No. 14 Nov 2014 €19 / 165 SEK
MAGNUS LINDKVIST Provokes other ways of thinking
A MEETING IS BORN UNDER THE SURFACE GAMMA ENERGY DIG FOR INPUT KELLERMAN
Unforgettable you can leave the islands, but never forget them
Delegate satisfaction is 6.5 out of 7.« SatiSfaction index GothenburG 2014.
Photo: Steampipe Production Studio AB, Dick Gillberg, Beatrice Törnros, Superstudio D&D AB, Kim Svensson, Nils Olof Sjödén, Svenska Mässan/Gothia Towers
Göteborg & Co. Convention Bureau • Email: email@example.com web: corporate.goteborg.com
WORLD-CLASS MEETINGS Gothenburg has an almost unbelievable concentration of big-city attributes all contained within a pocket-sized format. Our bustling city often arranges major international meetings, sporting events and concerts. Metropolitan benefits are combined with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment are within convenient walking distance. Weâ€™re building for the future and several
facilities are currently expanding or renovating. In December 2014, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers will be the largest fully integrated hotel, exhibition and conference facility in Europe. Welcome to Gothenburg.
▲ © Gothia Towers
ith its large open harbour and proud seafaring tradition, it is natural that Gothenburg is known as Sweden’s most outward looking city. In recent years the city has also gained a reputation as a meetings-destination and boasts the largest fully integrated meetings venue in Europe. Visitors have commented upon Sweden’s second city having the feel of a ‘cosmopolitan village’. Perhaps this is down to the fact that, with around half a million inhabitants, Gothenburg is extremely compact – a modern Northern European city that has retained much of its traditional, rugged small-town charm. Having emerged from the shadow of larger Nordic neighbours like Stockholm and Copenhagen, the city’s tourism industry has enjoyed an unbroken 20-year growth. New hotels have currently being built, which means hotel capacity is 12.000 rooms in total, as the demand for both business and leisure accommodation increases. Yet there’s still plenty of room to move around here. – Practically everything you expect to find in a large lively city is within walking distance in Gothenburg. We offer an open and relaxed atmosphere, great places to eat, trendy shops and an absolutely stunning archipelago, says Annika Hallman at Gothenburg Convention Bureau. International delegates seem to appreciate the city as well and have given the destination 6.5 out of 7 in the satisfaction index survey 2014. – Sustainability is a major concern for us and we are proud to say that we can offer congress organisers arrangements that are environmentally friendly. The index founded in Gothenburg has
▲ © Lindholmen Science Park
become a role model and has set a standard internationally, says Annika Hallman at Gothenburg Convention Bureau. Located a mere 20 minute ride from Gothenburg Landvetter international airport the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre offers an impressive landmark with its three hotel towers, the third one opens in December 2014, with 1.200 rooms including the fivestar “Upper House.” The 100-meter high third tower completes the venue which now is the largest fully integrated hotel, exhibition and conference facility in Europe. Carin Kindbom, President and CEO of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, sees the new hotel as a boost for the whole of Gothenburg. – The intention is to achieve strong growth on the meetings side, she points out. She sees great potential, especially for international congresses. – With one of the largest hotels in Europe as an integral part of our facility, we are looking to attract more conventions and more foreign visitors every year, something that will benefit all the hotels, restaurants, shops, transport companies and the like in Gothenburg. In Carin Kindbom’s view, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is pretty well uniquely placed. – We’re in the middle of town, right on the “Avenue of Events,” within walking distance of most everything. So, we have everything we need to take on the battle for the biggest events. Through Gothenburg flows the mighty Gota River which for centuries was Sweden’s gateway to the world, and in a way it still is since the city is home to the largest commercial port in Scandina-
▲ Clarion Hotel Post © Louise Billgert
via. On the northern side of the river three large shipyards were part of the city’s industrial heritage. This is where you find Lindholmen Science Park, an open and unique innovative environment just by the riverside, where industry, academy and the public sectors meets and collaborate. It is the home to some 350 different companies including some of Sweden’s best-known such as Volvo, Ericsson and Semcon. Since last year you also find CEVT, China Euro Vehicle Technology, on the site. It is also the campus for 8.000 students from Chalmers Technical University and Gothenburg University; This is a great location for meetings and conferences. – Lindholmen Conference Centre has a capacity of 1.000 people in total, but together with the new hotel we are substantially bigger and can offer 25 meeting rooms where the largest one is for 600 people, says Marcus Danielsson vice president at Lindholmen Conference Centre. The adjacent Radisson Blu Riverside hotel with 265 rooms opened in 2013 and is overlooking the river and harbor. – Since the hotel opened we have experienced growing interest for Lindholmen as an event arena, says Malin Franck, General Manager at the hotel. – One of our advantages is the location close to the water, Marcus continues, and the great open spaces which can be used for outdoor receptions and spectacular events. It is also relaxing just to stroll along the quay, and it is only 10 minutes from the railway station. Right across the street from the railway station is the Clarion Post Hotel. The imposing 1920s brick façade with columns at both
ends is facing a bustling square with trams, buses and people. This used to be the city’s main post office, but reopened as a hotel in 2012 after a thorough and careful renovation. Now it boasts 300 rooms in the old part, and another 200 rooms in the new 10-storey building with a rooftop swimming pool. As a conference venue, Clarion Post offers facilities for 2–1.000 people. The largest hall is 900 sqm and can host banquets for up to 800 seated guests. – The hotel has a very attractive location at the bustling railway station. It is also a meeting point for the local people of Gothenburg with several different restaurants and bars. Old meets new in this building which creates a certain atmosphere, says Susanna Blomstervall Sales Manager meetings and events. More info at: www.gothenburg.com
Malaysia first Asian host for the 37th FIG Congress
delegates and trade visitors from 100 countries from within the international community of surveyors, including its academic experts and representatives of international and governmental to attend the XXV International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Congress 2014, 16–21 June. With a theme of Engaging the Challenges, Enhancing the Relevance, the event was officiated by no less than the Prime Minister of Malaysia, His Excellency, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, reflecting the government’s support to ensure the successful execution the FIG Congress. Besides being the first country in Asia to play host to the FIG congress since its inception in 1878, Malaysia was dealt another distinction when during the 2010 congress in Sydney where Malaysian surveyor Teo Chee Hai was elected the new FIG President for the period 2011–2014, becoming the first Asian to hold that chair. Chief amongst these were Malaysia’s value-for-money proposition for both organisers and delegates; Malaysia is, after all, the 5th most price-competitive country in the world, according to World Economic Forum Travel & Tourism Competitive Index 2013; and in the Association of Authorised Land Surveyors Malaysia (PEJUTA), the Federation recognised a strong local host committee The world–class conference and meeting facilities at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, the proposed venue for the Congress, and Malaysia’s host of inimitable attractions also featured to make Malaysia the ideal choice. The four day Congress saw the Federation partner distinguished organisations such as World Bank and United Nations’ agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) and Habitat/GLTN. Held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s signature Plenary Hall, which boasts a seating capacity of 3,000, the Congress was anchored on plenary sessions chaired by distinguished speakers addressing key challenges facing the surveying profession. Complementary offerings included more than 170 technical sessions with around 550 presentations, a three-day exhibition which saw the participation of 56 international and local exhibitors, technical tours, social tours, a Malaysian cultural dinner and a gala dinner.
One of the highlights of the Congress was organised under the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s (MyCEB) Let’s Meet & Green Special Carbon Offset Programme. Led by PEJUTA President Mr Azmi bin Mohd. Zin and FIG Vice-President Dr. Rudolf Staiger, the heads and representatives of the nations who participated in the Congress planted a total of 100 trees at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM). Among the keynote speakers were Greg Scott and Vanessa Lawrence from the UN GGIM, Dr. Clarissa Augustinus from UNHabitat/GLTN and Chris Rizos from the International Association of Geodesy. A number of joint declarations were adopted including the Joint FIG-World Bank Declaration on Fit-for-Purpose Land administration, the Suva Statement on Spatially Responsible Governance in the context of Small Island developing states, and The UN-GGIMAP Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Spatially Enabling Governments and Societies. All in all, a successful outing for all involved and the global community. As part of its effort to help mitigate the green house effect and to address the issue of climate change, the Local Organizing Committee of FIG 2014 pursed a home grown Carbon Offset Programme to plant trees in order to offset the price of progress by giving back to the environment. Aptly named “Let’s Meet & Green,” this programme is an extension of the green campaign launched by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) in 2010 and helps enhance the commitment made by the Malaysian Government to offset our nation’s carbon emission by 40 % by the year 2020. A Special Carbon Offset Technical Tour, in collaboration with Malaysian Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), a primary supporter of this event was organized. The organizer invited the Presidents of Member Associations of FIG, FIG Council Members and Head of Delegations, including the Director Generals / Surveyor Generals attending the XXV FIG Congress in Kuala Lumpur to participate in the planting of trees at Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) www.frim.gov.my on behalf of the Congress delegates.
Asiaâ€™s Business Events Hub As the centre of Southeast Asia and strategically located between India and China, Malaysia knows how to connect the world with Asia. Malaysia is a vibrant value-for-money destination. You will see it in our ability to host any meeting, incentive trip, convention and exhibition. Malaysia has all the elements you want in a destination enhanced by a rich tapestry of authentic Asian cultures, heritage, food and hospitality.
For enquiries, please contact: Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (868264-K) Suite 22.3, Level 22, Menara IMC 8 Jalan Sultan Ismail 50250 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
T +603 2034 2090 F +603 2034 2091 firstname.lastname@example.org www.myceb.com.my
Meeting planners are the real stars in Berlin. We know all there is to know about arranging meetings.
Do you need to arrange a meeting, convention or any other type of event at short notice? If so, the Berlin Convention Office is on hand 24/7 to give you all the support you need. We work closely with local partners across the city and can quickly provide you with relevant advice, help and information. With the Berlin Convention Office, you can rest assured that your event is in good hands. convention.visitBerlin.com Member of
Incentives in Berlin
ecognition is the best form of motivation. Berlin therefore offers a wide range of extraordinary incentives that are suitable for both small team events and large enterprises. Whether touring in a Trabant along the former Berlin Wall or taking a peek into a genuine Berlin living room, the individual attractions leave lasting memories.
A taste of Berlin Polish bistro, French patisserie, or Turkish takeaway – the cuisine of Berlin is as diverse as the city itself. Participants of the eat-theworld guided tour will become acquainted with the delicacies of the individual districts. The tours are conducted in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Schöneberg, or Prenzlauer Berg. Small venues offer samples of neighbourhood fare. The groups should not exceed 48 people. eat-the-world.com/en With Cocktail-up, the participants become bartenders. After an introduction to the art of mixing cocktails, they can try it for themselves. Independent of the size of the group, each catering event is adapted to individual wishes; it can take place in a relaxed atmosphere or be the highlight of an event. cocktail-up.de
A different side of Berlin The Business Field Camp encourages creativity and team spirit. On Lindwerder Island in the River Havel, various challenges such as archery, climbing, and raft building ensure heaps of fun for the teams. grassroute.de Berlin is a prime location for medical conferences. Accordingly, there are tours that quite literally deal with life and death. The Berlin for Beginners tour takes place on the Charité campus. It leads from the pathology department and the nervous hospital to the surgical clinic. The tour is suitable for groups of up to 20 people. berlinforbeginners.de Meet the “real” Berliners. Whether as a couple or with 200 people, opendoorsberlin organises visits or dinners at private Berlin homes. The tour usually involves a visit to three different flats. On the way to each home, you can get an impression of the respective neighbourhood. Who is waiting behind the door and how does life look behind it? This attraction provides a particularly exciting experience. opendoorsberlin.de
Gourmet Liner is the first mobile VIP restaurant. How does it sound to have starters in front of the Memorial Church, the main course at the Brandenburg Gate, and dessert at Alexanderplatz? The gourmet tour can be customised to individual needs and combined with sightseeing, shopping, and dining. The luxury restaurant-bus with integrated kitchen can pick up the guests at any location. gourmet-liner.de
© Anders Hjemdahl
Meet in Malmö – only 20 minutes away from Copenhagen Airport
Malmö has the expertise, resources and creative possibilities needed for successful meetings, whatever their size and subject. Two international airports within 30 minutes, state of the art meeting venues, numerous hotels and a compact, attractive urban environment. The Swedish-Danish knowledge region surrounding the Oresund strait offers great opportunities for technical visits as well as inspiring speakers. And with Copenhagen located right on the other side of the Oresund bridge, there’s a unique chance to experience two countries in a single visit! Contact Malmö Convention Bureau for free advice: +46 40 34 22 42 - email@example.com or pay a visit to eventinskane.com - firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
© Erik Schuss
© Ulf Lindgren
© Susanne Walström /imagebank.sweden.se
© Leif Johansson
© Martin Pålsson
LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE EDITOR IN CHIEF Atti Soenarso
PUBLISHER Roger Kellerman
email@example.com INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR OF SALES Graham Jones
Nov 2014 Tacit Knowledge
Under the Radar Atti Soenarso on Business Travel Agencies’ inaccessiblity.
WRITERS Tomas Dalström, Fredrik Emdén
Hans Gordon, Carl Hamilton, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso, Walter Stugger, Roger Kellerman PHOTOS Sara Appelgren (including cover),
Jan Sandqvist TRANSL ATION Dennis Brice
22 INTELLECTUAL ACUPUNCTURE
Magnus Lindkvist Provoking other ways of thinking.
firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Pravasan Pillay ART DIRECTOR kellermandesign.com EDITORIAL RAYS OF SUNSHINE Bimo’s cello ensemble + M A Charpentier
+ Homecoming + Cristina Branco + Eddie Obeng
36 PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS
Under the Surface – In Depth Hans Gordon: something else is simmering under the surface.
42 THE CREATIVE ERA
Unleashing Innovation Creativity – does it die from structure?
+ Edith Pearlman SUBSCRIPTION Four issues: Sweden €39, Europe €73, Outside Europe €77. Buy at email@example.com or www.meetingsinternational.com. Single copies are €15 + postage when ordered online. CONTACT Meetings International Publishing,
P.O. Box 224, SE-271 25 Ystad, Sweden, Editorial Office
50 MEETINGS LIVE
A Meeting is Born Essential extracts and summaries from Into the Heart of Meetings.
For Full Potential Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson: Are you able to handle reality?
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The Last Days of Average
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Robin Sharma: You’ve been designed to wow. 82 BRAIN CHECK
Red, Yellow, Green or Blue People Thomas Erikson: “Blue and yellow both think the other is an idiot.”
Reproduction of articles and other material, whole or in part, is forbidden without the prior consent of the publishers. Quoting, however, is encouraged as long as the source is stated.
Business Intelligence Opens a Gateway to Tomorrow Roger Kellerman on our contemporary information flow.
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PHOTO OF STOCKHOLM WATERFRONT CONGRESS CENTRE: CECILIA LARSSON
Fresh out of ideas? Get inspired in Stockholm! Sometimes a change of scenery is just what’s needed to get those creative juices flowing again. And if you’re looking for an exciting place for your next meeting or congress, you really should take a look at Stockholm – a city where innovation and out-of-the-box thinking seem to be ingrained in the very fabric of society. So, let’s put on our thinking caps and head to the capital of Scandinavia.
A great place to live and work Stockholm is Europe’s fastest growing city and is regularly voted one of the best places in the world to live and work. The city’s tolerant vibe, which creates exciting opportunities for people of all ages and from all types of backgrounds, is a large part of the explanation.
Among the world’s coolest neighbourhoods In Vogue’s September 2014 issue, Södermalm was named the third coolest neighbourhood after Shimokitazawa, Tokyo and West Queen West, Toronto. The motivation: “In this day and age, “Cool” and “Stockholm” are essentially synonymous. Think: Acne Studios, long-lit summer nights, minimalistic armchairs. Imagine, then, how hip its coolest neighborhood must be.” Well, why don’t you come and find out for yourself! PHOTO: SUSANNE KRONHOLM – JOHNÉR
Where business and creative culture coexist Sweden is the second most internet-connected country in the world and Stockholmers are used to having 3G or 4G access wherever they go, even in the subway. Sweden tops the EU Commission’s “Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014” (for the third year in a row) and Stockholm’s GDP growth in 2013 was 68 per cent higher than the EU average.
Stockholm is more than eight centuries old. But even if history and culture are always present, it’s more likely that the word “new”, rather than “old”, is what you will associate with your visit to the capital of Scandinavia. Nobody really knows why, but Stockholmers have always had a love affair with everything new and modern. With this in mind, it’s only logical that Stockholm has become a real hot spot for innovations and creative thinking.
A tradition of innovations
Have you played a game on your phone today? Or listened to music on Spotify? Or Skyped with someone? Well, then you’ve already had a taste of innovations from Stockholm since a lot of the ideas behind those products and services were born here. Sweden is often considered as one of the most knowledge-intensive and innovative countries in the world. And nowhere is this more true than in the Stockholm region. In fact, Stockholm has an impressive track record as a leading supplier of innovative solutions and products in a wide range of global industries. The list ranges from the Pacemaker and the Gamma knife to communication technologies including GSM, wCDMA
and LTE. But Stockholm innovations are by no means restricted to the realms of information technology and Life Science. In fact, Stockholm has become a virtual melting pot of creativity, attracting musicians, authors, filmmakers, actors, game developers and designers from all over the world. Is it something in the water?
In April, Wired magazine asked 200 experts to identify Europe’s top digital influencers. Number one on the list, which included everyone “from superangels to startup heroes”, was Stockholmer Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of Spotify. Perhaps more surprising was that as many as one in ten of all the people on the list had their
PHOTO: VIKTOR GÅRDSÄTER
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 28 551 email@example.com visitstockholm.com/meetingplanner
PHOTO: MELKER DAHLSTRAND – RESEARCH AT RADIUMHEMMET
roots in Stockholm. That’s astounding by anyone’s measure and an indication that there must be something to the notion that Stockholm is a great place to find yourself if you’re a creative person looking for new inspiration. Stockholm’s vision for 2025
Not content to rest on its laurels, the Stockholm region’s vision is to move from its current position of strength to being the world’s most innovationdriven economy by the year 2025. The region’s innovation strategy is not merely pie-in-the-sky thinking, but based on five action programmes that are linked to real world priority areas such as research and innovation infrastructure, innovation procurement
and supply of capital. Yes, the vision is ambitious, but as the proverb goes: faith is half the battle. The smartest people in the world meet up in Stockholm
Yes, we are talking about the Annual Nobel Prize Awards Ceremonies, held every December in Stockholm City Hall. But the influx of smartness does by no means end there. Stockholm is fast becoming the place in Europe for creative 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 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.
18 | INTRO
Business Travel Agencies CRAWL DOWN UNDER THE RADAR We feel that the really big travel companies like American Express, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, HRG, Via Egencia are becoming increasingly inaccessible in what they do, how they do it and what they actually bring to their customers. That they bring something to their customers we do not doubt, because their turnover is still big money, but for us in the media they are becoming increasingly inaccessible. American Express seems to want to meet with us about the two IMEX exhibitions and the other fairs at Reeds like EIBTM, GIBTM, IBTM Africa, IBTM America, IBTM India, AIBTM, CIBTM and AIME. Then no contacts. The other TMCs want more and more but rarely even show up as information providers or inform us about what’s happening in their businesses, or between them and their customers – except when they show up with their releases. And we often draw a blank when we try to contact the name on the release, because the telephone is off or the person is on vacation and nobody communicates at all. They don’t create a lot of relationships with the media at all. An example: We would like to help a
country near us get to the Swedish travel companies and tell them about what’s new, what will change and how the market in this country looks right now. There’s no problem with most of the independent companies in terms of making contact and presenting what we want to create, but the bigger companies are more difficult to make a connection with. Sometimes it’s as simple as the fact that the name listed as the contact doesn’t work there any more because of major cuts, yet this has obviously not been communicated to the market, not even by the industry’s own channels. This is obviously not good. No one earns on a closed information society. Especially not when the rest of society is flooded with information that drowns media with cheers and gloss and whatever it is that these companies want to convey. We tried to create a meeting with one of the largest travel companies and the country we want to help. It was not about some menial sellers who want to impose a bunch of brochures on travel companies and then move to the next place. Nope, it’s about leading people in a country’s
meeting and event facilities as well as two leading companies in the same industry. The answer we got was: Since May 1, we have a global agreement regarding DMCs and partners. This means we cannot use other partners than those we have contracts with. But we tried not to break any agreements, only give them new and better information. Nothing more, nothing less. But do the customers know about this? We just tell our customers what agreements govern us and will not tell you about another great development beyond our agreement. How can I as a customer to a large travel company know if I will be withheld vital information about market changes? The answer is simple: You can not. And you know most likely nothing about it either. Check with your own travel company how it is. Maybe you should switch to a smaller vendor, a vendor that puts safety and service in first place, not themselves. The market is changing, customers want to be treated as customers, not as pawns in a game.
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.
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
lounge with a spectacular view of stockholm
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre
a strong injection to Stockholm as a convention city There are many who say that the Stockholm Waterfront Congress
the airport in 20 minutes by train. They can walk directly from Arlanda
Centre has become a strong injection to Stockholm as a convention
Express terminal to the congress centre.
destination. From here, in the city centre you have a view over the City Hall,
– When we told a U.S. customer that we have over three thousand hotel rooms within five minutes walking distance, she did not believe
with the Blue Hall, where the winners and their guests eat the Nobel
that this could be true. Of course it is also important that Stockholm is
Award dinner. You can also overlook parts of Sweden’s third largest
a safe city to walk in, says Kenth Larsson.
lake, Mälaren, and a great portion of the city’s beautiful buildings and scenery. – When we meet with clients around the world we can see that our
Collaboration is key to Stockholm Waterfront and they see themselves as a complement to the activities that are otherwise in the Stockholm meetings market and the cooperation with competitors
efforts have contributed to a renewed curiosity in Stockholm. Many
floats very well. They provide each other with guests and their part-
organizers see another reason to have Stockholm on their short list of
ners will find new business for Waterfront, because the others cannot
cities in Europe, says Kenth Larsson, Director of Sales & Marketing.
take congresses up to 3,000 guests in size, but it also means that the
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre have found their specialty
Waterfront provides many hotels with many guests when large meet-
and the competitors have to focus on their own niche even more
ings and events are in the house. Up to 3,000 people is not enormous,
than they did before. That means that Stockholm has become even
but perfectly adequate, as approximately 80 percent of all large meet-
stronger as a convention and event destination.
ings and conventions are somewhere between 500 to 2,000 people.
