Michael Hellemann Sørensen - SVP, Head of Sales Operations EMEA/LATAM at Covestro

I became a Stifinder during my previous employment with Novo Nordisk. Being a North Jutlander and an ex-military man, I was sceptical at first, but after I read the book “The Pathfinder”, I registered for the programme and found some very useful tools, professionally and personally. 

The results speak for themselves
I contacted Lasse Zäll after I started working with Covestro, and about four years ago we held the first strategy seminar attended by Stifinder. Covestro is a very conservative company and I knew that they may find the methods controversial. I asked Lasse to bring an assistant, as usual, to document our process, and I had agreed with our COO that he would join us towards the end of the seminar to see the plan we had prepared. 

One of the Stifinder tools that I like best is ”Graphic Gameplan”. We had made one with very ambitious goals for the coming years. Our COO saw the plan and was very impressed. When he subsequently saw how we not only delivered on the goals we’d described but even over-performed, he recently included Lasse in his own team for planning and challenging.

We’ve used Graphic Gameplan ever since to operationalise and implement Covestro´s values etc. so that they function in everyday life. To me this is the strongest tool to visualise the strategy in a simple and efficient way. It has international value and can be used for setting goals, follow-up and communication. When seven or eight nationalities are gathered in my team, we always follow up on our common Graphic Gameplan. Everyone took it home to their teams and prepared supporting plans. We typically work with a three-year horizon, and in my experience this form is far better than obscure strategy plans. 

Introducing the ideas in Covestro went incredibly well, and I now ask Lasse to join us regularly once a year. Several key employees are currently on the Stifinder programme and even more will be joining. I don’t push anyone into to doing it – they shouldn’t do it to please me but to learn more about themselves and their behavioural patterns. But our results are unmistakable, and the number of Stifinder candidates is therefore constantly increasing.

Healthy sceptisism
Stifinder has taught us proactivity and given us the courage to set ambitious goals. The changes didn’t happen overnight of course, but we’ve created results far beyond everyone’s expectations, and this isn’t going unnoticed.

Personally, I very much believe in balance, and on the Stifinder programme I discovered that I only prioritised my job and family. Now I’ve also made space for myself – I run, and read books, and that’s perhaps one of the most important ”takeaways” for me! 

I’ve been very conscious of which elements in Stifinder were useful to me, and I picked what works for me and my company. They draw on elements from many different worlds – a different composition, and that works for me and my organisation. It’s the combination of soft and hard values that creates results. And without comparison, we’re creating phenomenal results here at the moment.