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#1007: Drive the Change

Gjest: Rune Torhaug and Klas Bendrik

Director of EU affairs and Chief Digital & Development Officer of DNV

Med Vert Silvija Seres

In this episode of #, LORN Silvija talks to Klas Bendrik, the chief digital & development officer at DNV, and Rune Torhaug, their director of EU affairs, about the principles and strategy behind DNVs future operations in relation to resilience and sustainability.  We discover the difference between the two segments of digitalization; business optimization today and how it will impact the company’s business models of the future. In addition, we get an important glimpse into how the importance of challenging the status quo, presenting new ideas internally, and why being passionate about driving change may hold the key to long-term value creation.  

Full transcript

Med Rune Torhaug, Klas Bendrik og Silvija Seres

Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Sylvia Seres og venner

SS: Hello and welcome to a Lørn conversation. My name is Silvija Seres and my guests today are Rune Torhaug who is director of EU Affairs in DNV and Klas Bendrik who is the chief digital and development officer in DNV. Welcome.

RT and KB: Thank you.

SS: Sorry I plundered on those titles but they are quite heavy, so I have to ask you to explain them in a second. I will introduce the series very briefly before we get started with the conversation just so people know what they are listening to. So, this one is a conversation in the series that Lørn is doing together with the Norwegian School of Economics for a course that’s running as a pilot for a course in the autumn of 2021 focused on digitalization, sustainability, and strategy. All the six conversations are with people from the company DNV, Den Norske Veritas where I’m a board member, and where you are the two people most responsible for the strategy that we are building at the moment. DNV is more than 150 years old but is also one of the innovative and international companies I know of. The work that you have created around sustainability as a growth engine and sustainability as a strategic driver is one of the best uses of sustainability in practice that I’ve seen anywhere. The focus of this conversation, Rune and Klas, is how do you work with strategy and how do you involve the organization in what you believe is the necessary and positive disruption that’s bridging us with tomorrow. Does that sound okay?

KB: Exciting topic.

SS: We’ll get back to strategy and sustainability in a second, but my first question is always who are you and what drives you? Perhaps we can start with Klas

KB: Yes, thank you. My name is Klas Bendrik. I’m Swedish by nationality. My home is outside Gothenburg with my family. Has three kids, but my working location is as you said Silvija. DNV is a global organization, so you can say the world is the working field, but the head office is based in Høvik just outside of Oslo. When I’m not working, I also have a very strong sense of the ocean. I like doing everything associated with water. If it’s swimming, if it’s sailing, just being on the ocean. I enjoy that environment very much, which also fits very well with DNV and the future when it comes to sustainability and the importance of the ocean. If I'm not on the ocean in my spare time, I love riding a bike, but I’m also a sponsor. I’m actually a sponsor of the horse of my daughter, and that I have figured out is an extensive sponsorship, but it’s also a fun sponsorship. So those are a few aspects of who I am.

SS: I have been warned very strictly not to become a horse sponsor. People tell me not to. Do you know what’s the best way to get a little rich or slightly rich?

KB: No, please share!

SS: It’s by starting being very rich and then sponsoring a horse.

KB: Yeah, I can say that surely, but I’ve also learned that young kids that actively work with horses, become excellent leaders in the business environment, and that is what I’m betting for.

SS: Very good. And I think there are also many ways of doing this that are very sustainable. Both financially and very good for environmental sustainability as well, so all credits for doing the sponsorship, Klas. You’re also a Swedish navy academy graduate?

KB: Yes. I started my career, and I was actually on the edge of being an officer in the Swedish Navy and not being in the business environment, so I enjoyed the Swedish Navy and being in the military, but I also realized it was a fantastic start of a career. That it’s great to be on the ocean, being on ship, etc. However, when you go up in the military, you’ll eventually end up running a desk. When you do that, of course running a desk is practical, but a little more interesting in the business environment. So, I had the opportunity to do two great things. Getting a great start in the Swedish Navy and having that experience, but also gradually transformed into a more business-oriented career. So having the best of two worlds.

