WHY DOES VALCON ASPIRE TO BECOME THE HAPPIEST COMPANY IN THE WORLD?

Looking at how business is done today, parameters like growth, cash flow, ROI and of course EBIT are still the measurements being used. And yes, these are also the parameters that we use in Valcon to measure success and what we as a consulting firm use when we advise companies all over the world. These key performance indicators are the scoreboard for a company’s life force.

So why do we in Valcon put happiness above all? Can it be measured? And have I gone hippie?

To answer the last question first. No! This is business. It is not an employer branding effort, and it is not just a new and advanced way of measuring employee engagement. It is much more important than that. It is all about a meta-level understanding of leading and lagging key performance indicators in our organisations. Lagging indicators are typically output oriented, easy to measure but complex in root causes and thereby hard to improve. Leading indicators, on the other hand, are typically input oriented, and the real root causes are harder to measure but easier to influence.

I truly believe that happiness is the root leading key performance indicator. It is a necessary and also a very fulfilling way to ensure innovation, growth and profitability and thus a way to ensure the life force of Valcon, of every organisation.

WHAT IS HAPPINESS – AND CAN IT BE MEASURED?

The first definition of human happiness dates back to Aristotle. He defined happiness as having a meaningful life, contributing to society and being connected with something more and greater than yourself. To be connected with family, friends and society. Happiness also has a hedonistic definition, meaning to maximise enjoyment and minimise pain and discomfort in both body and mind.

In modern happiness research, which is taken very seriously at OECD level as an indicator of the well-being and prosperity of nations, both dimensions of happiness are expanded and measured. In the social science of happiness research, happiness is measured and affected in three dimensions:

  1. The eudemonic happiness – do you have a meaningful and purposeful life?
  2. The cognitive perceived and self-evaluated happiness – how happy are you overall on a scale from 1 to 10?
  3. The affective happiness – how happy were you yesterday?

So this is not a new thing. Throughout history, human beings have searched for a meaningful, happy and prosperous life. And the thinking is gaining momentum on a global scale as something more important than simply measuring GNP. Prosperity is not about riches. Prosperity is about us flourishing and thriving, it is about well-being, and that is far more than riches. It is about the possibility and capacity for living a good and meaningful life.

And right now, this is also a trend that is gaining momentum in business thinking, even if the word happiness is not used as such. As an example, think about Roger Martin and Frederic Laloux with their respective theories on why leaders should not simply choose among the obvious options and why teal organisations are the future with a focus on evolutionary purpose, self-management and wholeness. Their theories correlate with the increasing demand for purpose and new views on leveraging human capital for the benefit of all. Why are we here as a company, why should we work for this company, and how does this company contribute to my life? Questions that all leaders face and should be able to answer.

WHY THIS FOCUS ON HAPPINESS NOW?

We are looking into a changed world, and as we speak, we are on the verge of, or maybe in the midst of, the fourth industrial revolution. A revolution that we do not know the implications of yet. ​

Artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing, block chain, driverless cars, drones, the Internet of Things, precision medicine and other technologies of the near future will transform every industry, society and economy on our planet. But how?

Technology seems to make everything possible, and the complexity is overwhelming. What I see in the companies we work with is that they all struggle to find their way in all of this. We do the same in Valcon. Where are we going, and where will we end?

We still do not know the exact answer to this. Maybe we do not even know the questions to ask.

No leader can consume and cut through this complexity alone and with certainty lead the way for the organisation. We need to take a different path. A much more humanistic approach where we energise and empower our organisations to find the way to the answers. When everybody is screaming for investment in technology, I believe we need to invest even more in our human capital.

This is why we in Valcon talk about “happiness in future tense” and, in the same sentence, also talk about business. This is not about “Friday afternoon happy”. It is about creating a platform for well-being, wholeness, purpose and development for all human beings. It is about empowerment and boosting the energy and creativity in our organisations to find the solutions and the way forward in an environment filled with uncertainty and complexity.

We aspire to do just that in Valcon. And that is why we want to find out how we can become the happiest company in the world.

SO HOW DOES HAPPINESS COMPUTE IN BUSINESS TERMS…?

Social science provides the answer: Happy people are more productive, they are better at collaborating, and they are more engaged in delivering high-quality work. Happy people are more self-confident, are better leaders and negotiators and are more inclined to be innovative. Happy people have a higher emotional intelligence and can look forward to a more personally prosperous life. And to top the list of, happy people stay in the job for a longer period of time – twice the time actually. All of this is backed by social science – it computes.

A company of happy people is a strong company, a strong and value-creating unit in society. A company of happy people has a stronger ability to compete and a stronger ability to handle the challenges we are facing.

And that is what consulting is all about. But not just consulting. It is what making a difference in all organisations is all about. It is about contributing to making our world a more prosperous place.

For me, this is the purpose in Valcon. When the people who are Valcon prosper, we become better at helping our clients prosper, which means society prospers. That is for me truly a meaningful and prosperous vision for Valcon. ​

WE HAVE A HEAD START IN SCANDINAVIA!

We have the best possible starting point in Scandinavia as we are already the happiest nations on earth. This gives us a very real opportunity to build some of the best, most innovative and most competitive companies in the world. In addition, Scandinavia, and especially Denmark, is already a global super brand in happiness. There is a very strong global branding synergy to be harvested here in the global hunt for talent and awareness.

So imagine what can become possible if we invest in building some of the happiest companies in the world with the happiest populations as our starting point?

We have a head start in Scandinavia – let us use it to get ahead.