Cutting the corporate bullsh!t, Swedish style

While visiting companies in Sweden, we found there to be a great difference in company culture versus the United States, with a prominent factor being that many organizations are flat, rather than hierarchical, with an open and empowering culture. There’s a great push for everyone to share their ideas, and no one’s opinion is lesser than another because of their ranking or job title, something that we’d like to see more of in the United States.

On Thursday, June 2, 2022, we visited Sinch, a company we probably didn’t know we knew so well. We were met by Jonathan Bean, Chief Marketing Officer of Sinch, who shared a bit about the company and their structure. Sinch is a very behind the scenes company, focused on SMS messaging, voice, video & verification APIs. Moreover, they are a telecommunications and cloud communications platform as a service. The company is able to bring people and businesses closer with their tools that can enable personalized engagement, and most major companies already use their services to send out personalized text messages. Jonathan shared that at Sinch, despite job titles and pay, everyone is on an even playing field. They do not have executive assistants nor a corporate plane, and when business travel is required, even the executives fly economy.

Sinch’s values include: Dream big, Win together, Keep it simple, and Make it happen. They encourage big dreams to find ways to solve problems or innovate, and there is a heavy emphasis on the team effort which is inclusive and empowering to all for personal growth. They want to keep eyes on the horizon, which is easy to do when one acts with integrity, a simple concept. And, they value results by getting things done now.

Some of Sinch’s values also align with some of the guiding principles at Northvolt. Northvolt claims to be the future of energy, with a goal to develop the world’s greenest battery cell, while establishing a European supply of batteries. On Friday, June 3rd, 2022, we were lucky enough to snag 15 minutes of Peter Carlsson’s time, CEO of Northvolt. The three values at Northvolt are to be Bold, Passionate, and Excellent. They want to challenge the status quo, and “call out bullsh!t.” They value passion, take responsibility, and seek feedback to be reliable and deliver the best performance. And, they want to build excellence through knowledge seeking and characterizing through measurable objectives. One of their recruiters mentioned seeking out companies you are passionate about, rather than always zeroing in on the specific job title; you may find something you love!

Outside Finnish Institute

Both Sinch and Northvolt have a natural ability to “cut the corporate bullsh!t,” something also mentioned by Lars Hagebris, Director, International Operations, Invest in Finland at Business Finland, who spoke with us as the Finnish Institute in Stockholm.

We think that the aforementioned “bullsh!t” is likely engrained in the way companies function in the United States. It's always hard to shift company culture once it has set it, but it isn't impossible!

We'd also like to add that every office had several plants, many with entire plant walls. Plants are known to bring positive energy, reduce stress, and can be therapeutic – perhaps U.S. based companies could add more plants to their office spaces (: