The Social Business Journey of Grundfos, Chapter 1

This blog entry was written for, and presented at the Community Conference 2013 in Copenhagen on May 2nd. Much input on this comes from the work that Thomas Asger Hansen, Martin Risgaard, and Mia Due et. al. has done before I even got to Grundfos. So big thanks to them! 

"It's a Social Business wild-wild west at Grundfos"

“It’s a Social Business wild-wild west at Grundfos”

This is it people, I’ve been in my new role at Grundfos as Social Business Lead Consultant for 2 months and 1 day. It has for sure been a shift I can feel, moving from IBM with its well-established culture and “one Social Business platform that rules it all” (IBM Connections), to the wild-wild west here at Grundfos. But both has its charm and pro’s and con’s, and after 18 years at IBM I actually look forward to being part of the Grundfos Social Business Journey.

On May 2nd I had the pleasure to participate at the Community Conference 2013 in Copenhagen, which was great. The audience was awesome (“ooohh”); my fellow presenters were both intelligent, good looking, and cool (“wooow”); and the conference team – Seismonaut and partners – rocked every minute of the day (“rooarrh”). I was asked to summarize Social Business at Grundfos in 7 minutes. Suddenly I was forced to put words to a movement that has already been going on for years; I had to boil it down based on my 2 months experience; and then force feed it in to an elevator pitch. However impossible that sounds, here at least is the outline for a Chapter 1 of “The Social Business Journey of Grundfos”. Enjoy.


I like the “old” key characteristics of a Social Business, defined by IBM: Engaging, Transparent, and Nimble. In three words (with the additional 150 explanatory pages) I feel it defines what Social Business is all about. Engaging, Transparent, and Nimble.

Grundfos is for sure not there – yet. We are on a Journey and haven’t decided if we want to go by train, car, plane, or even by foot. And we’re not sure where we are going; or who we would like to travel with; or if it should be 1st class, business class or monkey class.

"Working as under the same roof"

“Working as under the same roof”

But we do have a purpose which guides us, and it is born out of our CEO’s Innovation Intent. And that is “Grundfos needs to become a global organization where everyone works, collaborates, and innovates as effectively as if we were all ‘sitting under the same roof’. And the roof is expanding, not only covering employees, but also suppliers, partners, and customers. And by 2025 we want to be 70.000 employees, from todays 18.000. So we are building out.


And out from this purpose a new Grundfos strategic initiative was born, called Global Working Culture and the Social Business Unit – which I’m part of. We are a small team, currently with 4 people at the core who does the work – and a steering committee of executives who paves the way.

We are not at a place where we have decided on platforms, tools, or even a global strategy – be that internal or external.  I’m sure we will come to a point where we will come with strategic recommendations. But for now, our main focus is on the cultural and behavioral perspective. We do this through creating a pioneering and experimental environment, which is driven by the need for organizational learning from many pilots, use-cases and proof of concepts.

The cultural dimension is key to success and we work out from two Social Business hypotheses:

  1. Outbound success depends on internal maturity and social proficiency
  2. Long term success depends on internalisation of new ways and new tools

In other words, if we want to succeed, all our employees must be involved and they need to be Socially Empowered to participate and collaborate – internally as well as externally. And this is really where we see some our key opportunities in becoming a social business: Social Empowerment of employees, and Collaborative Productivity.

At this early stage, much of our knowledge about what works, what doesn’t, expertise, etc. is spread across the organization, for instance:

  • One person who is pioneering Social CRM in Turkey and Egypt
  • One who is expert-in-the-making at applying social methodologies to Supply Chain Management.
  • And another one who is privately administrating one of the most successful Danish Facebook fan pages
  • And so on.

This decentralized; highly skilled resource pool – in combination with the speed of light that Social Business is moving at – has formed the idea that our emerging work and strategy should be led by this “Lead Node Network”. Nodes – people – are dedicated to move Grundfos forward in an orchestrated manner where individual drive and entrepreneurship is balanced with strategic understanding and need.

Success and failures

So, what is an example of “individual drive and entrepreneurship”? Our Facebook page in Egypt is one example, where our local marketing star has created a fan-base of over 80.000 people in less than 2 years, which reportedly drives both Brand value and new Business opportunities. Seems she has found a content balance where brand stories and funny cats create engagement around pumps. And it actually works.

Other pilots and initiatives span everything from how to excel in distance leadership to social listening, engagement, amplification, and so on.

Some are more matured then others. For instance, our Yammer Community is a year old and has a bit more than 4.500 users, and is rapidly growing – both by user measures, as well as engagement.

We try; we discover; we learn; we adjust; and move forward. Some learning is based on success.  Others are from less successful or more challenging implementations, like how important communication is. As Martin Risgaard reports: “An unplanned ‘Yammer explosion’ is like a virus. It causes disruption that makes people uncomfortable so the ‘company immune system’ tries to get rid of it.”


There is now doubt about it – we are challenged every day in our work. The Innovation Intent and the Pioneering Approach that we work out of is of course not easy work. To name just a few:

  • It is a challenge, working with teams, keeping the focus and dialogue on the Culture and Behavioral perspective, instead of the technical platform discussion.
  • It is a challenge with Executive and Management participation. Sure, it’s fine that Executives say they endorse that employees spend time in social media or internal collaboration. That’s really great. But learning and understanding the real opportunity and the real challenges requires people to actually ACT. And their participation will also immediately drive adoption to the rest of the organization. Executives and Managers need to start “voting with their fingers” and stop just talking.

Rounding up

That said, I get encouraged that a large organization that Grundfos takes the Social Business opportunity serious, and are bold enough to invest in piloting and cultural deep-dives.  After all, the Social Business Journey for Grundfos has just started, and we have a long, great road ahead of us.

For you who have already taken that Journey, please send us ratings, reviews, and tips on Trip Adviser. We look forward to your comments.

By Christian Carlsson (2013)

Social Business Lead Consultant at Grundfos

Posted in Barriers and challenges, Culture, Leadership, Reflection, Strategy, Vision

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