The Carlsberg principle

By: Matt Stocker
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I recently came across a blog post titled “What if Carlsberg did redundancies?” by Lou Burrows, who, when faced with having to make redundancies at her company, helped her team completely rethink their approach by asking the question “If Carlsberg did redundancies, what would they do?”

Though redundancy is not something that anyone would wish for, by asking the question and looking at what could be possible, it opened up new innovative thought and freedom from previous expectations.

It really got us thinking. It would be like their adverts – somehow it would all be okay, people would get new jobs (probably better ones), they’d get the best looking references in the world, they’d be introduced to their next employer, we’d all manage to stay friends and people would feel happy and confident when they left. Oh yes, and everyone left behind would be fine about the changes. And we’d all have a leaving do together with speeches and music – a real celebration of our time together.

By asking the question, “What if Carlsberg did redundancies…?” they discovered a new benchmark. They managed to provide a somewhat different experience for all involved.

We got to the end of the consultation and, though it was not like a Carlsberg ad, we did manage to get pretty close. That question forced us to think through the problem from a different perspective and to go the extra mile just to see what the possibilities really were in this difficult process.

The Power of the “What if…?”

The question was the tool that unlocked the possibilities. Without the question, people’s pre-existing expectations about the situation would have been the most dominant force.

The question is based upon the ‘truth’ that Carlsberg can make things great, whatever they are. That they can take something ordinary we know and love and create something extraordinary; “probably the best…

By taking something we can engage with and allowing us to disengage the ‘practical realities of life’, it allows us to dream. In the land of Carlsberg anything is possible, and it’s all about you and me.

If Carlsberg made your product or delivered your service, what would they do? How would they take something ordinary and make it extraordinary? How would they excite and engage your customers and give them something to talk about for weeks afterward?

The power of the “Why not…?”

The ‘What if…?” question is only powerful if it is translated into a reality of some kind. Therefore, the next question after ‘What if…? must be “Why not…?”

Well, why can’t you? Why can’t you make what you just dreamed a reality? It’s easy to say to ourselves that it’s just not practical, or that no-one else does it, but seriously, why not?

Delivering a leading edge product or service may just give you the market edge. Or in the case of Lou Burrows, delivering redundancies with a difference meant that a tough situation was made a little bit kinder. Although you may not be able to create ‘the best’ or fully deliver your “What if…?” dreams, what if we all tried to get that little bit closer?

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Article by:

Matt Stocker

Matt is founder and director of Stocker Partnership, a strategy and innovation consultancy. As a strategist, designer, innovator and geek, he's known for his creative thinking. Matt thrives in challenging environments and loves to push the boundaries of possibility. He's a big picture, visual thinker who is always running 5 to 10 years ahead. Find out more

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