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No. 11 May 2013 €19 / 165 SEK

MATS LINDGREN Kairos Future Knowledge is the ’’ wellspring of thought THINK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE A MYRIAD OF NUANCES WARMTH, FUR AND HUGS REFLECTION KELLERMAN


Meet scandinavia


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Meet Scandinavia - Part of Adventura Group. Entrepreneur of the year of Swedish tourism 2009. www.meetscandinavia.com. Photo: F. Broman / Humanspectra


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Home of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013

The obvious choice for Your next meeting too! Having both Copenhagen and Malmö international airports within 30 minutes from the city centre and many top modern, easily accessed venues up to 15.000 delegates, meetings in Malmö are always close. Adding reliable infrastructure, focus on sustainability and the attractive compact city, Malmö offers you a modern destination outside of the ’been-there-done-that’-league. Meet us at IMEX stand F200 or contact us at meet@malmo.se


LE GA LLY R E SPONSIB LE ED I TO R I N C H I EF Atti Soenarso

atti.soenarso@meetingsinternational.com  PU B LISHE R Roger Kellerman

No. 11 

May 2013 Fuel Your Mind

roger.kellerman@meetingsinternational.com  COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Maria Heijel

13 INTRO

maria.heijel@meetingsinternational.com 

Infrastructure 2.0

W R ITE R S Tomas Dalström, Hans Gordon,

Atti Soenarso on the significance of infrastructure.

Roger Kellerman, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso.  PH OTOGR A PH ER  Sara Appelgren  TR A NSL ATION  Dennis Brice dennis@writingservices.se  EDITOR  Pravasan Pillay  ART DIRECTOR   kellermandesign.com 

14

THOUGHT ECONOMY

Mats Lindgren, Kairos Future “How do we create new thoughts? That’s the issue we have to confront.”

E DITOR IA L R AYS OF S UNS H I NE Bimo + cello trio

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28 PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS

Meeting the Unseen Hans Gordon: “What on earth have I been through?”

35 INTERMISSION

The Relief “Let’s drift off for a moment.”

CONTACT Meetings International Publishing,

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37 SHARMA

10 Quotes That Changed My Life Robin Sharma lets us know which they were.

40 IMPROVISATION

Jan Lundgren, Pianist “Improvisation gave my fingers wings.”

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54 BRAIN CHECK

Danica Kragic “The robot knows how you like your coffee.”

66 KELLERMAN

How Can You Think at All?

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Challenging ourselves with new knowledge


Meet up in Europe’s life sciences stronghold Are you looking for a suitable venue for your next life science meeting or congress? Take a closer look at one of Europe’s strongest and most vibrant life science clusters. A place where academica, industry and healthcare providers cooperate to contribute to improved health and quality of life. Yes, we are talking about Capital of Scandinavia.

Spectacular architecture for spectacular meetings: The new Aula Medica in Hagastaden, Stockholm will host the annual Nobel Prize lectures.


For decades, medical research and innovations from the Stockholm region have been saving lives and improving the well-being of millions all over the world. The list of innovations ranges from the Pacemaker and the Gamma knife to the growth hormone Genotropin and asthma medicines such as Bricanyl and Pulmicort. In fact, Sweden is the European country with the highest number of life science companies per capita, with the lion’s share of these being based in the Stockholm-Uppsala region. As you might suspect, this is not the result of happenstance. A self-contained life science ecosystem One of the single biggest reasons behind the success of the life science cluster in Stockholm-Uppsala is the unique cooperation between industry, academia, society and healthcare within the cluster. Everything needed for successful cross-disciplinary life science projects is concentrated in a small geographic area, which makes it easy to meet and interact with decision makers and colleagues. Having one of the world’s leading ICT clusters next to the life science cluster doesn’t hurt either. A whole city district dedicated to healthcare The trend towards more and more cooperation will be strengthened even further by the development of an entire new city district called Hagastaden. Hagastaden is one of Stockholm’s largest and most important urban development projects ever. By the year 2025, the area of Norra Station between central Stockholm and Solna, will have been

developed into an entirely new neighborhood with a mixture of apartments, workplaces (some 50,000), cultural attractions, green areas, world-leading research and highly specialized medical care. All of this will serve to strengthen the competitiveness of the cluster even further (www.hagastaden.se). Top of the line universities Three prominent universities – Karolinska Institutet (which awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technology-are located within approximately 1 km of Hagastaden. In other words, the competence supply is impressive with 2-3% of the population in Stockholm-Uppsala holding a PhD. This compares well with even the very top areas like Boston (1.9%) and San Diego (2.2%). Karolinska Solna University Hospital The development of Hagastaden will include the construction of an ultra-modern university

The university hospital of the future: The New Karolinska Solna currently being built in Hagastaden will become a hub of healthcare, research and acedemia.

hospital – New Karolinska Solna – one of the largest and most innovative healthcare projects worldwide. When completed in 2016, it will offer a site for specialized healthcare and conduct basic research, patient-focused clinical research and education. Aula Medica Perhaps the most spectacular and symbolic building in Hagastaden will be a new auditorium called Aula Medica. With a capacity of 1,000 persons it will be used as a meeting and conference facility for a wide range of occasions, not least the very popular Nobel Prize lectures given by the Nobel Laureates in the days leading up to the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. A timely reminder that physical meetings remain as important as ever, even in this digital age. The smartest people in the world meet up in Stockholm Yes, we are of course talking about the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies held in Stockholm every year in December. But the influx


of smartness does by no means end there. Stockholm is fast becoming the place in Europe for life science meetings and congresses. Which may not come as a surprise to those in the know, since few cities are trying as hard to strengthen their offering in this field as the Capital of Scandinavia. Stockholm is a compact yet cosmopolitan city with excellent flight connections and an efficient public transportation system. Modern venues, great accommodation, spectacular scenery and lots of social activities are other reasons why Stockholm is the perfect choice for your next life science conference or meeting. Expert help – free of charge Stockholm Convention Bureau is here to make things easier for organizers. As a part of Stockholm Visitors Board, we provide a free-of-charge service offering all the support you need to plan a successful meeting. If you want to know more about what we offer and why life science companies and organizations keep coming back to Stockholm, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Life Science congresses in Stockholm Below you find a selection of congresses that have chosen, and in many cases returned to, Stockholm: EASD (Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) 1967, 1995, 2010, 2015 ESC (Congress of the European Society of Cardiology) 1990,1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 ECCO (European Cancer Conference) 1985, 2011 ESMO (Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology) 2008 CINP (The International College of Neuro-Psychopharmacology Congress) 2012 ECE (European Congress on Epileptology) 2014 EHA (Congress of the European Hematology Association) 2005, 2013 ERS (European Respiratory Society Annual Congress) 1996, 2002, 2007

For more advice on your next meeting, send us an email or give us a call. Stockholm Visitors Board Stockholm Convention Bureau Phone: +46 8 508 28 500 convetionbureau@stockholm.se visitstockholm.com

A vision of what to come: Hagastaden is one of the largest investments ever in Sweden and will be an entirely new city district where science, research and education will be given prominence.


