Connecting the dots

Sometimes things just come together in a very special way. That was the experience Ieft with, when we had a summer meeting with Bestyrelseskvinder (Board Women) at Plantorama in Egå, yesterday. My enthusiasm for board work, for more women in top management, inspiring retail and strategy work suddenly all came together.

The evening had been planned for a long time. When we saw the blueprint for what would be Denmark’s most inspiring Garden Center on the board, Peter Vang Christensen, Managing Director and Owner of Plantorama, and I had made an agreement that this would be a good opportunity to invite my network group Board Women to visit the new large meeting room, which overlooks the entire Garden Center.

I have had the pleasure of being a part of Peter’s board for the past four years, and I have followed the exciting development the company has been through towards becoming a nationwide retail chain with the customer and the experience at the center. I’m a big fan of the whole Plantorama team and I’m very happy to have been invited to take part in an extremely exciting and valuable journey.

The Plantorama case – the value-creating board

The aim of the evening was, first and foremost, to have a concrete case on the agenda, but also to talk about an SME company where the owner manager’s ambitions are many, but also where the desire to involve others in realizing them is obvious.

Since the acquisition of Plantorama, Peter Vang Christensen has used his board of directors actively and has expanded it to cover the competencies that have been crucial for the company’s strategic development over time.

That’s how I got on board myself – retailer specializing in marketing, online marketing and sales and insight into the female customer profile. And so, the board has subsequently been expanded with additional core competencies around omni-channel and online service design.

The organization has also been undergoing significant development from a classic analogue retail marketing organization to a modern retail marketing team with strong SOME and SEO competencies and full overdrive on content, storytelling, events, loyalty, local relevance and much, much more. Also, in terms of management and competence, Plantorama is taking the next step towards an omnichannel organization with a full competence set in the entire e-com and service design area. That is what is called “transformation” in plain Danish, but in this case it is just about being ambitious on behalf of oneself and the customers.

A presentation of the entire new Garden Center in Egå, combined with an introduction to how it all happens behind the scenes” with reporting, KPIs, organization and management were important take aways. A clear impression of a company with professional tools to keep track of the store, but also a company that invests in what you believe in – beautifully landscaped and planted parking, very special customer toilets, extra cleaning, children’s playgrounds, good coffee, solar energy and rainwater, employee development and their very own academy training for managers and much more – much that cannot be settled in money or has its own ROI.

Board women with a focus on strategy implementation

The second half of the program was about everyone bringing their favourite board tool. Given that the group that was assembled constitutes CEOs, self-employed, partners, and other C-level positions in both large and medium-sized East Jutland companies, it was interesting to see what the evening would bring.

It was very thought-provoking. Most of the tools that were shared during this workshop were about the work of the board and support for the preparation of the strategy and not least the implementation of it.

Based on the fact that more than 70% of strategies are not implemented, it was thought-provoking that this was precisely the focus for the participating women on the board. In other words – there were plenty of good tips and concrete tools for how the board focuses on reporting, follow-up and ensuring that the strategy comes to fruition.

That’s exactly what it’s about

To me, board work is NOT about the position or power of the boardroom. At all times, it is about how to help, support and aid the company to the next step. And in the same way, my work with the network Women on the Board has been about getting more women interested in board work – because it is extremely interesting and provides an opportunity to contribute – something a lot of female leaders miss.

The evening was one of those little gifts that one can be lucky to get once in a while. When I drove home it was obvious. Here were a bunch of women who in a short time have taken on the board responsibility and are driven by creating results where they are.

We need more of them.

And many thanks to Peter and the team for hosting the evening.

Plantorama –  a great case showing that strategy with heart makes so much sense.