– When we make a bid to try to win an international congress, we
The combination of hotel and congress centre in the same building
normally compete with three to ten destinations – and today Stock-
is unique in Europe and with this city position – in the world. Before
holm is often on the list when it comes to cities in Europe for the major
breaking ground Sam Holmberg and Kenth Larsson went around the
conferences, says Sam Holmberg, CEO of Stockholm Waterfront Con-
world for inspiration.
gress Centre. He also believes that it is important that they are in the city centre of Stockholm, but also that their customers can get from
– Hotels are easier to compare, it’s about the same type of, as an example, procedures and logistics, but when it comes to the congress
Stockholm WaterFront congreSS centre
centre, there was no place that fully met our thoughts and ideas. We
stimulating way. There is free wifi, which Rezidor was one of the first
did find bits and pieces for our concept in different places.
hotel chains in the world to introduce.
The congress centre is flexible, with movable walls and platforms.
When John McEnroe stayed at Waterfront, he was impressed that
It offers small meeting rooms and large conference rooms, which seats
he at a first class hotel could walk directly from his room within only
up to 3,000 people and has a ceiling height of 17 meters. They also
two minutes and play tennis in the redecorated adjacent Congress
have a separate AV team and their own equipment. Some of the major
Hall. McEnroe took part in the tournament Kings of Tennis, which
conferences that have been here are FERMA 2011 (Risk Manage-
included Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and others. Other well-known
ment with over 1,500 participants), Escaide 2011 (European Scientific
artists who played in the main congress hall are Sting and Bob Dylan.
Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology), SpaceOps
The Dalai Lama also held a highly acclaimed lecture here.
2012 (International Conference on Space Operations), Eurotox 2012
When Sting was here, he said at the end of the concert that he
(Congress of the European Societies of Toxicology), IFPA 2012 (World
liked the acoustics very much and it was one of the best facilities he’d
Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis Conference), and ICSC 2013 (Retail Real
Estate Industry). That the brain is the goal of all communication Waterfront takes very seriously – which has resulted in the concept ‘Experience Meetings’. One example: We have all sat and nodded off after an ordinary
– Good sound is one of the key success factors we planned before building the place and that has worked very well. I am very proud of that, says Sam Holmberg. Waterfront has invested in solar energy and on a sunny day it has
– conference lunch – which resulted in the body’s satiety signals which
the power of one megawatt, which among other things is enough
restricts our ability to be nimble and absorb information.
to produce the hot water needed. In the basement there is also the
With the help of experts, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group developed
possibility to freeze up to 250 tons of ice in five large containers. This is
the concept Brainfood, which helps us stay more creative throughout
to create cooling in parts of the house that need it. At Waterfront they
redistribute the heat – from surplus to shortfall – through an advanced
Another example is the creative ‘Brain Box room’ – which all guests in the house can reserve and use. Here’s a big wall to write on, stimulating colors, more reclining seats and the ability to surprise in a
climate control system.
Both the hotel and congress centre are certified by Green Building
STOCKHOLM WATERFRONT CONgRESS CENTRE
certification and the hotel was the first Swan eco labeled hotel on the
Location Stockholm City
same day as the opening.
Opened January 2011
Responsible Business is Carlson Rezidor’s CSR program which the
Powered by Carlson Rezidor Hotel group
hotel and congress centre belong to. The program has 3 pillars: Think
Total area 14,000 square meters that can be sec-
Planet, Think People and Think Together. Ethics is one of the guiding
tioned and combined into a large number of different
principles and the hotel group has been a 4 time winner of the World’s
solutions - for 500, 1,000 or 3,000 persons. The
Most Ethical Company Award.
venue can cater for gala dinners up to 2,000 persons,
Sam Holmberg and Kenth Larsson also note that they can have
concerts, large business meetings, exhibitions etc.
as many flexible and movable walls as you like, superior technology
Foyer Additional 3,000 sqm of possibilities.
and design – but it’s worth nothing if the service culture is not in the
Largest congress hall 3,000 people
house 24/7. The ’100 % Satisfaction Guarantee policy’ is of course
Other meeting facilities More than 20 rooms. From the
something else that’s a great tool that’s good for both the guests and
VIP room for 12 and others up to 600 people.
Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, first class facilities with
– My philosophy is that everything starts with employees. Often you start at the other end by primarily looking at profit, then the customer and ultimately the employees. We must give employees the opportunity to do their job in the best way by giving them strong tools, training and good working conditions. When they know what to do, what is expected and when they enjoy their work, it becomes rather obvious. The result is that the customers will be happy and when they are satisfied good results will follow, says Sam Holmberg.
direct access 414 rooms Within 300 meters 3,500 extra hotel rooms
22 | PAGE TITLE 22 | COVER STORY
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
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L I N DK V IST
Fredrik Emdén PHOTOS
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The Sound of MINDS OPENING Magnus Lindkvist lets his eyes wander around the room. He notes that the lights hanging above the bar counter are LED, that the video projector on the ceiling is a modern design and that his mobile phone on the table in front of him is relatively new. Other than that there is very little to suggest that we are living in the future. “You’re drinking coffee, which people have always done, I’m drinking Coca Cola, a drink that is a hundred and ten years old,” he says, and continues to inspect the premises, a bar housed in an old 1930s cinema foyer. A roar echoes from the cinema auditorium where the 1980s Swedish band, Hansson De Wolfe United, is carrying out a sound check ahead of their comeback. Hardly the music of tomorrow. “The chap over there,” he says pointing to a man at a table, “Is drinking fermented fruit juice and I’m
eating peanuts, which people have probably done for centuries. The portrait on the wall looks quite old. No, not much is happening here.” This is his reply to the simple question of why we are we so obsessed by the future. Lecturer and author Magnus Lindkvist works that way. Give him an assertion and he will take the opposite view. You could call him a devil’s advocate, but he is more of a sophisticated contrarian. “Contrarianism is interesting. In the world of financial investment there is always a contrarian investor 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“ When somebody comes out with a cliché about the future, I always take the opposite view”
who goes against the grain. Those people made a killing when the Lehman Brothers crashed. Everybody thought their shares would go up; they thought they’d go down. That’s kind of how I work, as a contrarian,” he explains while taking a handful of peanuts. Magnus Lindkvist deals in provocation, but not the kind that angers people. He poses a challenge to provoke people into taking a step forward. The title of his latest book Everything We Know Is Wrong feels natural in a way. “I’m interested in something I call intelligent acupuncture, I provoke other ways of thinking. If everybody says the world is round, what happens if we think we’ve thought wrongly, that the world is actually oval? How could that be explained? If everybody says that the truth is X, how would we react if we said that the truth is everything but X? We ask questions and ponder. If everybody says that the trend is big data, why is it then not big data?” This was also the theme of his lecture at the ICCA congress in Turkey in November: Our visions of the future are greatly influenced by the here and now. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
“We ponder over how we can expand on our growth markets. We wonder whether Instagram is a threat or an opportunity or how we can become more carbon-neutral. But that’s now! I try to get my audience to think beyond that. Give them the tools for it. So I don’t just stand there and say ‘big data and 3D printers are what it’s all about’. I want to give them a system for doing it.” Magnus Lindkvist is a graduate from the Stockholm School of Economics who dreamed of making films and had a passion for the world of ideas and storytelling. He has worked as a management consultant, at an advertising agency and with branding strategies. Then his interest in the future took over and gradually became his main focus; to gather and formulate thoughts about the direction the world is taking. “I think about how we will think in the future and how others think. Where do we think we’re heading, where do others think we’re heading, how did we think about the future in the past?” He first called himself a futurist before realising it was the name of an art movement with roots in fascism (“Not the best decision I’ve ever
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“ S omething immeasurable happens in a room, we can call it gamma energy for argument’s sake”
made”). Inspired by Englishman Ian Pearson, four years ago he began calling himself a futurologue. For the past six years Magnus Lindkvist has spent his time at meetings and congresses presenting his intelligent acupuncture. Swedish journalist Jan Gradvall referred to him as a combination of a journalist’s chronic inquisitiveness, an economist’s sound knowledge and an unfulfilled rock star’s thirst to captivate an audience, which was not far off the mark. He once formed a rock band with his brothers whose greatest moment was as a warm-up band to Kent in 2000 (“There were two people near the stage and a couple of hundred in a beer tent a few metres away”). He has played theatre and spent eight weeks on a journalism course. “I’ve never liked being pigeonholed or stuck in a role. I prefer to move between roles.” His thesis – regardless of whether he is standing on a stage or sitting in a bar in an old cinema foyer – is that we mostly talk about that we’re talking about the future. But not much is said. Not even when the theme is ‘The future of …’ are we talking about the future.
“This is great for me. Most companies sit and dwell on the same old truths and cliché-ridden trends. Big data here, emerging markets there. It makes my job easier. If everybody put as much time into futurology as I do then much of what I say would not be as interesting. And I think that people do find it interesting.” That is an understatement. Today Magnus Lindkvist is one of Sweden’s most sought after international lecturers. He describes his journey thus: “Racing around Stockholm, then all over Sweden followed by the Nordics, Europe and now the whole world.” He had to pause here to try and recall where he had held his last lecture: Mexico City, Cape Town, San Paulo, Hong Kong, Moscow. Five cities, five continents. In the past month. He enjoys the fact that his audience has become more global. The codes disappear and the message takes centre stage. “People take easier to people with codes they don’t understand. They don’t sit there wondering what schools they went to.” For the past year Magnus Lindkvist has lived in Zürich with his wife, who works there, and their twin sons. His lifestyle suits him down to 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Innovation is about seeking out secrets, being experimental and finding ways to recycle mistakes”
the ground and he sees himself as a stay-at-home dad who looks after his children, takes walks with his wife and betters himself (“I live a socially isolated life so there’s plenty of time for reflection”). While other trendspotters sit scrutinising websites and comparing data, Magnus Lindkvist has a method he calls one hundred percent analogue. He meets people – employees, business leaders, managers, artists, researchers – and asks them how they see the future. He listens then asks a few questions, sometimes annoying, sometimes downright stupid. Again, intelligent acupuncture. “I recently met a happiness researcher and asked why we put a moral perspective on happiness. The notion that we become happier through helping others annoys me. People should be capable of feeling happy over off-putting and disturbing things too. And they generally are! Putting that question to her was a way of getting her to reflect over the fact that she probably does that too. “I think this interesting idea can pop up anywhere at any time. We’re all coloured by the times we live in and are more likely to talk about some criminal case, impending war or an MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
epidemic rather that explore what we really think and believe in. But that’s what makes it so interesting.” One of many terms that Magnus Lindkvist returns to is information diet chart, a sort of recommendation over the kind of information we consume. Lateral thinking is healthier than unilateral thinking. “Our own thoughts can be unbearable, especially if we’re isolated with them, so we distract ourselves in various ways: listen to podcasts, read an online paper, go to the cinema or a bar. But our thinking then becomes the same as everybody else’s thinking. What are we thinking, what are we capable of if we go beyond that? “The brain has no alert mechanism that makes us vomit as soon as we hear an untruth. Being wrong doesn’t feel it. This poses a threat as well as being an opportunity. If you start thinking you’d be happier if you went around killing people then the brain should wave a red flag. But it doesn’t. When it comes to stories, we think it’s the headline-grabbing sensational stuff that’s important, but it could well be the silent, inconspicuous and slow stuff. That’s an exciting thought.”
