Norwegian management model

DenNorskeLedelsesmodellenHi everyone

During my years as a blogger I have written a number of blog posts about differences between India and Norway. I have written about difficulties for Norwegian companies to do business in India due to differences in culture and I have even written about differences in management styles in India and Norway.

For about a year now I have taken an executive management study in IT-management. Here management and different management models have been essential. Based on this I have started to ask myself if there exists any specific Norwegian model for management. And more important; can this Norwegian management model be a reason why Norwegian companies fail in India?

Some time back I came across a book called Den norske ledelsesmodellen (the Norwegian model of management). In this blog post I will give a quick review of this book. A discussion on how this model work in a country like India will come in a later blog post.

The book starts by asking if there exists any particular Norwegian management model or if management is universal. Based on research it seems quite clear that the Norwegian managers seems to be less strict, more involved, delegate more and act more as a coach than foreign managers. The Norwegian management model has evolved because it has shown to be a management model that works. Management the Norwegian way quite simply give results, both in Norway and abroad. The Norwegian management model is very much connected to the idea about the welfare state. The idea about equality has its roots far back in the history. Way back in 1739 elementary school was mandatory for everyone! This means that Norway was one of the very first countries where children from all societies should get some fundamental education. It is also important that the Norwegian farmers to a much higher degree than farmers in rest of Europe maintained their own land rather than to be connected to a landowner.

In Norway there has always been a huge degree of cooperation between the government, the employer and the employees.  The labor organizations have been strong and made sure that the workers have been able to “stand up against” the employers when needed. This also affects the way the Norwegian companies are organized and helps to break down the hierarchies in the organizations.

Some of the people interviewed in the book stress the importance about recruiting good people. A good manager is a person who achieves results by help of others. The most important is to build a team or an organization where people really work together.  It is also interesting to read about what is part of the management role. The importance of giving good feedback to the employees is being stressed. All people in an organization must be confident of their importance for the organization is something that one of the managers stresses. The more confidence a coworker feels the higher will the revenue and customer satisfaction be is being stressed. Research shows that management based by confidence also increases the morale for the coworkers.

It is interesting to observe the experiences that Norwegian managers have with international management styles. One person say: “It is more difficult to be a manager I Norway than in Sweden or Denmark. Norwegians don’t really believe in authorities, they ask questions and everybody have to be convinced. Not everybody do what they are being told either, even if they say OK”. Hierarchies are more dominant in other countries than in Norway. Even our neighbors Denmark have organizations with much higher hierarchies. One person says that the Norwegian management style will be inefficient in some other countries. In some cultures it is seen as a signal of lack of confidence if the boss starts to ask questions to their subordinates. One example from Romania shows this. The CEO of the Norwegian company visited one of their factories in Romania. There were some points in the presentation from the marketing manager that the CEO was uncertain about. He then asked the country manager about this during the lunch but got no answer. Suddenly the country manager disappeared from the lunch. When he came back he said: “Problem solved. I’ve fired him”.

The conclusion to this must be that the Norwegian management model is very much based on equality between the managers and the subordinates. Everyone will have a say and it is actually important for managers to have the confidence, or maybe I should say trust, of their subordinates.

Do you have any experiences with this? Any disagreements?

Talk to you soon

Karsten

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Panel discussion at Indian Seminar

Hi everyone

Yesterday I wrote about the first part of a seminar regarding opportunities in India for Norwegian companies. That blog post triggered a number of comments, which I’m surely very happy about. Part of the fun in writing a blog is to get people to comment on what you write and to be part of a good discussion. Hopefully there will be even more comments on this post.

The panel discussion started off with an introduction to the business that Telenor and Kongsberg Group do in India. Both of these companies are quite large companies (at least large in a Norwegain scale) and they have both been in India for some time.

