extra keen on making Barcelona even more genuine as part of a patriotic project fed by the city’s history. I love local patriotism in this sense, although it’s a difficult word to use without bringing to mind negative associations to extreme political standpoints. But if you think of national patriotism as love for what’s near, this will perhaps help us remember to use our starting points, the local circumstances, in our answers to our challenges at hand – being it as a city or a company”.
Bright lights, big cities
“We have to cultivate our own specific qualities instead of being part of a faceless choir of screamers”.
BJARKE INGELS FOUNDER AND CREATIVE PARTNER OF BIG Bjarke founded Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in 2005, which has since become a small empire within the world of architecture, with projects across the globe and more than 400 employees from 25 countries. Their work is known for defying traditional architectural conventions and incorporating sustainable development ideas shaped to their surroundings. The name Bjarke means “little bear”, while the surname Ingels supposedly comes from Bjarke’s great-grandfather – it alludes to the word “English” as he worked on the Esbjerg-Harwich ferry.
The QVARTZ Annual
The sum is greater than its parts It's no secret that we are pretty fond of numbers. In all scales and sizes. The figures below illustrate some of the things we could count our way to in the year gone by.
279 Dogbiters 38
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2,191 Applications received
57 Contracts signed
53 Countries visited
243 QVARTZ travellers
>90% Still in QVARTZ after two years
DKK 452 million Annual revenue
89% Returning clients
18 Different nationalities
65 Unique masterâ€™s degrees 39
PERSPECTIVE Torsten Hvidt
From Pyongyang to Cupertino
A decade ago, there were six energy companies on Bloombergâ€™s list of the ten most valuable companies in the world, and only one technology company. Today, there are five technology companies, and only one energy company. Technology is the new sheriff in town, and it has created a networked world with new business models that in many cases are far superior to the ones used by conventional companies. And no wonder. 40
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New types of companies are emerging, exploiting technology, creating new business models, unleashing passion and creativity, and outmanoeuvring incumbents. Many are asking how the old and static can compete with the new and nimble. Let’s take a look at one – rather impressive – answer to this.
Gallup’s most recent workplace survey shows that only 13% of employees around the world feel engaged in their work, while 63% feel disengaged and 24% feel “actively disengaged” – a staggering 87% of the global workforce are not passionate about their work! There is no doubt that these figures are directly related to the widespread use of conventional managerial practices, such as static hierarchy and convoluted bureaucracy. These practices were invented in the early days of the last century and were perfectly fitted for an era where human beings had to act as living robots, in the name of efficient mass-production. But today, real robots and other technologies are taking over from human robots. Traits such as predictability, obedience and uniformity might be hailed in Pyongyang, but in other places, companies look for qualities such as passion, creativity and initiative.
It takes a network The former commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), General Stanley McChrystal, recently recounted an episode from Iraq in 2005, where soldiers woke him in the middle of the night, seeking permission to launch a risky attack. McChrystal gave his OK, but was left with some troubling thoughts: “I began to question my value [...] my inclusion in the decision […] slowed the process, and sometimes caused us to miss fleeting opportunities”, McChrystal explained in an interview with Forbes. This doubt was an important part of a long and frustrating process, during which McChrystal slowly came to understand the nature of the emerging, intangible and diverse networks of insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, and more importantly: what it would take to defeat this new kind of enemy. Initially, McChrystal and his team tried to diagram the enemy organisation in a traditional military structure, with tiers and rows. But the closer they looked,
the more the model didn’t hold. They realised that the enemy was organised not by rank, but based on relationships and reputation. This allowed for great flexibility and an impressive ability to grow and sustain losses. Furthermore, the enemy was self-organising and did not wait for decisions from superiors, but made them themselves. They had the advantage of living amid a local population closely tied to them by history and culture, while at the same time being as closely linked, through modern technology, to individuals and groups across the region. Money, propaganda and information flowed at alarming rates, allowing for close coordination. It was a deadly choreography achieved through a constantly changing, often unrecognisable structure. It became clear to McChrystal and his officers that in order to defeat a networked enemy, they had to become a network themselves. They had to figure out a way to retain JSOC’s traditional capabilities, while achieving levels of knowledge, speed, precision and unity of effort that only a network could provide. But the fashioning of a self-contained traditional hierarchical structure to a more nimble one is easier said than done. So McChrystal and his men studied, experimented and adjusted. And they connected deeply with entities such as the CIA, NSA, satellite analysts and regional experts as well as regular US, Coalition and Iraqi forces. And they learnt that an effective network starts with robust connectivity. Consequently, JSOC’s discretionary funds were not used on more or better weapons, but on bandwidth, so that all the nodes of the network could speak to each other real-time, even during missions. JSOC effectively became an experiment in intel crowdsourcing, and it soon got a much bigger, deeper picture of the enemy it was fighting – and essentially emulating.
