Crisis and growth based on the inner strengths of the company

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Casper Vorting and Nikolaj Stagis at the conference Autentisk vækst (“authentic growth”) at ARoS art museum in Aarhus May 24th 2012

Last week we did a great event in Aarhus called “Autentisk Vækst”. The presenters at the conference were Winnie Johansen, professor in corporate communication at Aarhus University, Casper Vorting from Bøgedal Brewery (Bøgedal Bryghus) and Jette Orduna who is in charge of LEGO Charity and LEGO Idea House at LEGO Group.

Casper and Jette were there as representatives for two of Denmark’s most succesful companies in terms of defining the authentic identity of the company and driving their business forward. They both shared stories of the continuous development of their business’ authentic identity.

Casper Vorting would never use ad campaigns to market his products. “That would go against the authenticity of my business” he says. But he realizes that no business can survive without staging itself somehow.

Bøgedal Brewhouse’s success comes from the image that Casper has created of Bøgedal in his network of buyers. Only the best restaurants and wine merchants in Denmark and abroad sell beer from Bøgedal. They have all bought in to the story, the craftsmanship, the presence, the organization and the process that is Bøgedal. What’s important here is the fact that the “story” is not just something Casper invented in order to tell a story and market his product. He actually does what he believes in and one the concerns of his partner, Gitte Holmboe, during the first year the brewhouse was built at their farm house was, whether Casper would ever finish building it, start brewing and actually get the product out in the market. His inspiration and motivation seemed to be the process of the ingredients and the primitive brewing process, not the marketing, the business or the customers. And that’s what makes Bøgedal such a great brand! You could say they are introvert, but that secluded life, almost ‘secret’ to the public, has an enormous attraction and that it is this code of authenticity which drives the stories told by sommeliers and wine merchants.

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Jette Orduna from LEGO Group shared the story of the crisis that LEGO experienced some years back. The crisis that was threatening the LEGO company in 2003 and 2004 forced the management group of the company to go through a change process with the goal of rediscovering the company’s authentic identity. This process helped LEGO restore confidence and credibility among its customers and adult fans, called AFoLs. What these two examples so brilliantly show are that companies need to focus on their own inherent strenghts and not on opinion polls. If a company only aims to satisfy the interests of its surroundings, then that company’s identity becomes unclear and its credibility diluted.

I think one of the key learnings of the day was that the management of the company must explore inner strenghts of the company and use these to drive development and growth.

The conference on authentic growth (“Autentisk vækst”) at ARoS art museum in Aarhus was held May 24th. Some 70 managers and business students attended the event and the following networking session.

Our next event on The Authentic Company:
On June 12th Copenhagen Business School and Stagis will jointly host the conference “The authentic company” at Copenhagen Business School. The speakers are professor Majken Schultz and myself. Read more on stagis.dk (Danish conference and website)