By perfecting the innovative idea of containerization in global transport, Maersk Line became the leading container shipping company in the world. By 2011, the company had grown to more than $25 billion in revenues, with 325 offices in 125 countries, and 22,000 employees serving over 100,000 customers worldwide, using a fleet of ships carrying over 1.6 million container units.
But Maersk Line was at a crossroads, facing some unsettling realities. New competitors were emerging. Customers increasingly perceived container shipping space as a commodity, and rate wars were eroding profits. The shipping giant knew its proud legacy was no guarantee of future success and continued industry leadership. Something had to change.
So, in 2011 Maersk leadership produced a stunning proposal entitled The New Normal: A Manifesto for Changing the Way We Think about Shipping.1 It was bold and innovative, but more important, it confronted the brutal facts. The manifesto conceded that the industry's 50-year-old protocol was letting customers down. Shipping had settled into a pattern of “good enough” results where containers arrived late as often as they were on time. Simply selling container space at ever lower rates was a race to bottom—a one-way ticket to profitless commoditization.
Maersk leadership boldly stated that “shipping had to be turned on its head.” Why couldn't Maersk provide increased value by making reliability and excellent customer service the new normal ...