For a brand to have any value, it must have a clear sense of what it stands for in the world. For a group of brands, shared values are even more important.
In 2019, Fiskars Group celebrated its 370th birthday. The company, established in 1649, has grown both in size and complexity during the past decade, mostly through strategic acquisitions.
In the past years, we’ve been sorting out our inherited overlaps and intricacies and defining our fundamentals. Step by step, we are becoming one Fiskars Group with a shared purpose.
From January to June 2019, we redefined what working together means for us. We found our values and much more.
Focus on impact
We know that it’s the small things we do each day that have the biggest impact on us and our future. We know that to get to extraordinary, we need to master the everyday first. And the everyday is different for everyone; it’s shaped by what we do, where we live, and who we love.
At Fiskars Group, we are made of 7,300 everydays. Our people live in 30 countries and speak 20 languages. Essentially, by rediscovering our values, we were designing tools that we would all be using in our everyday.
Our values manifest themselves in the way we behave; how we interact with others, how we act when no-one is watching. Our values should help us choose the right course of action as we navigate our complex everyday and work towards our common goals.
To find our values, we needed to adopt an approach that would transcend organizational, geographical and cultural boundaries and bring us closer together.
The goal itself was clearly defined: find our values. The process, on the other hand, took a bit of processing. For a company that excels at planning ahead, it was a leap of faith to embark on a journey that would lead to the unknown.
Once we agreed on some key principles, it was easier to trust an iterative process that would ask and not assume.
It all starts with one
The journey started with an invite from the CEO to a meeting with the Fiskars Group Leadership Team. In the meeting, the Leadership Team agreed the process would need to be run by our employees, and not the leadership team or HR or any of the usual suspects.
To lead the work, we put out a call for volunteers. ‘Would you like to help make Fiskars Group a more extraordinary place to work?’
Out of the many applications, 13 people from 8 countries representing different teams and units were invited to form a group that would be called the Values Connectors. The Values Connectors spoke the languages our teams speak, knew first-hand about the work they do and were happy to share and discuss the different viewpoints and experiences with each other.
We knew we needed to own and lead the process ourselves but were happy to welcome the creative expertise and know-how of trusted partners.
We formed a small hybrid project team that would work together with the Values Connectors for six months, present in the everyday, seamlessly facilitating the creative work that was to be carried out by our people across our 30 countries.
Over the course of six months, the Values Connectors worked with big numbers and in-depth qualitative insights, condensing the insights first into value candidates, and then through rigorous validation, into three core values.
What was new for us, and very efficient, was to bring unfinished drafts and ideas and insights forward for everyone to see and evaluate throughout the process.
The ideation methods, such as our “idealogue” brainstorming session, were designed to allow for ideas to be created and shared, but also to help facilitate the understanding of ideas and creating a group consensus.
As we got to the final core values, there was a strong consensus already behind them—people had witnessed the journey themselves. We believe we can make the everyday extraordinary by:
For each of these three values, the Values Connectors defined examples of the kind of behaviors that reflect the essence and spirit of the value. These descriptions and behaviors were introduced to our teams, not as dos and don’ts, but as a starting point for a conversation.
To help our managers get started, we created a concept called a “team meeting in a box”—a blueprint for a conversation anyone can easily run with a team of any size and seniority. These meetings further explore and elaborate on the meaning of the values both as individual behaviors as well as collectively in the team’s everyday.
The values were introduced to the company in a series of events on June 13th, 2019, hosted by the Value Connectors and local leader and volunteers.
During just one day, starting in Australia and ending in the US, we organized over 60 events across our 30 countries. We wanted everyone to join in on the celebrations and to see and appreciate the work they had done together.
The Values Connectors also created a video that told the story of our values in their own words.
Video script: Nanthaporn Bangsri, Fiskars Group / Video narration: Fiskars Group Values Connectors / Video execution: Redneck productions oy
Towards the end of August, we run our annual employee survey, asking all our people about the newly introduced values.
And this was just the beginning; the socializing phase continues to reach new people, evolving into new platforms and connections that spark innovation and collaboration across our Group.
The values are firmly embedded into our performance management processes, and are being introduced to our recruitment and onboarding approaches also. As a next step, we’re working on defining what values-based leadership means in practice for us, adapting many of the same methods that were used in the discovery of our values.
At the end of the journey, we invited the our Values Connectors to write letters to the person they were six months earlier, at the start of the process.
The testimonials were incredibly powerful and moving; people felt proud and happy for the opportunity they had been given to shape the future of our company, and the everyday of their peers.
And their commitment has been contagious. Any change, big or small, starts with one thought, one action. We have been able to ignite positive sparks across the organization. We cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Making the everyday extraordinary
Fiskars Group’s purpose is to make the everyday extraordinary. With our family of lifestyle brands including Fiskars, Gerber, Iittala, Royal Copenhagen, Waterford, and Wedgwood, we want to create a positive, lasting impact on our quality of life. Our products are available in more than 100 countries and we employ around 7,300 people in 30 countries. Please visit us at www.fiskarsgroup.com for more information.