Sustainable Leadership seminar by The Hunger Project

 Julia Norinder, CEO of Preera, and the main speaker talked very passionately on the need for sustainable leadership.
I've just been to a seminar on sustainable leadership. The seminar was arranged by The Hunger Project (The Swedish web site is here) and hosted by Ernst & Young.

I am glad I went: Two good speakers, a great workshop, and an interesting panel discussion.

The Hunger Project is a global organization fighting poverty by investing in human potential. In practice, The Hunger Project helps people in developing companies by means such as micro-loans and education.

Sara Wettergren, CEO of the Hunger Project

Sara Wettergren, CEO of the Hunger Project was the first speaker. She talked about the Hunger Project and how the organization works to eradicate poverty in the world.

When Sara talked about how the organization has to change the mindsets of the people they want to help from "I am alone, there is nothing I can do" to "I am part of something larger. I can make a difference", it struck me that the problems she described, feelings of helplessness, isolation, is exactly the same problems I see in many business organizations.

Helping others is a great way to help oneself. I bet that many companies around the world can learn a lot from The Hunger Project.

Julia Norinder, CEO of Preera
Julia Norinder, CEO at Preera made a passionate presentation about the need for leadership adjusted to the world we live in. Julia advocates looking at organizations as living organisms, not machines. This is of course an argument that resonates with me. Organizations are made of people. People are living organisms, not machine parts.

Moving from a machine view to an organic view means moving from control, instructions, and hierarchies to vision, values, understanding and dialog. This is not yet the mainstream view, but it is a view that is steadily gaining traction. (If you have read LESS!, you may recall that my co-author James Sutton wrote about organizations as organic entities.)

Anastasia Nekrasova from Intelligent Mindsets.
 Anastasia Nekrasova from Intelligent Mindsets ran an interesting workshop based on a real case:

Josefine Lassbo, CEO of Reflective Circle, wanted help developing a vision and a growth strategy for her company. Turning to an outside group to get many different perspectives on what the business should be is a smart thing to do. Ultimately, it is of course up to Josefine to define why she is in business, but input helps. Developing a good vision statement is difficult. Getting multiple perspectives can speed up the process considerably.

Josefine Lassbo, CEO of Reflective Circle
The audience was split into groups to discuss the vision and the strategy. Here is my group:

My discussion group at the workshop, except...
...Carina Jonsson, who made our group's presentation after we were finished.
It is worth noticing that much of the value from an exercise like this is due to most of the participants not being experts. We business strategists tend to think in similar patterns due to our sharing of a common body of knowledge. Put a more diverse group together, and you are much more likely to come up with a unique and valuable insight.

The seminar finished off with a panel discussion about sustainable leadership.

The panel: Caroline Trowald (Conferencier); Kristina Cohn Linde, CEO of Mig; Eva Hyllstam, Leadership Trainer; Liselott M Daun, Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young; Gustaf Josefsson, Innovation strategist
The panel discussion was interesting and the panel members had a wide range of opinions about leadership and organization.

I believe events like this are important: They are a sign that there is progress. Though management science has progressed enormously the past sixty years, we actually see very little of it in the way companies are organized and lead. Change is much overdue, and I am glad to see signs of it.

Major change tends to happen like when you try to get ketchup out of a glass bottle: First you get nothing, then you get nothing, then you get everything at once. Scientists call this phase transition, but I'll save that for another blog post.


Two thumbs up to the facilitators of the project for making sure that their goals will be achieved. They did this efficiently through this workshop. Keep up the good work!

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