It really isn’t about the first 100 days, but a good start matters

The idea that the first 100 days of a leader’s reign are crucial dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration to his initial US presidential term in March 1933.

The country was in the grip of depression. “Almost every bank was closed, one in every four people was unemployed and the very survival of democratic capitalism was in doubt,” wrote Thomas Neff and James Citrin of headhunters Spencer Stuart in their book You’re in Charge — Now What?.

Since then, there has been a lot of research, literature and consultancy conducted to ensure a smooth transition from one CEO to the next. In my experience, there isn’t really a silver bullet. As usual, what’s required depends on the context and the current circumstances.

Having a situational approach is always good advice. However, as always, being well prepared is a good thing. In order to prepare, I would recommend covering the following:

1. The business; take stock and understand the performance.
2. Strategy; is the strategy clearly defined and understood, and do we have the key qualities to differentiate ourselves from the competitors?
3. Culture; identify the key characteristics of the current culture and assess if the culture is a good match to what is required for the situation.
4. Team; do we have the right capabilities to deliver on the strategy in a cohesive and value-based way?
5. Yourself; are you doing the right things to make a difference?
6. Other stakeholders; have you understood other stakeholders, and have you established productive relationships with these?

Good preparations and a situational approach to the leadership role will always make sense.

Let me share a few thoughts as this applies to Kredinor. After taking the helm in Kredinor some 100 days ago, I have been working with these six areas to cover as much ground as possible. Having previous industry experience obviously makes it easier to hit the ground running, but I have tried hard not to fall into the trap of just walking the familiar paths of the past. When identifying the Coca-Cola recipe in any organization, having an open mind and being curious is both a necessity and a virtue.

I strongly believe that it isn’t sufficient to do things right or even to do the right things. We also need to do good. Our industry has been conservative, and innovation has been slow. For instance, we focus more on solving a case than the problem. Hence, building our strategy around not adding to our customers’ burden is Kredinor’s new purpose and foundation. Having listened to many customer conversations lately, it is clear to me that this is what our customers want – and responding to that need is a clear call to action.

To deliver on our new strategy, we need a culture that is a good fit for the new direction. Hence, we have asked our colleagues to describe what characterizes who we are, but also to formulate what we need to be. So now we know both where we stand and where we need to go. I believe leaders are cultural architects, and now we have the drawings.

A lot has happened at Kredinor since the 1st of March. Some people would even say that more has happened in less than 100 days than in the previous 100 years. We are no longer a cooperative but a limited company. The ownership is transitioned from members of the cooperative to a foundation. The owners have agreed on an important merger between Modhi and Kredinor, creating the market leader in Norway with important market positions in Sweden and Finland. The new Executive Team Members are appointed, and new experienced professionals have joined.

But most importantly, this is about changing how we view people and our mentality when engaging with them. A 100 days ago, we dealt with debtors. Today, we have customers. That makes a difference.

It's about people and how we meet them - in the last 100 days, debtors have become customers in Kredinor.

We have redefined our purpose, and we have a strategy for the future. We will do the right things, and we will do good at the same time.

More is underway. Stay tuned.


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