In Finland there is much talk about raising the retirement age, unemployment, changing work culture and how our society can be brought back on the growth path and how economic challenges can be resolved. There is enough material here to write numerous blog posts, but for now I will focus on the changing work culture and on some solutions to bringing our society back on the growth path.
Working life and work culture have changed significantly in the past 15 years or so, during which I have been full-time employed. Gradually organizations and leadership theories have changed direction and now encourage more conversation and working in groups and sharing decisions and responsibilities with those in the organization that are experts and there is also a strong desire to keep organizational structures as low as possible. All of these trends are obvious at Canter and they have brought many improvements to the way that this company operates. Regardless of one’s role in the company, all matters are discussed and resolved together in such a way that everybody is clear about the plans and the role that they play and their own duties. Motivation is strong when one gets to participate in considering choices and in making decisions and in enjoying the results of the work together as a team. In an open and conversational work culture it is also very important to pay attention to individual differences and to offer sufficient support and direction to those who are not as active or extroverted. At Canter it is possible for any employee to go and have a talk even with the CEO. This creates a positive workplace atmosphere, a collaborative work effort and everybody pulling together to reach goals. Everybody here is working as a team and not just for the sake of ”production”.
The changes in work culture also reflect in customer service and sales. As recently as 10 years ago, many software companies tried to keep all of their own information very secret and told their customers and partners only what was deemed necessary and most sales consisted of cold calls and meetings with clientele to introduce the product or services. Nowadays many software companies, like Canter, have opted for rather open collaboration with their clientele and partners. This means that in example, much information is offered in regard to the products and interfaces, which many parties can benefit from and product and service development needs and directions are openly discussed with the clientele. In sales more emphasis is put on marketing and electronic channels in order to identify the potential clientele that has true need for and interest in the products and services offered. Conversations about how these clients can be served best will follow the initial contact. Also clientele behavior has changed much over the years. Previously it was typical for a client to ask for what they needed from the provider, but there was no real collaboration. Nowadays clients will actively collaborate with providers. They participate in making choices collaboratively and ask about alternatives openly and participate in planning on how to best achieve the desired results together with the provider. The work culture will see much change in the coming years, for example, with the ever increasing field of telecommuting and the clientele involving more providers and service providers in their own business development and software companies offering products and services more than ever before to their partners and for the benefit of other parties who bring in clientele. We will all win when we collaborate and share information more openly.