Gyldendal A/S

The Unfolding of a Vision and a Strategy

Sparring with Claus – a rewarding experience

“Claus is extremely knowledgeable and knows our challenges inside out. He is almost an ideal blend of a very competent businessman and an artistic human being – and second to none as a sparring partner. And like me, he’s very pragmatic and focused on creating business results”, states Stig Andersen, CEO of Gyldendal. “Those are the reasons that he’s become our company consultant”, continues Stig Andersen, “there’s no doubt that our vision and strategy process has had great impact on the positive development of the financial results of The Gyldendal Group. The projects that we continuously initiate in the wake of the process, with the competent assistance of Claus, constitute a major contribution to the continued growth of the business and of the balance sheet.” Stig Andersen adds that the revenue and profit increases from 2002 until 2006 speak for themselves. During the years, we have worked successfully with Claus on several projects, in strategic, technical, operational, as well as commercial areas. Once a month, our executives meet with Claus for discussions in the form of personal sparring, as well as thrashing out the challenges our company is facing, strategically as well as day to day management issues. It’s a great asset to the outcome of these sessions that Claus actually knows the company intimately. Claus has a direct no-nonsense approach in his analyses, and his following suggestions for solutions. He has an intense understanding for the values that drive a company like Gyldendal. To have a sparring session with him is a great pleasure.”

The vision and strategy process for Gyldendal A/S

Stig Andersen, CEO, about the benefits of working with Claus Erik Christoffersen:
“Claus Erik Christoffersen provided a quality solution… a very fast and efficient process within the budget”
“The chemistry in our relationship is good … we have an excellent communication – that’s a prerequisite for successful cooperation”
“He is an exceptional sparring partner…focused on creating business benefits” “Our vision and strategy has had a distinctive impact on the good results in The Gyldendal Group during recent years”
“My cooperation with Claus Erik Christoffersen started in 2002. Together, we instigated a comprehensive and very successful vision and strategy process for the Gyldendal Group”
“With Claus as the driving force, the process was carried through in a very professional manner and to our great satisfaction – also regarding the timeframes and budget scope.”

Background for the Process

The starting point of the Vision and Strategy process for The Gyldendal Group was an internal change of focus, instigated by new CEO Stig Andersen. He believed that it was time Gyldendal crept a little out of its cultural ivory tower, and started to focus on the bottom-line, and streamlining the business. Claus got involved because the executives assessed that there was a need for external assistance in order to execute concrete thoughts and objectives.

The Unfolding of a Vision and a Strategy

On a kick-off seminar for the whole management group the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were pinned down in a so-called SWOT-analysis. At the same time the most important overall tasks were identified, and a joint, long-term vision was created. A number of task forces were formed, and individuals identified, all equipped with the responsibility for a development project. Next step was to repeat the SWOT-analysis in each subsidiary and department across the group in cooperation between local management and Claus. This work concluded in a report for each business unit, comprising a mission statement, bottom-line objectives, and key performance areas for the coming year.

Elaborating on the Process

“Claus Erik Christoffersen immediately understood that we had a very special task to solve. Apart from the fact that Claus complied with our demands and provided a quality solution, he fully understood that we had very little time to instigate changes, and that we had zero tolerance on exceeding the budget”, says Gyldendal CEO, Stig Andersen. “In contrast to other consultants I’ve met, Claus has the ability to communicate with people from all levels of the organization on a level par. The chemistry in our relationship is good, and we have an excellent level of communication. That’s a prerequisite and the foundation of our successful cooperation.” “It was a great satisfaction that in the course of a few months time we managed to release so much forward-looking energy and to drive the process. Apart from having a set of corporate and departmental goals, the whole course of events has also brought about a deep understanding of each our individual areas of responsibility, and a better working atmosphere”, says Stig Andersen. He refers to one of the managers of a subsidiary, who stated in the internal evaluation meeting: “It was essential to inject energy from outside to help guide our expansion process. We would never have made it without Claus’ help”.

The importance of follow-up

In continuation of the vision and strategy process, it became crucial for Gyldendal to follow-up on the realizations and offshoots derived from the process itself. At the same time Stig Andersen wants to make sure that the strategies are truly disseminated in the whole organization and provides the planned business results. On this background, Gyldendal carried through a leadership and management seminar about a year after the start of vision and strategy process. This was status time, looking back at what had already been obtained, and a number of working parties were set up, with the purpose of harvesting the results of the remaining development projects. To guarantee that the results hit the nail, Claus has been supporting and inspiring several of the groups in the role of coach.

The Business Results of the Vision and Strategy Process

Along with the work in various groups of Gyldendal, Claus and Stig continuously meet to discuss the planning and implementation of current projects. Stig is also using Claus as a sparring partner on a one-to-one basis to choose and implement top initiated future developments. During the past years, Gyldendal has presented an impressive number of consecutive record annual results, and the fiscal year 2006 saw the company post pretax results of Euro 11 Million on revenues of Euro 110 Million which is a substantial increase on the previous year’s result, and the fourth consecutive record.

Stig Andersen, CEO Gyldendal A/S

Stig Andersen, CEO Gyldendal A/S


200 employees were involved in the project which spanned over several years in multiple phases. It was clear how positive results were achieved by involving the knowledge of the employees when making decisions about the future.