A word with CEO Pernilla Dahlman: Everyday innovation

A word with CEO Pernilla Dahlman: Everyday innovation

Daresay Team - April 30, 2017

In the second of our talks with Daresay’s CEO Pernilla Dahlman, we ask ‘how do you create an environment where innovation thrives’? Here, she shares her thoughts on the importance of trust and daring to fail ‘til you get it just right.

‘Innovation’ is a word you hear a lot in this industry, but what does it really mean and how can you foster it? Sweden’s CEO of the Year in 2015, our very own Pernilla Dahlman, believes that it’s all about openness, empowerment, finding the perfect balance… and daring to fail ‘til you get it just right.

Hey, Pernilla. So the killer question is this: how do you create an environment where innovation thrives?

There are five key elements in creating a culture of innovation. First, there must be a common, higher purpose to unite around, engendering commitment from everyone in the company. Second, you have to think in networks. There are companies with closed hierarchies and others with open networks of customers, vendors and employees. Third, management philosophy can’t be too controlling, but should rather encourage every individual to contribute and develop. Fourth, you have to work with prototyping and experimentation – we must dare to fail. Rapid development makes analysis and planning less important. Last but not least is transparency, which is a hallmark of open organisations and networks. Everyone here shares their skills and knowledge; what’s good for me is good for you.

What motivates you, and how do you motivate your employees?

My motivation is seeing our employees and customers grow. I try to motivate employees by showing that I trust them and that I think they’re tremendously important. I challenge my employees to take on more responsibility. I always try to show my employees that I care about them and that they can trust I will do my best to support them.

You’ve become a sought after keynote speaker. Why do you think that is?

For me, it’s a very personal thing to talk about my leadership. Last time I gave a talk, someone in the audience said that I spoke directly from the heart and was very personable. I like to use pictures, anecdotes and examples from our daily work at Daresay.

When I talk about leadership, I try to speak from a holistic perspective. I like to see the overall picture and usually cover leadership principles, responsibility of leaders, how to grow as a person and business results. My purpose when giving talks is to inspire rather than to educate and line up facts. My key topics are customer-driven business development, leadership and innovation culture.

At work, we know you as an outgoing person with a lot of energy. How does it differ from your home life?

In my job situation, I’m always in the action and very outgoing. I have a lot of energy and focus my attention on the people and challenges around me. At home, I take time for reflection and focus inward. I need privacy, a certain number of hours when I can be with myself and do things on my own.

I like to run, read, write and listen to music. Doing mundane tasks helps me think. That’s why I like picking berries, growing potatoes, making lemonade, things like that. I also like exploring new hobbies, ranging from dancing, diving or mountain biking, to the karate I do with my kids twice a week.

Want to get to know Pernilla better?

Take a peek into her world on Instagram @graspery, or find out more about her professional background on LinkedIn.


Magnus Ahlström


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