PERSPECTIVE Torsten Hvidt
Besides connectivity, McChrystal emphasised a strong sense of shared moral purpose, as well as simple decision-making criteria to increase autonomy and speed. Most important of all, however, was the unlearning of command and control – letting go of authority and developing a largely self-governing, cross-organisational network that functioned rapidly, flexibly and with deadly entrepreneurialism. In 2004, JSOC carried out 18 raids a month; two years later, the same force carried out 300 raids a month. This acceleration forced the enemy to increase movement, communication and intake of inexperienced fighters, which all led to increased vulnerability. Ultimately, JSOC was directly responsible for the elimination of the enemy leader, al-Zarqawi, and was to a large extent credited for the defeat of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Fly the Jolly Roger The analogy should not be dragged too far, but there seem to be similarities between what conventional incumbent companies, across industries and geographies, are facing and what JSOC faced in Iraq. Many incumbents now face an overwhelmingly complex global system, where everyone and everything is connected and where static hierarchical structures will have to become more fluid to keep pace with new competitors, who naturally exploit networks, interconnect with customers and create constantly shifting relationships, product preferences and strategies. It seems, however, that many leaders still treat their markets, environments and organisations as traditional linear systems, and hope for simple command-and-control or cause-and-effect relationships when launching new strategies, reorganisations, behavioural rules or marketing campaigns. We are faced with a DNA-level challenge. But the principles set forth by Taylor, Weber and Fayol are quite simply yesterday’s solutions to yesterday’s challenges. Stanley McChrystal will testify to that. And, so would Steve Jobs, who famously said: “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy” – alluding to the fact that pirates despise hierarchy and
bureaucracy; they support one another but also have the ability to act independently; they stay creative and on task in difficult or hostile environments and they take risks within the scope of the greater purpose. Jobs wanted Apple to become what McChrystal wanted JSOC to become. And last year, while celebrating their 40:th anniversary, Apple flew the Jolly Roger over their HQ in Cupertino. So, we have pirates like McChrystal and Jobs, but who replaces Taylor, Weber and Fayol when it comes to scientifically-based managerial principles fit for our age? I would like to propose two interesting names: Prigogine and West. Safe is risky, risk is safety Professor Ilya Prigogine received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1977. Among other things, Prigogine was interested in the concept of entropy, which (put simply) is a measure of the disorder in a system – the less ordered it is, the greater its entropy. The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system always increases over time, which basically means that order inevitably will dissolve into decay. But Prigogine discovered how structures could avoid the standard route to entropic death. He showed that when a physical or chemical system is pushed away from equilibrium, it survives and thrives, whereas if it is left alone and remains in equilibrium, it dies. The reason is that when systems are far from equilibrium, they are forced to explore. And this exploration helps them create new patterns of relationships and different structures. The greater the amount of variety and diversity within the system, the stronger that system can become, as the key to evolution is the ability to explore new possibilities. “We grow in direct proportion to the amount of chaos we can sustain”, Prigogine con-
cluded. This illustration reminds us that we must push companies and people out of their structures and roles when they have settled in an equilibrium and become too comfortable, ensuring diversity and exploration of new ideas. Productivity hand-in-hand with growth As seen elsewhere in this publication, Professor Geoffrey West has many scientific breakthroughs to his name, among them his studies of cities. West proved that whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity increases by approximately 15% per capita. “This remarkable equation is why people move to the big city”, West explained in an interview with The New York Times. “Because you can take the same people, and move them to a city that’s twice as big, then all of a sudden they’ll do 15% more of everything that we can measure”. Cities simply magnify humanity’s strengths – they spur innovation and entrepreneurship by facilitating diverse human interaction, and they attract talent and sharpen it through competition. After looking at cities, West and his team turned to what they expected to be a similar subject: corporations. But it turned out that cities and companies differ in a very fundamental aspect: cities almost never die, while companies in comparison are short-lived and increasingly so. West analysed data from more than 25,000 publicly traded companies to find out why, and he discovered that corporate productivity is entirely unlike urban productivity. As the number of employees grow, the amount of profit per employee shrinks, which, according to West, reflects that efficiencies of scale are almost always
“All these people are hired to keep track of the paper clips. This is the beginning of the end”.
