Red thread

Picture of Taylor Alden

Taylor Alden

Whilst on a recent holiday in Copenhagen, I became involved in a discussion about the “red thread” during a Burns Supper (my host was Scottish). Thinking I’d misheard (I thought someone had said “red threat” and was starting to worry that I’d missed something big in the news about Denmark!) someone began to explain in detail.

To the Danes, red thread is used like the English would say “path”. If you have a path to follow in life, they may refer to it as your red thread. But, it turns out its more than just that – it can be applied to everything!

One of the dinner guests was based in theatre and literature and commented that in the world she works in, the script or text will have a “red thread” meaning that it is written consistently.

Another guest I spoke with was an American who has lived in Copenhagen for years and works in a Danish energy firm. He explained that in meetings people would be asked by their directors what the red thread is in a business plan. In this context, it refers to the central theme of the business plan, or an objective of a proposal.

I was really intrigued as to how this red thread was such an established Danish concept that I had never heard of (despite having family in Denmark which I regularly visit!) so I looked into it further. It actually dates back to Greek mythology, where King Theseus managed to escape the Minotaur’s labyrinth by following a “red thread”…interesting…

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about the red thread in my line of work… Would the red thread be my career path? Would it be how we achieve our clients’ objectives? Or, is it quite simply that the red thread of my job is to write every day (which I love)? Whichever it is, what a great expression!