INTRO | 13

INFRASTRUCTURE 2.0

I’ve just returned from a trip to Jakarta in Indonesia where I visited the Balang Sidang Jakarta Convention Centre, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Jakarta has 14 million inhabitants. Indonesia has 240 million and is today the world’s fourth largest country. It consists of 17,508 islands and has a westerly-easterly length of 5,000 kilometres. Despite Jakarta Convention Centre being in the heart of the city, it could take up to two hours to move fifteen kilometres on streets where the traffic is almost at a standstill. This is naturally not optimal in any way. The broadband doesn’t work that well either, well, not like we’re used to anyway. But despite this it’s nearly always fully booked, usually with B2C events, not B2B. During my visit several car parks must have been used to handle the enormous demand from exhibitors. A new convention centre is now under construction, Jakarta Exhibition and Congress Centre, 15 minutes from the airport and with state-of-the-art physical and digital infrastructure. Because now is the time to take a giant leap in among the countries with rapid economic development. The venue is due to open in March 2015 and surpasses most other venues in the world with its plenary hall for 18,000 sitting delegates. It also has a further 45 meeting rooms and a total fair area of 60,000 square metres. The venue was designed by Larry K Oltmanns from London-based V3

Architect and Urban Designers, and is privately financed by PT Alam Sutera Realty Tbk, who will own and manage the venue when completed. Alam Sutera is a property and lifestyle company which calculates around 5,5 million residents living in the new town district. “We’re convinced that the demand for Business to Business meetings will soon surpass the current availability in Jakarta,” says Lilia Sukotjo, director of Alam Sutera. “A first class venue is needed now, and even more from 2015.” At our meeting she told me that Indonesian growth is forecast to be rapid and that Jakarta will become an increasingly important city in their part of the world. The rapid transit to and from the airport is intended to avoid the worst traffic jams in Jakarta and the entire infrastructure project is based on a sustainability perspective. Top modern facilities are also being built to show visitors that Jakarta values the meetings industry. With 350 languages, cultures and different religions that all have to pull in the same direction to enable the country to develop, there is simply no other way to go. Fibre cables are going into the ground to provide the fastest internet in the world. Indonesia believes that a well-functioning physical and digital infrastructure is the way to a bright future.

Swedish-Indonesian Atti Soenarso has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. She has worked for Scandinavia’s largest daily newspaper, was TV4’s first travel editor, has written for many Swedish travel magazines and has had several international clients. She has travelled the length and breadth of the world and written about destinations, people and meetings.


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LINDGREN TEXT

Atti Soenarso

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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Mats Lindgren, the founder and CEO of the international analysis and consultancy company, Kairos Future, has written a book entitled 21st Century Management – Leadership and Innovation in the Thought Economy, in which he investigates the paradigmatic shift the world is facing and the demands it puts on leadership, organisation and innovation. Mats Lindgren, who holds a master’s degree in Engineering Physics and Human Services, and a doctoral degree in Business Administration, has identified several organisational success factors in the thinking society. The success of industrial society was built around production efficiency. Today, and even more in the future, success will be built around the ability to streamline thought processes. In the thought economy, ideas are the new commodities, concepts the new products and thinking the new production. This shift challenges all our previous notions of successful leadership. In the book Mats Lindgren takes up new approaches to successful leadership and presents a tangible model for transforming a business into a thought factory and a thought network geared up to producing ‘Aha’

moments. Today we are well on our way into the thinking society that Mats Lindgren began talking about back in the 1990s. When did he realise that knowledge is a commodity? “It was during a conversation with a customer. I went up to the whiteboard and drew a picture with three value chains on top of each other. At that moment it became clear to me that ideas and knowledge are the new commodities, thinking the new production and concepts the new products. It worked on the first person I tested it on and the next ten said the same thing: Aha, that’s right.” More than 30 years ago Mats Lindgren began considering the way we think and how difficult we find it. He tried to get people to think systematically about the future and realised how complicated it was and how

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“ To lift creativity to higher levels you need a good measure of analytical thinking”

important it was to have processes and tools for making it happen. Some years later he was project manager for a joint project at the Institute for Future Studies to look into popular movements of the future. SKTF, The Swedish Missionary Society and The Swedish Sports Confederation also took part. They would pursue their own future studies and the Institute would help them in their work. “It involved gathering a lot of people in meetings, but the meetings and workshops that were arranged usually ended in chaos because the participants lacked thinking tools. Nobody had taught them how to do it. When it was time to formulate thoughts about the future they couldn’t differentiate between dreams and threats. From that chaos I had the task of writing a book about working on future thinking in groups. It was called Öppningar mot framtiden (Openings towards the future). As a boy Mats Lindgren was curious about most things and found conceptual things easy to understand. When it was time to decide on what to do on completing upper secondary MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

school, a thought came along: ‘I’ll apply for something where I don’t need to decide what job to do in the future.’ A doctor was not on his list, too much blood for his taste. The Stockholm School of Economics was turned down with the words ‘Too narrow for my way of thinking.’ What about technical college? “I began by sifting out all the vocational courses and was left with Engineering Physics. It was geared up to thinking and more thinking without a vocation in sight.” On the question of how thinking becomes the motor in the economy, Mats Lindgren discusses a recent project. The assignment was an employee survey for a large international heavy engineering company. The aim was to pinpoint successful behaviour patterns in the organisation. “When we began analysing the strongest connections using various types of success measures, we saw that it was mostly about ‘thinking’ in various forms. Successful operations have an environment that encourages conceptual thinking, processes for putting ideas into practice and always striving to stay at the forefront. The