“I’m interested in that for which there are no news headlines. That which we don’t talk about, the things we stay silent about; scientific secrets, people’s secrets, what goes on there?” When asked what sort of reaction he gets when he speaks, his immediate reply is laughter. If you Google Magnus Lindkvist and look at some of his live performances you will see how he has the audience eating out of his hand like a stand-up comedian and how the laughter becomes infectious. “I usually liken laughter to the sound of minds opening. You can laugh because it’s hilarious and witty or because it opens up an entirely new train of thought. The best standup comedians have that effect. They’re trend-bashers; some may tell sad and hideous stories but they open new trains of thought that make people want to laugh. We all too often separate the important and substantial from the witty and light-hearted. They can be combined.” Combining visions of the future with humour is asking for trouble. “Too much stand-up,” say the critics. This kind of remark just makes contrarian Magnus Lindkvist step up his act on stage.
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“In the world of financial investment there is always a contrarian investor who goes against the grain”
“Two or three people in the audience should hate it. If you only get fours on a scale of one to five in the evaluation afterwards then it wasn’t that good. But if you get fives with a few ones then you’ve done something interesting. That’s what you should strive for as a speaker.” He understands those who consider him an offbeat seer and laughs. “Only today I was asked by a radio show to comment on what a researcher calls the balloon society, where everybody struts around with empty titles accomplishing very little. And they wanted me to comment! Probably because they needed some sort of antithesis to the researcher who thinks futurology is just hot air. And they’re probably right. It disturbs a lot of people. There are few things that disturb people more than somebody else’s happiness: ‘Are they happy due to their sexual inclination? We can’t have that; it’s time to ban it. Are they happy in their job? There must be something wrong with that job’, etcetera. I’m very happy in my work, it’s a dream job. I visit fifty countries a year, I’m very well paid, I get the best part of people’s days, that is to say conferences, and usually during the best part of the meeting. It’s a dream
job, so of course it annoys people, it would be strange if it didn’t.” So we are not as obsessed by the future as we like to think. According to Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, we spend twelve percent of our waking hours thinking of things in the future. What’s happening tonight, what’s happening tomorrow, what happens when I get old, what does the future hold, etcetera. “The rest of the time we react to things in the present, mostly our urges. It’s a question of survival. If we were one hundred percent interested then we’d be run over on the street. We need some form of circumstantial awareness,” continues Magnus Lindkvist. “But it’s cooler to be able to say the future is biotech, social media and so forth. But you and I are talking with each other. We have two pairs of eyes. Most things in our surroundings are immobile or cyclical at least, but we won’t admit that because we like to be able to say that something wonderful is on the horizon. Or, failing that, a great threat. But that’s more an instrument of power than the truth. It’s the kind of thing a politician would say to get re-elected, or what a contractor looking to make a
lot of money would entice with. It just offers a false reality.” One key element of Magnus Lindkvist’s profession is his unbending belief in the personal meeting, that which takes place between him and his audience. The threat to this type of lecture posed by increased digitalisation does not worry him. “Companies merge and fragment. Meetings have to take place; suppliers, customers, subsidiaries. I have to be shipped between these events to make it work. However good videoconferencing is, there’s something irreplaceable about the physical, analogue meeting. I’ve attended numerous meetings where they’ve tried to have a speaker through a video link.” He shakes his head. “A globally acclaimed speaker reaches ten percent of what a local mediocre speaker reaches, on a good day,” he says and talks about the meeting he has just spoken at, which brought him to the Swedish capital. Everything went smoothly, unlike an identical lecture he delivered the week before for the same client. “Something immeasurable happens in a room, we can call it gamma energy for argument’s sake. I don’t know what it depends on. If it’s the 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Magnus Lindkvist deals in provocation, but not the kind that angers people”
air, the hearts all beating in unison, the expectations, or whatever. It’s become my strength, I can sense the energy,” he explains, going on to say that gamma energy wasn’t such a bad expression at all really. “It’s at every meeting. We don’t know how it’s created. Is it the sound or the lighting, the tea and biscuits during the break, the speaker, or perhaps all these things combined? We don’t know. Until we do, we’ll go on experimenting.” As well as his audience being more international today, Magnus Lindkvist has also noticed a greater diversity of people attending meetings, something that was previously a senior management privilege. He believes this is because the meetings industry has become better at finding niches. “Event-makers do a good job and have realised the importance of stagemanaging meetings. The meetings are fragmented, separated at different management levels and organisers have become so much better at stagemanaging the experience.” That fragmentation is probably on the increase. There are many signs that point to an increase in the pace of change and that our future competMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
itiveness will be determined by our ability to adapt. Change is the only constant in life, to quote Heraclitus. But the will to change is more about survival than mad visions of the future. Fewer and fewer dreams of going to the moon, of cordless electricity, all fewer companies investing long term, notes Magnus Lindkvist. Everybody is reactive, taken up with survival. He finds it all rather sad. “These days everybody seems engrossed in the future of capitalism. I don’t think capitalism needs to be so different in the future. We yearn for some sort of sustainability, either in space or in time. We know from experience that all our first attempts failed. The first years with a new meeting, the first tablet, the first DVD player, the first mobile phone. You have to give it a few years. It’s always best to be last; Google was the last search engine, for instance,” he says, and goes on to say that he would like to see the opposite to quarterly capitalism. Something he calls patient capitalism. “Innovation is about seeking out secrets, being experimental and findings ways to recycle mistakes. It requires patience.”
But how can we adapt to the ever-increasing tempo and what will we think when we look back on this period we are now living in and notice how slow it all was? The contrarian’s eyes flash at this. “We don’t learn any quicker today. We don’t make love any quicker today, at least I hope not because then there’s definitely something wrong. People have said this since time immemorial, ‘wow, how quickly everything is moving’ or ‘wow, things will get so much quicker’. This is a sort of pep talk for the future that often lacks substance.” He pauses. “There, you see, I’ve done it again! When somebody comes out with a cliché about the future, I always take the opposite view: ‘no, I don’t agree with that’. But the thing is, just because a lot of people say it, doesn’t make it right. Might does not give us right.”
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YOU ARE HERE
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© iStock.com/mstroz/Mark Strozier
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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.
Under the Surface IN DEPTH Freedom of expression: The right to hold an opinion and express it orally, in writing or in visual form, or in any other way communicate information and express ideas, thoughts and sentiments. Freedom of information: The freedom to seek, receive and impart information.” From Swedish Government information on the fundamental rights of Swedish citizens. “Do you fancy coming over for dinner on Saturday? It would be nice if you could. Call or email ASAP. Kind Regards.” Everything is as it should be. There are built-in codes for all social interaction. How you should dress for dinner at a good friend’s place, how you should generally dress so as not to deviate too much from the masses, how to obtain enough information about the current state of affairs in order to participate in conversations whenever and wherever they crop up. And so on. The codes, however, are changing all the time due to shifts in the balance of power in society. It has been many a long year since the nobility wielded any real influence in society; today other opinion-formers
pave the way with new ideals and new trends. Most belong to what is known as the Fourth Estate. Thomas Carlyle attributed the origin of the term to Edmund Burke, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787. In current use the term is applied to the news media with the earliest use in the sense described by Thomas Carlyle in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship: “Burke said there were three Estates in Parliament; but in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all.” The task of the news media was, and still is, to act as an investigative body in society, those who raise the alarm when the executive power (the 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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Government) is failing in its duties, or when the legislature (Parliament) appears to be making nail soup, weakening what should be strengthened. But the Fourth Estate (the news media) do not stop there. They often pursue their own political agenda, not least by inviting increasing numbers of the younger generation to diverse forums where boundaries are stretched and
misconstrued as being unsuitable in the context. We watch and listen and sometimes nod in agreement and take another biscuit, and the next day we have probably forgotten most of what was said. Shifts in the balance of power only lead to a slight tweaking of the social codes of conduct. What was most forbidden yesterday is still just as forbidden today. Transparency
“We watch and listen and sometimes nod in agreement and take another biscuit” shifted through avant-garde experiments and cultural expressions. The Internet has, of course, had an enormous influence. Today’s news media also embraces social media, so the question soon will be whether the Fourth Estate is not now the First, or at least the most penetrating and influential. The business world has not been slow in following the social media trends and is putting enormous resources into it. It is all about being seen, as the adage goes, living up to their shareholders’ interests and demands. Now one would think that we who live in these modern societies, particularly via the modern media portals, would become more transparent, open and communicative. It may seem that way when people gladly step into the limelight to expose their experiences, emotional storms and mental images. In this day and age it is entertaining to follow TV reality shows and celebrity chat shows, but, of course, in such contexts we only share parts of lives. Nothing is ever said that could be MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
and openness is mostly a chimera, an illusion. At any rate, it was a pleasant dinner with friends. There was chatter and laughter and cheers! amid endless flashbacks. The host and hostess were thanked most warmly, as is the custom – even that a part of the social codes of conduct. A most agreeable evening, much was said but most was unspoken. As always. Casual encounters remain casual. Casual meetings likewise. Most of us have experienced such meetings. Many of the larger, well-planned casual meetings take place at meetings venues and study centres. You arrive and mingle and small-talk and listen to wise and articulate lecturers with PowerPoint slides as a backdrop. The participants’ main task is to inhale it, digest it and try to turn it into something useful. The menu comprises of food, drink and presentations. The chefs stand in the kitchen and do not take part in any meetings. Even the speakers have prepared their mental cuisine at their respective computers and rarely consider inviting others
to an in-depth dialogue about the menu contents. Thus, no-one is there to bring about change because that would require personal commitment and an intense exchange of experiences, knowledge and ideas with others. Some may possibly attempt to influence others to some form of change, but soon find themselves longing home for the ingrained and familiar. Casual meetings may indeed be organised from something that arises and lives for a short while (a few hours or a day or two), but then the organisation melts away like spring snow and is gone. But what about organisations that do not die out after a short while, those that are populated by interacting people? This could apply to workplaces or community groups, or other types of societies with statutes and rules that reinforce things and keeps the ball rolling. The usual codes of conduct do not necessarily apply here. Like mortar used to lay bricks, a mortar is mixed that is best described as the ‘special organisational culture.’ It contains even more complex elements than the usual codes of conduct. In the mix are the fundamental values, usually proclaimed by the founders and passed on by the line managers or others in the administration, or, in less formal contexts, the host or hostess. It also includes subtle norms, that is to say decrees and borderlines, and, of course, a reward system for those who fulfil the explicitly or implicitly expected requirements. It is like that everywhere. Therein lies a surface, and under the surface are depths. On the surface everything is rather predicable. The surface is a plate of glass and just beneath it is everything that everybody who comes into contact with it can see and therefore find relatively easy to associate with. It is similar to a long-running TV
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series; nothing unexpected happens and nobody says anything out of the ordinary. But something else is simmering under the surface: tension. It bubbles and squeaks, and sometimes even explodes. One day it all falls apart at the seams. The woman tells her husband she wants to separate and move out. At the workplace a stirring
with a short life span, it is possible in some circumstances to bring together sufficient numbers whose needs and desires interplay with each other. It is like a honeymoon period, everybody is so easily aroused. This is generally how things are in revolutionary movements: We can, we shall, let’s do it! After a while it just peters out. The bubble bursts and they all return to
threat to the order of things; things could easy fall apart. What should we do with this knowledge? Well, it has a very limited value until such time as we manage to turn it into personal insight. Only then can we begin to use it as a tool to help us think and act more rationally. For me it represents a better future, for all of us.
