case study:

What’s the purpose of a union beyond being a safety net?


What is the role of a union in today’s society, and what will happen to our sense a unified workforce when we are increasingly self-educated, freelance, multi-taskers? Djøf, the Danish trade union for lawyers and economists, wanted to tackle these questions in their new strategy to become more than just an insurance for their members.


We had abstract discussions with members and non-members and discovered their ambitions, interests and relationship with their union. We brought the voice of the more passive members to Djøf, to help them understand their needs and together find a meaningful purpose that could guide Djøf’s strategy and create value both for members and wider society.


We contributed to a human-centered strategy for Djøf for 2020, bridging a unique new purpose with member needs. With a strong purpose and new deep knowledge of their diverse members, Djøf are preparing their union for the future by creating more value for the people they exist for.

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Finding a unique purpose for Djøf

"IS IT A BIRD provided us with valuable insights about our members’ needs and contributed constructively to our purpose process."
Mette Fritze Helveg, Strategy Director, Djøf
the challenge

Automation, AI, and new digital services and platforms, along with new types of employment and skills, are rapidly changing our ways of working and interacting. Where does that leave the relevance of a union like Djøf?

Unions are the backbone of the Danish labour market, where employer and employee meet and find mutual ground, and Djøf, one of the biggest in Denmark, wants to be more in sync with their members.

What should their strategic focus be for the coming years, and how can Djøf establish a more purposeful relationship with their members in particular, and Danes in general? We involved the members in our research, and facilitated strategic discussions with the Djøf leadership – both looking out to the world and into the core of Djøf in order to uncover a unique purpose.

the approach

Conversation Salons are a facilitated forum for discussing a certain topic that gives room for more reflective and abstract thoughts. Through Conversation Salons we discovered that many of the more passive union members perceive their membership as an insurance.

The members talked about work-life balance, the future of work, societal issues and their relationship to Djøf, which, through our analysis, we translated into specific needs Djøf could tap into, and strategic potentials for their new purpose.

We then facilitated a full-day workshop with Djøf’s leadership to get closer to the DNA, strengths and interests that make up the essence of Djøf. A purpose should be just as engaging internally as it is externally, and as a diverse group of members with many interests, finding that sweet spot; a purpose that resonates broadly as well as specifically; required thorough analysis and creativity.

The Result

Our collaboration has contributed to a new member-focused strategy that is in sync with the motivations and needs of Djøf’s diverse group of members.

We have provided Djøf with the members’ honest opinions and needs in terms of where Djøf should focus their efforts in the future. We found a unique purpose, that will transform Djøf from a safety net to a union that is meaningful and engaging for Danes.

The new purpose, ‘to make society come together’ is now an integrated part of the strategy for 2020 and presents a clear goal for Djøf, its members and Danes more broadly. With their new purpose Djøf acts on the global challenge of polarization, and we are proud to have been a part of the journey.

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