Jan Wallander, Handelsbanken’s CEO 1970-1978 and board chairman 1978-1991, has passed away at the age of 96.
Jan Wallander and the unique management model that he developed and introduced in the bank in the early 1970’s remains one of the key sources of inspiration for our network. At several occasions did BBRT founders Robin Fraser and Jeremy Hope meet Jan Wallander who was a great support for our network from its beginning in 1998.
In our talks with Wallander, he reminded us that their success lay not in the absence of budgets and other traditional management tools, but in how they were organised. In Wallander’s great book: “Decentralisation – Why and How to Make it Work – The Handelsbanken Way”, he wrote:
“Much of the interest in what we have done in Handelsbanken has focused on the fact that we work without a budget. However, this is not the essential part of our model. The basic idea in the Handelsbanken model is decentralisation. If the issues are studied from this viewpoint, the abolition of budgets emerges as a mere detail, something simple and obvious; one of the several aspects of the basic idea.”
In 2003, Robin Fraser wrote the foreword to the above-mentioned book. Here’s a passage that captures the essence of his leadership principles:
“The Handelsbanken management model introduced by Dr. Wallander is predicated on the belief that the only sustainable competitive advantage available to a firm in a fast-changing world (especially in a service business) lies with its people – especially their creativity, insights, and judgment – a model in vivid contrast to the numbers-driven alternative so prevalent elsewhere.”
When developing the 12 Beyond Budgeting principles, the Handelsbanken model has been a key inspiration for us.
We remain in close contact with Handelsbanken and its management, which continues to provide invaluable support and inspiration.
When learning about Jan Wallander’s passing, we reflect at all that he has meant – not only for us – but to so many more people in and around Handelsbanken; and we feel very grateful.