“It is like a honeymoon period, everybody is so easily aroused” motion begins to rise to the surface and the culture (the mortar) cracks and the company goes bankrupt. The association has lost its way and finds it impossible to enrol new committee members. Sigmund Freud once said there were only two organisations that have managed to survive a long time: the armed forces and the church. This is not because they are nourished and nurtured by the resourcefulness and inventiveness of amazing people with the will to succeed, but because they are built as rigid hierarchies with powerful leaders and a harsh punishment system. That is the way it has been since time immemorial, but now, in our modern age, it is no longer easy to keep these historically sterling organisations together, or at least to progress that much. Perhaps new, even greater social crises could provide the impetus for the armed forces and church to blossom again. Tensions emanate from the multitudes of individual needs, fantasies and desires that everybody has. In the casually built organisations, those
their home comforts. When everything stops correlating, mutual admiration turns into disharmony. This is because we individuals are carriers of special life experiences that combine with genetically controlled impulses. It is like the pattern in a Persian rug; all people create images based on symbolically charged patterns that lead to dreams, hopes and more or less unspoken desires. You could also liken our psychic interior to enormous traffic roundabouts, where some of us simply have to drive in one direction while others stubbornly drive in the other. As long as there is some form of policing, and as long as these forces are capable of setting clear rules on the map, we can submit to it and flow along with reasonably common streams. But when liberalism produces freedom allowance, where you get to do what you think is best for you, and I find what I think is best for me, the tensions will lead to activities of a destructive nature. The destructive part being, of course, the
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The Creative Era “Any person engaged in innovation needs more than just freedom … To be creative we all need knowledge, tools and the skills to apply them” TEXT
Carl Hamilton, Strategos Most people would agree that creativity is the mother of innovation. We have entered the creative era, where the ability to innovate and constantly adapt to change will determine our chances of success. Since innovation is high on most companies’ agenda we are often involved in conversations about how innovation can be professionalized, in similar ways Project Management or Lean has been. In those discussions a common remark is: “Structure and systems will stifle creativity, instead we should allow people the freedom to be innovative.” We agree that freedom to try ideas does stimulate creative solutions. But we consider the notion that ‘professionalizing innovation would stifle creativity’ to be an orthodoxy, which could prevent a company to mobilize creative forces across their organisation in pursuit of growth. Don’t get me wrong, innovation built on inflexible systems and processes will result in failure. But any person engaged in innovation needs more than just freedom. To be creative we all need knowledge, tools and the skills to apply them. Unleashing innovation. Think of
a writer, one of the most creative
professions. Writers train their observation skills in finding inspiration for a story, research to find data and knowhow that will make the story and its characters believable. They hone their ability to tell the story in ways that make it come to life, escape from the page of a book stimulating the reader’s imagination. So for creativity to generate actionable results, individuals and organisations need to learn to use tools and build support for both the creative process itself and realizing ideas that are generated. Creativity feeds innovation and the more creative power a company has the better the chances for success. Gary Hamel talks about the need to create organisations with values, beliefs and behaviors where people are willing to “bring their gift of creativity and passion to work every day.” Creative power is often demonstrated by those who are already creative (people who can’t help it but constantly turn out ideas), but ideally we want to give everybody in the company a chance to apply their creativity in order to keep us agile and resilient. Companies that are successful innovators like Google are able to engage a majority of their employees to be creative thinkers and
doers. Such companies have overcome the “creative apartheid” as Gary Hamel calls it. Professionalizing innovation. Everyone can be engaged in creatively developing new products, ways of working, services and solutions and we argue that to accomplish this an organisation needs to put into place a number of structures including systems and processes. Google, Whirlpool, Gore and Ericsson are all examples of how professionalizing innovation will support a broader engagement of the employees in developing the business. But rigidity in process and structure will be counter productive, there is no ‘silver bullet’ or a ‘blueprint’ to copy. Every company will have their own set of tools to apply depending on their particular culture. However, we find that as a base line the following needs to be addressed:
Purpose What makes you get
out of bed in the morning full of energy to deliver value to your company? And how do you inspire your people to do the same? We find that a clear purpose for the company, describing how we aim to positively impact our customers 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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and change the way we compete, will engage your people at a more emotional level and therefore be more effective than just targets around finance and size. Think about the power of Google’s purpose – “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Now add, “Don’t be evil” and you have a compelling story to share with your people and the world. Compare that to “Being the number one search engine on the web.” Which one would you get out of bed for in the morning?
Inspiration A colleague
responsible for innovation in a major international company once asked me; “What would be the number one thing you recommend me to do differently in order to achieve better results from innovation?” My advice was “Get out of your office and spend time in the real world with your customers and consumers.” We will never deliver products that change the lives of people without knowing and becoming inspired by a deeper understanding of their problems and frustrations. Nor will we catch shifts in markets by just reading reports compiled by others. In developing strategy and innovation our starting point is the creation of inspiring insights about customer needs, shifts in the market, developments in technology, and orthodoxies that control behaviors and decisions. This initial Discovery phase is about finding information that is unexpected and new. When Crayola sought a way out of a commoditized crayon market, they started by seeking inspiration. The insights they discovered fundamentally changed their company, from being focused on selling high quality crayons to parents to understanding the underlying, unarticulated needs MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
of both parents and children. This allowed them to shift focus from a purely functional perspective on color and sticks to an application of creativity, learning and play. The result was dramatic, creating a whole new segment of products, ultimately delivering double-digit growth.
Tools and systems If all you
have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. To deliver results, creators need proper tools and develop the skills to apply them through practice. As Arnold Palmer once said, after someone commented on how lucky he was to have sunk a difficult shot; “It’s a funny thing, the more I train the luckier I get.” Our discovery process is a structured way supported by tools, methods and training that help generate proprietary insights to inspire creativity. We gradually develop internal capability through on the job training, exposing people to specific tools they need. It is important that many people are engaged in the innovation process to embed capability and allow for greater diversity of input. An approach that has proven to be successful at Whirlpool is to train a group of Innovation Mentors or Coaches who have the responsibility to support their colleagues in the organisation.
Leadership The leaders of an
organisation play a key role in supporting and influencing creativity and innovation. How you as a leader behave will reflect what people think is acceptable. As a leader you have many levers to pull but it all starts with whom you recruit. The choices you make about whom to work with signals how open the organisation is to diversity and what is acceptable behaviour. We all understand that the daily job needs to get done. But empower-
ing people to actively participate in challenging the status quo and allowing them to experiment with ideas will create engagement. Again, Google is an inspiring example of how this can be done. But the discipline of Management Innovation is catching interest from leaders, fast. To explore more, take a look at www.managementexchange. com, Gary Hamel’s open innovation project aimed at re-inventing management.
Governance Nothing kills
creativity faster than failing to realize promising ideas. A Governance structure provides resources and funding to allow experimentation and early exploration of new opportunities. If you are organized and ready to support ideas more people are willing to offer you their ideas, not only from inside your organisation but also from external sources. We often work with clients to institutionalize I-Boards that act as catalysts of ideas. We helped KT in South Korea to develop their governance system for innovation and their I-Board included the leaders of all the major business units in the group. They were encouraged to invest from their budget in projects presented to the I-Board by employees. People will unleash their creativity when they are empowered to do so. That implies they have permission as well as the tools and infrastructure to help them. It is our role, as leaders and consultants to design, deliver and empower the use of these tools and structures so that the pool of creativity that exist in our organisations can be fully leveraged and turned into solutions for the benefit of your customers. That makes a truly exciting day and one to get out of bed for!
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SO OFTEN DISCUSSED, SO LITTLE UNDERSTOOD TEXT
Walter Stugger Multiculturalism might be the most misunderstood concept in the business world today. It certainly is one of the most important. As the bulk of my event-organizing and meeting-planning work is international, my main challenge bringing people together from around the world is helping them form goaloriented temporary communities. Perhaps the biggest deterrent to achieving their goals is the unpredictable, sometimes clamorous nature of cross-cultural communication. Even among people who share the same language, nationality, cultural heritage and social style, communicating effectively can be a bumpy road. When people convene across many borders, the opportunities for misunderstanding expand dramatically. Not only must people express themselves and understand others across the divides of nationality and language, they must also transcend fragmentation across religious, economic and class lines. Within those segmentations are further divisions and subdivisions based on tribe, caste, historic legacies and clan
distinctions. Frequently invisible to outsiders, these differences are blaringly obvious to those who coexist with them. These minute distinctions shape how we express ourselves every minute of every day. Just as important, they shape how we understand others. Here’s an example of how communication styles differ across the globe. I once watched a team of experienced European negotiators walk away from a meeting with Japanese counterparts believing they were on the cusp of closing their deal; all they needed was a contract to sign. The Japanese team had never said yes; they merely had not said no. As stating a blunt “no” is impolite in Japan, many avoid the word so as not to offend. The westerners mistook absence of no for indication of yes. Here’s another example. This happened to me while traveling in South America for business with another European, a woman I’ve known for quite a few years. We were seated at a café in Buenos Aires awaiting the arrival of a local businessman my friend knew. When he arrived, I stood up 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Maintaining alertness to cultural communication styles will help you daily as you plan international gatherings”
politely and extended my right hand, palm vertical and thumb up; a typical European reaction. He, on the other hand, leaned in and bussed me on the cheek, after first pecking my friend. Having traveled extensively in South America, I interpreted his greeting as a warm and welcoming Argentine gesture. This man knew my friend and trusted her; therefore he trusted me. The gesture signaled neither flirtation nor contempt, as it might have in other cultures and other circumstances. Maintaining alertness to cultural communication styles will help you daily as you plan international gatherings. Consider how introductions are made. An American might stand an arm’s length distance from his counterpart, reach out to shake hands, and introduce himself by first name. A German might stand just outside handshaking distance, and offer a slight bow. He would likely refer to his new acquaintance as Herr (“Mister”) and use the person’s last name. Coming from a less formal culture, the American might consider the new acquaintance a friend, introducing him as such to colleagues. To the German, such informality seems presumptuous and even rude. Getting to know you takes much longer. Serving food and beverages is another area where consumption styles often clash. An international MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
event may attract attendees who follow specified religious or spiritual requirements governing how food is prepared and served. For these attendees, many dietary items are either proscribed or required to be served and eaten in specific ways. Attendees following Kosher diets, for example, will abstain from consuming pork and shellfish; will not eat meat combined with dairy; and may require all foods served to have been certified by specific religious authorities. Those following Halal diets may abstain from pork, refrain from food during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, and require their food be certified by specific religious authorities. For some nationalities, religious or ethnic groups, the consumption of alcohol before, during and after communal meals is ritualistic and nearly universal; for others, an offer of alcohol can be a grave offense. In short: there are no universal guidelines governing social behavior and communication styles. Take every opportunity to learn all you can about your attendees’ cultural behaviors and styles of expression. Be alert; be respectful; take nothing for granted. You’re now officially on your way to becoming multicultural.
Four steps to better multicultural communications
Speak precisely and avoid slang. Say “Be here at 8,” not “Get here early.” Say “I don’t like that,” not “That rubs me the wrong way.” Avoid visual gestures. Thumbs-up means “A-Okay” in the U.S.; it’s a threat in the Middle East and an insult in South America. Watch your body language. Showing your shoe sole is a mortal insult in many countries; standing too close (or too far away) during a conversation also may be misunderstood. Offer evidence that’s culturally approved. Offering numerical evidence – studies, reports and rankings – is convincing proof in some cultures; others value testimony from elders, precedent, or clergy’s approval.
