Navigating the pitfalls of digital transformation

All transformation processes are complicated and the digital transformation journey is no exception. Often, companies either fail to reap the benefits from their digital initiatives or fail to get the initiatives properly started. However, there is no such thing as a first-take digital transformation success. In this perspective, QVARTZ Associated Digital Advisor Tim Bruun Madsen and Partner Jesper Adeltoft outline three step-zero initiatives that support such a restart of the digitisation process.

From Pyongyang to Cupertino

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. Read Co-founder Torsten Hvidt’s article on how to manoeuvre a networked world where passion and creativity are rapidly claiming ground.

Turning fiction into fact

Companies could learn a great deal by looking at how cities are able to turn their decay, redevelopment and cultural characteristics into winning variables, says Danish architect and wonder kid Bjarke Ingels. Bjarke sees cities as living entities that all have a starting point, but no finish line. A work in progress. “Architecture is fiction of the real world; of turning dreams into concrete reality using bricks and water”, says Bjarke. Among many other feats, Bjarke has equipped a power plant with a ski slope and a chimney puffing giant rings of steam. And why not? To Bjarke, this is the quintessential world-altering potential of architecture. Learn about Bjarke Ingels, why he is fond of patriotism and how he finds the unique differences as the very key to success – for cities and companies alike.

Why cities live and companies die

Is the Maersk Group a great whale? Is Stockholm an elephant? Why do cities live forever, while companies don’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 – 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. Read the full article about Geoffrey West’s groundbreaking research.

Dear newly hired consultant-self

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. Read the entirety of Engagement Partner Kent Harrison’s letter to his younger self.

The holy grail of brand building

We all know them: the brands that consistently outperform the market, that sustain their brand value year after year and retain a nearly unbreakable bond with their customers. There is an abundance of opinions on what constitutes the root cause of their success. And understandably so; their success stems from a plethora of reasons.

Let your customers’ voice guide your strategy

Whether your company is (or is not) highly customer-centric appears to be one of the hottest management topics today, especially for B2B businesses. Research conclusively shows that companies with outstanding customer relationships significantly outperform their peers, and consequently, many are actively trying and consistently investing in becoming more customer-oriented. QVARTZ has developed a tool and approach to help B2B clients improve their performance.

Big Players, Regime, Uncertainty and the Misery Index

Last year, Torsten Hvidt, Co-founder of QVARTZ, was invited to join the board of the Stern Stewart Institute – alongside Big People such as the former Prime Minister of Canada, Joe Clark, Emerging Markets Editor at CNN, John Defterios and Professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University, Steve H. Hanke. As a consequence of this association, Steve H. Hanke has allowed QVARTZ to reprint one of his most recent articles called Economic Headwinds: Big Players, Regime Uncertainty and the Misery Index. All international companies should be aware of the misery index, which is simply the sum of the unemployment, inflation and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. Check out the tables for Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa/the Middle East.

A blessing at our doorstep

Approximately two million asylum seekers have crossed the EU borders during the past two years. The majority of these are not expected to return any time soon. 22,000 entered Denmark in 2015, but only 31 of the asylum seekers got a job during that year, due to the fact that refugees generally face inexpedient regulation and practices that make it difficult to be employed. It is estimated that an unemployed refugee costs the Danish government more than DKK 200,000 a year. You do the math. Read QVARTZ’ perspective on how the refugee situation can become a valuable asset to European societies and companies.

Profitability in the Norwegian energy sector

How do we increase profitability in the energy sector without affecting electricity bills? QVARTZ’ recent white paper examines profitability and ownership structures in the Norwegian energy industry. The white paper outlines six levers to increased profitability for the main owners of energy companies: the Norwegian state, county municipalities and municipalities. The white paper is based on a detailed analysis of the ownership structures and economies of Norway’s 150 largest companies within energy. Read the entire white paper (in Norwegian) here.

6/6 │ Cost-out – from blueprint to reality

Right. Now, you have finished your analysis, you have established the big picture, you have generated sound hypotheses, you have created a structure for making change happen, and you have decided which activities to take further. When you choose to implement some or all of the ideas generated, it is important to ensure as much alignment as possible with the overall corporate strategy and to be very specific about how to actually realise the identified savings potential. In short, the blueprint defined in the programme needs to be reflected in the reality.

5/6 │ A strong business case tells a tangible story

You are in the process of a major cost-out exercise, and you have established a burning platform for change, developed a number of hypotheses that could be translated into potential cost reduction initiatives and created a structure for what the process would look like . But how do you choose which hypotheses to take further?

4/6 │ How to structure the planning process

You are in the process of launching a major cost-out programme. A burning platform for change has been established and your hypotheses are well in place. Now, it is time to set up the right process for analysing and substantiating the actual savings. This can be achieved through clear goal-setting, structured planning and an orderly flow of information.

3/6 │ Often, few savings initiatives hold the lion’s share

So, you have carefully considered the context for the cost savings efforts, now you need to get more concrete and decide on which method that will be most suited for your cost reduction efforts. Aside from slashing costs evenly across the business, which we do not recommend, we typically see three approaches to cost reductions, which are all valid and widely used.

2/6 │ Paint a powerful picture of why the cost-out is needed

Ok, so you are looking at how you can cut costs in your company, and you want the process to be as painless as possible and create results. But, you are also in a hurry. Cost cutting may have become a recurring item on the management agenda, but way too often, the preparation of such programmes is highly underestimated, and the consequences can be grave.

1/6 │ Doing cost-outs right

Whether in the public or private sector, few executives have the luxury of ignoring the agenda of cost reductions. No matter what the strategic requirements for the institution or company are, the consequences of cost-outs will be negative for a number of individuals. These uncomfortable facts lead many top managers to shy away from planning and conducting these processes in the most optimal way.

Value Realisation

Companies implementing new strategic initiatives often fall short when it comes to realising the full potential of the forecasted financial benefits. Closing this value gap is an on-going challenge for many business executives.

Right brain skills crucial in today’s board work

Recent Board Perspectives article by Partner Thomas Holm Møller focuses on the challenges of modern business leaders and the importance of boards incorporating innovation and creativity in their work.

Danish energy sector among the top performers in Europe

New report scrutinises the energy sector and illuminates its important contribution to Danish society. The report examines the development of the energy system, its contribution to Danish society, its performance among European peers as well as areas where the Danish energy sector has built unique competences and strong positions.

Business Development Management

In today’s fast-paced global business environment, the ability to possess fact-based strategic foresight, deliver systematic exploration of new growth opportunities and to institutionalise a continuous drive to improve internal business practices is more important than ever. Many companies have responded to the new clock speed challenge, and we have witnessed the emergence of a new corporate support function labelled “business development”.