SS: Sounds very cool. What about you Rune?

RT: I’m Rune Torhaug and I live at Høvik in Bærum, quite close to the DNV office. In addition, I would say I have quite typical Norwegian interests like skiing in the winter and hiking in mountains in summer. Even though I was trained as an engineer, I have always been a keen reader. Trying to understand interactions between how society works and how technology impacts. The link between business, society, and technology. I enjoy reading a lot.

SS: Rune, we won’t spend much time on Høvik, but I just want to say to the listeners that if you haven’t been there, it’s probably one of the nicest spots in Norway. You’re a very lucky man both living and working there. But I want to ask you about your Ph.D. You’re a civil engineer from our technical university in Norway, NTNU, but then you went to Stanford.

RT: Yes.

SS: Why did you choose to go to Stanford and what value does it bring to your job now?

RT: The reason for going to Stanford was just that I had an interest in learning a little bit more after I finished my master's in Trondheim and it was on a scholarship from DNV. So DNV encouraged me to take some particular training. At that time, we focused a lot on structured reliability. Trying to understand how to make structures safe enough even though the waves are big on ships and structures. At Stanford, some particularly good professors working with earthquakes on structures. What we try to do is to take the methods and thinking behind earthquake engineering to offshore engineering, so modeling of natural phenomena applied to structures being ships, offshore platforms, bridges, whatever, and make sure they’re safe enough, but not too safe because then it gets too expensive for society. Of course, Stanford is a nice place, so that in itself was motivating, but at the time I was very much driven trying to understand more and contributing more to the safety of structures because I found it very interesting.

SS: I think it’s interesting to just have the perspective that it takes some heavy-duty technical understanding to understand how to make the most sustainable structures that provide us with energy, oil and gas, and safety on sea perhaps.

RT: Yeah.

SS: So, we get back to that. You have your current job now that kind of adds another topic to the ones that we were planning to talk about. We were planning to talk about your strategy work as a team and as a company that relates sustainability with growth, but we are also going to talk a little bit about e-regulations as they relate to artificial intelligence and future flows. Data flows, but also money flows.

RT: Yeah. Even though we’re a global company, we have over 50% of our business in Europe, so of course European regulation is extremely important for DNV with Europe being forward-leaning in the green field and the digital field these days. We talk about the Brussel effect, that European regulations like GDPR as an example, tend to be embraced by the whole world as a way to regulate important topics for society. To follow what’s going on in the EU and try to help out. Trying to help businesses in making sense of it is important, and we in DNV are trying to play a role there as you said. I spend a lot of time in Brussel trying to make sense, interpret and see how we can help out with making sense of it.

SS: Very good. We might get to the regulation of technology in the future after we’ve discussed strategy, but what I like you guys to comment on. So, Klas, you’re responsible for digitalization as a topic in the company. Perhaps we can talk a little bit about how’s that different from talking about disrupting technologies like you talked about in the Technology Outlook Report 2030. You want to start, Klas?

KB: Yeah, I can do that. When we and DNV talk about digitalization, we talk about it from two different perspectives. One is around business optimization for us to focus on how do we improve on activity, how do we interact better in a more integrated way with a customer, so the business and revenue becomes more optimized than today. The second part is much more about business transformation, and then we talk more about new products. New products enabled by technology, enabled by digital technologies, but also how new business models come into the equation. So those two are the main topics that we talk about when it comes to digitalization. What we highlighted in the Technology Outlook 2030 as you flashed there, Silvija. I think it’s more around new products and the potential impact it might have on business models, but that goes much broader for a different set of industries, but often the ones we operate today as a company, but also how technology impact society at large, but also other types of industries. For me, digitalization is both driving the internal proactivity, how we work with customers, but also fostering culture and innovation culture. To embrace new technology also towards our customers and customers future needs.