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“ The greatest challenge is that we subconsciously seek confirmation of things we know nothing about”

questions we asked were: Can we improve this work? Can we create a systematic modus operandi? “The transition to a thought economy does not mean that we no longer need to procure knowledge. In actual fact we need more knowledge, a greater diversity and increased ability to see contexts than ever before because knowledge is the fuel in the thought economy. But it’s still not enough. As individuals and organisations we also need to master the tools of thinking, and, for schools and colleges to be relevant for individuals and working life, they need to progress and teach these tools to the extent required.” Mats Lindgren explains that many companies, all companies in theory, have an innovation funnel through which thoughts stream in. They come to decision points, where a decision is made on whether or not to take the project on board. At each such decision the company puts in more and more money. The initial cost is not so much but it could soon escalate into enormous sums. But almost none have a funnel for getting excel-

lent ideas into the decision-making process. “They think ideas will come fluttering in like butterflies and land inside the company. But they won’t. To be successful as an organisation you also need a process for developing new ideas and quality assuring them, or at least a system to capture the ideas that fly through. We work in this way at a number of companies.” Mats Lindgren gives an example. About ten years ago they worked at Kraft Foods, where the product range included coffee, chocolate and cream cheese. They needed help to build up a unit and a working method for developing and utilising consumer insight. Kairos Future came up with a process that enabled the customer to apply a business intelligence-driven innovation strategy, and helped them to map out the ten most popular trends among consumers and within the sector. But it was not enough. “To go from insight to action you need to delve into the consequences. And we did. We asked what would be the consequences of this trend for, for example, the coffee market? And 2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“It’s in the meeting between creative and analytical thinking where real progress is made”

what are the consequences of the consequences? Things suddenly became crystal clear and the route opened up. Ideas previously considered to be impossible to implement suddenly became possible, even necessary.” When Kraft Foods began the process, dark chocolate in Sweden was akin to Valrhona. Mats Lindgren says that Kraft discussed a trend called ‘everything goes premium’ and asked whether the premium segment was growing in all sectors. The answer was: Yes, and probably everywhere. If that is the case, what does it entail for the chocolate market? This was the question they pondered over and the insight of which led to the launching of Marabou Premium, which quickly became the best-selling chocolate on the market. “We asked the customer if they would have come up with the idea themselves. They replied that they would never have come up with the idea if they hadn’t had sat down and delved systematically into the issue. They said that without this approach the butterfly would simply have flown past and they would never have captured it and set the wheels of change MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

in motion. We must build systematic processes. This is clearly visible when you look at the individual level.” Mats Lindgren points to Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows – What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and explains that Carr means that the internet superficialises our brain because we no longer have to consider things, just react on stimuli and think in 140 characters. We train the reptile brain. “Carr is enchanted by the ability of new technology to provide enormous amounts of knowledge in a very short time. What bothers him is the design of search engines. In an excellent essay about the book at dixikon.se, Peter Landelius writes: ‘The power over the search for knowledge is not in the hands of the user but the constructor of increasingly sophisticated algorithms, the primary aim of which is not knowledge transfer but advertising.’” Mats Lindgren has nothing against tweets and text messaging, but we need to delve into things in order to formulate thoughts. We have to teach the tools of thinking again. How we think individually and in groups,

because in them we have to keep the creative processes apart. “Everything goes in double or triple time. We need to throw all the ideas onto the table. Brainstorming that nobody is allowed to question, followed by a selection phase to which you apply analytical thinking, or conceptual thinking, and try to see the patterns. Put it all together and extract to the next level without losing the wealth of details. You then get a new phase where you can look at the consequences of your thoughts. “We haven’t even applied that in our organisations. We run courses in this where we train people to think systematically, from the surrounding world and resources to strategies and courses of action. Which events in the surrounding world influence us? We delve in them. What are the consequences? It’s just a simple tool. Many can’t differentiate between a desired future and a possible future.” Mats Lindgren gives the university world as an example. All the universities in the world say they teach critical thinking. But that is just one sort of thinking, and universities cannot even teach that properly. An


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THOUGHT ECONOMY | 25

“Many can’t differentiate between a desired future and a possible future”

American study called Academically Adrift points to a strong downward trend among the country’s universities with regard to educational results and student’s efforts. “This is further proof that we must change our way of working because we’re facing a paradigm shift. The same thing probably also applies to Sweden.” In answer to the question of how we create new thoughts and see new patterns, Mats Lindgren argues that, to put it simply, one could say that the brain is our greatest problem. The brain is designed to filter away everything it does not expect to see and fill it with everything that “ought” to be there. The greatest challenge is that we subconsciously seek confirmation of things we know nothing about. He means that we have to learn ways to force ourselves to think, to push the brain in another direction. One possible tool is in pairing two phenomena that do not normally belong together. If they meet what happens then? Simple stratagems like this will push new ideas to the surface and provide whole new associations.

“There are things we’ve completely forgotten in the western world. Like the fact that body and thought are linked. Take a walk and get new ideas. Do the washing up. Pick some flowers in your garden. Read books. Take long walks by the sea. Everything is connected. How do we create new thoughts? That’s the issue we have to confront.” Mats Lindgren uses seven words to summarise thought productivity: The number of ‘Ahas’ per time unit. “It’s a good measurement. If people think the company or group they work in is good at getting constructive output from workshops and meetings, then they see themselves as more competitive than other divisions. And employees get more job satisfaction. But not only that, customers also regard the company as being more innovative and better at dealing with their problems. So thought productivity is beneficial in many ways.” Tools and methods are just instruments for getting the process going, he says. Thinking new thoughts is very tiring. After Kairos Future’s two-day course the participants are usually extremely tired through

convulsing the brain like they have never done before. Focusing on thinking is strenuous. With analytical and conceptual thinking you have to keep different things in your head for a long period of time, which is usually strenuous and very demanding. You try to build something up in your head and that is a laborious process. “You then understand why people don’t make the effort to think for longer periods, they simply want to avoid running a mental marathon. By training your thinking you become a much better thinker and thinking becomes less laborious. The brain is a muscle and extremely ductile. It becomes what you train it to be. Straight away you become better at thinking, and if you continue to think you get better all the time.” According to Mats Lindgren, there are still very few people who talk about the progress of thinking. There are many positives to be taken from the school world, where a lot of things have happened in the past few decades. There is more focus on creativity than ever before, but it is easy to fall into the other ditch, that is to say thinking that being creative, 2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“How do we create new thoughts? That’s the issue we have to confront”

visionary and innovative will solve all the problems. “A dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts. The parts are jointly exhaustive. Everything has to belong to one part or the other with mutual elimination: nothing can belong to both parts at the same time. “When my children were at school it was important to have imagination when writing. Spelling wasn’t that important, which is fine. But to be really creative you need knowledge, and to lift creativity to higher levels you need a good measure of analytical thinking. It’s in the meeting between creative and analytical thinking where real progress is made.” Not much is happening in the political arena either from a thinking perspective. Mats Lindgren says that politics has become a quarterly economy. Politics no longer lead but follow opinion polls. But the greatest challenges cannot be faced by following opinion polls. They need strategic and often unpopular decisions. “You can admit that behind closed doors but never in the public spotlight. That’s one of the biggest probMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

lems. Which political decisions are needed to turn Sweden into a thought economy? There are plenty of things that need changing. Take research, for example, where the focus is now shifting towards excellence and the Nobel Prize awards. But not even our latest Nobel Prize winner, Hannes Alfvén, thinks that that should be the aim of research. Focus should instead be directed at utilising basic research in collaboration with the business world.” Mats Lindgren gives Apple as an example, claiming they have not really invented anything at all. They have put together things that others have invented, improving them and reassembling them in new combinations. “It’s time to elevate the power of innovation. Of course we must continue with basic research at universities and colleges, but we should also invest in other research, applied research in collaboration with the business world. Watch things happen then.”


