Dr Staffan Hedén

Staffan Hedén: the question for companies is how to create value in a rapidly changing environment

At one of the first companies he ever worked for Staffan Hedén was given a job in ‘the hidden department’ – a semi-clandestine operation designed to come up with secret formulas for generating revenue streams.

Now, almost 40 years later, the Warwick Business School alum has decided to make public all that he has learnt during a long career in industry and consulting. The result is a book called Business Model Innovation: How it really works.

“If someone had asked me to do this a few years ago, I would not have done it. But now I’m giving away all my recipes for strategic success,” says Dr Hedén, who completed his Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) at WBS in 2021. “It’s not easy to create business value today, so I think it’s time to share some of my knowledge.”

Published by Routledge, Business Model Innovation is focused on six central themes, offering five ‘success factors’ for each one. This is followed by 150 insights, five from each success factor, deepening the level of advice.

“It’s a kind of atlas of insights into how business model innovation can be a profitable change process,” he says.

Following a corporate career working broadly with international clients and spanning Sweden and the Netherlands, including stints as a research and project manager, financial controller and as a managing director, Dr Hedén set up his own consulting firm in Stockholm’s Old Town in 1996.

Using the latest knowledge in business model innovation, Cecia Consulting offers strategic advice to midsize and large international companies. Operating from a firm foundation in qualitative and quantitative methodology and analysis, it can help firms – regardless of their size – come up with better business designs.

“The normal procedure starts with a few meetings going through the purpose and the existing model, but then the next step is to go deep,” Dr Hedén says.

Going deep involves assessing how much an organisation can evolve and innovate. However much a company changes its business model, it is imperative that there is an ‘anchoring of strategies’, according to the 63-year-old Swedish consultant. 

“This is a question of load bearing – how much a company culture can take,” he says. “It’s the behavioural science question. Will people in the organisation fall in behind the new ideas or fall out with them?

“Using ambassadors within the company to help people change their operational behaviours can help in this respect. Whatever approach is adopted, guidance is key.”

A whole chapter is given over in Business Model Innovation to management and leadership. “With leadership you need a ‘vision person’ but you also need a person who can translate those ideas into entrepreneurial movement,” Dr Hedén says.

Learning at WBS London at The Shard

Having worked with visionary business ideas himself for the best part of three decades, the Swedish consultant turned to Warwick Business School to consolidate them. He had heard “good things” about the DBA at the School, so in 2018 decided to take the plunge. 

He found it a rewarding journey. “If you work fast, you need an academic supervisor who will work fast with you, and I found that in Professor Christian Stadler.

“But it was not only about the professors, it was also the lively learning environment at WBS London at The Shard, and exchanging ideas with my fellow students.”

Even when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and he had to retire to his office amid the rustic-red and mustard-yellow townhouses of Stockholm’s Old Town – usually packed with tourists but at that time deserted – he continued to enjoy the experience, especially as he was now testing the new perspectives he had gained at WBS as he wrote up his thesis.

Completing his thesis was hard work, but the idea of writing a book was now firmly planted in his mind. Although Business Model Innovation is a culmination of his long career building industry practice, it can also be said to have grown out of the WBS journey.

“I phoned Christian and told him I wanted to write this book, and we had a meeting,” the founder of Cecia Consulting says.

With Professor Stadler’s encouragement he approached English language publishers, and on winning a commission from Routledge, sat down at the end of 2022 to start writing. He wrote fast, and by August the following year, had more or less completed it. The knowledge gained in many years of consulting and validated in a thesis was always present during the writing process.

Releasing value

“After all my years out there in the real world, it was strange to sit down in isolation writing the book. And it was real challenge running Cecia at the same time,” Dr Hedén says.

But addressing intricate challenges are just part of business, he says, especially in the volatile business environment that has emerged since COVID-19

“There are so many new questions for businesses nowadays, not least in the increasing pressure on companies to focus on analysing large datasets to meet customers’ needs,” he says.

“And then there is that question we have to keep returning to: how do you create value in a rapidly changing environment?”

At the end of the day, Dr Hedén believes it is essentially about releasing the hidden value of a product, its ‘soul’.

“The old way of doing things was all about profit margins, but in the internet age it is all about communication,” he says.

“A product has to have idiosyncrasy and feeling, an aura about it, a soul. Otherwise, no-one will buy it.”


The goal of the Doctorate in Business Administration at WBS is to design organisational interventions which help address real-world business challenges.

Learn more about strategy on the four-day Executive Education course Strategic Choices at WBS London at The Shard.