SS: I'm looking at this future report, and by the way, we’re going to supply a link to it from the page of this podcast or this case. It looks at the world today and the world in 2030, and it says for example that the population is going up by 10%. The population of 65-years olds is going up almost 30% and the GDPs is going up by 43%. I think corona has messed that up already, so how are you going to fund all the needs in a larger, but also a very much aging population. Then you show that the energy demand is only growing by 9%. It’s growing much slower than the population and the GDP. Just in those four numbers that I mentioned shows how technology helps drive sustainability because, without technology, the energy needs to grow at least as fast as the population

RT: Just to be somewhat closer to what you said, I think it’s a very important observation. Concretely, of course, electrification contributes a lot to energy efficiency which is an important part of the equation, but the whole concept of technology, improving the reused resources and increased productivity, that’s been a trend through history all the way, right? That’s basically how modern societies have been shaped. Is taking on more new technology, improve productivity and hence give more people access to better lives. I think it’s basically continuing what we do today. That we are going to use resources more effectively. The link to sustainability is of course that we use resources more effectively. The negative side is that we all know that we are overusing resources today which is because of the same reason. That we give more people access to better lives and naturally people use more resources, so the dilemma right now is that we need to give people access to better lives, but we have to manage how we use resources in a much better way if the next generation also should have good lives. So that’s the core of it. Even though the numbers are positive as you say, we know there’s an enormous challenge in balancing this out. So that’s the sustainability dilemma.

SS: I think that the way you lay this out in the report is – you talked for example about trends and megatrends, societies, and you break technologies into enabling these business model driving technologies that Klas was talking about. I just want to talk about the six categories in digitalization that appear in this report. You talk about the signature of six digital technology trends that will shape our world towards 2013. The first one is connecting people to interact more intimately, so we will live our lives and very intimate parts of our lives online. Digitally, they will be ubiquity sensors with IoT, there will be computing and communication everywhere, there will be artificial intelligence in everything. Platform-based economic models and social models are becoming the norm, and the last one is the digitalization of material. Additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, all the material technology stuff. These are six complex trends. We can’t all have a Ph.D. in all of them. How can normal people think about this thoroughly technologized digital future and make sense of it in their businesses? Where do we start, Klas?

KB: I think it’s a really good question, but my piece of advice to business leaders and other types of organizations is to look at what’s happening among their customers and which journey their customer is embarking. By that, they will also see which potential of these six or other topics related to technology have an impact on their customers and work on these topics. Then set aside a little bit of business development, research capabilities internally and engage on those topics together with customers. Because customers are on many occasions struggling on the same topics, and just reaching out cross-borders in a much more joint way. Industry projects, collaborating in delivering something. That’s more productive because it generates learning. For example, how to collaborate what the Internet of Things can bring between partners. How to work in areas like digital health as an application, which will totally transform the health care system, but of course the transformation didn’t start within digital health. It started in the telecom industry and the consumer goods industry but is now being transformed and being applied in another industry segment. And that I think is an important aspect and a suggestion of mine as a clear takeaway. Set aside some resources, collaborate with your most important and progressive customers, and see what that embarks on.

SS: To me it seems like you’re challenging both the way of delivering today, but also the business model of today with that.

KB: I think you can say that the business model for many companies today is solid. Through the pandemic, you could see that revenues might have gone up and down, but for many companies, they are pretty solid. The bottom line is also for many companies being pretty solid. Of course, some industries and some segments are truly challenged, but looking at the future of cores, technology changes the business model. Today you can say that many business models are based on hours. The input from individuals has a price, and that is a part of the price point for a product or a service. And that business model is valid today, it delivers value. However, long-term wise, it will be dramatically challenged. In order not to end up being too challenged, my advice and my experience show to try out new business models. Dare to test them. Dare to test them and also maybe fail on them, but you will still learn a lot. And try it out, but not jeopardizing the whole company at once, but take small segments. Small service lines or set up smaller companies on the side where you generate that learning. So, I think the learning part and getting it out is important.

