Fiskars Group Values Discovery Journey
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.
Our purpose is to make the everyday extraordinary. To translate this promise into everyday actions, we made a decision to revisit our values. Not to change anything about who we are, but to rediscover and recommit to what we stand for.
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 its 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.
For our work to matter, we needed to focus our efforts on understanding the impact the values would have.
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 organizatorial, 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.
Make the process approachable, experiential, and relevant to everyone
Build a coalition of the willing — to endorse, champion, and lead the initiative
Create momentum with outcomes and proof points as quickly as possible
Make it personal, and use empathy and inclusiveness throughout
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 our trusted partners at Idean.
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.
The small hybrid Fiskars Group - Idean project team was responsible for the big picture, facilitating the process with tools and data, analysis and documentation, copywriting and travel arrangements, making sure the iterative process progressed within the agreed timeframe.
The 13 Values Connectors were the interface between the project and the employees; immersed in the everyday of the company, collecting and sharing ideas and feedback, facilitating an open and transparent dialogue, and validating the results.
The Fiskars Group Leadership Team was closely involved in the project through the project team and in direct interacion with the Values Connectors, providing information and insights related to the company strategy and vision, and sharing their onw thoughts without dictating the outcomes.
Over the course of six intense 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.
Instead of asking for people to vote for their personal favourites, everyone had to assess the impact a specific value would have on themselves, their team, the entire Fiskars Group - and the people who use and love our brands.
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.
A staggering 81 % of people responded favourably.
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.
Laurie White, US
“I craved something more, something meaningful and fulfilling. A challenge that could help me help my colleagues to have a better, brighter day. I wanted to have an impact on my workplace and make a lasting mark - beyond just selling and making quota.”
Joanna Halonen, Finland
“Before the last stretch of the journey I wanted to contact all the people I have worked with during my 14 years at Fiskars Group. One morning when I was driving to work, I got an idea of writing a letter to them. The letter became a story of courage, bravery and trust. What comes from the heart is always touching and real. If you are honest, you can’t go wrong.”
Chelsea Mason, US
“The challenge of finding the right words – the right way to communicate ignited a passion and drive in me that I haven’t felt since college. It felt inspiring and made me think about my future and future career path; I am not limited by my preconceived ideas of what ‘work’ should look like.”
Kerry Berrisford, UK
“I and everyone who played a part in this journey should truly believe that this is a legacy to the future generations of Fiskarians, it is certainly the greatest achievement of my career so far. So, what if I may be remembered for wearing my heart on your sleeve, what the hell, I know I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Johanna Cargioli, Sweden
“What kind of world do we pass on to future generations? Many times I’ve wished I had been a doctor or a teacher to be able to contribute more concretely. At the same time I love my work and I am good at it. I am happy that the newly discovered values are softer; especially GROWING WITH COMPASSION makes me both proud and committed.”
Frank Cai, China
“I liked the way we approached the value candidates. There were no limits and no constrains. We were totally free and encouraged to think boldly. This journey became an unforgettable memory in my life.”
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.