Hilde M. Tønne, EVP in Telenor Group gave us some very interesting insight into their operation in India. Even after having been there for a number of years she said that they are still in the middle of building up their business there. Right now Telenor are doing very good in India. They are in six telecom circles, which she described as being in the “growth region of the growth region”. However, Telenor had to learn about India the hard way. They anticipated that India would be very much like the rest of Asia, which was totally wrong! In order to get success in India they had to have a very clear message, which in case of Uninor, Telenors brand in India, is to be there for the masses. Telenor had to work extremely innovative to balance their cost structure with the aim to deliver to Indian working classes. When they started up in India, they considered India as one country and didn’t realize how diverse it actually is.

Pål Helsing from Kongsberg Group said that they had a quite different approach when they entered India. But they have been there for a much longer period than Telenor (more than 30 years). Kongsberg Group already had their IT-infrastructure in place when they entered India, so they didn’t had to do the same investments as Telenor had to do. The biggest challenge for them initially was communication he said. In order to cope with that they had Indian colleagues working in Norway for quite some time. This helped very much in filling the communication gap. One challenge in doing this is that these people became very attractive when they went back to India and that a high degree of turnover had to be expected. This fits very well with my experience from the IT-business. You have to have a plan to overcome the communication challenge and you also have to have a plan for how to cope with retention.

Both the companies stressed the importance of having local management in India. Being global, acting local is a statement that Kongsberg Group uses. They also both said that their companies are so large that they can cope with the situation of high turnover. This will not be the case for smaller Norwegian companies. Here it would have been very interesting to hear what smaller companies like Devant have done to succeed in India. These companies will probably have to have a quite different strategy than the large companies have.

The panel discussion was rounded off by Torgeir Reve asking all the participants about what are the biggest pitfalls for Norwegian companies in India. Harald Nævdal was quick to state that the Norwegian culture is naïve and that this will easily be a huge threat. It is important to have some basic understanding of the culture you are working in. The representatives from both Telenor and Kongsberg Group stressed that it is important to be patient and professional when you work in a company like India. Anthony D’Costa mentioned the fact that Norway is not part of EU as an issue. Norway is being considered as a small country and will not be the one that is most interesting for India to deal with. Amit Kapoor also mentioned that companies have to be there for a long term and also to understand the diversity of the country. Where in India you decide to establish actually depends on what kind of business you are in and your strategy for the country.

I had planned to finish this blog post with some concluding words. But it has already been quite long, so I will create a different post with my reactions from this seminar.

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Cricket and corruption

Hi Everybody

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog post. I know, I know. Excuses can be many, but I’m not sure if they are really relevant, are they? One thing I can say is that I have watched cricket lately. You might read my predictions before IPL started? Quite correctly I predicted that Chennai Super Kings would make it to the final. I also expected Pune to be in the bottom of the table. My questions about whether or not there were too many strong voices in the Mumbai team must have been observed very carefully by the management there. How else could they manage the “clever” move of benching their captain and most expensive player? Thanks a lot for listening to me!

But. This time IPL was much more about the controversies that surrounded it than the game itself. Some time back I wrote about the 4 C’s of India. As you might remember from that article, I said that cricket and cash are two of the C’s. But there actually seems to be some kind of formula here. If you add Cricket + Cash you actually get Corruption…

Sreesanth

Exactly where it started is difficult to say. Maybe with the arrest of three players from Rajasthan Royals? They were immediately accused with spot fixing, which means that they have played unfair and not always done their very best. Interestingly enough, I haven’t been able to find any stories that says specifically what they have been charged for doing. But that’s maybe just part of the game?

But it all became worse, much more badly. Gurunath Meiyappan, who was at that time the CEO of Chennai Super Kings also got arrested. He was accused of having been in touch with a former Bollywood struggler who again has been in contact with some bookies. And to make it worse, this Bollywood struggler has in a number of matches been seen seated next to the wife of Indians captain, MS Dhoni. The same mister Dhoni who refused to talk about corruption on duty for the Indian national team lately.

