FDB Møbler democratised Danish design — we strive to do the same for radical change.

Making radical change accessible

These days, “disruption” is the talk of the town in the world of business.

We hear sound bites in newspapers, podcasts and conferences shouting left and right about “disrupting yourself before someone else does it”, not ending up like a handful of well-known brands (mostly just Blockbuster or Kodak) and “who will uberize your industry?”. (Side note: interesting read)

The common denominator for all of this is that it’s talk about what someone far far away from our own business is up to rather than what we should be doing ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong: There are valuable lessons in learning from what others are doing, but as long as we’re just repeating the same punchlines and stories of others’ (mis)fortune over and over, we’re playing the waiting game until someone else actually does disrupt us.

(Side note: We struggle with the academic definition of “disruption” (Clayton Christensen) versus the popularised use (practically anything new) so, instead, we opt for the term radical change).

What are others doing?

Bear with me as I briefly recap (i.e. talk about …) some of the approaches of the largest companies in our own backyard (Scandinavia). Keep in mind, there’s a point buried in all this talk.

Danske Bank (finance) kick-started the trend in Denmark in late 2014 with an offensive move against possible new market entrants such as Google or Facebook (DK read). Project X (later: MobileLife) was established outside the mothership with a three-digit mDKK ($15+ mUSD) investment and, today, a year and a half later, more than 65 people are part of the core team working on Sunday. A recent survey by Deloitte found that 22% of companies use this approach to radical innovation.

At about the same time, we started working with SKAT (the Danish tax authority) on flexing their innovation muscle. Since then, we have collaboratively developed and experimented with new customer-centric product development processes to increase customer satisfaction and lowering time to market dramatically. From the outset, the point has been to leave a permanent ability so innovation doesn’t equate to the consultant. More on that in a later post.

Others are trying out new combinations. Falck (global provider of health, safety and emergency-related services) have chosen to establish two entirely new organisations: “Digital Business Development” at the edge of core business and “Project X” which lies completely outside (DK read).

Recently, LEO Pharma (medico) announced the launch of LEO Innovation Lab, a $75 million independent non-profit unit partnering with health-related start-ups, focusing on “making a difference to people living with psoriasis” (we ❤ that). LEO have quickly expanded with new satellite units in the UK, Canada and France.

Meanwhile, Tryg (the second largest insurance company in Scandinavia) partnered up with Startupbootcamp Insurance (together with e.g. Allianz and PwC) to tap into a new wave of insurtech start-ups over the next three years. Cost: €600,000 (DK read).

Our Swedish neighbours at IKEA recently made quite a stir when they launched Space10 in the heart of Copenhagen: A “future-living lab and exhibition space”.

So … what’s your point?

We are sincerely inspired by the people who have the guts to do something on behalf of their company (big or small).

But … we see a big problem with these examples: Only the few have the resources to do while the many are (still) left behind talking.

Looking into the past (to find our future)

Others have tackled similar problems before. Back in the 1950s, the Danish consumers’ cooperative (FDB) released FDB Møbler, a new line of designer furniture based on …

… designing beautiful and functional furniture, that can be purchased by “common people” at an affordable price — without compromising quality

In essence, democratising access to Danish design.

This story from the past inspired us (Rene Bach Lundgaard and me together with Implement) to found Unmade to help shape the future:

We believe in democratising radical change.

We will measure our level of success based on how we have enabled others to do — hopefully resulting in making the world a better place.

“How will you do that”, you ask? We’ll figure it out soon enough. Now the ball is rolling. JFDI.

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