Denmark is known for its work-life-balance lifestyle. This is well captured in the Danish buzzword hygge (literally means coziness). In festive seasons, it is not surprising to see every household consume tons of candles to create a warm atmosphere for friends and good ones.
But what strikes me most is not the coziness, but the dedication of the Danes – they seek depth rather than breadth; if they focus on one thing, they probably ace it: pastries, bricks, beer, hygge… and, sustainability.
Sustainability is a competitive edge for Danish corporations, partly because of the historical reason when the Danish government tried to address some societal challenges by engaging the private sector and institutionalizing “doing good” behavior. But more importantly, sustainability is a business opportunity, and many corporations have already moved from a do-no-harm, reactive mode to a more proactive approach.
I have come across an interesting HBR article about how to evaluate corporate strategy. The author articulates that strategy is a set of goals and major policies. Two factors matter when formulating these goals and policies: stakeholder and external environment. The article posits that the key to corporate success is to identify the important needs of different stakeholder groups and to establish some balance among them. In addition, the important test of a corporate strategy is whether the strategy is responding to the external changing environment – public policy, political and societal situations, market environment and so on
Engaging stakeholders and responding to externalities are simply the cornerstones of sustainability that offers one more lens to look at the business and the context in which business operates.
MBA students expect business schools to equip them with different tools to make sound business decisions, but I think it is equally important to understand the context– stakeholders and external environment– and to apply relevant tools. Sometimes the world moves too fast that the existing toolkit might not entirely work. So, it is more important to stay agile.
I think being in Denmark is already a good starting point to be in the “context”. The small-class setting enables us to connect with great and aspirational leaders in the business world and in public sector. Among them is a visionary politician, Ida Auken, Member of Parliament in Denmark, who gave us an inside scoop into the public agenda of sharing economy, the talk-of-the-town here in Denmark. Whenever I read about her blog “Welcome to 2030” I can’t help getting goose bumps.
In one of the group projects, my team has looked into a live case of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and interviewed some great industry experts in Denmark, including Sustainia, a think-tank partnering the UN Global Compact to advance the online communication about the global goals; and the leading biotech Novozymes awarded by the UN as the pioneer in integrating the SDGs into business strategies.
Denmark is simply a strategic location for you to reach out to these masterminds who are forward looking and taking sustainability to the next level. So, no more Denmark Second!