Bright lights, big cities
outweighed by the burdens of bureaucracy: “When a company starts out, it’s all about the new idea,” West says in the New York Times article. “And then, if the company gets lucky, the idea takes off. Everybody is happy and rich. But then management starts worrying about the bottom line, and so all these people are hired to keep track of the paper clips. This is the beginning of the end”. It seems obvious that companies have something to learn from cities. Elsewhere in this publication, Danish superstar architect, Bjarke Ingels, says that all cities have a starting point, while none of them have a finish line. And this embrace of emergence, imperfection, constant renewal, selforganisation and purpose might be what we should aim for. Change fluidly The company where I work builds on these thoughts. Our consolidated experience shows that increased agility, passion, purpose, innovation and diversity come with a price. Because for all the freedom of networks, how do you obtain efficiency and accountability? The answer is not a simple one. It is not just “network” or “hierarchy”. Rather, it is the “ability to alternate” fluidly and rapidly between relevant structures. There are a number of situations where a hierarchical structure is quite useful, so it should not just be dismissed altogether. It is more a case of making hierarchies disappear the minute they no longer make sense. The team should get back in network formation, ready to engage in a new structure, so to speak. We must learn to alternate naturally. In the same way, individuals must learn to alternate naturally between roles. Most significantly between leadership and followership. In one context, it might be vital that you step forward and take lead, but shortly afterwards, as the situation alters, it might be just as vital that you step back and let yourself be led. We must no longer see ourselves as being confined permanently to a fixed position in a traditional organisational chart, but rather as nodes in a dynamic network, where influence will come from abilities, relevance and contribution. As Gary Hamel once pointed out, “When you post a video to YouTube, no one asks you if you went to film school”. If it’s a great video, it’s a great video. In the networked society, you earn your rights based on what you do, not what papers you might have.
“Static hierarchical structures will have to become more fluid to keep pace with new competitors”. In a future where we in the course of an ordinary working day will experience both hierarchical and network structures, and alternating roles, we will obviously need a strong “why” to guide our choices and direction. On the battlefield, General McChrystal realised that the seemingly unconnected enemy networks were held closely together not by a structure, but by a strong and pervasive moral purpose. Consequently, when reorganising conventional companies in a networked world, we will see a stronger emphasis on timeless values worth fighting for – instigating a future where it is as meaningless only to make money, as it is not to make money. The snakeskin jacket A question to ask is whether we can step in and out of structures and roles, quickly and frequently, like a reptile that sheds its skin while still retaining its soul. If not, structure and individual roles and titles might have become more important than the original purpose, and the paper clip people might be driving the company… towards certain entropic death. To keep the paper clip people out of the driver’s seat, I suggest we let people choose their own leaders. Voluntary followership and co-creation are great mechanisms against lack of purpose, poor managers and standardised, sterile and uninspiring monocultures. And such mechanisms are more important now than ever, because mindless loyalty in exchange for a pay check will soon be a thing of the past, together with silly titles, trophy offices, discretionary bonuses and other relics from the hierarchical era. Besides the loss of such relics, the shift to a fluid organisation might also imply short-term inefficiency, uncomfortable loss of control and the need for more purpose-driven leadership. However, we must all consider whether the radical changes in the Bloomberg
ranking of the most valuable companies on earth is an illustration of the impact that fluidity delivers. Who wouldn’t want the speed and entrepreneurialism of JSOC, the resilience of Prigogine’s unbalanced systems, the almost “magical” productivity of West’s cities, the ability to renew and grow as described by Ingels, or the passion, creativity and initiative from the 13% of the workforce who actually feel engaged in their work? It is no coincidence that the most valuable company on Earth flies the Jolly Roger over its HQ. So let’s get started… on the journey from Pyongyang to Cupertino.