RT: If I may build on that, I think it’s very important to try to understand the technology. That more business people not only understand the buzzwords but go a little bit behind it and understand what’s there. At the same time, let’s appreciate or realize that we do not understand everything. No one understands everything, and no one understands completely how this will turn or play out. As Klas was saying, to play, and test at a small scale together with others. Try to understand what’s happening in other industries will be very important. Because this will be shaped as we move forward to a very large degree.

SS: If I am to make a bumper sticker from what you’re saying, it’s to not fight the change, but to drive the change. And from what I hear you say, you say that we need a hypothesis. Nobody knows, but we need to guess and then we need to test it. I think you two have been driving a really interesting strategic process for DNV itself, and I would like you to tell us a little bit about the process. How was it structured and what was your learning?

KB: I can start with that. For me being fairly new in a company with more than 150 years of history was, and is, a fantastic privilege to be so heavily involved with Rune and a few other players on articulating the strategy towards 2025, but having that aspect of defining a strategy. The first big question we had was how long in these times of turbulence and new technology. How long is the strategy period? Is it one year, three years, five years or is it ten years? And I think that’s an important aspect of highlight. We bounced a little bit about that, so we ended up more or less saying that actions are on a one-year basis, the long horizon is towards ten years, so certain aspects look far ahead like the technology outlook, but then you also have to find the balance on being concrete and specific. There we landed on having a five-year approach, so we as a global organization also can deliver some impact before we having it being revised. Then naturally after approval for a five-year strategy, we also come to an aspect of having at least yearly reviews, yearly updates, and some of those updates are more major than other updates. Then we have the second aspect which I would like to highlight before you can step in Rune and show a few aspects around how we look at the outside world. We also defined a few principles that were important for us, and for us, they needed to be built upon our purpose. Specially linked to safeguarding life, property, and the environment are also built upon our vision. Naturally, it took in the perspective of having both growth as an ambition but also making sure that we are successful and resilient over time, pending on how our industries are working. But then it was also very important for us to also built upon our history, but also be bold and transformative when it’s required and also where our customer segments are required this. Then the last one as a principal for this was to create big engagement. Big engagement among our employees, among important research stakeholders, among important customers in getting their input on the journey ahead, but also looking at researchers, universities, and other important persons and institutions to give us input and learnings around strategy-making and what we can expect for the future. So those are a few examples around what we created as a basis for the time horizon, as well as the principles we applied for the strategy initially. And then Rune, maybe if you would say a few words around the approach we used?

RT: Yes. I guess in every strategy process or in anything anybody does that are pointing to the future, it’s a combination of understanding how the world works, which trends will be shaping the world in the years to come, and self-assessment on how we create value today and how we can create it in the future. Then combine the two things, meaning combing where we see the world going, where do we see our value creation going and where can we be at our best, meaning which areas we can play. Exactly what will we do to win within the segments that we decide to play within? When we try to assess how the world works, as Klas says, we do not do that on our own. We have a lot of very insightful people within the company, and of course, we use those resources, but we also engage with academia, other businesses, consulting companies that also think about the future, so we try to broadly understand how the world works. Then on the internal side, when I say how we create value, that’s linked to business models to a large degree. What are the fundamentals, and do we also try to address and articulate how we created success in the past? Where do we have the highest likelihood of winning? For us as an independent insurance and risk management company, it’s about regulatory and technical complexity where there is high risk. When there’s a combination of the two, then there’s a need for being competent. That’s when we find our sweet spots
SS: I want to bring in a perspective from the board here. It’s basically that in many strategic processes elsewhere, I experienced that the company develops a very advanced strategy, and you have strategy-day with the board and you get presented with the outcome. I want to compliment you on involving many of these stakeholders, including the board, all through the process. Because in the end we all understood it and felt that it made sense. Maybe it’s the only way forward. But the problem with boards and many other stakeholders is that they want you to figure out digitalization and tell them what’s going to happen. Very often there’s a business model that says “Here we are and we do our service today, and magic happens and we become a platform company. We’ll figure out the magic as we go along”. What I think you did differently is that you gave us eight different examples. We could be doing these eight things as platforms. What do you think works? What do you think will work slightly better if we tweak it? And by working with concrete stuff in health insurance or energy optimization in energy markets. Very concrete things the board started to understand. What is a platform-based business model mean for us? What is a data-driven company look like if it’s with our heritage? How did you create that hypothesis, and how did you manage to get the stakeholders to start agreeing?

