Over the summer, my wife and I moved from the suburb to the city centre of Copenhagen. We have bought a fantastic townhouse next to Nyboder and only 2 minutes from Kastellet and Amalienborg. It’s such a beautiful neighbourhood and even though the refurbishment of our house is ongoing, we are already falling in love.
What has really taken me by surprise is how different it is to live in that particular part of the city. Last week, a woman next door knocked on our window – yes, the window! – to tell us that the trash bins are emptied on Wednesdays. She just wanted the newcomers to know. I found it extremely homely and kind to receive practical information through the window. I haven’t experienced this type of gesture where I lived previously.
And then there’s the electric scooter. Instead of driving to work on these mild autumn mornings, I am finding a huge delight in picking up the nearest electric scooter or driving around in the Green Mobility cars, which can be found almost everywhere around the city. They are convenient, cheap and accessible – and a lot of fun.
Do less, better
Of course there is a deeper meaning to this story, because what I have experienced in my personal life the past month is exactly what many businesses are doing in the wake of the global pandemic.
First, we know that many companies are trying to save money right now. In a new global Deloitte survey of almost 1100 C-level executives, titled ‘Save-to-thrive’, 66% of companies expect to pursue cost reductions over the next 12 months, up from just 38% reported before COVID-19. At the same time, quickly adjusting the corporate cost structure is considered the number one internal challenge. Other challenges include drops in demand (74%), shifts in consumer behaviour (67%) and a myriad of supply chain challenges (65%).
However, saving to thrive is actually about much more than just cutting cost. It’s also about focusing on what’s important. As I wrote in my last blog post, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once famously said “do less, better – because most of what we do or say is not essential”. This principle is exactly what should be applied when companies reconfigure for a post-corona future. It’s not just about cutting cost, it’s equally important to cut away distractions.
Second, when I talk to CEOs about their transformation journeys, what is clear to me is that many leaders are working hard right now to boost the sense of community and shared values in their organisations. Just as my wife and I are drawn to the close neighbourliness of an inner city townhouse community as opposed to the high-fence suburban villa, companies are using the crisis to break down walls, rediscovering passion and purpose – and ultimately refuelling and redefining their corporate spirit.
The power of ecosystems
Last, but not least, there is the importance of ecosystems and the philosophy of shared assets as a strategic enabler for innovation. Just as I am now enjoying the benefits of sustainable electric scooterand carsharing platforms, companies are opening up brand new avenues of impact and growth by realising that they don’t necessarily have to do and own everything themselves.
Of course, this path can be explored in many different ways: from forming classic strategic alliances, exploiting open source innovation or boosting vendor collaboration – to embracing freelancing and remote work, tapping into digital ecosystems, working with self-employed entrepreneurs or using something like the Sustainable Development Goals as a signpost for engaging in innovative, global partnerships.
It’s really a question of how we make ourselves available to the world, each of us – and make the world available to us. Once we finally decide to try something new, well, everything could become a window of opportunity.
Martin is the manager of Deloitte's Danish and Nordic consulting business and has more than 25 years of experience in advising Danish and international companies. Martin is at the forefront of developing a consulting practice across the Nordic region that can assist Danish and international companies on their most complex transformation journeys. This includes a focus on management, the establishment of ecosystems as well as on diversity in professionalism and competence.