First Stop, Goteborg, Sweden!

Hello! Hallå! Tere! Hei, From Kyla & Victoria!

As we make our journey to Stockholm we wanted to take the time to reflect on Goteborg and our company visits:

Day 1:

Our first stop was the Lindholmen Science Park, which was located close the the center of Gothenburg. A science park is a place that puts companies, education, and government functions in one area, what the COO of the park, described as the “triple helix concept”. One of the many interesting things about this “Science Park” is that it is not only a place, but also a non-profit company that facilitates growth and support for the business’ within. The goal is to create a productive competitiveness while maintaining indirect influence on the outcomes or success’ of the various entities. We found these clustered business’ to be quite a unique and interesting culture. A comparable American concept would be the Silicon Valley technological hub. The idea behind this is to create and area with like-minded individuals in order to create a specialized networking system. This system of networking works towards breaking down the traditional barriers associated with industries. Traditionally, communication between business’ have trended towards the secretive side. The idea was that in order to maintain this competitive business nature, you must push others down while racing to the top. We notice that American business’ have fully embodies this sort of company culture by their way of comparing other companies as the enemies. While we are sure that Swedish companies can have similar mentalities and don’t have a completely transparent business model. The Swedish company culture seems to focus more on acknowledging the strengths that others have to offer and bringing them up along with you.  IMG_4319

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Our second visit of the day was to the Volvo car group. We met with Andreas Olsson, the Vice President of Program Management and Purchasing Development who gave us an overview of the history of Volvo and the direction they are heading. After experiencing economic downturn and being sold from Ford (an American company) to Geely (a Chinese company), they have turned the company from unprofitable to profitable. Volvo’s core competencies are safety and sustainability. Throughout the presentations the importance of these two qualities were illuminated through the new car designs (hybrid cars and their 2020 goal for no Volvo car related fatalities). Focusing on the safety aspect, it was interesting to learn that they initially created the seat belt. Instead of monopolizing the patent, they shared the technology with all car companies. Not only is this not a very publicized fact, this would also be considered an unusual business practice, especially in the United States. An American company would have most likely used this patent in order to insure a competitive advantage within the market place. If they did choose to go the same route as Volvo and share the technology, this would have been a valuable marketing tool. Even though the seat belt is no new concept, most companies would still capitalize on it in order to strengthen the positive brand opinion.  From what we have learned about Swedish company and personal culture, it is not very “Swedish” to brag. Volvo seems to be no different, with regards to this concept.

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Day 2:

We were given the opportunity to sit down with CEO Anders Bjӧrklund of Zooma, a small branding and marketing firm. The company specializes in helping their clients create an effective digital imprint and create a positive online brand image. The presentation given focused on two ideas of “onlinification” and digitalization and how many people do not know that there is a critical difference. Anders gave us 6 consumer facts that traditional companies have to internalize:

  1. Time is the biggest challenge
  2. Visual > Textual Data
  3. Google Verification and Knowledge
  4. Modernizing Decision Processes
  5. Trust and Brand Loyalty
  6. Lessening Attention Span.

Zooma‘s approach to working with their clients is personal and this approach also reflects what their company culture is. For example, Anders considers all of his clients to be friends and often invites the CEO’s (and their wives) over to his home to have dinner with him and his family. He also insists meeting with top management over the sales department and says that if he doesn’t get the chance to meet, professionally and personally, he will not work with them. Many American companies do not have this mindset and often would rather not have personal confrontation with top management. We also thought the emphasis on simplicity to their clients was a brilliant strategy and that more companies need to understand and adapt their vision and commit to the change, both in infrastructure and in mind set.

“Effortless simplicity for me”

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The next visit we took was to Saab: Electronic Defense Systems who work and provide services for militaries around the world. We sat through two presentations from Anders Linder the Vice President, Head of Business Unit and Ann Kullberg the Chief Marketing Officer. They spoke about their extensive radar systems that provide air, sea, and land surveillance, and “stealth” technology. Saab is an internally funded company and it often is hard for them to gain advantage over those companies that are governmentally funded. Saab currently sells their products to the United States, Norway, Germany, Canada, France, and few others and does place regulation on which countries they can’t sell to like Russia or China.

The company culture within Saab is changing as they are adapting to a more “Google” approach where they have SCRUM teams, which are designed cuts through complexity and focus on building software that meets business needs. This allows a simple framework for effective team collaboration within the complex software projects that Saab develops. Also, while walking around their offices, we noticed an open concept with areas that allowed for group interaction and open communication throughout departments. We also thought they had an interesting take on how they manage their subsidiaries outside of Sweden. For example, if they are working with and American subsidiary the allow them to manage and control their business by way of American culture and not to Swedish standards, if Saab were an American owned company they would most likely enforce the culture onto the Swedes instead of allowing them to function at their own level.

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See you in Stockholm!

Goodbye! Adjö! Hüvasti! Hyvästi!

Team 16-1, Kyla & Victoria