Oh Stockholm, you were the ‘Swedest’!

Overall Thoughts

What an amazing past few days! We have learned so much about the culture here in Sweden both through our company visits as well as our free time exploring Stockholm! It has been such an experience getting a better understanding of how businesses operate here in Sweden through visits at some amazing companies like Ericsson, Northvolt, Conversionista, and Sinch! After reflecting on all of our company visits, we’ve come up with three major differences between business Sweden and in the U.S. The first is the tendency to opt for quick fixes rather than true solutions in the U.S. The second is the major difference in typical company cultures and leadership styles. Lastly, the Swedish government’s openness to new innovations in sustainable companies and how quickly they are willing to support these sustainable endeavors.

Quick Fixes vs. Actual Solutions

Conversionista was one company that immediately stood out to us. This was mostly due to the fact that it shined light on an issue that happens in everyday life, but we don’t actually pay particular attention to since it is so common. As Americans, we live a lifestyle of immediate gratification. In other words, rather than fixing a product that is not relaying a message to consumers as it should, we simply through a sign on it saying “press bottom here” with an arrow. Conversionista, however, taught us that in order to make a product or service have a longer lifespan, it is best to revise the product entirely so that it is easier for consumers. For a product or service to be the absolute best, changes are sometimes necessary, which includes having to account for those fixing expenses; but this will ultimately help your business in the future for not having to fix it later on down the line while also providing a positive experience for current and potential future consumers. Ultimately, we believe that by American businesses giving into the typical instant gratification lifestyles, we are losing on opportunities of either growing the business or making them more sustainable for longer periods of time.

Conversionista visit with founder John Ekman

Company Cultures and Leadership Styles

It was really interesting to get a first hand look at the company cultures at all four companies we visited. However, two cultures stood out the most to us. Both Ericsson and Sinch really amazed us with their drastic organizational habits in comparison to the U.S. After speaking with Johanna Snickars at Ericsson, we got a sense of a company culture that promotes co-creation and equality. She shared with us experiences of an open environment promoting friendship and co-collaboration that we don’t always experience in the U.S. Ericsson has created an environment where the CEO is seen integrated within the culture building casual and personal relationships with employees rather than being seen as unreachable in a corner office as you often see in the U.S. Even Ericsson’s VP of marketing took time out of his busy schedule to meet with us and shared some of his experiences when comparing working in Texas to here in Stockholm. He shared with us that as a Swede himself, he certainly noticed a hierarchy in the U.S. that is certainly not as present in Sweden. He did say he felt there were pros and cons to both and that often times in Sweden in can be difficult to make a final decision that accounts for everyone’s opinions and maintains amiability. We came across a really interesting article comparing leadership styles in several countries, including the U.S. and Sweden, that confirms this democratic way of thinking. We experienced this way of thinking not only at Ericsson but also at our last company visit, Sinch. It was evident throughout our time there that communication was open across all fronts throughout the company. Even to the extent that the CMO and co-founders were asking our opinions or website and overall marketing improvements which is something you would never experience in the U.S.!

Ericsson Headquarters before our tour

After our day at Sinch with the co-founders, CMO, and HR leader!

Fun with Sinch's props!

Government’s Openness and Enthusiasm Towards Sustainable Projects

Northvolt visit!

Environmental sustainability has been a major topic within many businesses. Sweden has made a major effort to achieve sustainability nationwide through several endeavors which you can read more about here. This concern was especially evident when we visited NorthVolt who purely focuses on sustainability in hopes of helping our world issues with climate change. This idea of sustainability may not be different from many American businesses, but one aspect of this Swedish company that was different than what is seen in America is the government’s involvement with sustainability projects. The U.S. government is not as willing to offer loans or grants to companies working towards improving our environment, mostly because they believe there are other projects that are worth putting more efforts toward. NorthVolt, however, informed us about their government’s eagerness to give loans if it meant improving the country’s sustainability. This comes to show that a country’s government is less or more willing to help in different aspects of an overall business’s goal.

Can you tell we're excited?

Final Thoughts

Although we might have predicted some differences in leadership and company culture between Swedish and American businesses, we did not expect as many differences as we fully discovered in the end. Small realizations such as satisfying consumer behavior of instant gratification and the willingness of government involvement ended up being huge personal discoveries for us.

We are thankful for these lessons that we learned while in Sweden, but we are excited for what is in store for us within the upcoming business visits!

And of course, last but not least… the fun stuff!

Vasa Museum!

ABBA the Museum

The girl gang riding in the Land Rover from Mamma Mia!

Exploribg beautiful Stockholm in the rain!

Traditional Swedish meatballs with Lingonberry at famous restaurant Tradition!

The smallest street in Stockholm!

Awesome metro station art throughout Stockholm

More metro station art!

Thanks for the adventures Stockholm, see you soon!

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