The figures for the third quarter of 2003 presented on October 29 confirmed what most people in the company already knew, which was that profitability had been attained. “2003 will go down in history as the year in which we succeeded in turning this company round and making a profit again,” Svanberg was able to state in his CEO’s letter.
From now on the focus would be on growth. “In future our given objective must be to gain market share, not merely defend what we have. This is an important mental approach for all of us.”
The company now entered a new phase. In just over two years, every second member of the staff had had to leave the company.
In the eyes of many this meant that half as many employees were supposed to deliver at least twice as much and with much better quality. Numerous new, shared routines, methods, business models and principles had to be put in place.
Pär-Anders Pehrson, responsible for leadership development throughout the group, played an important role in this process. At the beginning of the 1990s, he had been working as head of Human Resources for IBM Sweden while the company was going through a deep crisis and halved its workforce – in a process not unlike that experienced by Ericsson a decade later.
But now it was a question of building things up again.
In January 2004, Pehrson was invited to a meeting with Svanberg, Sténson and Marita Hellberg, head of Human Resources. “We talked about what Ericsson would look like in the future, how it would be perceived and how it would act – and what fundamental values all this would be based on,” says Pehrson.
This was the starting shot for a long process involving hundreds of participants. The document it eventually gave rise to – Our Ways of Working – can be described as a kind of constitution for the new Ericsson.
Its conclusion was that Ericsson could retain the watchwords on which its official fundamental values had been based for many years:
The words were to be supplemented by clear descriptions of the fundamental values that were to apply throughout the company’s operations. And every employee had to know about these values and the principles on which they were based.
Our Ways of Working therefore became the subject of extensive workshops that involved the entire organization. At team level, together with their managers, each employee was to study these values and interpret what they meant for their own activities.
Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn