Threon is an international consultancy firm, specialized in project and portfolio management. Inspired by a successful roadmap in the Benelux, Threon decided to expand the organization’s services internationally. “Unfortunately, our core team became too small to make such a big expansion and consequently, we did not succeed on new markets, but either (neither) on our own home market”, explains Tom Dedecker.
Between 2002 and 2008, Threon started offices in Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France, Portugal and Germany. Nevertheless, operating in those foreign countries seemed more difficult than previously expected. “Our biggest challenge seemed to be the implementation of Threon’s Benelux corporate values, culture and knowhow into the new foreign offices”. It is not enough to visit the local office occasionally and continue communication through skype or email. To ensure new offices become successful, the permanent attendance of a member of the core team is required. Not only the know-how but also the organizational culture has to be sufficiently present”.
Pull back & recover
During the global banking crisis, some of our foreign offices were not as rewarding as expected. At the same time, businesses at our core markets seemed less lucrative. After all, we decided to end our activities in France and Portugal and started to operate more centralized from Frankfurt in all German speaking areas. To date, this Frankfurt office is our home base for Threon’s training activities, with a strong focus on the growing digitization of training journeys. “At this moment, more than 100 experts are working at Threon and we are growing annually with 30%. Together we now realize a revenue of 12 million euros”.
Tom Dedecker says he learned some lessons out of this experience. “First, if you want to build something, like starting new offices or services, make sure you have someone from your management team who can be fully involved in this new project. If this is impossible, ask yourself if this new project is as important as you thought before. Second, if you feel something does not go as planned, be brave enough to bring it to an end”.
The third lesson might be even more important than the other ones: “Never let a drawback or misfortune devastate you to stop innovating. We encourage all our people to contribute in further developing our organization and let them think big from the start! In other words, we want them to aim for a return of one million euros when they come up with new service ideas. Otherwise, we do not start the creation process. Customers will not punish you for initiatives which fail in the market. On the contrary! New initiatives keep our customers and our people enthusiastic and attentive, which is of increased importance in the ‘War for Talent’. Highly talented people want to be where new things are happening and where they get various chances to contribute and develop the organization and themselves”.
Threon also has a practical suggestion for leaders: “When times did not seem so prosperous, our associates supported each other. We encourage our consultants to see each other as coaches, within autonomous and agile teams”.