“Good buzz” is a term they are accustomed to hearing at Stena Recycling. Over the last three years, the company’s major development efforts have borne fruit, and earnings have grown encouragingly.
“A positive spirit characterises everything we do. We have an extremely good team – the right people in the right places – and our earnings reflect that,” says CEO Niclas Sacklén of the atmosphere at Stena Recycling, which has turned recycling into a sustainable business.
When the people at Stena Recycling roll up their sleeves and start developing, no stone is left unturned. In recent years, HR, internal communication, purchasing, pricing – all of these and many more – have been put under the microscope, questioned and further enhanced.
One aspect of this development was the desire to distil the new strategy into a crystal-clear statement. Stena Recycling worked with Muutostaito to create Strategia Lift, which helped to cascade the new strategy throughout the organisation.
A gamified strategy journey
Strategia Lift kicked off with a two-day starter game in September 2020. The game involved 35 of the company’s managers and key personnel. The aim of the game was to crystallise the strategy and get all the participants to feel like they own it – and encourage them to come up with ways to contribute to promoting the strategy.
“The management team worked with Muutostaito’s coaches to create the strategy game that we played in September. We played a two-day kick-off game in several small groups. When we finished, each team made pledges about how they would set out to promote the strategy. We also made promises as individuals, and Muutostaito documented it all,” says Sini Simonen, Head of People & Communication.
“Playing a game really got the ideas flowing. Although we were talking about big, serious issues, it didn’t feel so dramatic when we were rolling the dice. Ideas flowed, and everyone was guaranteed the chance to make themselves heard,” Sacklén says.
The individual promises made in September were discussed in interim games, which were played in small groups in the following winter. The games took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the September and winter games, the groups were deliberately mixed to give people from different parts of the organisation the opportunity to share their knowledge, support each other, and gain a deeper understanding of how the strategy would be promoted throughout the organisation.
Sacklén says it is important to follow up on the promises and metrics if the organisation wants results. The interim games were a great way of reminding the participants of the promises they had made. The games also created positive social pressure: everyone wanted to talk about how they had promoted the strategy through their personal promises.
“The promises were very impressive. For example, one employee had promised to promote the expansion of the service offering in our electrical and electronic recycling business. They had drawn up a business plan and sounded out our largest customers to analyse whether there was a demand for the new services,” Sacklén says.
Coaches impressed by management commitment
Stena Recycling’s commitment to Strategia Lift impressed Muutostaito’s coaches.
“The interim games revealed how seriously everyone had taken their promises and how well the participants had taken tangible steps towards promoting the strategy,” says Sabina Ågren-Hellman, Senior Consultant at Muutostaito.
“Above all, the commitment of the management and the team as a whole was absolutely amazing. We ran the interim games in four half-day virtual sessions. CEO Niclas Sacklén was involved in each game in a sparring and encouraging capacity,” Ågren-Hellman says.
The first part of Strategia Lift culminated in a joint online post-game held in spring 2021. Everyone attending the event selected the top performers from their teams – the people who had done a first-class job in promoting the realisation of the strategy.
“It was a shame we had to hold the post-game online because of the coronavirus, but Muutostaito made excellent arrangements, and the event went very well using remote connections. We will have to deliver the trophies to the winners after the fact,” Simonen says.
“Maybe remote connections are not such a bad thing. The virtual implementation of the half-day interim game went so well that Muutostaito could consider holding the interim games online in the future, even after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted,” Sacklén says.
A strategy crystallised into four core objectives
Sacklén and Simonen have no doubts about the effectiveness of the project: Strategia Lift, implemented with Muutostaito, got Stena’s employees to take ownership of the strategy and inspired them to promote the strategy as part of their work. Moreover, Stena Recycling’s strategy was distilled to such clarity that every employee can summarise it in an elevator pitch or draw it on a sheet of A4.
“The strategy ultimately took on a tangible form in the shape of a poster, which communicates the essence of the strategy at a glance. We definitely achieved a better outcome by engaging more people in the development work, and we worked with Muutostaito to gamify the process,” Simonen says.
Stena Recycling’s strategy is now crystallised into four core objectives, known in-house as strategy bubbles:
“Stena began as a scrap trader in 1939, seeing business opportunities where everyone else saw junk. We are still on the same journey, just at a different scale. Our vision is to become a trusted partner that provides world-class solutions to the industrial circular economy. Alongside our expert personnel, our strategy, which has become clearer thanks to Strategia Lift, is the most important key to achieving this goal,” Sacklén says.
Stena Recycling will continue to work with Muutostaito after Strategia Lift.
“Our next job is to drill deeper into our fourth strategic bubble – team spirit, professional competence, and responsibility – with every member of personnel on a new, gamified journey. The project has been dubbed the Stena Game, and Muutostaito will lead the first implementation of the game at our personnel day, which will be held in November,” Simonen says.
“It is great to be able to continue this journey with all of Stena Recycling’s personnel. The entire company is defined by a strong working spirit and an active approach to development work. I am looking forward to it,” Ågren-Hellman says.