June 17, 2011

Life is so concrete

Peikko had a small stand in the event of "Life is so Concrete" in France this week. The event, organized by international precast concrete association, was filled with people, mainly CEO´s with precast element factory backgrounds and companies supplying products for this industry.

There were several discussions on-going that I will remember well.

Firstly, I met many people that had just started to work in the industry. There had been many changes in the organizations of companies many had recruited persons without industry experience - in my mind this is great and I hope these people will change this business and not just do as all people before them.

Secondly, for many the fashionable surroudings of Cannes and Carlton Intercontinental Hotel just did not match the reality of their home - some where even mentioning that they are reducing their organizations and the fact that a manager is spending time in such a beautiful location - not good if somebody would take a picture and send to the staff... Life is still tough for most of us in construction industry - volumes are still very fragile in Europe.

Thirdly, there was a real belief that CONCRETE as construction material is modern, active, architectual, sustainable etc. And the way people talked about was very business like - not awefully "religious" like I have seen in some events. The conference was about professional people talking about concrete as construction material in business-like manner. Very good.

Peikko was the only company in its special field of connections to have a stand in the exhibition room and enjoy the attention of many participants. Nice discussions with many smart people.

June 6, 2011

The dilemma of big countries

I recently had a nice chat with a person who had worked for a company in the field of construction. He was a national of a medium-sized European country, quite close to Germany. The main issue in his former company was that the German headquarters did not understand the customer behavior in his country. The headquarters wanted to do the business the "German way" and at the end of the day, the person got so frustrated that he decided even to leave the company.

And this is not to blame the Germans; I believe this happens to any single country & company where the home market is big enough. And once the home market is significant, we focus on it, we believe it is the most important and we try to copy-paste the way to do business to other countries. This is such an easy way to do a mistake. And funnily enough, the person I met was talking about the "German way" - it was not the "Company X way". In simple discussions nationalistic terminogy is popping up so easily - American way, French way, Japanese way, British way - all can be see also negative. Why is it so easy for us to act this way?

I believe that we at Peikko are pretty lucky to be headquarted in the microscopic country of Finland. Nobody expects in our organization that Peikko should act in other countries similar to how we do business in Finland. On the other hand, we need to understand that concrete and steel is the same in other countries and key methods and knowledge has to be transferred to other countries. How to be determined but not arrogant, goal-oriented but listening? Difficult tasks - but the right combination of global and local are the key for success.