RT: Maybe I can start with this one, Klas. I think Silvija’s starting point was really out of respect for all the competence on the board. Meaning we felt that we had some idea about the concepts that we had to meet with respect for all the competence in the board. That was a starting point, meaning that we truly believe that we will get a better result in the end if we did it that way. I think it was at least a starting point, but we also realized exactly as you said. It’s much easier to have a good conversation with people with a mixed background the more concrete we can be as a basis for discussion. So that was a very conscious choice to try to articulate as precisely as possible and bring as good a basis for discussion as possible to get help to improve what we have already done. I think that was the thought behind it. At least as I saw it, but maybe you would add on to that, Klas?

KB: No, I think you were spot on and I think in addition to what you said Rune, we also did a similar approach towards some internal key stakeholders. We almost engaged 10% of the staff at DNV during the strategy process. We also got a lot of input from internal stakeholders. We did similar exercises with some of the external advisors, but also with academia and a few other experts including the board of directors. So, we got similar questions asked to those teams, and then we compiled the hypothesis and we brought it for verification to the board of directors. It becomes much more a journey that was created as we were working, and that aspect was really important. In addition to that, we also took the liberty or the opportunity to also have one-to-one sessions with the board members. I felt that was valuable for us in the strategy team, but also very appreciated by the board of directors because then you can go even deeper in the specific subject matter expert areas, which were a little bit different by the board members. And that was also very useful during the process. And not only a one-timer, but maybe thanks to covid, we also ended up having a longer strategy process than we originally planned. That made us more active in engagement with the board of directors and also partially completing the strategy process purely digitally using Teams and other tools for collaboration. That created a different type of engagement, but also a successful engagement.

SS: So, I just want to comment quickly on one thing there. I think you were good at figuring out new rules of the road. New ways of interacting when we have to have strategy sessions digitally. Normally it’s a nightmare to listen on hours on end at team meetings, but you brought it down too many smaller sections and told us that these are the two questions we want you to answer after each of those sections. “This is the order which we will be asking you to take the floor and you only have two minutes each”. It became manageable and it became interactive. I think an important part is figuring out how to work strategy in both covid, but also post-covid times. Something I want to ask you both, and you choose who’ll start. Is your work with champions? Because one of the things that I think worked well in this process is that you managed to find a group of people that were more impatient than the rest, and these were the people that helped formulate the most important hypothesis. How did that work out, what are your lessons learned? Do you want to go first Rune, or?

KB: I can go first on this one because primarily, this was a conversation initially between myself, our chief people officer, and CEO. How to create a strategy? The first exercise was to practically assign a project manager and a project leader for it, and that became an excellent choice and performance in the end by Rune. Myself, our CEO, Remy, and our group people officer Gro. We decided on how we’ll pick a team that will both build upon our history, but who’ll also be able to cover the transformative part. Then we very much looked on our succession planning list and looked at people who we felt were progressive, but also who could represent the company very well. Then we combined that into our core strategy which was run by me, Rune, and our colleague Sofia for a little bit more than a year. You could say it was a deliberate kick of people that could both represent the history, but also be bold enough and important stakeholders internally to soil the seed for the future and for future success.

RT: In addition to that, maybe what you’re pointing at Silvija, is at the same time, there’s been this selection of a larger group of people from all over the organization we identify as strategy champions. Those were not so deeply engaged as the team that Klas talks about, but they were brought in the conversation and took ownership at the later stages of the development process and more into the implementation of the strategy. I think that’s also an element that helps to engage the wider organization.