TORSTEN HVIDT PARTNER AND CO-FOUNDER Having been in the industry for the past 20 years, Torsten is a veteran in the field of management consulting. Torsten is a firm believer in humanistic capitalism and he is absolutely certain that the next big thing in business is Big People. He is fully versed in classic literature, and somewhat of a walking encyclopaedia of meaningful quotes fit for every important occasion.
CASE PostNord StrĂĽlfors
Bright lights, big cities
So long, snail mail
For thousands of years, people have been sending each other messages, letters and goods. From word-to-mouth to handwritten signs, printed leaflets, newspaper ads, billboards and online advertisements. Even though modern forms of communication are a world apart from their historical counterparts, the basic human need of conveying a message to others remains unaltered. This is fortunate for PostNord StrĂĽlfors, a customer communication management company that is part of an 800-year heritage of making sure messages make it to their recipients in time and in the right way. And as a company with change embedded in its DNA, PostNord StrĂĽlfors is ready to let go of the old and take on the digital future. 45
CASE PostNord Strålfors
Dodging the Kodak moment The opportunities of the digital age go hand in hand with its threats. Renowned corporations such as Kodak, Blockbuster and Nokia missed their opportunities and saw the core of their businesses become irrelevant before their very eyes. The ones adapting are the ones surviving. But how do you avoid becoming a rerun of the Blockbuster story and remain adaptive, not only through the digital upheaval we are living in now, but also in the coming eras? Having physical communication across the Nordics as their core business, this has certainly been a relevant question for PostNord Strålfors to consider. “Our core business, if you look at where our primary revenue is coming from, is physical communication. However, this market is declining rapidly. On a Nordic level, roughly by 10% per year. In some markets, like Denmark, up to 20% per year”, explains Annemarie Gardshol, CEO of PostNord Strålfors. This sounds rather worrying, but fortunately, the communication market as a whole is actually growing. Digital communication is claiming ground, more channels are added and communication takes up increasing space in the mobile sphere. “All in all, we are in a growing market both in terms of the amount of communication, but also in terms of the number of communication channels. Even though our core business today is declining by 10% from a market point of view, we have been able to keep our decline at maybe 5%, meaning that we have managed to gain market share. And we are
growing on digital business by double digits, and our profits even more. So all in all, we are in a growing market with a good profit potential, and we need to shift more into the digital part by going omnichannel while continuing to take out costs in the physical part of the business”, Annemarie reflects. Eight centuries of history PostNord is the result of a historical merger between the Danish national postal service, Post Danmark, and the Swedish national postal service, Posten, which have a combined history of almost 800 years, according to PostNord’s homepage. The new company emerged as PostNord, with a turnover of about SEK 40 billion and 35,000 employees across the Nordics. With digitalisation swiftly making old-fashioned “snail mail” a thing of the past – alongside paper-based advertisements and the like – PostNord focuses heavily on building momentum by developing the basis for tomorrow’s communication and logistics.
Bright lights, big cities
“One of my predecessors at Strålfors said, ‘change is in our DNA’, and we are still sort of capitalising on that message”.
CASE PostNord Strålfors
PostNord Strålfors – with its primary focus on senders with very high transactional volumes, e.g. banks, telcos and utilities – is an important brick within the PostNord organisation. It is a strong operator in the field of communication, but with quite a few challenges tapping its shoulder, as the company today functions as a kind of digitalisation engine in the Group. Striking the balance “I have always been drawn to situations where there is an interesting strategic challenge to work on; an interesting change agenda”, says Annemarie. As such, she has indeed hit the bull’s-eye with her position in PostNord Strålfors. Annemarie manages to juggle the delicate situation of adapting the very backbone of PostNord Strålfors’ business to the declining print volumes – while implementing and building a
new basis for growth in omnichannel communication. One could call this hitting the ground running, but according to Annemarie, PostNord Strålfors has always been their customers’ communication engine; it’s simply the ways and means of communication that are changing. “We help our clients to communicate with their customers by managing the output, you can say. Meaning that we put together and distribute the communication for them. We can print it and get it distributed, and we can also put it into a digital format and distribute it into the digital channel that is most relevant for their customers”, says Annemarie. “Since we are already very well-positioned with our customers when it comes to managing their output, we have been able to capitalise on that strategic position by simply adding additional communication channels and the necessary channel logic based on the individual receivers’ needs and preferences. This puts us in a very good position with our existing customers to help them go into omnichannel and digital communication. We call it Smarter Communication”, she explains.
