A recipe for success in the new normal

By Marc Hinnenberg, CEO of Hanken & SSE Executive Education, Arbora partner in Finland

Globalisation, digitalisation, innovation, and corporate culture stirred in a hotpot with increased consumer and customer consciousness for a better planet frame most management discussions today. 

The speed of change has set everyone to accelerate renewal, as your strategies and definition of success surely need to differ from the pre-covid ones. But what should management focus on to break ground for a successful future?

Here are five ingredients that might help you define your recipe for success in 2022 and beyond.

1. Clarify your vision and redefine success. Many fail to concretise their company mission and purpose to something meaningful for their stakeholders, e.g.  “we digitalise the future”, A recent study carried out by researcher Niklas Bondesson at Stockholm University shows a disconnect between top management’s understanding of the investment areas that drive market position and the understanding that your story or brand matters more than your products. An excellent way to enhance internal engagement and anchor your purpose is to utilise your whole organisation to define your value and future position as well as how to get there for your most important stakeholders. This enables you to boost excitement and get everybody to commit to the strategy even before it is fully decided upon.

2. Create your story. Intangible assets are becoming increasingly important and now account for 90 % of the market value of companies on the S&P 500 list. According to recent calculations by Lloyd’s and KPMG, the brand is the most valuable intangible asset of all. When you succeed in turning your corporate story from something that begins with “we do/innovate/get excited” to something distinct and definably yours and communicated in a way that people easily understand – then you are on to something. I love for instance Nike’s mission:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”

[*If you have a body, you are an athlete.]

3. Define your strategic capabilities to enable commercial successStrategic capabilities are the tangible and intangible assets, systems, processes, competencies and routines​ that a company is known for and set it apart from its competitors. Strategic capabilities determine what a company does better or differently than its competition – the company’s competitive advantage.​ Every company should define these to develop the skills and competencies to ensure continued success. Traditional employee assessments might be outdated, as both current and new employees performance need to reflect the fact that work changes. It is therefore essential to identify people that have the ability to take on new tasks to future-proof the organisation. A good example today would be the ability to manage ecosystems for quick sourcing of raw material, as both production and sales success for many today depend on this. These skills and competencies also work as a guiding star for recruitment.

4. Align your operations. People tend to be good at pinpointing things that are not working, but the ability to peg down how to improve those things can be more infrequent. Ingredient number 1 functions as an excellent incubator for defining the jobs to be done. Starting less and finishing more is an excellent rule of thumb as small victories tend to lift spirits and enhance corporate culture. You also need to set a couple of company-wide ‘hero’ activities that enable this alignment. One example of this is the 5G quest Nokia is on, to catch up and take the lead in critical technologies and at the same time build up the trust for the company (high trust is also a distinct capability in Scandinavian culture and companies).

5. Sharpen your pen. Busyness seems to be the problem of most, and we are reaching the tipping point that “unbusy” starts to be the sign of success (check this for life hacks and time management). Governments and universities invest in lifelong learning, acknowledging that skills for the future must be developed to stay competitive. Companies need to invest in technologies that can define and measure success in different roles to identify people whose career paths can be developed to match this definition and further to find the perfect mould for attracting and keeping talent. On the other hand, individuals need to be active in developing their skills through self-studies and participation in training, discussions and so on. Finding a good work-life mix requires work. A mentor, business- or career coach can be of valuable support in these issues both on a personal and organisational level, supporting in driving things forward in a strategic and sustainable way.  

If you would like to discuss any of these topics, please contact us and let’s explore how we can best support you and your company forward.

Wishing you great personal and commercial success in 2022 and beyond.

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