SS: I also want to ask a little bit about troublemakers. DNV is so correct, so politically correct and so sustainable correct but to get people that are willing to be transformative, you have to have that troublemaker gene as well. People who dare to challenge. How do you build courage for people to challenge?

KB: One reflection I make, if I go first Rune without having the full history of DNV. I think having people to challenge is never a problem in DNV. We have a lot of people who dare to challenge because we’ve had so many fantastic experts that have so much knowledge in different perspectives, so what I feel and see is that dare to challenge. The biggest challenge I see is to combine all that knowledge and select a few areas to say “Yes, we have several challenges. We have many opportunities, but what is our big bet? What are we really betting for and would like to execute forcefully in the next period?” That becomes the real challenge in that. Because if you have many talented engineers and a lot of people with a technology backgrounds and financial backgrounds, and you put something on the table, they will get you feedback.

SS: So professionally proud geeks will fight for their causes, so the question is basically how to prioritize and unite.

KB: Yeah, and also get people to understand that there are other perspectives, but at some point, and time we need to make a bet because otherwise, we don’t move forward

SS: Yeah. What do you think Rune?

RT: I think challenging micro, meaning challenging small things. I don’t think that’s the challenge in DNV. People are required and trained for asking questions about everything, actively challenging things so they don’t go wrong. I think maybe the hardest part is to challenge more on the conceptual rule on an overall level. That takes a different attitude and different maturity. Both to challenge and to absorb the challenge. That is of course more difficult, I think. One important aspect is to have a combination of people that have spent most of their life outside DNV and some who have spent most of their lives within. If you come from the outside as Klas did some years ago, you will naturally ask different questions. By combining that with people which will instinctively resist, if the people are mature enough, they will absorb the important part. Together I think they will make better progress, so a combination of people that are mostly trained outside, but still having the respect for the internal culture and vice versa. If you only train internally and do not have respect for what other people bring to the table, then it doesn’t make sense. You need both, and you need respect between the two sides. I think the last part is very important.

SS: Klas talked about prioritization. Basically, about unifying in existing bets. You talk about respecting the different perspectives and making room for a combination of those. Positive friction I think is also a nice image. I like all of your perspectives. I think that strategy work often bears a trend of “Let’s just check the boxes and we conclude that this is all very important and urgent”, but we refuse to be very concrete. I think the way you were very concrete and disruptive with a smile and encouragement and made it into everybody's strategy was wonderful. We’re running out of time. I want to put two topics still on the table, and we’ll try to go through them very quickly. One thing is challenging scientifically or technically something, but the other thing is challenging the identity of the company. And many companies that at the moment are trying to make this transition, are having their core identities at stake. You’re going from being a product company, a services company, or a solutions company to a platform company. Data-driven, AI-enabled, algorithm-driven. I think the really difficult challenge in these strategies is understanding completely new business models, and I want to ask both of you what role do technologies have in driving the new business models, and what role do you businesspeople have in understanding how technology does that? It’s kind of the interplay of technology and business, and how do you create new financial and social value? The other questions I like to use a few minutes on is Runes statement saying that assurance of digital assets is an immature field. We’re trying to build an understanding that the assurance of algorithms will be as important as the assurance of physical assets during this decade. I agree 150%, and I think this is a super important statement. So, if you just go a little bit about how encourage people to think new business models across technology and economy? Your best advice?

RT: Can I start, Klas? You’ll put it together afterward. I think it’s very important to go behind the works and go behind the business model. What's a business model? A business model is a way to monetize value creation. I think it’s quite fundamental in view that we step back and say “How do we actually create value? What are the customer needs that are satisfying, and how will they change? And what will customers be willing to pay for in the years to come?” So that’s just a way to unpack the business model. In our case, if we say that one way that we create value is to make sure that systems of any kind work safely and effectively. It’s quite obvious that we’ll be more data-driven in the future. And it’s quite obvious that we need some sort of platform to be able to create that value in the future. And that platform is partly technology and is partly a business wrapping around it. I think I will stop there and let Klas talk about it his way, but that’s at least my perspective.

