4,000 co-workers that want to be better

Coor laid the foundation of structured improvement work as long as six years ago, when it created its ‘Progress Challenge’, a competition designed to recognize its people’s proposals for improvements and ideas. This has proved a successful way to inspire and influence the way Coor people think.

This year saw an unusually high number of good proposals. Anything from improvements to save millions of kronor for the customer to the winning entry—a healthy eating concept. Coor's Danish unit took the initiative, and the SEK 50,000 award. The Danish operation has progressed from the group's bottom rating to the business unit implementing the most improvements in just two years.

Dennis Jørgensen, the change manager responsible for improvements in Coor Denmark, cites communication and a changed management attitude as strong contributors to this comeback.

"Clear signals from management that this is something we're concentrating on and working with on a goal-oriented basis to implement is important. But decentralizing responsibility down to improvement coaches and their groups is necessary for effective change work."

This year's winner operates the staff restaurant for headset producer GN Store Nord in Ballerup. Their healthy eating concept has already helped drastically reduce sickness absence of the customer's people.

Head chef Michael Vibe-Hastrup is delighted that the jury recognized his proposal, which focuses on changing habits and values, and where savings are somewhat delayed and not so easy to measure.

"It's really exciting to be part of guiding and inspiring people to a more healthy lifestyle. This is the first step, which hopefully, will get our diners to think and improve their other habits."

His first move was to capture the wants and needs of his diners. The second key step was to appoint a nutritionist to train contract staff on nutrition, the fat content of different foods and alternatives to high-fat products.

"We calculate the fat content of every meal, then label them with different colors that indicate the fat content. We want to make it easy to take a conscious decision to choose what you eat for lunch," adds Michael.

The restaurant also offers advice and guidance for people that want to eat healthily at every meal, or start regular exercise. Monthly invitations are sent to interested diners for a meeting with Michael and nutritionist Heidi Madsen.

"We've produced a system for our diners to understand how this concept works in practice, what products and raw materials we're using, and so on."

The prize was awarded at Coor's Management Days, a seminar for its 100 top managers. It demonstrates how significant continuous improvement work is to the company, and how interest and commitment is growing every year—among managers and staff.

Read previous articles about the progress challenge

Read 'ideas for millions' in Nova no. 3/2008

Want to know more about the Progress Challenge?

Contact Project Manager Carl-Josef Halldelius on tel +46 8 553 959 39 or email