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YOU ARE HERE 28 | PSYKOLOGISKA MÖTEN

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

© iStockphoto.com/mstroz/Mark Strozier


PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS | 29

Hans Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Authorised Psychologist, specialised in Aviation Psychology. Authorised psychotherapist, since 1987 running Gordon Consulting. Has for decades been engaged by airline companies, among them SAS and Thai Airways International.

Meeting the Unseen

WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I BEEN THROUGH? It is not uncommon to pick up a paper and see a couple declaring their undying, unremitting love for each other after forty or fifty years of marriage. Newspaper editors are fond of delving into the secret of everlasting love. But I find the question rather peculiar. Would it not be more appropriate to ask those who break their wedding vows why they have done so? What is it that causes the flame of love to gradually flutter, weaken and die out? To a large extent it is probably due to our personal privacy where we keep things from each other. Fantasies, doubts, bemusement are shut off from the daily, open communication between couples, things smoulder in the inner sanctuary to suddenly explode in completely unfounded accusations. This leads to escalating conflicts and flight: “I never want to see you again!” The inner fantasies are not always about the grass being greener on the other side, that is to say hidden desires for another person, which is only natural, but quite often more subtle and important things, like death, for instance. How many people discuss death with each other? It is impossible to go through life without thinking

about death, your own and your partner’s. In the same way as a company or any other large organisation can, and should, discuss future scenarios in the event of unforeseen threats, ageing couples should be able to discuss the future following the death of one or the other. But we people do not always like to be reminded of our inevitable demise, despite thinking about it on a regular basis. Instead, we commonly strive to shift parts of this inner life to a place that could aptly be named the inner bunker, a relatively isolated part of the brain with thicker walls behind which we can hide repressed material. We all have masses of repressed inner material, especially from our earlier and painful experiences in life. Trauma does not only affect people who have survived plane crashes, earthquakes, war or torture. For a small child, even the most mundane daily occurrences can create mental distress points. Their smile may quickly return but that is normally just a sign of our adaptability; we find a way out of the dark pit and get back into line again. A large number of legal cases in Sweden where people of different ages, especially children, have testi2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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fied on what they have witnessed or experienced, regularly lead to intensive debates as to the possibility of using various techniques, hypnosis for example, to open the door to the inner bunker in order to get to the untarnished, repressed material. Research shows that the majority of respondents, psychologists and non-professionals alike, believe it to

seduction while under psychoanalysis can often be interpreted as the effect of one’s own sexually-charged thoughts and desires. Scores of science-based witness psychological investigations carried out within the Swedish judicial system have confirmed that anybody’s concept of reality can be influenced by interrogation and other events in combination with

“‘Did you notice anything special about the person who ran off?’ inquires the police officer”

be fully possible. But this is not really the case. The suppressed material is not neatly stored like a database we can access through a computer, inaccessible to other mental activities. The inner bunker is only a metaphor, not a closed system surrounded by thick firewalls. Mental images move in fragments rather like wave movements and mix with diverse conceptions and fantasies, as well as with new experiences. This is particularly noticeable in children. Renowned Swiss child psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget (1896–1980) demonstrated that small children lack the ability to organise memories, it requires an inner language and a form of conceptual and logical power of deduction. When adults tell stories of things they were subjected to at two or three years of age, they are just constructions built around a mixture of fantasies and one or two fragments of reality. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) maintained that the emergence of memories of sexual MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

diverse inner mental processes. Many people are acquainted with the following phenomenon: You travel to a place you have never been before. You get off the train or out of the car and start walking along the road. The small houses stand in a row with their neat, well-tended gardens. There’s a flag hanging dejectedly on its flagpole in the mild breeze. Suddenly, like an inner flash of lightening, you get a strange feeling: I recognise this place! I must have passed this way before. Look over there at the peculiar roof on that yellow house. And there, those oddly shaped oak trees. I must have been here before. This is where the memory browser takes over. When was I here? Who was I with? How did I get here? What exactly did I do here? No matter how I try, I just can’t find any sensible answers. I look around and try to get some clear mental images to confirm that I have actually been here before. But no, nothing springs to light. The place must remind me of somewhere else I’ve

been. That must be the explanation. But a gnawing feeling tells me that’s not right either. There can’t be two yellow houses with a roof like that, or two oddly shaped oaks like that. But I know I’ve never been here before, not even as a child. It is in situations like this that people start considering reincarnation as a possibility. We’ve all thought about ‘the previous life.’ Perhaps I passed this way forty years ago despite only being in my 37th year at the time. But reincarnation has no place in the domains of psychological science, or any other science for that matter. It belongs in the mythological scriptures of certain religions like Buddhism and Hinduism and new age movements. It has also sprung up in the disreputable Scientology and in Christianity where Jesus proclaims that believers will be resurrected. Psychologically it is about our refusal to give up on the day of reckoning. “We’ll meet again on the other side” is an expression that reflects grief and tragedy. The most common explanation for the “reliving something” phenomenon (or déjà vu as it is usually called from the French meaning, roughly, “already seen”) stems from neurology. Despite not being particularly tired I can still suffer a neurological micro collapse: I could actually lose consciousness for a split second. It all happens so quickly that I don’t notice, and the rest of the body’s functions are too sluggish to keep up so everything continues as though nothing has happened. But something has happened, namely a lightning-quick disconnection of some of the brain’s cognitive functions; a temporary short circuit in the neurons’ task of shaping images of everything we experience. A circle is completed and a new one begins somewhere in the brain’s cell connections and suddenly the completed circle informs us that we have


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PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS | 33

”Mental images not only weaken with time  but grow stronger too”

seen this before, namely a few seconds ago! We all get such micro collapses, sometimes several times a day without being aware of it. This convinces some people that they are clairvoyant and in contact with something extra-terrestrial, a holy person, perhaps, or a spirit that seems to be speaking in the voice of a dead person. “Did you see what happened?” asks the police officer. “Yes, I saw a knife flashing under the lamp over there and somebody running off in that direction,” replies the witness. “Did you notice anything special about the person who ran off?” inquires the police officer. “The colour of his clothes perhaps?” “The colour … not really, it was dark,” says the witness, hesitantly. “Could he have been wearing a red jacket? Or a blue perhaps?” The officer’s questions need an answer. “Not sure … it could have been red, possibly,” replies the witness, falteringly. In this scenario the police officer has already planted three vital things into his mental image. He assumes

that it was a “he” and this “he” wore a jacket and, in his eagerness to get a more detailed description of the clothes, he gives two alternatives, red or blue. The witness follows along and the case is almost solved: it was a man in a red jacket. Renowned American forensic psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has written several books and papers on the human memory processes. She associates it with an inner filing cabinet, not a bunker as such, but an enormous cabinet full of drawers that are all jam-packed with mental images. We continuously pull out these drawers in an effort to recall what we have experienced. As soon as a drawer is pulled out we are there trying to rearrange it. While doing that we attempt to delete unpleasant things and portion out pleasant things, a little here and a little there. Then back in with the drawer and out with the next one. This is how we carry on. According to Loftus, mental images not only weaken with time but grow stronger too. The first thing that weakens is what we thought we saw during an occurrence or something we took part in, reading a text for

example. Then every time we try to recall the memory we reconstruct it, and at every reconstruction we change some of the details. This means that the memory is not etched in stone but a much more dynamic, living and changeable process that can reduce, grow, reduce again and grow again. It is about strong inner powers, powers that can convince us that we have witnessed something that never happened. By the way, what were you doing on Wednesday the 23rd of January between the hours of 8pm and 11pm?