KB: I think it’s a very good perspective you bring up, Rune, but I will add a little different perspective on it, Silvija. I think it goes both for technology leaders, but also business leaders, that if you have operated in your own environment for a certain amount of time, you’ll become comfortable in that modus of operation. I think it is also important to look at people who have might have not been successful or is not successful within the technology and business enjoinment, and see how they would structure a new business for the future. So, if you take the sports metaphor. If you have won 8 Olympic gold medals, you’re not as hungry for your 9th medal compared to the one who hasn’t won any medal at all. That makes something to your mind. That goes both for the technology and the business side, so combining people that are successful with people that are hungry for success will create new types of sparks. That I think goes for both the technology and the business aspect. For me, that is also very much about cross-fertilizing between industries. Because by doing that cross-fertilization with 150 years of history compared to other industries, which DNV for example might not even be active in, you create those environments for creating that spark. Both on the technology side, but also the business side. Both in how we create value, but also how we capture value for the future. How customers and customer’s customers value the creation from DNV in this case. So that is a little bit of a different perspective of it, Silvija. You can almost say it links back to Machiavelli around what creates success and how is the hunger for success and who would like to embrace change.

SS: I have to read that. I forgot. So that’s a piece of good reading advice, but Rune, very quickly. Digital assurance. A terribly complex word or concept. It could mean assuring or using digital tools to certify things like that, or it could be certifying the digital such as data algorithms. What does it mean and why is it important?

RT: I think as first as you mentioned. We believe that making sure that algorithms will work will be as important as making sure that structures or physical assets will work in the future. If we in a way think about what we have done historically when we are making sure that the ship is built according to a standard, that’s assuming that it builds according to standard, meaning that the building specification is followed which in itself is an algorithm. If we conceptually move that into digital algorithms, we believe that society will need the same thing to be assured. Meaning that the safety net in society will be created to a large degree by algorithms, and if we should have a well-functioning society, we should make sure that the safety net works. Of course, we don’t know exactly how that plays out, but we do think that for example, artificial intelligence will be a need for someone standing on the outside and metaphorically looking into the algorithm and making sure that it works. That will not a one-off, but it has to be continuous because it’s a learning algorithm by definition. Essentially, in the earlier days when new things happened, it happened physically and there was a need to make sure that those physical transitions happen in control. Now we see a much deeper transition, and hence and an even deeper and more complicated need that will need to work in society's best interest. That means it works safely and reliably. So, I think what we mean with digital assurance or assurance of digital assets, is making sure that a digital society is a safe, reliable, and sustainable society. And we would like to contribute to that.

SS: Very cool. Any final words from you Klas? What do you think is the most important success factor for this strategic disruption in a good way?

KB: From my side, that would be to build on your strength. Know how you create value, but also be bold enough to try out new things. Not only have a theatre to show that you're trying out new things, but actually put some skin in the game of really trying it also and also supporting it. That would be my important advice.

SS: Rune?

RT: I think in addition to what we have already said or maybe I’m repeating myself, but I think it is very fundamental when things are happening fast is to think of what are our value creation? And then make sure that you are futureproofed in how you deliver value creation. That’s obviously by taking into account all technologies and including digital technologies as best as you can, but at the same time, as you said in the beginning, no company in the future will be a company if it’s not dealing with what it does sustainably, so we have to understand how we can create value in a way that doesn’t damage the world long-term. To think those through very carefully is important for everyone.

SS: I’m now going to go through recommended literature that both of you had because both of you had brilliant books, including Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” from Klas and “Mission Economy” by Mariana Mazzucato that was brought by Rune. There is one I want to ask you very briefly about Rune, and it’s “Grand Transitions”. We haven’t talked about that book in Lørn before, and I think it’s a very important mention. Why is it an important book?

