||No 17, 1997
|Photo: PETER NORDAHL
Helena´s own point of view
"What's good for the end-user is good for Ericsson." That's basically
Helena Lindskog's motto. She believes that her views go against the grain of what is
generally accepted at Ericsson. "I view everything as an end-user, first and
foremost," she says.
We can relate everything we do, develop and sell to ourselves. Everyone can be an
inventor or a tester. Imagine the possibilities that would come to light!
In her previous job as technical manager for the Stattel delegation, which handled the
Swedish government's purchases of telecom and computer services, Helena came to represent
up to one million end-users. Last year, she returned to Ericsson, where she had worked for
14 years before joining Stattel. She was awestruck by the differences between how things
are now and how they used to be.
However, it wasn't Ericsson that had changed, but she herself. She had been viewing
everything from a customer perspective for several years. Now she is sharing her
experience throughout the company. She believes that truly understanding the end-user is
the key factor for success.
Helena Lindskog is somewhat of an "industry guru." She is involved in telecom
issues within the EU and is frequently engaged as a lecturer at conferences, colleges and
universities, both in Sweden and abroad. She has managed to contribute a few editorial
articles to Sweden's major daily business newspapers.
Ericsson lured her back to the company from her Stattel assignment. For the past year,
Helena has been working with strategic issues concerning future markets at the Infocom
Systems business area's unit for Enterprise Networks.
"We must learn that customers don't care about how Ericsson is organized,"
emphasizes Helena, using business customers as an example.
They buy business communications solutions from the relevant section within Ericsson,
but they also buy Ericsson products from distributors, as well as fixed and mobile
services from operators, which are also often Ericsson customers. So the same end-user can
encounter Ericsson from several different points of view.
Viewing situations from different perspectives at the same time is one of Helena
Lindskog's typical traits. She shares several similarities with the Renaissance man. She
is an engineer and knows her telecom, but she is also a humanist and has studied history,
theology, theoretical philosophy and languages. Helena not only switches effortlessly
between various disciplines, but she also seems to have integrated them. This is
especially true today, when information technology has become a part of all aspects of
life, she views the depth and breadth of her knowledge as a major asset. She has noticed
that many technical disciplines harbor a complete lack of interest in the outside world,
which she finds incomprehensible.
Lack of understanding
At Ericsson, this can translate into a lack of understanding for how external events
affect the work done internally. As a guest lecturer at technical colleges, she has
noticed the same phenomenon - those who choose a technical education simultaneously choose
to disregard other perspectives.
"Telecom has become a part of our everyday lives, even in aspects that were
previously unthinkable. Streamlined technology is of course needed, but the purpose behind
the technology should never be forgotten. We are on our way into the infocom industry,
where content and usage areas will be at least as important - if not more important - than
the technology itself," she explains.
Ideas to the contrary
Helena has initiated a number of activities during her year at Enterprise Networks.
Most of them concern shifting focus from technology to customer benefit, an area in which
there is still much that can be done.
"Nearly everything I propose is contrary to the beliefs within the
organization," she says. "It must become more legitimate to come up with ideas
that go against the grain. There are many people who have good ideas that are worth
consideration. One shouldn't have to fight in order to be able to think differently."
Helena mentions an example from Stattel's purchase of computer services in 1993. This
was before the big Internet boom. A leading person in Swedish datacom circles contacted
Helena and her colleagues. He identified Internet as a strong growth area to which it was
worth adapting future volume and capacity. The delegation chose to listen to him.
"Our Internet purchase was unusually early. Hindsight clearly tells us that our
line of thinking was right on target, solely due to the fact that we dared to let
ourselves be convinced by a person with radically different ideas."
Remove territorial borders
Unfortunately, Helena sees several problems with the matrix of networks and activities
at Ericsson. They often die out due to a lack of organizational acceptance, resources and
"We must actively begin removing territorial borders in order to better and faster
meet the needs of a growing market for 'hybrid solutions.' These solutions must contain
components from several parts of Ericsson as a whole, such as a telephone switch and
mobile telephones in the same offer."
She adds, "We need to have more meeting points, improved coordination and
cross-communication throughout Ericsson."
Overall, Ericsson has much to gain from becoming clearer in its united front vis-ā-vis
the customers. It doesn't necessarily need to be seen as negative that different Ericsson
branches offer solutions that compete with one another, but the customers should not have
to decide which solution best fulfills their needs; that should be done by Ericsson.
"I have personal experience of this from when I was at Stattel. It creates
substantial insecurity. If neither Ericsson nor the operator knows which solution is best,
then how should I, the customer, know?
What will Helena be doing in five years?
She would like to work with strategy issues within Ericsson, but her activities with
the EU have also given her ideas of "selling" Sweden as a telecom and IT nation.
Or perhaps she will realize her dreams of becoming a writer.
"Change doesn't scare me - quite the opposite. It's positive, since different
people have different sources of motivation.
"My motivation is that I want to meet new challenges while being a valuable
resource. I want to use the know-how and expertise I already have - and that which I gain
in the future - in a positive way for the here and now. And I want to have fun, which will
come automatically when all the other criteria are fulfilled."
Helena Lindskog was born in Poland 51 years ago. She came to Sweden in 1970 as a recent
engineering graduate wanting to see more of the world. She then met economist Dag
Lindskog, became Mrs. Lindskog and remained in Sweden. Helena speaks eight languages and
has always made sure she could make good use of them. When she first joined Ericsson in
1975, she quickly became active on the international scene. She traveled to all corners of
the globe participating in product presentations, seminars and customer visits at local
She still enjoys traveling, in addition to reading and participating in outdoor life
with her family. Encouraged by her son, who is now 12, she tried her hand at downhill
skiing a couple of years ago. She took up horseback riding this year and plans to finally
learn how to ride a bike next year. Helena is also an avid swimmer, which she believes
promotes clear thinking.