FSN Execution Framework with Jesper Isaksen, Partner and Head of Talent, at FSN Capital

Jesper Isaksen is Partner and Head of Talent, based in our Copenhagen office. Jesper joined FSN Capital in 2015 as an Executive Advisor to help build a systematic approach to value creation, utilizing his background and experience as a psychologist and an operator in business, commercial, and HR roles.

FSN Capital seeks to transform portfolio companies into more sustainable, competitive, international, and profitable entities. FSN Execution Framework (FEF) was developed as a tool to support value creation and transformation, with management teams driving and owning the process. We sat down with Jesper Isaksen, Partner and Head of Talent, to hear his reflections on FEF, how it works, and how it has evolved over the year.

What is the FSN Execution Framework (FEF)?

FSN Execution Framework (FEF) is a systematic approach to value creation. It is FSN Capital’s methodology for translating strategy into processes and actions. We have found FEF to be intuitive, scalable, and highly effective at boosting capabilities and performance for our portfolio companies. When I joined FSN in 2015, we used a framework called “trend-shift through transformation,” which we have continued to build on. This framework focused on three factors: strategy, execution, and management. We saw a need to develop even more structure and standardization to this framework, for consistency and repeatability. So we built FEF around this rationale.

FEF is based on Lean principles. It’s all about “common sense, rigorously applied” in a structured and detailed way. To do that, you need to establish trust, and that is where our culture at FSN comes in.

It is only when we have open, honest conversations with our portfolio companies that we can start helping them.” – Jesper Isaksen, Partner at FSN Capital

How do you build trust?

Trust is everything. Our culture at FSN is unique. We try to capture it in our ethos of being decent people, making a decent return in a decent way.

We want to build integrity and trust, which leads to transparency. It is only when we have open, honest conversations with our portfolio companies that we can start helping them.

That means that our FEF work begins at the sourcing stage — with people. As Head of Talent, I am involved in the due diligence process and in recruiting for board members, CEOs, and CFOs. Working with the deal teams, we try to connect the dots between people and the overall value creation plan.

How does FEF work in practice?

We have a standard approach on how to implement FEF, but we adapt it to each portfolio company and management team. Each company has an extensive FEF onboarding where management is given the tools, support and coaching to help transform the business.

FEF builds on the ideas and strengths of the management team. The framework becomes a collaborative way of working and allows the full team to have ownership and responsibility.

FEF has been proven to work across many sectors. What I am especially proud of is that we see that FSN portfolio companies that were publicly listed continue to grow outperform the market. For me, that is the absolute acid test of whether we have built structural capital in our portfolio companies and given them the right tools for sustainable growth.

Our FEF team is growing with three new hires only this past year. But how has the FEF work evolved from implementing it to today? We started building the framework and philosophy with templates, training kits, and experts. But we found that we also needed people from FSN that could focus on implementing the framework together with the portfolio companies.

We have designed the FEF team to be not only architects of processes, but also change managers. We hired best-in-class consultants who could start working with our portfolio companies from Day 1 and team up with CEOs. Now, we are filling in the blank spot between the right tools and frameworks and how to get it done.

Today, we have an FEF Director in each of our 4 offices, who all have high IQ and EQ to take on the heavy lifting, trust-building and supporting the management of all our portfolio companies.

Final question. What’s more important, the process or people?

You must have both. You cannot substitute processes with good leaders. Then, you get variation and risk things collapsing when they leave. But if you force me to pick one, it’s all about the people. We need the right people in place for success to happen and for it to be sustainable.

That’s a focus I always have – sustainability of the good processes we are building in companies. To do that, you need to set the tone from the top and have a dedicated and passionate leadership that can reinforce and enable their team to succeed.

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