I sometimes get discouraged by the number of executives who don’t seem to think that a healthy corporate culture is as important as efficient operations, a differentiating brand, and other business success factors. But then I meet an executive like Lars Björk and my faith is restored.
Lars is the CEO of QlikTech, a Radnor, PA
company whose QlikView software transforms data – big and small – into
meaningful and easily-accessible information. QlikTech was founded in Sweden in 1993 with the aim of
solving critical problems for organizations of all sizes, including the largest
global enterprises. With more than
30,000 customers in 100 countries QlikTech’s success has placed it in the top
three of Forbes’ 2012 list of America’s 25 fastest-growing tech companies,
alongside Apple and LinkedIn. The
company has grown 300 percent since 2007.
Lars talks about the importance of culture: “Cultures are built
from people, brands arise from cultures, and customers buy brands. That
makes people – and culture – a bottom-line issue.” He put this in catchy terms in a recent talk:
“Happy people, happy customers, lead to happy financials.”
Lars doesn’t just talk about culture; he puts his money where his mouth
is. As an example, he takes great pride
in QlikTech’s annual employee gathering.
The entire staff of more than 1,300, from entry-level administrative
assistants to the executive team from 23 countries and throughout the United
States, is invited.
philosophy behind this annual expenditure?
He looks at it as an investment rather than an expense. Says Lars, “I know this is increasingly
rare. Amid fiscal cliffs, deficits, and
debt ceilings, corporations are focused on a single-minded goal: cutting
costs. However, without more focus on
investment, companies may be undercutting their own futures.
if cost is the only thing that comes to mind to those ever conscious of the
bottom line, they’ve missed the entire point of growing a company. Employee summits are really an investment in a
company’s most valuable asset – its culture. Companies that cut costs by
short-changing culture may just be sacrificing their futures to scale the next