Welcome to the Extreme Change Clinic
SAS established a new transformation division, which was charged with one task, and one task only: to find savings of 2 billion Swedish kroner and to do it fast. Joakim Landholm became the Chief Transformation Officer of SAS, and his division was given almost full authority, with the executive team dedicating a good portion of their time to support it. They called it an Extreme Change Clinic and the underlying idea was to separate and segregate healthy business areas from those in need of change.
Joakim Landholm Bio
In 2012, Joakim Landholm was appointed Head of Commercial at SAS. He has a broad leadership background from both strategic and analytical functions at GE Money Bank, Accenture, Swedbank and RSA Group. Aged 46, he holds a Master of Science in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. As the Transformation Division closes down, Joakim has chosen to leave SAS by the end of August 2015.
No room to test and fail
Joakim set his team – with as few people as possible, all hand-picked for the task – they were chosen for their specific skills and proven track record. The result was a team constellation displaying great variance in both skills and personalities with experience from both inside and outside SAS.
SAS is Scandinavia’s leading airline. In 2013/2014, it transported a total of 28.4 million passengers to destinations in Europe, the US and Asia.
You’re never really done with anything
Despite its successful outcome, Joakim would not necessarily recommend SAS’ approach to other executives, because radical change creates tension in the organisation, it drains energy, and it comes with great risk. Executives should strive to avoid having to deploy such measures, but SAS had to make decisions quickly in order to move forward.
For companies that do consider applying a similar approach, the one most important consideration according to Joakim is to set the right team – the hand-picked members with complementary expertise turned out to be a winning concept. All ideas have changed and evolved along the way, and this is the essential nature of driving both large- and small-scale change.