Change is in our DNA For Annemarie and her leadership team, it is a top priority to get everybody on board the journey towards a digital future. Since the company was founded back in 1919, PostNord Strålfors has been on a journey of change, always in phase with the technological development. According to Annemarie, the key success factor for the company is the fact that they have constantly adapted to their surroundings and been able to successfully transfer their customers through the technological shifts: “One of my predecessors at Strålfors said, ‘change is in our DNA’, and we are still sort
“We want to be the last man standing on physical print in the Nordics, and this gives everybody in the organisation something to fight for”. 48
Bright lights, big cities
“We are sort of changing the wheels on the car while driving it at full speed”.
of capitalising on that message”. She admits, however, that the technological change, going from punch cards to graphic production, is measured in baby steps compared to fully boarding the ship of digital production. To support this transformation, Annemarie has replaced 60% of the leadership team of PostNord Strålfors. “It is sad to see people leave, but it is also good to get fresh perspectives in. And I think that for many parts of this organisation, it has been a fresh injection, new energy, new perspectives and new types of leadership”, she describes. In addition to this, PostNord Strålfors has simplified its organisational structure to create a leaner and clearer structure in terms of responsibility for driving the day-to-day business, for accelerating the digital development and for ensuring progress on the strategic priorities supporting the transformation. A thorough preparation for new and unknown ground ahead. Last man standing Even though PostNord Strålfors embraces digital solutions, it is still very much dependent on its physical offerings. “70% of our employees today are working in the physical print part and they need to feel relevant, because they are very relevant. We want to be the last man standing on physical print in the Nordics, and this gives everybody in the organisation something to fight for. As long as there is a customer buying a form of physical communication, what we do in this area is very relevant”, declares Annemarie. However, the numbers from the recent years of decline can’t cover the fact that the future is, to a large extent,
digital. “In the future, I would really like for our customers to see us not as a physical company that maybe knows a little bit about digital, but instead as a digital company that maybe knows a little bit about physical. And that they [the customers] are teaming up with us because they see us as their digital transformation partner providing them with a communication solution that will help them to increase their sales, build stronger customer loyalty, find new customers and become more efficient”. Changing the wheels while driving With the ambition to stay in the game of physical offers until the final whistle blows, cutting costs out of PostNord Strålfors’ physical structure is very much on Annemarie’s agenda. “We know that once the volume decline really takes off, it moves very, very fast, and our business is a volume business, meaning that we have a lot of fixed costs. So we just need to be at the forefront on that change”, says Annemarie. In regard to PostNord Strålfors’ transformation, Annemarie offers an analogy: “We are sort of changing the wheels on the car while driving it at full speed”. She continues: “We know where we are going and we know how to do it. The key is to do this together with the customers, and with the right people. You have to be very curious, very open, you have to be very agile – and you have to be prepared to revise your hypothesis as you gain more insight. You have to be brave, and you just have to be hardworking”.
ANNEMARIE GARDSHOL CEO OF POSTNORD STRÅLFORS AB At first glance, Annemarie doesn’t fit the category of your ordinary 20-something ski bum. However, at the age of 45, she pulled out a few months of her calendar to hit the slopes full-time in Chamonix. Annemarie conquered the mountains – despite suffering from a fear of heights. Annemarie has spent close to 5 years in PostNord and lastly PostNord Strålfors. Before that, she was in a completely different industry for 12 years, namely medical devices, and prior to that in management consulting. In addition to this, Annemarie’s CV counts being a Swedish, Nordic and European champion in ultimate frisbee. She was on the Swedish national team for several years, and came in at no. 2 in the world – twice.
The QVARTZ Annual
Flashes of light Rumour has it that life flashes before your eyes when you are faced with your own mortality. Here are a few glimpses of what flashes before our eyes when looking back at 2016 in QVARTZ. Less dramatic, but truly iconic.
