What would you do if you had invited 450 managers from all around the world to a large conference in Stockholm and the world economy suddenly hit the wall? Cancellation was not an option. Managers’ expectations were high and boosting energy and reinforcing values more important than ever before. Yet it was impossible to have top business leaders leave normal business operations for a week to come to Sweden. We had to completely rethink our communication and collaboration formats and channels to make the June 2009 group event a success.
Swedish-based Atlas Copco is a global industrial group with three business areas and operations in some 80 countries. Every three to four years the president and CEO gather top managers from all companies and countries to a group event, a conference with the objective of strengthening and increasing the understanding of the vision and strategies, cementing the core values, and enhancing networking and benchmarking across geographical and business area borders.
The planning horizon for such a meeting is usually long, mainly due to the logistics. To find a good venue requires planning well in advance. More than a year in advance, the hotels were booked, dinners were arranged and the content was more or less decided upon. That was before everything ground to a halt in the autumn of 2008. It was not until January 2009 that the group decided to go ahead and run the meeting and re-confirmed the theme. The Atlas Copco Group has a vision to become and remain First in Mind–First in Choice®, and this time the focus was on the second part; on how to surprise and delight customers and provide the best service at all times.