Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Helping organizations perform

During my career I have helped many organizations to improve their performance. Mostly in product development, but also in service provision and occasionally also in sales. I have worked with big companies like MicroLink, Elion, TeliaSonera, Eesti Telekom and others, but also with small startups. Currently I am implementing Lean Startup methodology and thinking in Sonera in Finland.

Now if there is one thing I would like to point out in improving performance it is that there is no one thing that makes it happen. There is no ONE tool, method or process to boost organization's performance. No one silverbullet. Naturally there are good methods and tools like:
- Getting customer insight with
- Lean Startup for product development

- Coaching, Time management training
- Process management, etc.
But each one of them itself does not make it. You also need to work with people getting along, economical constraints, mindsets and traditions that have produced un-effective processes, legacy systems, bad overview of data, etc., etc. Sometimes the office setup creates problems or there is a core IT system that makes everyone hate their job.

So improving the performance of organizations means usually implementing a lot of different things, building different relations in the organization, getting the right decisions and methods in place. Usually the task of finding the performance bottlenecks itself is a detective endeavour that takes many (face-to-face) meetings, trying out things and finding the walls by hitting your head against them.

Any thoughts? Write me at

Friday, September 18, 2015

Huge remote working test in Finland

The Finnish trade unions organized a huge remote working test today. In order to really test the limits the office workers were forced to work from home by totally shutting down public transport in Helsinki. Even some kindergartens were closed to test how working from home can be arranged with children jumping around. The ones opting out of the test could do so only by losing their days salary.

The results showed a huge success! Video- and telemeetings went up, traffic went down. There were virtually no trafficjams and all the work got down. The environmental impact was huge as the nation used substantially less electricity and gas.

As a result of the success the Finnish government is planning to launch a program to promote teleworking and move people away from Helsinki to towns were they actually could afford their own home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to succeed in the sharing economy

Fastcompany published a very good article how the sharing economy, that everybody believed in five years ago, has pretty much died. With the notable exeptions of AirBNB, Uber and the likes, that is unfortunately true. The businesses that enable you to lend your powerdrill to your neighbours have not been successful. However, we should not yet bury the idea of the sharing economy! As if we analyse the success and failure of the businesses there are some clear differentiators that make the businesses fly. I would list here three of the most important ones:

The more expensive the shared item is, the better. Appartments (AirBNB, and cars (Uber, Autolevi) are good segments. Powerdrills costing 30 euros are not good for sharing. Essentially the cost and hassle of renting should be marginal compared to the cost of the item.

Renting out the item should be sensible as a business and attractive for small investors. People do not want strangers to use (and break) their own stuff, drive with their cars or stay in their homes. Investing into items with the purpose of renting them out is a completely different thing, but then the income needs to be bigger than the depreciation + cost of the hassle of renting.

Finally and maybe most importantly the key success factor is the possibility of shortcuting some taxes, (unnecessary) regulation, insurance costs or similar. I am pretty sure that in many countries the AirBNB appartment owners have the advantage of optimising VAT, income and other taxes compared with ordinary hotels. Same goes for Uber in many countries. The lack of this benefit by the way is the main reason for Uber's mediocre success in Tallinn.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Starting as a product development consultant

From the first of September 2015 I will be working as a full-time consultant offering my services in product development of ICT. My primary focus are cloud services, but also other IT and telecom services. I am based in Tallinn, but I offer my services regionally in the Nordic and Baltic area. You are most welcome to contact me if you see my experience fitting your needs or you would like to co-operate. Here is a post about my experience and what I offer.

My contacts are:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What does "No jobs" actually mean

There is a lot of talk - especially in Finland - about unemployment and what to do about it. Based on my experience of working in Finland, Sweden and Estonia I think I can make some comparisons and comments about it.

Firstly it is important to understand that "no jobs" does not mean that the need for work has dissappeared. No! What "no jobs" means is that there is a mismatch between what organizations (and their customers) are willing to pay for a certain task to be done and what the unemployed people need/want for it.
 For example I would be happy to hire someone to take care of all the upgrading and fixing of the technology I have at home, but I am only willing to pay a few tens of euros for that, whereas a skilled IT professional would cost 200-300 hundred/euros a month.
 Another more relevant example is a recent event where a big IT service provider closed its customer support unit in Finland and then hired tens of finnish speaking support agents in Tallinn.
 In Tallinn there is really no unemployment in principle. You can walk to any supermarket and they would hire you in a few days. The problem only is, that they pay you something like 300-500 eur/month net.

 So it is a mismatch between the cost of labour and the willingness to pay for it by organizations and their customers! (e.g. How much would you pay for a pair of jeans? How much would the pair cost if it was made in the Nordics?)

 The solution to unemployment therefore is making the costs lower or increasing the value of the work.

 An important factor to note here is that "the cost" is not only the salary and even the taxes. It is much more. The cost also consists of: risk premium for potential layoff costs, vacation benefits, bureaucracy, people management, insurances, hiring processes etc.
 The cost is also driven higher if the unemployed person receives social benefits and loses them when he takes up a job.

 There is another important factor that the unemployment discussions never consider. The cost of living. Looking at Helsinki and Stockholm from Tallinn for example makes you wonder why:
- You always need to buy a very expensive home insurance?
- Why does big must-have repairs (putkiremppa) of appartments in Finland cost 500-1000 eur/m2?
- Why are there only like 4 construction companies who manage to build new appartments in Helsinki and Stockholm and therefore the prices for new appartments cost approximately 5000-7000 eur/m2?
On the other hand:
- Why do bank transfers in Estonia cost more than they do in Sweden?
- Why is electricity in Estonia more expensive than in the Nordics?

I am not claiming that there one system is better than the other, but I would propose some ideas from this picture:
- Solving unemployment might involve surprising activities. E.g. kill the construction business monopolies in Stockholm and Helsinki, that makes housing cheaper, that allows people to decrease their price of work.
- Paying money as a social benefit should be avoided if ever possible and substituted by social services (e.g. free schools, kindergartens, children's hobbies). This way working and earning 100 eur/month also starts to make sense.
- There are a lot of measures that do not cost much and are not painful for anybody that would help. For example stoping the need for all types of insurances and lessening bureaucracy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gmail and Google Calendar

If you use Gmail then by default you also get Google Calendar. If you then book a hotel from or a place to stay from Airbnb or the airline reservation system Amadeus sends you a confirmation of your flight tickets then these stay-s and flights are automatically inserted into your Google Calendar. This is quite convenient - you don't need to insert them manually. But.....

...but this also means that Google reads through all your e-mails, analyzes them and creates a database of all your travelling plans. So not only does Google know where you are - it also knows where you will be! Who knows what else the automatic e-mail parsing software detects, maps and registers?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The value of The Brand

A T-shirt is produced in China, a multi-national fashion brand prints a logo on it and buys it for 2 euros. The shirt is shipped and put on sale in a fashion boutique in Stockholm, Berlin, Paris or Milan. A Chinese tourist buys the shirt that is now called Gant, Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren for 30 euros. Who are the winners and who are the losers in this model?