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Into the Heart of Meetings – Basic Principles of Meeting Design by Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver is the first book on Meeting Design and is about the art of matching a meeting’s form and format to its content and aims. Under the heading, Meetings Live, and over four issues, we are publishing a summary of the book’s main content along with some essential excepts, and we are doing so in collaboration with Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver. They have run Mind Meeting for the past twelve years and are specialists in designing fruitful programmes for international conferences, congresses, seminars and workshops. Their innovative design format has received a good deal of global attention due to the format also taking up strategy issues in organisational development. Naturally, this summary and the excerpts cannot do real justice to the complexity of the topic or to the wealth of examples in the book itself. It will, however, give you a good idea of the authors’ main lines of thought. The first article in this series of four focused on the characteristics of meetings as a form of communication. It recognised seven features that make of meetings that peculiar kind of human encounter. The seven
features provide a close look at meetings from the participant perspective; in this second article, the angle shifts to the person or party who takes the initiative to hold the meeting: the meeting owner. A meeting is born
Every meeting starts in the head of somebody. For one reason or another, this person is convinced that she should convince a bunch of people to pack themselves into cars, coaches, trains and planes and meet up in some place. Mostly (but not always), this initiator is also the person who takes the main decisions about the meeting (and its budget). This person is the meeting owner. In the meeting owner’s head, a meeting invariably starts with one thing: content! To put it simply: No Content, 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Meetings are not organised by lone loonies, they represent important moments in the life of associations or companies”
No Meeting. All meetings are about something. We can easily conceive of meetings without many of the features that are traditionally associated with them: meeting rooms, transportation, food, speakers, etc. It is not that these things are irrelevant – by no means, but it is possible to think of meetings that can do without them. It is not possible, however, to think about a meeting with no content. Right next to the first ideas about the content, the meeting owner’s head spins around ideas about what he would like the meeting to achieve. In one way or another, the meeting’s objectives need to add value to something which is important to the meeting owner: his organisation, a project, a community, a body of knowledge, or himself. Meeting Owner and Meeting Designer
Generally speaking, the meeting owner is ‘in it’ for the content; he is a content specialist: a rocket scientist, for instance, a politician or a change manager. And so, the importance of the meeting designer becomes immediately evident, because the meeting designer is the meeting specialist. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
He knows about formats and dynamics, about ways to translate abstract objectives into engaging activities for participants, about sparking the participant behaviour that will generate the desired outcomes. Meeting owner and meeting designer, therefore, work in tandem, both viewing the meeting from their respective vantage points and offering the necessary input to make the meeting memorable and useful. They are two sides of the same coin. Getting the Objectives
An unexpected difficulty right at the start for many meeting owners is to get their objectives and desired outcomes right. Often, these are expressed in relatively vague process terms, such as: “We want the meeting to be a good place for networking,” or: “The meeting is the place for a high-level exchange of expert opinions.” Unfortunately, these are not objectives, they are descriptions of processes. What does “a good place for networking” mean? That all 500 participants exchange at least one sentence with all the others? Or that each participant should have at least ten conversations that could possibly
lead to a profitable follow-up after the meeting? Both are perfectly legitimate objectives, but it is easy to see that achieving them requires a totally different type of interaction between participants and thus a totally different programme. One of the main tasks of the meeting designer is to help the meeting owner to formulate the objectives for the meeting and the desired outcomes in clear terms. Often that help consists in making a distinction between qualitative and quantitative outcomes. The quantitative ones can be measured after the meeting (and possibly used in determining the meeting’s Return On Investment); the qualitative ones require an evaluation based on subjective criteria. Connecting Objectives and Programme
One of the novelties of Into the Heart of Meetings is a methodology that allows the meeting designer to extract specific but indirect input from the meeting owner on the programme. The first part of this method is called Content Flow. Basically, the idea is that in the course of the meeting, the meeting owner wants something to
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“Hot means that content behaves like a pitbull terrier: it grabs the participants by the throat and doesn’t let go”
happen with his content: it should move, develop, change. The snag is that it is almost impossible for the meeting owner to describe the desired change: most of the time he ends up in a knot that contains thoughts about the content itself and thoughts about the change in the content. At some point, the conversation becomes inextricably abstract. However, asking the meeting owner to make a drawing of the desired movement of his content works astonishingly well. Thinking about the content as something material forces him to make the desired changes concrete. In the process, the meeting designer obtains all kinds of valuable indications on how the programme should roll out. An example is the meeting owner who draws his Content Flow as a boomerang, which he wants the audience to throw a couple of times to see what it brings back. That is information a meeting designer can use! The Experience
A second new notion the authors propose is called the Experience Concept. It draws heavily on several characteristics introduced in Part 1 of the book, but this time approached from
the other side: if meetings inevitably are an experience, a physical experience as the authors believe them to be, then what should that experience be for the participants? What should it feel like for them to go through the meeting together with the other meeting participants? Should it feel like the usual classroom lecture? Or preferably like something else? Once again, it is impossible for the meeting owner to describe this in direct terms. Such a description persistently ends up in predictable platitudes, such as: “The meeting should end on a high,” or: “We want it to be exciting and engaging!” Well meant, but more precise imagery is necessary to design a good programme that fits the content! The authors propose a shrewd technique, once again involving an indirect approach that lures the meeting owner into a clear statement of the experience he is looking for. That statement takes the form of some recognisable human interaction or activity. Once the meeting owners feels that he has found that image and shares it with the designer, the latter can give shape to the desired experience.
More on Content
The book has more to say about content than just how it moves in the course of the programme. In order to engage the audience, content must be ‘hot.’ Hot means that content behaves like a pitbull terrier: it grabs the participants by the throat and doesn’t let go. Are there specific ways to increase the temperature of any content? Definitely! Here are four possibilities that have proven to work in practice: 1. Make the content ‘sticky.’ This mean establishing a connection with very basic human instincts and emotions, such as fear, pleasure, lust or love. 2. Ensure that the content relates directly to the participants’ personal lives. Such connections are easy to establish as a result of participants interviews. 3. Create a conflict. Not necessarily literally as a quarrel, but content is more engaging if it presents some kind of complicated moral choice.
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4. Turn it into a story. Our brains are wired to engage with stories. We just can’t help ourselves: we want to know how the story continues and especially how it ends. Meetings and Organisational Culture
Most of the time, meeting owners are not on their own: they work for organisations. Meetings are not organised by lone loonies, they represent important moments in the life of associations or companies. Consequently, meetings carry a host of messages about their organisers – sometimes on purpose, sometimes unintended. These messages convey information to participants (and to the world beyond the meeting) of the image the organisation wishes to convey of itself and of its culture. It is easy to distinguish a gliding scale from meetings that tend to simply confirm the culture of the meeting owner’s organisation, to meetings that try to stretch it, and on to meetings that have the purpose of changing that identity and culture. (Although tempting, this is not the place to dive into the exact definition of such terms as the identity or culture of organisations.) What is important to say here is that it is vital to have full clarity about the meeting owner’s goals and margins in this respect. For two risks are lurking just around the corner of the first design presentation. One is that the meeting owner and his team say they like the design but that it is “not really a good fit with who we are.” The second is that the programme actually fits the brief and the objectives, but ultimately, the meeting owner is not ready to accept the consequences of the stretch she is looking for. This ends up weakening the entire design.
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Dig for Input!
A last point stressed repeatedly by the authors is that good meeting design requires a great effort in the initial stages of gathering information. Long before you actually start thinking about any programme you need to go out there and talk to people. Get knowledge on the organisation, its past, its stories and traumas, about the meeting owner herself, about the participants, their expectations and sensitivities – in this stage, it is almost impossible to overdo it. To underline the importance of this effort in more detail, here are a couple of paragraphs from the original: Excerpt, “Into the Heart of Meetings,” page 173: “A series of participant interviews is not statistically valid market research. What you are looking for in these conversations are shared motives, convictions, statements that help you understand what the meeting means to future participants. It is not about understanding what thousands of breakfast eaters feel when they behold the packaging of a new granola bar wrapper; it is a qualitative investigation in which you look for other perspectives on the meeting’s content. Usually, an in-depth talk with 6-10 possible participants is sufficient. It is important that these people have ideas about the overall topic and are ‘typical’ representatives of the organisation. We ask the meeting owner to give us a shortlist, and we refer to them as people who ‘carry the DNA’ of the meeting’s target group. These conversations need to be in-depth interviews, starting from sincere, human curiosity and pursuing topics as doggedly as a journalist
would. He has to establish confidence, get an overview of the interviewees’ general opinions of the content, pursue promising lines of thought, touch on sensitive issues, test ideas on desired outcomes, possible formats, etc. The insights obtained in this way allow the Meeting Designer to produce an effective perspective of the content.” Tell us what you think!
As in the previous article, we hope that as a meeting professional, you will have recognised many of your own experiences and ideas in the issues raised above. And as in the previous case, we would like to provoke you into openly agreeing or disagreeing with us! Send us your opinions on this content, preferably with your arguments: Opinions alone rarely lead to better insights – motivations do. The “hottest” comments will be the basis for the fourth article in this series and the most insightful reaction wins a free copy of Into the Heart of Meetings. © 2013–2014 MindMeeting, Mike van der Vijver and Meetings International Publishing. You can follow Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver on Twitter: @mindmeeting and @mikevijv.