RT: This is a book by Valclac Smil who is an author who writes a lot about how the world works or has worked, I guess. The book is basically about how has modern society been shaped and that means how has energy transition, how has agriculture transition, how has economy transition, how has urbanization happened, and so on. Not at least, how all these forces play together. There is not a simple formula for change, meaning that the changes that happened in society are interlinked, and when we talk about the impact of digitalization, I think it’s important to learn how all these forces come together. When we can understand it, then we can increase efficiency and productivity without sacrificing sustainability. I think Vaclac Smil has written books on energy, food, and everything. I would highly recommend any of his books. He has an easily read writing style and kind of combines a set of sciences in a very good way. But it’s about the complexity in transitions and that we cannot simplify too much, because then we are fooling ourselves. So, it’s quite interesting.

SS: Very cool. You just gave me an idea. I think we’re going to create a digital reading group for some of these books. Rune and Klas, thank you both so much for participating in this very inspiring and educational conversation.

RT: Thank you.

KB: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to be here.

Du har nå lyttet til en podkast fra Lørn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Nå kan du også få et læringssertifikat for å lyttet til denne podkasten på vårt online-universitet lorn.univeristy.


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What is your education, and do you have any hobbies?  
Klas: Swedish Navy, Naval Academy, Lieutenant Captain. The University of Gothenburg, BSC Business Administration, specialization managerial economics. 
Rune: Education: MSc in Civil Engineering NTNU Norway, Ph.D. Civil Engineering Stanford University, CA, USA. My hobbies include skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, and reading all year round. 

What is your professional dream?  
Klas: When I was a teenager, I dreamt of becoming a lawyer. 
Rune: to contribute to a safer and more resource-effective world. 

What is your project at work, and why it is important? 
Klas: My mission/project is to drive change and new opportunities, to be ready for the future, but not at such a pace it becomes unrealistic for the organization. 
Rune: The upcoming digital EU regulations related to artificial intelligence and data flows will become important in the years to come and will in turn open new opportunities for DNV, hence we follow this work closely. 

Why is it challenging, and how do you build the culture around this work? 
Klas: To be bold enough but not becoming a geek, and at the same time encourage all the young talent to see the development we do in order to not perceive things as being too slow. Storytelling and external input are vital elements for the culture around this. 
Rune: Assurance of digital assets is an immature field; we are trying to build an understanding that assurance of algorithms will be as important as the assurance of physical assets during this decade. 

Any interesting dilemmas: 
Klas: How to make profitable, successful organizations lead the transformations within their respective industries. 
Rune: The long-term gains will most likely be large, while the short-term opportunities are more difficult to get paid for. 

What is your relation to digitalization, in simplest terms? 
Klas: What would we have done during this pandemic, without it….??  
Rune: These pieces of regulation will most likely drive the need for assurance of algorithms globally.

What is your relation to sustainability, in simplest terms? 
Klas: Extremely important for the future of the world, but we need to be prepared to invest in it! (From a personal and professional perspective). 
Rune: To avoid accidents and errors before they materialize is a contribution to both effective use of resources as well as safety. 

What is your view on skills for the future?  
Klas: The ability to adapt, learn, and de-learn. 
Rune: In addition to specific skills, the ability to put things in context and connect the dots to a bigger picture will be important. 


Samle deg med en venn eller en kollega for å se om du klarer å svare på spørsmålet nedenfor.


What is actually meant by ‘driving change’ in the context of digitalization, and why is it an importantmentality to have according to Silvija and the guests?


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This is what you will learn:

Internal Productivity 
Business optimization 
Challenging core identity
Importance of cross border interaction 

The biggest mistake of all is to do exactly right what should not have been done at all

- Rune Torhaug and Klas Bendrik

Recommended literature:

A Random walk down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel, Mission Economy by Mariana Mazzucato and Grand Transitions by Vaclav Smil and the podcast Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. 

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