2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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INTERMISSION | 35 SIDRUBBE | 35

“In a place far away from anyone or anywhere I drifted off for a moment” Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer

2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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SHARMA | 37

In a survey of 22,000 business people ranking top leadership gurus, Robin Sharma was #2, with Jack Welch. Sharma’s books have sold millions of copies in over 60 countries. His new book is ”The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life” (Simon & Schuster). Robin Sharma’s blog is at robinsharma.com.

10 Quotes THAT CHANGED MY LIFE I was in a reflective mood this morning and thought about ten of the quotes that profoundly influenced the way I think, create and live. (As you know, all it takes is a single idea in a small paragraph to revolutionize the way you play out the rest of your life. ) So, to inspire you (and move you to action on your boldest opportunities), I wanted to share them.

1

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back – concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

2

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

3

“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” Ayn Rand

4

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


38 | SHARMA

”Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”

5

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Jack Kerouac, On the Road

6

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

7

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

8

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.” Bessie Anderson Stanley ( frequently misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson)

9

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

10

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi


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LUNDGR EN TEXT

Atti Soenarso PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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IMPROVISATION | 43

“There are two routes to take in music. You choose either the predetermined route or another direction. Improvising is like holding a conversation, you have to concentrate. For me improvisation is a way of living, it’s a language with a myriad of nuances.”

These are the words of Jan Lundgren, who calls himself a pianist, improviser and composer, in that order. He is one of the world’s most in-demand jazz pianists and holds seventy to eighty concerts a year, of which just under half are abroad. Over the years he has worked with people like Richard Galliano, Paolo Fresu and Johnny Griffin. He has recorded over forty albums and featured in a hundred and twenty. In March his acclaimed first solo album, Man in the Fog, was released. Jan Lundgren is also Artistic Director for the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, helping to make the town an international jazz venue. On top of this he lectures and holds workshops

at Malmö Music Academy. He has also begun holding improvisation lectures for non-musicians. Many musicians seem to have a soft spot for improvisation as a musical form, for the sound, the instruments, their fellow musicians and the moment. It has been said that the meeting in improvisation is like discovering a new landscape that is unchartered until you set foot in it. What surprises Jan Lundgren the most when it comes to his type of music and how he reaches out to people is that so many like the idea of improvising. “And yet so many more say they don’t like jazz and improvisation much. But if they do get to a concert 2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


44 | IMPROVISATION

“ Improvising is to use your inner dramatist. Who am I?

they usually say it was some of the best stuff they’ve ever heard! I find this hard to understand.” He maintains that the majority of people listen to predetermined music; they know how it should sound. Maybe they are not really receptive to improvisation; do not want to be taken unawares by the unexpected; do not really trust the artist in question. Perhaps it is all about feelings of insecurity. Jan Lundgren says a lot of people find it difficult to accept that something is improvised, not a music package for which you already know the content. That music can be performed in another way, that words can be played in a myriad of nuances. Jan Lundgren’s mother was determined to give him and his younger sister all the opportunities that she never had as one of ten children growing up under poor conditions. One of her dreams as a child was to take piano lessons, but there was no scope for that. “We lived in Ronneby and my mother began going to a piano lady, as they were called back then. I tagged along and was given some tasks of my own. That’s how it all began. But mum MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

found it hard going. The fingering was difficult and it’s not easy to learn coordination at 36 years of age. My father, on the other hand, just sat down at the piano and began playing. He sang and accompanied himself, and could pick out melodies. I grew up surrounded by music, most of which came from him.” Jan Lundgren says that he gladly sat at the piano with his father. He played and accompanied and did descants, tried to follow along with the melodies and picked out tunes with his right hand. This happened parallel with going to the piano lady. “We never played notes at home. Father was all rhythm and ear training. It was music-making. Pure boom, bang and all together now stuff. Just as music should be. My piano lady gave me notes to rehearse. It wasn’t boring, I just did the tasks I was given. Today I realise that playing with dad was much more fun.” When it was time to start at the local music school, eight-year-old Jan Lundgren was allowed to bypass the compulsory recorder lessons because he had played the piano for three years.


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IMPROVISATION | 47

“ You can never be greater than the sum of your parts”

“When my prospective piano teacher heard me play she said I deserved to start piano lessons straight away. And so it was.” The piano teacher, who had just graduated from Malmö Music Academy, was to have a great influence on Jan Lundgren. He was her student for twelve years, from when he was eight until he began at Malmö Music Academy himself. “She was my mentor. She taught me classical music, notes, piano technique, everything in fact. It was very inspiring to have somebody so good to show me the ropes. She was a fantastic classical piano teacher. When I was around eleven I was given the assignment of playing The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, I liked rhythmical music. But it wasn’t improvisation.” In the spring term of the eighth grade his piano teacher told him she was pregnant and would be off work for an academic year. Jan Lundgren had his mind set on giving up because nobody was better than her. But things turned out well in the end. When autumn term began he met his stand-in piano teacher,

an older man from Germany with a year left to retirement. The talented student played a piece, upon which the teacher said: ‘I’m very sorry, but you’re much better than me in classical music. But I can teach you something else. I’ve played in New York a great deal during my life. I can teach you jazz music and improvisation. Your first task is to buy an album by jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.’ “I said that’s a strange task. I usually get a new piece complete with notes, which I prefer. But he said: ‘Not this time. You only need to buy the album, go home and listen to it.’ Jan Lundgren went to a music store, bought Night Train by the Oscar Peterson Trio and went home and played it. He was speechless. He sat in his room listening, thinking and getting annoyed. “How could this music be kept from me for fifteen years? I’d never heard anything like it, and was happy and angry at the same time. It was like falling in love. A bit like going on a school trip to somewhere like Turkey and meeting a Turkish girl who can’t speak English. You don’t understand