Dinner chez Hansi’s With no less than 57 student events across the Nordics, we met in the ballpark of +2,500 students in 2016. A handful of these joined us for dinner at QVARTZ Managing Partner Hans Henrik “Hansi” Beck’s house. We discussed what management consulting and QVARTZ are all about, shared a delicious dinner and played foosball on the terrace.
Soccer Challenge In keeping with tradition, we hosted the annual Soccer Challenge in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, where teams from professional services firms fought for the unhandy piece of silver hardware and a whole year of shameless bragging.
Retreat At our annual company retreat, 225 members of our civilisation joined forces. Besides many great discussions, we launched our flag: the North Star.
Distortion street festival For a couple of days each year, Copenhagen is turned into one huge street party: Distortion. We joined the feast in the beginning of June, and invited 25 enthusiastic students to join us. Starting out with a barbecue in our backyard, conveniently located at the centre of the festivities, we then took to the streets.
Company day & summer party Our combined company day and summer party turned out to be a busy day at QVARTZ. Not only did we chill out in Faelledparken in Copenhagen, eat oysters in Stockholm and go on an “Amazing Race” in Oslo. We also found the time to celebrate the promotions of 24 Big People in our civilisation.
Roskilde Festival For the third consecutive year, we invited many of our close friends and relations to join us at the Roskilde Festival. True to tradition, two iconic QVARTZ sites fired on all cylinders: our backstage venue, with a cool lounge area and a sizzling restaurant, and the QVARTZ tent camp, primarily inhabited by our younger colleagues. At both sites, we enjoyed the music and that special Roskilde vibe… completely invisible, yet completely evident.
Club Q From Ola Salo, The Ark’s flamboyant front man in Stockholm, to a blowout performance by the fantastic MK’s Marvellous Medicine band in Oslo, and cool tunes from Alex Vargas who shackled up the audience in Copenhagen. Thank you to all who joined us for great chats, catchy tunes and colourful drinks.
Bright lights, big cities
Punk Royal 30 students who visited our Stockholm office were in for a culinary experience quite out of the ordinary. After an introduction to our civilisation and the work we do, we moved on to one of Stockholm's most edgy restaurants, Punk Royale, for a spectacular dinner (which among other things involved eating caviar by hand).
Community trip Our civilisation is composed of a number of communities where peers can share ideas, learnings, frustrations, fun facts and experiences. The experience part is definitely in focus when each community takes off on their yearly trip. In the year that passed, some went to Mallorca, while others went to London. Our manager community decided to go to Germany… in style.
The Welcome Party This autumn, a lot of Big People and Big Companies joined forces to go high and host Velkomstfesten (the Welcome Party) for the many refugees who have come to Denmark recently. A main objective of the day was to get more refugees into the Danish labour market. QVARTZ was one of the organising forces behind the Job Zone, where refugees met companies to discuss qualifications, motivation and employment possibilities.
Big data A couple of QVARTZ colleagues went to Boston to gain inspiration. Deeply inspired by Professor Ferreira of Harvard Business School, we invited her to visit our Copenhagen office, where she delivered two awe-inspiring lectures on the use of big data to some of our close relations.
#1 Vault ranking “I have never experienced such a cool company culture in a traditionally very corporate setting – EVER”. In QVARTZ, we make a very big deal out of culture – internally and at client sites. We were therefore pleased as punch to find that Vault ranks QVARTZ as #1 on Firm Culture among all 25 ranked major consulting companies in Europe.
Christmas theatre The Tivoli Gardens spellbinds children and adults alike, and keeping with tradition, we invited good friends of the house and their families to join us for mulled wine and hot chocolate, and to Eventyrteatret’s annual Christmas show.
Vårsalongen We kicked off yet another tradition by inviting our closest relations in Sweden to experience this year’s Spring Salon together with us. At the exhibition, we were met by a multitude of exciting and thought-provoking artworks created by professional and amateurs alike. One of the pieces now ornaments our Stockholm office.