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The Beauty of Waiting The Korean Wave: K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Film and at last – K-Food. As increasingly more people discover the health benefits of Korean cuisine, the interest in Korean food culture, Hansik, is increasing the world over. Hopefully Hansik will make its breakthrough this year among meetings industry players. According to Korean tradition, food is medicine. Each dish has a health aspect and food is often eaten as a form of natural medicine. If you are sick or under the weather, you eat yourself back into shape again. If you feel unwell then you have not eaten properly. K-Food is all about balance. A traditional Korean meal is a story of flavours, colours and wellbeing, and could include rice, soup, side dishes of vegetables, pickled and fermented ingredients, tofu,
fish, seafood and meat. K-Food is earthy, seldom complicated and easily digested. Fermented food bolsters the body’s immune defence and the cooking methods lead to lean food that reduces the risk of abdominal obesity, diabetes and intestinal cancer. The fermented sauces doenjang (soya bean paste) and gochujang (chili paste) are among the greatest gifts handed down to the Korean people by their ancestors. But it takes a long time for the ingredients to mature before they get anywhere near the table. This slow process, The Art of Fermentation, with aging, fermented foodstuffs that mature in large brown clay pots creates deep, complex tastes; vital components in the dishes that are served. Soya bean paste can
ferment for almost a year before the taste matures and the paste is ready for use as a soup or casserole base. In Korean food culture all the dishes are placed on the table at the same time and people pick what you want to eat from shared bowls, The Art of Sharing. Each guest has their own rice and soup bowl along with a spoon and metal chopsticks. It is a very pleasant way of sharing a meal. Kimchi, bulgogi and bibimbap have given Korean cuisine worldwide renown, but there is infinitely more to discover, especially for meetings planners. Why not arrange an event called The Korean Wave and serve K-Food and K-Pop? www.koreanfood.net www.hansik.org 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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Are you ready to make a meetings bomb? It’s simple and you probably have all the ingredients you need at home. Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson, authors of the book For Full Potential, have the recipe for cooking up extraordinary results. But the bomb has a large warning sign: Are you able to handle reality? In the one corner, the outer crust, a company’s organisation, structure and management, also known as ‘hard factors.’ In the other corner, the inner core, individuals and their personal development. Group dynamics, the ‘soft stuff.’ This fight is usually between the accounts department and engineers in the one corner and HR in the other. Their meetings are commonly long drawn-out affairs, full of cultural and language differences that are difficult to get around; if they take place at all that is. The two are often separated at skills development programmes: a few days of professional development followed by a few days of strategy. “They fly in the best there is in each subject but the experts never
synchronise,” says Janne Carlsson. “You meet some business strategist in one module and you learn to cope with the difficult bits in another,” says Maxi Tropé. The two own the company 4FP (For Full Potential). Their business plan is to bridge the gap between the outer crust and the inner core, getting the hard and the soft to meet. This is described in their book For Full Potential – Leadership and Management Skills for Real, the first part of which was published last year. The book takes up the methods they have experimented with, which they use to help individuals and organisations to develop. “It’s time to stop seeing it as a boxing match. It’s time to stop handling 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“No-one wants to acknowledge that the management team doesn’t know what it’s doing”
it like two separate things. Everybody knows it’s about two sides. Yet we have, through tradition, separated them. Accountants and engineers take care of the outer crust and HR the inner core. Strategic HR may be a buzz word, but I’ve never seen an HR manager with any real influence over a strategic process of change. Similarly, I’ve never heard any hardened executives admit that the millions spent on leadership skills actually have any impact on the way they operate,” says Maxi Tropé. Janne Carlsson’s and Maxi Tropé’s 4FP is these two extremities brought together. One is a research scientist, a doctor of technology in logistics and change management. The other is active in the field of performance technology and is one of Sweden’s prominent figures in the personal development concept, the Human Elements. When researcher Carlsson gets together with mental coach Tropé it is not only the meeting of two individuals but also two research fields. “Much is spoken of interdisciplinary research. I’ve taken part in MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
similar research myself. It’s not interdisciplinary because the different perspectives never meet in a practical reality. What they do is study the same phenomenon from their individual perspectives. With us, two perspectives meet in a common cause and that’s when we release enormous energy,” explains Janne Carlsson. With three simple ingredients, Carlsson and Tropé have built a bomb. By mixing the outer crust with the inner core and adding a dose of reality, the two have achieved results that are both measurable and visible. The book is full of examples of how companies have increased their turnovers and become more dynamic, and how they have guided more people into self-sufficiency. The term used by Carlsson and Tropé is EOR, extraordinary result. “I strive to achieve results, but also to get people to realise their full potential. I’d never witnessed such strong forces before. A programme that is results-oriented leads to greater intrinsic development than market-leading programmes that
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“ Who engages in a change process that does not lead to change?”
focus solely on intrinsic development,” says Janne Carlsson. “We’re getting results in the extrinsic world for things that I’ve only been able to identify previously but never managed to accomplish anything with. The theory is right. Reality is better than the book,” he says. They met for the first time in 2008 when Maxi Tropé was given an assignment by a Nordic group to sort out their leadership skills programme that had run aground. Following pressure from the participants, the programme was stopped while underway, a rare occurrence. Maxi Tropé’s task was to handle the crisis of confidence that the company’s HR department found themselves in because of this. It was here that he was struck by the realisation that much of the professional development lavished on management people was not reflected in their daily work or results. The business benefits were conspicuous by their absence. “Everybody was happy with the programme and the evaluations were positive, but there was no sign of it
having influenced the operations in any way,” he says. When his work was done, Maxi Tropé went home. After three days the client contacted him again and told him he should speak with a company called Lime, who’d also done a good job for the same customer. The company had not managed to find anybody who could deliver a professional development programme that worked at both individual and operational level. They now wished to investigate the possibilities of implementing such a programme together with trusted partners. Perhaps Maxi and Lime could look into it? It was hardly love at first sight. Janne Carlsson laughs and points out that Maxi was not interested and sent a colleague in his place. Maxi nods in agreement: “I wasn’t that interested in meeting a bunch of professors from Linköping University. I had a psychologist at my company who I thought was very conventional. I sent him thinking that if he survived then we could take a look at it.”
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“Many professional development activities are like a fairground”
The psychologist found Lime ‘strange but interesting.’ They decided to collaborate. “It was a meeting that we were forced to handle at a personal level as well. We stand for completely different logics. The great challenge for me is in handling all the human relationships. The extrinsic world is a given,” says Janne Carlsson. The models, which now form the core values of the company and the book, were mainly drawn up to enable Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson to be able to understand what they were talking about. “In Janne I met somebody who was my complete opposite. It was also a voyage of discovery; I had to understand the world in a different way so that we could get closer to each other. We were so completely different in our way of looking at the world, but shared an interest in results and people,” continues Maxi Tropé. The time since then has been divided into four years experimentation and two years formulation. Clients have developed new skills, a book has been written. After two years and two programmes it was clear that Janne Carlsson and Maxi Tropé wanted MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
nothing more than to work with these issues. Four years ago they left their respective companies. The book’s subtitle “Leadership and Management Skills for Real” could easily be seen as provocation. Is not all change real? Who engages in a change process that does not lead to change? Many, say the book’s authors. Too many managers do things without really wanting it to affect the system. They make a symbolic gesture that they hope will stir the pot just enough to have a long-term effect. “Many professional development activities are like a fairground. You can buy experiential travel. It’s just an escape. You ride a rollercoaster and get a kick. You eat candyfloss and go home again,” says Janne Carlsson. But change does not happen all by itself. Without a dose of reality the activity will not deliver any operational result or bring about any real change. It will not be for real. “I see companies and organisations go under, they’re inefficient with people who are not doing well. The people doing well are those in efficient organisations that are mobile. So it goes hand in hand.”
The two decided that it was time to close the fairground. At first the approach frightened off a few clients. Janne Carlsson and Maxi Tropé did not so much knock on the door as storm right in. “We were a bit over the top for a while. We would enter a meeting and say: you’ll be buying chaos and hard work and you’ll be paying a hell of a lot for it, but we know it delivers results,” says Janne Carlsson. “One Group HR manager said: “You may be right, but this is far too dangerous for me, I’ll not sign under this in any circumstances.”” “We’ve learnt to communicate with the clients since then,” adds Maxi Tropé. The biggest mistake they made is described in the book. “It was when we put a dose of reality in the mix much too quickly. They weren’t ready for that. When you release the inner forces and they meet the outer crust it’s like an atom bomb,” continues Janne Carlsson. “It provokes the system. People have to face reality and there’s nowhere to run. The doors are closed. We didn’t make it easier for the client.”
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“Many organisations live in a bubble of self-deception”
Reality is a well-used word in their vocabulary. It is the poor relation, the incorrect calculation, the inadequate leadership and the lack of expertise; all the things that are difficult to face up to. Laying bare weaknesses and wrong decisions is crucial to the process, but takes courage. “Many organisations live in a bubble of self-deception and many still have the same organisational structure as when they began operations years before. They’ve touched up the paintwork, altered a few things, but have not progressed that much,” explains Janne Carlsson. The two have seen organisations with potential that is ten times greater than they realise, but their production apparatus is far more inefficient than they care to admit. “When revealed it’s like a time bomb. No-one wants to acknowledge that the management team doesn’t know what it’s doing,” says Maxi Tropé. But with reality laid out in front of them it is difficult to hide. “We learnt which reality to present and how to pace the presentation. Sometimes the message can be very confrontational and hard to deal
with. Things then happen a bit too sharply. It’s not productive. Correctly handled it gives people the tools to take responsibility for their own situation,” continues Maxi Tropé. He likens a person to a test tube. It can only take so much reality before it spills over. “We’re able to build a vessel that holds a lot more reality, but we’ve learnt not to start at the extremities. We know that our vessel can take the force, but it’s not certain that it’ll be able to take this particular force. We’ve learnt.” Janne Carlsson has been on the verge of being thrown out when presenting radical efficiency measures. “People scream for more resources, but that’s not the answer. The answer is better systems and better processes.” Not even during the economic downturn of recent years that forced upon us extreme measures with the word “change” on everybody’s lips, not even then was change real, say the authors. “Most changes are cosmetic: ‘too many resources in the organisation, too much fat in the organisation.’ When restructuring has been re-
quired, they’ve just gone in without any great thought and scaled down layer by layer using a cheese slicer. But the organisations are becoming so slimmed down that we can’t use the old tools anymore. They have no effect. It’s not just a lack of money, but human resources as well,” says Janne Carlsson. “Most organisations are so comfortable that they don’t implement change until it’s really necessary. They rush off and draw up acute austerity measures. This breaks everything up with no guarantee of a positive outcome. They don’t do what they could be doing. Then reality comes home to roost, and it’s brutal: cuts, cuts and more cuts. There’s no real development there either.” Seeing the importance of the inner core and the outer crust, the hard and the soft, is not that difficult. But it requires courage. “We exist today because some of the company management team decided to test it out. We didn’t come from university and say ‘this is the way it is.’ We’re the result of an organisation having the ambition to work with both,” explains Maxi Tropé.
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“In this online world we’re 25 percent in the last meeting, 50 percent here and 25 percent in the next one”
The boxing ring is an unmodern metaphor for a meeting between the inner core and the outer crust. But the question is, how do you create meetings using the approach described by Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson in their book? How do we get the inner core and the outer crust to express themselves even when reality is present? Can we mix this bomb at home, in our own meetings? Maxi Tropé maintains that those who are best equipped for modern society are those who manage to pull the plug on everything else and focus solely on what they have in front of them. Most of us do not do that. “In this online world we’re 25 percent in the last meeting, 50 percent here and 25 percent in the next one. Therefore, we must ensure that everybody knows not only why they’re at a meeting, but how. We ignore the signals that tell us a meeting that is not important is not effective either,” he says. “If half of the delegates don’t experience it as meaningful, if they sit with their mobiles or are just unfocused, then we have to point that out. If somebody stops a meeting from being effective then it’s legitimate to pick up on it. There’s another reality MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
that’s menacing but necessary to get a grip of: meaningless meetings.” When participants feel that nobody’s listening to them, that their views are not being put to any use and the spirit of consensus is just a masquerade that is when concentration levels fall and people start preparing their escape (I can only take part for 30 minutes or so) or just do not attend. Or, as Janne Carlsson puts it, they sit there waiting for the dinner and the amusing speaker. “I’ve never understood that. I’ve always thought that participating in something was due to being under the spell of some sort of movement or direction,” adds Maxi Tropé. “If, on the other hand, you experience a meeting that walks the talk then it gives you one hell of a kick. It’s the kind of meeting you willingly attend again.” When they meet a group of people, most often a management team, they begin by building relationships within the group, subjecting them to a simulated reality. The purpose is to create an atmosphere of trust and frankness that allows people to openly discuss the things that are going wrong in their organisations. But to get to that point they first have to sort out the
relationships and profile the various individuals. “I often find that highly competent people chose not to open fully because they’re not sure how they would handle the consequences. So they say that they are uncertain as to whether the recipient is capable of handling the reality. But that explanation doesn’t hold. The truth is, they’re incapable of handling the emotional reaction to the extrinsic or objective truth you are trying to convey,” explains Maxi Tropé. Some groups are comfortable with the extrinsic while others prefer the intrinsic. A management team would probably prefer the extrinsic while a group from, say, social services, is more comfortable with the intrinsic. For both to come out of their corners you have to add the part that they are not normally strong in. “Social services people like nothing better than to trudge around in the inner world. You have to put them in the outer world by turning things around and creating an environment that includes both worlds.” As meetings leaders, Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson need to be intuitive.