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“It was then I realised that improvisation was a language – it gave my fingers wings”

a word she says; you just know you have to learn Turkish.” He recorded the album onto a cassette tape and played it for his friends, who always listened to music when they played cards. But the four teenagers did not react. None of them experienced the ‘wow’ feeling that Jan Lundgren wanted to share with them. “That confused me. Up until then we’d nearly always liked the same music.” One possible explanation, according to Jan Lundgren, was that none of his friends played an instrument themselves. “They hadn’t had the benefit of growing up with music, had no relationship with an instrument and therefore couldn’t absorb the music quite so easily.” For Jan Lundgren, improvisation is about following one’s impulses, utilising the dynamics we all have inside of us. At the end of the day it is about daring to be oneself. “Improvisation is a bit like us sitting here talking. It’s impulsive without reflection. We just let it spin. It’s like speaking straight from the MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

heart. But to improvise you need to know the language. If I hadn’t been able to speak Swedish with you, this dialogue wouldn’t have been possible. We could have got by with English or broken German, but without a common language we wouldn’t have been able to improvise. You have to have a language that you master. If you don’t then you can’t improvise all the way. It’s about nuances and their shifts. A word can have so many different meanings. “I was fifteen and had played the piano for ten years, but this was a whole new language for me. When I listened to Oscar Peterson for the first time I got the urge to learn this new language. It was then I realised that improvisation was a language – it gave my fingers wings.” When Jan Lundgren was given the chance to play in the school orchestra, his regular piano teacher said: ‘You have to learn to play with other musicians if you want to be a jazz musician and not just sit by yourself. Playing in the school orchestra is a good start.’ “I’d also formed a small jazz band with a few guys of the same age. They

weren’t easy to find. I still play with the drummer from the band now and then. We were the only ones who went on to become musicians.” On the question of whether improvisation is a conscious decision when playing, Jan Lundgren says it’s difficult to say. There are two routes to take in music. The great majority stick to predetermined music down to the finest detail where they repeat the same thing over again. When they perform it sounds more or less the same every time. “Improvisation in classical music is very rare. Here we speak of interpretation, which means we’ve decided what we’re going to say. But we’ve not decided whether to speak quickly, strongly, calmly or slowly.” Jan Lundgren explains that jazz musicians decide jointly which subjects to talk about when playing. It could be the weather, tennis, chess, cooking or any other subject as long as everybody is in agreement. “I give the tunes names as though they’re pieces we’re playing in a concert. We’ve decided on a subject area that we stick to. This means that all the musicians must have some


SIDRUBBE | 49

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IMPROVISATION | 51

“How could this music be kept from me for fifteen years?”

knowledge of the subject. It’s boring for an audience to listen to musicians who don’t know what they’re talking about. If I know a lot about chess but the others know nothing, it’s pointless playing with them. This means you have to find suitable partners to work with who are well-versed in the subject areas. Improvisation has a lot of hidden knowledge and so many nuances. The most important thing for me is to be able to express myself in my music as the person I am.” When Jan Lundgren is alone improvising by himself on the piano he can let his imagination flow. It is like holding a speech in public where one thing just leads to another. “I can bring my experiences to the fore with the subjects I know. I can also change the subject if I want to. In a group we’d decide to talk about chess or something, but I can ignore that when I’m alone.” Sometimes Jan Lundgren surprises himself when improvising. “I could be sitting there playing and start laughing inside. Something crops up that I’d never thought of before and I glide onto another track and into another room.”

It is easy to think that technical skills are important when improvising. Jan Lundgren says you have to be able to move your tongue when holding a dialogue. But technique is generally overrated, he says, quoting famous jazz musician Thad Jones: ‘You get the technique you need.’ “There’s a lot in what he says. Just letting your fingers roam the piano keys is very dull. It’s what comes from inside you that should dictate what you do with the music. Not many people have more in their heads than what their fingers can manage.” Jan Lundgren returns to the subject of conversing. It is not the talking but what is said that is interesting. Nobody would pay 300 or 400 kronor to listen to a mathematics lecture by somebody who knows nothing about mathematics. The person probably knows the words but not the subject. “To improvise you have to know your subject or it just sounds flat and boring. And you have to practice, practice and practice.” On the question of whether there is a difference between improvisation and composition, Jan Lundgren says

that the latter is the exact opposite of improvisation. “When composing I sit and think everything out, evaluate, renegotiate, adjust, change things for the better. You can never take back something you’ve said in an improvisation.” In jazz there is a genre called non-idiomatic improvisation. It has its origin in jazz and was known as Avant-Garde in the 1960s. The idea was to decide what to talk about as you played. Jan Lundgren describes this approach as throwing a ball and then talking about what happens. “It’s a musical form without a lifeline or framework. I don’t improvise much in that way, but it can be very exciting. Even in that context I think frameworks are built up. It’s untenable not to have some sort of framework around you. It’s like being on a football pitch or ice hockey rink. You know the framework and can keep to the structure. I also think it’s easier for the listener and everybody taking part in the improvisation. We musicians shall converse with each other and the audience shall experience the conversation taking part in this

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52 | IMPROVISATION

“Who is Jan Lundgren as an innovator? I’m not sure it’s possible to answer that.”

meeting. I think a framework makes it easier for people to keep up.” People who have not learnt the language of improvisation usually find jazz very repetitive. Part way through a concert they might discover that the drummer is improvising in the same way in song after song. Jan Lundgren returns to the significance of subject awareness. You need a certain amount of knowledge in order to vary your output. If you do not know enough about a subject it can be boring to listen to. “You can never be greater than the sum of your parts. I can’t start speaking Turkish when speaking Swedish, it’s impossible. I can try but it all goes pear-shaped. I can use some Swedish words, but that limits things. In all this knowledge, if we call it that, you also have to be prepared to use your own personality when conversing and trusting your intuition. Improvising is to use your inner dramatist. Who am I? “I usually tell my students to bring out their inner selves, their inner dynamics.” Who is Jan Lundgren as a person?

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

“I show that on stage. My temperament and way of being should come out through my music.” Who is Jan Lundgren as an innovator? “I’m not sure it’s possible to answer that. It’s like asking what kind of person I am. For me that’s the same thing.”


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BRAIN SIDRUBBE | 55 CHECK | 55

K R AGIC TEXT

Tomas Dalström

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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BRAIN CHECK | 57

Danica Kragic came to Sweden from Croatia in 1997 as an exchange student. Today she is Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Danica Kragic is known all over the world for her research and has received several awards for her work. The one she values the most is the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award, which goes to a young researcher in the world once a year. She also values her membership in The Royal Academy of Sciences. You have said that in the future we will meet robot receptionists and guides that are always obliging and knowledgeable. I had imagined they would look like people, but perhaps not?

“Let’s assume that you visit me at home and interact with an entryphone. It asks who you are. You answer Tomas. Where are you going? I’m going to meet Dani. The entryphone checks to see if you’re on the list of people I know. We will have entryphones that are not robots but computer programs. The next question is how we shape them. A receptionist could well be a hand on the desk, but that’s

not so natural. Whether a receptionist looks like a person or a car depends on the expectations we have and what is most suitable in the context.” What expectations do we have when arriving at a reception area?