The QVARTZ Annual
Dear newly hired consultant-self, This is an odd letter to write. I cannot help but feel like an old man sharing words of wisdom on a long gone career. In reality, it’s only been about six years and I’m still in the thick of it. Sitting down to write this letter, I feel far from wise, but I have learnt a few things that might be useful to you now and during your first years as a consultant. Countless times over the coming years, you will be told that your career is a marathon and not a sprint. “Think big and think long-term”, “the world is bigger than yourself”, “personal development is incremental, not a series of abrupt transitions”. You will get these comments from tenured colleagues at times when you are frustrated, angry and tired, and you will discard them as mindless banter intended to make you buckle down and grind through tedious tasks and long hours. But listen. The world is bigger than yourself. In due course, you will reap the material and personal rewards for becoming a better consultant. The real rewards, however, personally and professionally, will come from your newfound ability to impact and influence others in a positive way, though at times even this may seem like a thankless task. While bonuses and promotions do materialise as you accumulate skills as a consultant, understand that your real value lies in your ability to apply those skills to the benefit of your surroundings – clients and colleagues alike. There will be ups and downs in the years to come. Some of those downs will feel like falling off a cliff. You will break, get teary-eyed and come very close to hurling your Lenovo laptop through a hotel window 31 floors above the streets of Toronto. This is the nature of you, and the business you are getting into. But when you get close to that cliff edge and frustration has you moments from testing your laptop’s ability to fly, reach out and grab onto colleagues, friends or family. Be honest and transparent about how you feel and what’s going on. Do not expect
that you can solve every problem on your own. Remember, it’s not a sprint, but it’s not always a marathon either. Sometimes, it’s a transalpine ultramarathon along treacherous ridgelines. A race where you need a harness and ropes. So reach out and seek help when needed. Fail. You will spend days, weeks, months and masses of energy unnecessarily fretting about failure. You will not lose your job if you piss off a client or make an error in your calculations (I am still here, writing you this letter). At most, you will get a slap on the wrist followed by feedback on how to make amends with the client, or avoid making the same calculation error in the future. The client will not go bankrupt, you will not be asked to pack your bags and the world will keep spinning. Sooner or later, you will fail, and sooner is better than later. You will realise that failing once in a while isn’t the end of the world; making that discovery will take the edge off day-to-day stress and anxiety. Moreover, if you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not challenging yourself enough: you should be taking on bigger tasks and more responsibility. I know that you’re currently on the edge of your seat with excitement at the prospect of working with a multitude of different industries, clients and people. And you should be. Explore industries, functional areas and people. There will be a period when what you look forward to most is your next project. But don’t let your eagerness to try new things get in the way of building relations and seeking continuity. Working in the trenches with the same colleagues over several projects allows you to build close relationships and even develop close friends; friends you can confide in and reach out to when you are on the edge of those treacherous alpine cliffs. Seek out the people you like working with and invest both time and effort in building relationships and trust.
Trust will allow you to take on more responsibility and ever more challenging and interesting tasks. Eventually, you will need to learn how to build that same trust with clients, so you might as well start with your colleagues. Moreover, these relationships will give you a stronger sense of belonging to the QVARTZ civilisation and will ultimately be the reason for why you are still in your consulting career when writing this letter. Continuity in terms of clients, industry or function will allow you to accumulate knowledge that can give you some breathing space. A space that is familiar and a space where you have proved once before that you can thrive. Your tasks are not likely to be any less challenging, or your T420 laptop less exposed to irreparable harm. But re-entering a familiar space from time to time can give you a much needed boost of self-confidence when diving into the trenches once more. I know that my letter to you holds no real solutions. The reality is that you do not solve your career, just as you do not solve life. I am not a wise man yet and this missive by no means holds a definitive truth. Like you, I am still learning new things every day. And thank goodness for that. Wishing you a long and happy career of positively influencing others, Kent Harrison, Engagement Partner, QVARTZ
Bright lights, big cities
“You will break, get teary-eyed and come very close to hurling your Lenovo laptop through a hotel window 31 floors above the streets of Toronto”.
The idea of writing a letter to one’s younger self comes from a student initiative at Pennsylvania State University, which in its turn is inspired by Brad Paisley’s song “Letter to Me”. As is with great ideas, they fortunately have a way of spreading. Kent’s letter is the first in a series of letters that we will continue to share in the future.
QVARTZ Annual 2016