And the story doesn’t even stop there! Mr Meiyappan is actually the son in law of a certain N Srinivasan, who is the owner of CSK and also the head of the Board of Cricket Council India! In other words, he’s maybe the most powerful man in cricket India. He’s also the CEO of the company India Cement, which is the main sponsor of CSK and the company in which Dhoni just got appointed as vice president! What he’s going to do in that company is highly unclear. Connections you might ask? For sure!

What is this all about? Money! The highly regarded magazine India Today have run a number of stories of this. In their cover page story at their last issue they suggested that mister Srinivasan is the spider in the middle of a very strong network. Some of my colleagues suggest that there are some even more powerful people who are those who really run the whole thing and that even Srinivasan is just one piece of it. More of that in a later blog post!

Talk to you soon!

Happy Birthday Sachin!

Hi Everyone

Today is a special day in the world of cricket! First of all the Chris Gayle, the monster batsman from West Indies scored a magnificent new run record in IPL. Yes, I say today, even if that was yesterday in India. That because I’m writing from Norway and here it is still yesterday. Got it? Ok, good!

What Mr. Gayle did was quite fitting as today (Indian time) is the birthday of the legendary “God of cricket” Mr. Sachin Tendulkar! I know that many people from Norway have no idea about who Sachin is, but I think that it is correct to say that he’s the most famous sportsman in the world! At least when it comes to the most number of people who supports him. Sachin is said to be the most spoken 6 letters word in English and that even if it’s not really an English word!

Sachin 40

Why is Sachin so special? Well, I think better writers than me have tried to describe him before. But I can try to write a few words. First of all, he’s a very good batsman, no doubt about that. He’s the leading run scorer of all times in international cricket. He holds the most records of any cricketer. So his quality as a player says it all.

But there is so much to Sachin. He’s a remarkable humble person. If you look him up on Wikipedia and look for controversies, there are hardly any. And in a game that is full of controversies and dark sides that in itself is an achievement. I have never had the opportunity to meet him, but everyone who has met him tells the same story about what a fantastic person he is.

It must also be said that he was the clearly best player on a quite average Indian team for a huge number of years. I think it is almost correct to say that he carried the whole Indian cricket on his own shoulders for all these years. In a country where cricket is considered as religion this is maybe his biggest achievement. No wonder that he’s called the God of cricket.

I will for always remember the day when Indian won the cricket world championship in Mumbai. It was the first time that any country won it at home soil. The match I watched at a bar in Mumbai. A lot of locals were there, painted in Indian colors. Many of them were shooting Ind-ia, Ind-ia, but just as much as they were shooting that they also screamed they favored phrase Sac-hin, Sac-hin. Instead of supporting their country they supported their favorite player! I will never forget the moment just after the match when I spotted a young man in a t-shirt. It said “Cricket is my religion, Sachin is my God”.  This young fellah was almost crying and had a fantastic expression in his face. So much it meant to him to see his God lifting the trophy.

india-taking-a-wicket1

So dear Sachin; I do wish you a very happy birthday! Welcome to the 40’ties. I know very well how it is to be there. Don’t worry; it’s not that bad at all. Happy Birthday Sachin!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

How to overcome communication challenges in outsourcing

Hi Everyone

In a number of previous blog posts I have written about misunderstandings and miscommunication.  Currently I’m doing some studies at the University of Oslo. As part of this study I have read a number of research articles regarding outsourcing and challenges that exists there. Quite a number of the articles points to communication as one of the main challenges.

In this blog post I will try to sum of some of my experience in the area and to give some experience on what can be done. As this is a blog post and not a research article, I have omitted quotes from articles and such. That will eventually come in some later more in-depth posts.

First of all I will point to the fact that it is important to know each other if you’re going to work together. Even more so when you work across different cultures. When you know each other quite well it is much easier to collaborate. Some cultures are much more sensitive to this than what the Norwegian culture is. When you work with people from this culture it is even more important to know each other.