“That there’s a person there. But we’d probably find it amusing to talk to a dog. It’s a bit like the Tele 2 TV ad starring Frank the sheep. Of course, we experience something else when we see it for real. I think we’d probably be a bit afraid and apprehensive at first. When we see something that looks like a person we half expect the person to be able to understand everything we say, even if we don’t speak perfect Swedish. We should, for example, be able to show something on a piece of paper and if the robot only reacts linguistically without interacting on what I showed we get very confused. I don’t think we should build systems that create false expectations. When we build a robot with a human body we create human expectation.” 2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


58 | BRAIN CHECK

“ It’s not all about replacing people but changing tasks”

How many occupational groups are involved in making a receptionist?

“It’s hard to say depending on what the starting point is. Let’s say it’s taken ten to fifteen years, if not longer, to come this far. That’s perhaps thirty people a year. It takes time.”

If I call and say “Hi, I’d like to order a receptionist …”

“Once they start manufacturing them they will turn them out as fast as cars. Right now they can put together a Toyota in 24 hours. Put together, not make all the parts.”

There are cars that I can call and they just roll up to me. They communicate with each other and the car heading my way will stop if there’s a collision risk. Why is that called a robot?

“I would say that all machines that interact with their surroundings in some way are robots.” Is that the definition?

“It’s my definition.”

Pieces of Lego that can move?

“Yes, they’re also robots if they can react to something, like avoiding an obstacle, for example.” Robots can gather information in order to draw different types of MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

conclusions. Could you elaborate on this?

“A robot can listen to what we’re saying. It can gather information and conclude ‘they’ve been talking a while, time to put the coffee on.’ Or ‘there’s a meeting, they’ll be wanting coffee.’ Decision-making is very much about gathering information from around you and reacting on it through experience. The robot knows that when I meet somebody and it takes time, I usually offer coffee. It knows what was done in the past and reacts accordingly.” Can a robot recognise me and conclude that Tomas likes milk in his coffee?

“If it’s seen you before then it recognises you because it’s stored that information. The robot knows how you like your coffee.”

In Meetings International 42/2011, psychologist Tonya Pixton, who researches facial expressions, said: “When a person speaks in a film and you can’t see their mouth, you understand less and remember less. If the voice and mouth movements are not synchronised we discover it in milliseconds.” Are we getting there?


SIDRUBBE | 59

2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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BRAIN CHECK | 61

“Most definitely, but in five, ten or fifteen years I can’t say.” Does lip synchronisation have any significance?

“Many people buy mobile phones, cars and clothes because they’re beautiful. But some only want the functions. For them it’s probably important for the robot to look and act like a person. There will be a

gets overheated? We don’t want to hear the fans going inside the robots, so there is still a lot to do from a technical perspective and in how we implement everything to get it all to function.”

be able to search images because not all images have names or text telling us what they represent. An image contains a great deal of information, so it’s important to detect all the different parts that make it up.”

People can easily see whether a smile is genuine or false. The muscles around the eyes activate when we smile, causing the stress lines on

Your other specialist field is robotics. What is that?

“ We find it easier to accept robots that don’t look like people”

variety of models all controlled by demand.” Scientists say that meetings mainly take place through the eyes. This could be crucial in whether or not we believe what somebody says. Is facial expression and eye contact decisive or important when it comes to a humanoid robot, for example?

“It’s important. There are a lot of things in our eye contact as we sit talking here. I’m here, it’s your time. If I sit here replying to emails or searching for something online it could imply that I find our conversation boring.” I saw a film in which Philip K. Dick, the author of Blade Runner, was portrayed as a life-like robot in his way of looking, listening, speaking and discussing. They said it needed 28 motors to handle the large facial muscles.

“That’s why the back of the head of advanced robots is left open. Compare it with computers: How many processors can you have before it

the forehead above the nose to disappear. Can a robot see such things?

“It’s still difficult for a robot to see and interpret situations like that.” You are a computer scientist. What does that entail?

“Computer science is about interpreting images and image sequences, like moving pictures. It means that a computer program can say what is on an image or answer questions like: Is there a cup or a certain person in the image? When it comes to moving pictures it can interpret different types of movement. We can find sequences where a player hits a certain type of forehand in a tennis match, for example.” Why is this such an important field?

“It solves some crucial issues and also helps to push developments in other fields. South Korean prisons use Robo-Guards to predict incidents. They analyse the body movements of the internees to check for deviations and warn the human guards if they see any. It’s also important for us to

“Robotics is about equipping machines that move by themselves to do just that. To do this they need to use various types of sensor information. If you draw a parallel with us people it would be with our senses. We use eyes, ears and emotion sensors to understand our surroundings and act on the information we receive. We want robots to be able to do this as well because it’s a prerequisite in getting them to move by themselves. “This means that they don’t have preprogramed information about the surroundings because the surroundings are changing the whole time. We move things and people move around. A robot should be able to trace this and get a perception of it. And the answer they give could be preprogramed or created from the dialogue on each specific occasion. “Information can also consist of sound. If I begin screaming at you it means I’m angry or you can’t hear what I’m saying. Therefore, we work with different types of sensors that are connected to interpreters.” Is there a connection between intelligent prostheses and robots?

“Intelligent prostheses play a part in all robotic research conducted today. But it’s also about how we can imitate movements in a physically natural way, which is difficult due to the many degrees of freedom the human body has. The best prostheses have two degrees: open and close. That’s what you get if you lose a hand. The human hand has 27 degrees of

2013 No. 11 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


62 | BRAIN CHECK

freedom. Each degree of freedom would need a motor to operate it. “How can we build hands that are more like human hands that do the things we need? Today’s prostheses are quite heavy and have one motor. You can just imagine the weight of 27 motors. In addition, we humans are not rigid and hard, but soft, so a soft material would be required along

a robot designed like a seal could be meaningful.” In Meetings International 41/2011, Robin Teigland, Associate Professor at the Department of Marketing and Strategy at Stockholm School of Economics, spoke of the hormone oxytocin that keeps us calm and collected when using social media. Is there similar research with regard to

“ Warmth, fur and hugs mean a great deal to people”

with a lot of computer power to be able to simulate the deformations that occur with movement.” Is the hand the most complex part of the body?

“The body as a whole is very complex and the hand is the most complex of all the parts. If we build robots that are smaller and lighter, and not dangerous for people due to their weight, we push developments forward. There is a demand for technology that can be used in robot engineering and other fields like intelligent prostheses.” I saw a robot on the internet designed like a seal pup. It was called Paro. How is it used?

