Sharing Ideas at nPODS – Goran Carstedt

I recently enjoyed immersing myself in ideas for two days solid at the National People & Organisation Development Summit organised by Andrew & Tammie Greatrex of Global Leaders Network. I vowed publicly to summarise the sessions I attended but of course work got in the way, so I have chunked the task down to summarise a speaker every few days.

Day 1 session one – Goran Carstedt, former head of Volvo and IKEA and Society for Organisational Learning (SOL) steward. I enjoyed the session and the slight let down was that he had to start late and shorten his session, so he cut out most of his stories and talked instead about the underlying principles that he had learned as a leader. Even though I loved the principles, I see the value of stories in the ones he did tell.

Goran started by talking about the benefit of sharing ideas (see my blog entry from 10 Jan!) where we each end up with more and that the ‘new logic’ is not what we own (scarcity has value) but what we share (plentitude has value). This confirms the value of spending time to learn technology like blogging, that allows me to connect with a larger audience and reinforces my commitment to sharing ideas.
He spoke of setting up SOL fractals around the world and I liked the idea of learning fractals – each a smaller image of the whole. This is one of my passions at the moment – how to encourage learning communities in organisations.

I especially liked: that we ‘create’ human energy by inviting people to contribute to something meaningful, purposeful and learningful – something worthy – not by requiring obedience to rules and regulations and profit. This is becoming a bigger theme in contracting with clients – we want to work with clients who want to share their returns with their employees and other stakeholders. Thus, I loved the distinction that “Profit and Not-for-Profit are two ends of the continuum and in the middle is Not-only-for-Profit“. Creating a new mental category opens up lots of opportunities for organisations that have been constricted until now and it is another demonstration that we cannot think and imagine new ways of doing and being until we have the language to support it.

Three more ideas I particularly liked:

“Asking: Why we are here – who will miss us if we are not here?” This question really gets the the heart of whether we are making a difference in the world of work. I will ask it more often and also in the future tense “who do I want to miss me if I’m not here?”
“Life requires oxygen, organisations require $/profit – these are not guiding purposes.” Obvious really.
Brand = Promise to customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, society. How often do our organisations keep these promises?” This one is really useful, especially working with a client at the moment who has a strong brand and some aspects where clients aren’t sure they are delivering the promise. It reminds me of the “moments of truth” concept from fellow Swede Jan Carlzon – each interaction with an employee of the company either delivers the promise or diminishes the promise in some way.

Other ideas I liked and noted:

Initially, Goran spoke of three elements that contribute to creating human energy. I wrote down two – someone please supply the third:
1. Ensuring that the big picture / direction makes sense in our world and is relevant to the world;

2. Co-creating means allowing people freedom and providing a centrifugal force (the big picture) to keep them focused;

3. ?

Goran’s play on language was fun: Interaction Techology rather than Information Technology; Human Relationships vs Human Resources and “growing” culture and innovation vs “driving” change and innovation because as he says “we drive cars not people.”

He spent some time on New Logic vs Old Logic and how as leaders we need to learn how to change 3 Mental Models:

A. Power: from “someone else is in charge” which gives us high security but low control, to “we are in charge of our destiny” which gives us increased control but decreased security. Interestingly he also said (I think) that people accept (?) change but dislike being changed and we had a conversation about that last night at the Sydney Facilitators Network.

B. the triangle of (?) Sustainability:

Economy (means) – resources, efficient production
Ecology – life cycle, sustainability &
Anthropology – (me & mine)

C. Progress: “The Ancient Greeks identified what was required to progress a community over time (2,500 years ago): Truth (science & education), Planning (resources), Good (ethics) & Aesthetics (beauty, creativity, fun)” – more is not always better.
He spoke of Leadership as making space to take out fear. The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of evolution.” At morning tea someone asked how you can change a bureaucracy if you are not the one in charge, but part of the problem is that the rules are in charge not people. We also spoke in the break of the application to small business where making mistakes hurts the bank balance of the owner, so sometimes small business leaders are not good at allowing mistakes and stick with the tried and true.

“Honouring the past and imagining the future: asking what should we bring with us and what should we adapt and change?” I liked that he reinforced that we shouldn’t throw everything out but decide what is worth taking into the future.

Quality can be redefined from ‘absence of defect’ to ‘presence of value’. The role of leadership is to lift out the value – what is good – then remove the defects.”

Goran had some good customer service stories on how to really live “the customer is king” mantra. It means “regional managers being willing to really support their people rather than demand things from them and head office being willing to support the regions rather than dictating strategy to them”. A huge ask in many organisations.

He told a story from his IKEA days of being down in the carpark, helping people to load their purchases and asking three questions to guage customer satisfaction:

1. Why did you come? The answers tell you the extent to which word of mouth referrals and advertising campaigns are working.

2. How was the visit? Tells you what they liked and didn’t like.

3. Was this good enough to tell your best friend to come here? (a more powerful question than “would you come back?”)

There was a change of topic where Goran started talking about “we are now one single civilization where we are all interdependent” and the implications of that. There was lots of good stuff about living systems as a model that I want to explore further, especially using living systems as a metaphor rather than the machine metaphor.

He spent some time discussing the myth of control – “that we persist in fragmented analysis even as the world becomes more interconnected” and showed a funny cartoon of a man sitting on a chair pushing a domino on one side of him with no awareness that it links to a circle of dominoes that will come round to hit him from the other direction, except that, as Goran says, he will probably be promoted by then and some other poor manager will be sitting in the chair by then.”

Finally, Goran showed some amazing quotes from organisations such as Wal-mart – which is moving in the sustainability direction with revolutionary goals to be 100% renewable, create zero waste and do no harm. Wow! and he issued a challenge to “co-create desirable sustainable futures and that they contain something a bit more aspirational than creating speaking refrigerators” (with apologies to GE).

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mary Gray

    Sharon, thanks so much for sharing this. I really appreciate it as I couldn’t afford to attend and would have learnt a great deal.

    I’m a subscriber to the afn list.

    Thanks for your generosity.


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