Adjust the way you speak and confirm that the other person have understood you. This is probably one of the most important things I learned in India. There is no doubt that the English I speak today is different than the English I spoke two years back. I do probably speak slower now than what I did before. One trick I have found quite useful is to explain my message in different ways. Instead of just repeating myself and ask if the other part have understood me (in which the answer will most probably be “yes”), I do say the same thing two times but with different words. If the other person seems to be confused I know I have to rephrase myself again. If at the other hand, this leads to a fruitful discussion, I will know that the other person most probably have understood me.

Another tip is to create a communication plan. This is something I have missed in a number of projects (maybe due to the informal way Norwegians usually like to communicate?). To me a communication plan is basic tool for the project management. In addition to decide schedule for project meetings and such it should be clearly stated in this plan at what level the different decisions should be made. This is particularly important if you work with people from cultures where there is a very steep hierarchy in the organizations. Having a communication plan in place it will make it very clear for everyone who they have to talk to in order to get decisions to happen. Too often this has been unclear and too much time has been wasted because people have communicated at the wrong level. In Norway where we don’t care too much about hierarchies it is absolutely that a consultant speaks to, and even corrects a vice president. The same would not be accepted in a country like India. Here the communication has to follow the hierarchy and this must be precisely defined in the communication plan!

Do you have any other hints or suggestions? I would very much like to hear from you!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Casa Devant – a Norwegian paradise in Goa

Hi Everyone

Last week (or was it the week before?) I wrote about my latest visit to Goa, including an “encounter” with the drug mafia there.

But Goa is so extremely much than just beaches and drug. On our way to Mysore (another pending story) we visited Casa Devant in Panjim. Casa Devant is basically the Goan headquarter of the successful Norwegian IT-company Devant. For more than a decade they have successfully combined Scandinavian design and Indian technology.

Casa Devant is a Goan house (or should we say palace?). It is situated at a hilltop with a fantastic view of the Arabic sea. At the top floor balcony you can actually see both the sea and the fantastic swimming pool downstairs! Unfortunately we only had a few hours to spend there so there was not much time for the pool. The best thing with the place is that it has a room that they give for rent! If you don’t want to stay at some of the hotels in Goa, this is a very good option! The place has their own driver, some staff that keeps the place nice and clean and best of all, they have their own chef who make wonderful local dishes! We had our lunch there and it was absolutely fantastic. Casa Devant has a Facebook group.

It is said that pictures say more than 1000 words, so here you have some from our visit.

IMG_1127 IMG_1129 IMG_1133

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Prediction Punjab XI vs CSK

Disclaimar: All information in this blog post is taken from public available sources. I have no inside information into any IPL-team. Use it as you feel for. If you lose money because you have placed some bets based on this I’m not liable for that. If you win some I’m happy to be mentioned and feel free to donate some of the mone to a NGO like
Nanhi Kali

Yesterday I predicted quite well the outcome of the match between Delhi and Mumbai, so I thought I should put my head up and try to do the same for todays match.

In their first match, none of the CSK batsmen (or batting wallahs) as we say in my part of Norway did quite well. This has to change if CSK plan to retain the title. Still I have some doubt about their openers. Neither Vijay nor Hussey look that comfortable. So the first prediction is that if CSK bat first, Suresh Raina will be their leading scorer today.

Albie Morkel just came to India after having played domestic cricket in South Africa. He’s been an important part of the CSK-team for the last few years. But landing in India just yesterday make him a bit short for this match. My prediction is that he will not play today. But I do think it will be brother against brother as both the Husseys will play.

When it comes to the Punjab team I must admit that I don’t know too much about them. When I look at their line-up I find their bowling attack quite weak. So my third prediction is that they will not manage to bowl out CSK today. But one of my colleagues is from Punjab so I should maybe be a bit carefull with what I say about their team…

So this is my predictions for today. If I will be right or not we will see in some hours time. Enjoy the match!

Talk to you soon,
Karsten