“In rehabilitation and also perhaps in the habilitation of people with dementia or a learning disability. If you give it a pat it emits a sound that tells you it’s enjoying it, and if you tickle it under the throat it raises its neck in pleasure. Warmth, fur and hugs mean a great deal to people so

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

robots looking like seals?

“I can’t answer that, but it could be possible. We speak of acceptance and what creates well-being. When we see things that resemble us people or animals, movements and shapes that are biological, we have a high acceptance level for it. We find it easier to accept robots that don’t look like people. There is a psychological effect that has been given the name ‘The Uncanny Valley.’ It means we become afraid when we realise that something that represents an image of us, or an animal, is not real but artificial.” I think a lot of robots look like Moomintrolls.

“When they look sweet we accept them more readily. They should remind us of cartoon figures. If it’s an intelligent, autonomous little vacuum cleaner that gets in everywhere then it should be round, not square. Humanoid robots should look human.” Why do we need robots?

“People have had machines for a long time to carry out certain tasks, but they haven’t necessarily looked human. Why? There’s a limit to what we can carry and lift, the fine lines we can draw, the hazardous environments we can enter, etcetera. “Another component is the collaboration with humans, in human surroundings, with the human body as the starting point. You could draw a parallel with physically disabled people. Ordinary environments put demands on movement and what we can do. In Sweden today we don’t have time to care for the elderly. A robot could lift a person from their bed to save relatives and care staff from back problems. That is the initial, physical support. A robot could carry you to the shower or WC. It follows your body and will swing and lead in different directions, unlike a walking frame. It’s a system that can actively adapt to the movement you need. “Then there are other functions for a person who can’t see or hear. For example, a system that registers when somebody rings the doorbell and can go and open it. One you can send to see if you’ve turned off the oven or fetch something to drink. Pick up things to enable you to move around with your walking frame. Small things that are very big for a person who can’t do them.” How much do other countries invest today?

“China, Japan and South Korea are investing billions in developing robots for industry and the service and health care sectors.” What is needed for a commercial breakthrough?

“Demand. That people are prepared to pay and there are manufacturers. Technology exists for building robots that don’t look like humans and which can carry out certain tasks.


Fredrik Broman/HumanSpectra.com

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64 | BRAIN CHECK

“The robot knows that when I meet somebody and it takes time, I usually offer coffee”

If we compare with the mobile phone, it’s developed rapidly because the hardware doesn’t interact with the surroundings. Okay, it has GPS, but it doesn’t need to move on its own. That’s where the difficulties come in.” How far have we come in ten years?

“There are more small robots in the home. They can fetch milk from the fridge, pick things up from the floor and sort the washing.”

Will there be any jobs left for people in the future?

“There will be new jobs. I get a bit frustrated when people don’t see how many are developing apps today. More work is needed for robot developers and designers. Perhaps a niche will open in robot fashion and other things that we can’t see today.” Will our photographer, Sara, have a job in the future?

“Absolutely, she may well arrive with a robot carrying her equipment, setting it up and taking a light reading. It’s not about replacing people but changing tasks.”

I’ve seen that there are robots that can write, but can they write a book, for example, without it becoming standardised?

“With sufficient data we can generate new data. That is the concept that machine learning is built around. Theoretically speaking. Can it generate a new book and make it look like Tolstoy has written it? Yes, if you enter all of his books along with parameters like the period he lived in, information about him and things written about him. When we read his texts we say it’s very Tolstoy. He had a certain style that distinguishes him from other authors. We also put that piece of the puzzle into our software.”

Can a robot replace you as a researcher?

“Yes, why not?”

But intuition … you’re out in the woods one day and see a leaf fall to the ground and think I could do that …

“Much of what we do is controlled by feelings. How we react in certain situations is down to how we feel and how busy we are. Will robots have the same daily lives? The question is whether robots can have feelings. It’s a sensitive issue. Do we really want to recreate the chemical structures in the body?”

Can a robot create a unique form of literature?

“Of course. It’s like creating music. You can use an audio mixer to make someone who can’t sing sound like Celine Dion at the turn of a knob. We do it manually so it doesn’t sound like the original. We do the same thing in Photoshop.”

Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. He’s the author of the book Bäst i text · Läseboken/ Skrivboken (Best in Text · The Reading Book/The Writing Book) which is about how to write texts that communicate on the terms and conditions of the brain. He runs the websites veryimportantbrains.se and readrunner.se.

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013


So far north. Still so close. It only takes an hour from Stockholm to walk into the experience of a lifetime. Luleå is the capital of Swedish Lapland and has never been more beautiful. We offer inspiring meetings for groups up to 1 000 people. Welcome to the city of opportunities all year round.

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66 | KELLERMAN

Roger Kellerman is a publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. He has more than 25 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. twitter.com/thekellerman

HOW CAN YOU THINK AT ALL?

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 11 2013

The lead article in this issue is about the thinking economy, about our common future. The interviewee is Mats Lindgren, CEO and owner of the Swedish company Kairos Future. He has devoted his entire adult life to thinking, to creating new synapses and to training the brain to be able to reflect even better. Another thinker is Daniel Kahneman, considered by many as the world’s most influential living psychologist. During a long career as a researcher, he has charted the irrational ways we humans make decisions. In 2002 Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his pioneering research in behavioral economics, even though he never read a single course in economics. So universal is his area of knowledge that, no matter what profession or point of view you have, there is something in Kahneman’s research that applies to you. During the Meeting Industry Week in Gothenburg in January, we held, for the first time, Meetings Master Classes, where we invited some of the best thinkers in the international meetings industry. The Meeting Industry Week had, in its eighth year, 660 paying participants and there was also the Future Leaders Forum (FLF ) with 61 top students and the Politicians Forum in partnership with IMEX, MPI Europe and MCI. This year the magazine Meetings International invites all five of the winning FLF students to the International Future Leaders Forum at IMEX in Frankfurt. There are 11

Swedish politicians at the IMEX Politicians Forum this year. The important international work becomes even more important. Around the same time I read the book The Shallows – What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by American writer Nicholas Carr. Peter Landelius, writer, translator and former ambassador, who writes about books on dixikon.se, said this about Carr in a stimulating essay: “Carr is delighted by the new technology’s ability to provide vast amounts of knowledge in a very short time. What bothers him is the search engine design. The power of the search for knowledge is not within the user but in the constructor of increasingly sophisticated algorithms, whose primary purpose is not the dissemination of knowledge but ad sales … The network provides all possible knowledge, it is said, but how will you be able to ‘think outside the box’ when it is the search engine that is the box? How can you think at all?” We see that the meeting industry’s future challenges requires much greater efforts in terms of thinking, strategy and implementation. We can present thinkers but it won’t matter unless participants use their own minds and effectively challenge themselves with new knowledge.


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Meetings International #11, May 2013 (English)  

Meetings International #11, May 2013 (English)