Building a forward-looking business strategy - Case Comforta
In 2020, the pandemic brought the world to a standstill. One of the most affected sectors was hospitality. As hotels and restaurants closed their doors, the impact on various service providers and suppliers whose businesses depended on the hospitality industry was also significant.
One of the service providers greatly affected by the pandemic was Comforta, a subsidiary of the Lindström Group. Comforta specializes in textile management services for the hotel and healthcare industries. The company employs more than 500 people in Finland, Sweden, and Estonia. As it provides services that support and enable its customers, it could not do so as they were closed.
Coventures partnered with Comforta to help with direction and to shape the future. In these unusual circumstances, we needed to rethink the entire business. Therefore, we started by defining what the purpose and the vision of the business is. We drew a common picture about what a company should do based on its strengths, recent group strategy, phenomena in the operative environment and what the current clients’ sentiment is.
The aim was to find the core of the company's identity and positioning. To do this, we need to understand the reason why different target groups select Comforta instead of their competitors.
We then set the more concrete strategic agenda forward, together with the management team. We identified which strategic themes the company must work with to achieve the vision and what the financial expectations are. The selected five strategic themes served as a support for prioritizing which activities should be carried out, but also which activities should be deprioritized.
Once we knew which strategic themes to work on, we defined how to get to desired state in each theme. In a simple workshop, we refined the core activities and metrics for the near future and the target capabilities to be carried out.
What we found out?
As we know, the market environment will stay uncertain in the future as well. During this project, we were able to introduce practical tools and methodologies such as VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) thinking. This model can be used to describe how the forces of change, lack of predictability, complexity, and ambiguity in the world around us influence the decisions that we make. This mindset emphasizes the ability to tolerate uncertainty and benefits from continuous learning.
The dramatic need for companies to shift courses was caused by external environmental factors hardly in anyone’s control. Luckily, we managed to find a common direction and tangible strategic objectives with the Comforta team. At the same time, we assessed new areas for investment and re-evaluated operating models. The management team's open mind and interest in future trends enabled us to accomplish our task.
With the new strategy, Comforta now has a direction to start growing in a concrete way and identified clear target capabilities to achieve its strategic goals.