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“They’ve touched up the paintwork, altered a few things, but have not progressed that much”
“Things could shift in a split second. It’s all happening in the here and now, not in a minute’s time,” explains Maxi Tropé. “It’s obvious there will be reactions when people break up with something and re-orientate. Some get tired, others act out, some scream and yell while others talk endlessly on their mobiles.” Traditional professional development programmes do not often have the dynamics to handle those types of reactions. The strength in their method lies perhaps in the challenges they face the whole time as coaches and meetings leaders. Janne Carlsson says he is the one who feels most challenged of the two. “We external consultants are used to reading up on something, putting together a presentation on what the reality looks like and giving a report. Going live is a challenge for an external consultant. As research scientist and expert you’re expected to have the answers, but you should dare to put more trust in your intuition and present things as a hypothesis,” he says. But he has learnt that sense and sensibility actually go hand in hand.
“The interesting thing is, my intuition agrees to 99 percent with what I later confirm in my research.” The meeting is the one crucial element for Maxi Tropé and Janne Carlsson in their operation. “We only construct meetings based on a reality that comes faceto-face with the extrinsic and the intrinsic. That’s where it happens,” concludes Janne Carlsson. “The meeting is the only tool we have to work with. We look at reality and then reflect it to the extrinsic and the intrinsic based on the knowledge we possess. We don’t act. We do nothing ourselves. We don’t tell them what to do, we just ask questions. In this way we deliver meetings within a certain structure,” he says. When asked when the book For Full Potential was due for release, Janne Carlsson winces. “It’s exciting. I’ve never seen us as being in the meetings industry before. That will have to be part three of our book. Write that it’s on its way.”
2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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SHARMA | 79
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.
The Last Days OF AVERAGE You were constructed to win. You’ve been designed to wow. And you’ve been built to inspire. As we get you to your NLWC (Next Level of World-Class), I wanted to run you through some of the core distinctions between those who operate at average … and those who have the guts and acumen to aim for iconic … Fair Warning: This piece is a little longer than usual. We live in a world where too many people have given up the ability to go deep and read intensely, preferring dancing cat videos and short bursts of cotton-candy content designed to entertain versus educate … my heartfelt encouragement is stay with this post until the end. Reflect on the insights I’ve worked so hard to share. And most key, live the message … And so …
Average performers love to talk about others. Iconic producers are obsessed with discussing their dreams. Average performers adore leisure. They know the hot tv shows, spend their finest hours playing video games and are first among friends to secure the lat-
est gadget. Iconic producers are vastly different … their addiction is learning. They invest in books, go to conferences, mastermind with masters and do whatever it takes to make their tomorrows better than their todays. Please remember: The more you know, the more you can achieve. Knowledge is the greatness creator.
Average performers resign themselves to mediocrity, thinking that the elite are somehow smarter, faster and cut from a different cloth. I call this The Myth of Genius. Don’t buy into it. Iconic producers have a different perception. They get that genius and legendary is not the result of divinelyorchestrated talent. Nope. It’s a lot more about focus, discipline, sacrifice, suffering, stamina and ridiculous amounts of hard work. They get that rising to world-class is never easy. But it’s always worth it.
Average performers disrespect time. You’ll see them waiting hours for a great table in a cool restaurant. They buy groceries when everyone else buys groceries. They are often late and known for procrastination. Iconic producers un-
derstand that time is a blessing. They use their best hours for their most important pursuits. They have a clear written plan for the next ten years, five years and this year. They schedule their days, knowing that structure is the doorway into freedom.
Average performers use victimspeak. Everything is ‘a mess’ or ‘trouble’ or ‘a problem’. But the words you use drive the energy you feel. And to rise to exceptional, you need to tap into your natural reservoir of massive energy. So iconic producers leverage their words to raise their games. Their language inspires. And reveals the fact that–deep within–they view themselves as captains of their fate versus powerless little pawns.
Average performers stop when they’re scared. Iconic producers press ahead when stricken by fear, understanding that persistence is the DNA of becoming a game-changer. And that bravery is the result of practice versus a natural gift.
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“Iconic performers care not what others think. They’ve developed the confidence to think for themselves”
Average performers follow the crowd. Their dominant focus is to fit in, be liked and receive tribal acceptance. Iconic performers care not what others think. They’ve developed the confidence to think for themselves. They set their own dreams, run their own values and march to their personal drumbeat. That not only causes rare-air success. It produces enduring happiness.
Average performers are pleasure-driven. Everything they do is about fulfilling their desires and feeling good in the moment (often done as an escape from the pain of potential betrayed). Iconic producers are purpose-driven. They are fuelled by their Mighty Why – that singular and gorgeous vision of a bigger future that keeps them up late and gets them out of bed early. They viscerally understand that the secret of passion is purpose. And that once you articulate your why, the hows automatically present themselves.
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The average performer is pure consumer. It’s all about buying and having things. Their self-identity is based on the brands, labels and badges of the moment. Iconic producers care very little about stuff. What stokes their fire has less to do with being a consumer and a lot more to do with being a maker. For them, their compelling cause is all about using their creativity, energy, talents and time to produce value that not only delivers their personal dreams but makes the world a greater place. I sincerely hope these nine points inspire, help and serve your rise. Your time really is now. My respectful suggestion: release all excuses, reasons, rationales and resentments. Today’s a fresh canvas. A new beginning. And your beautiful opportunity to step into the life you ache to live.
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ER IKSON TEXT
Tomas Dalström PHOTOS
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Surrounded by Idiots Thomas Erikson is a behavioural scientist, lecturer and leadership coach. He has analysed thousands of individuals using the DISC profile tool, based on theories developed by psychologist William Moulton Marston. The four personality types are described in the colours red, yellow, green and blue. Most of us have a combination of the colours. Thomas Erikson has written a thriller series about Alex King, a behavioural scientist and specialist at reading people. He also uses DISC in his work. Thomas Erikson’s latest book Surrounded by Idiots is a popular science book about communication. How did you come by that title?
“I met a successful entrepreneur who called his employees stupid. It wasn’t just banter either. He genuinely felt that Department A was full of idiots, Department B was full of bunglers and Department C was not even worth mentioning. I asked him who employed all the idiots. Later he told me that at the time my answer made him so livid that he wanted to shoot me. He simply didn’t understand how people function.
He’d never cared about people, just his business.” When did you develop an interest in Marston’s people categories?
“I began working for a consultancy that used a similar tool. I learnt more and more and became fascinated by its ease of use. The tool is extremely useful, easy to use and to apply.” Is the method scientifically proven?
“Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud both conducted research into people who were unwell. Marston studied this for decades and he was the first to conduct research into healthy people. He published a book in the USA in 1928 entitled Emotions of Normal People. Thomas Hendrickson developed a tool based on Marston’s findings around 1960. It’s 2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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called the DISC Profile, formed from the first letters of the four categories: Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. The tool is used the world over and has been translated into hundreds of languages.” Why have the various people types been given different colours?
“For pedagogical reasons. A red or
to communicate on all fronts and to keep a reasonably good pace to avoid the reds getting impatient. I also provide enough facts and background so the blues don’t consider me as being unreliable. I have to joke a little to keep the yellows happy and I have to look at the greens and ask their opinions.”
“If you put red and green together then it always explodes if they both think they’re right” yellow person is easier to remember. A combination of letters is much more difficult.” Who are your clients?
“I coach line managers, business leaders and sales people. They’re taught that a completely different approach is required when negotiating with a blue person compared to a red. A blue person wants everything neat and tidy. They have 150 Excel files on the project. A red person goes in and says: ‘We do as I say’, but is also impatient, so if you resist for a while they will change their mind over some things. A yellow person likes to be social, ‘How’s your summer been?’ If you miss that then it could cost you some business. If you put red and green together then it always explodes if they both think they’re right. Blue and yellow both think the other is an idiot. It’s all about meeting eye to eye and I gladly exaggerate to make it clear to them.” Does it work on groups or is it for individuals only?
“At a well-attended lecture it’s mainly one-way communication. But if it’s 20 or so people then I try MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
Could a teacher use it in the classroom?
“According to Marston you can’t apply it to younger people because their characters haven’t formed as yet. I’ve tested it on upper secondary students on a start your own business course. They were very receptive and understood exactly. You don’t need to deprogramme them, which helps.” Are several facilitators required with knowledge of the people types that exist?
“Yes, every time I say what I do when asked at a dinner party, I get to hear: ‘Well, in my company …’, followed by a story. There is a great need.” What does the group division look like in Sweden?
“Roughly 45 percent green as the strongest factor, ten percent are red, and the yellow and blue equally divided on the remainder. It’s the same division in other countries, but the cultural filter creates careful Germans, swaggering Americans, industrious Japanese, angry Italians and similar cliché images. Generally we’re quite similar in the world at
individual level. Society is yellow in the USA, in Sweden it’s green. Here it’s consensus, friendly and pleasant, with the odd exception, of course.” But not everybody with the same colour acts in the same way, surely?
“No, it’s important to remember that even if the colours are a large part of the puzzle, naturally it’s not the whole puzzle. Motivational factors, the things that get people out of bed to go to work in the morning, are also vital. Behaviour is what you see and what you hear. The motivational forces are under the surface, it’s the platform that creates certain behaviours. You can write a book to become rich, because it’s enjoyable or to teach people different things. We could do the same things for completely different reasons.” Are there people with only one colour?
“Five percent have only one colour as a distinctly dominant factor. These people are easy to identify.” How quickly can you determine the category a person belongs to?
“People with one colour are easy. Those with two colours are reasonably easy, but if they have three, which happens, it gets more complicated and I have to talk more with them. It only takes five minutes or so. Sometimes it suffices to hear them talking to somebody else.” I was once at a lecture with around 1000 attendees. Nearly all of them put their hands up when asked if they were creative. Doesn’t everybody want to be yellow these days?
“That’s a very good question and it’s important to realise that not only yellows are creative, even if they are well placed. Quite a few want to be red these days. More driven, not brusque and boorish, and more results and goals-oriented. We live in a society driven by extrovert forces. Extrovert colours with strong egos
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Compliance [blue] people are
Dominance [red] people are
One of the most widely used methods to map out a person’s behaviour is the DISC Profile. The word is formed from the first letter in each category.
Submission [green] people are
Inducement [yellow] people are
2014 No. 14 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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BRAIN CHECK | 89
“Blue and yellow both think the other is an idiot”
are red and yellow. There’s a lot of ego and ‘I’ today. I’m saddened by all the ego focus, ego trips, confirmation needs, Facebook and Instagram. The introverts, blue and green, are not given space, and they don’t demand it either, despite being in the majority. “The ‘I’ message is in line with the direction society is going. An American study from ten years ago showed a slight shift from the introvert to the extrovert in Europe. It’s a slow process but we can see that our children grab what they can a lot more than our parents do. But in the USA it’s going in the opposite direction; from extrovert to introvert. Interesting.” Is it normal for an individual’s selfassessment to correspond with how others see them?
“Generally speaking, yes. The analysis asks respondents to rank twenty four statements and if they have a fairly good self-awareness then people recognise themselves. Three in a thousand say they don’t recognise themselves at all. We then redo it and the result is often more accurate.” Which colours are best suited for collaboration in the context of meetings or putting together groups?
“The simple answer is the same colours. It facilitates smooth com-
munication and they understand each other’s way of communicating. In a red group it could explode because they are conflict-inclined, but they’re not bothered by that. But if you mean achieving the best possible result then that’s something else. When everybody in a group is the same and talk about the same things there’s no development. You have to mix all the colours in the same group; yellow comes with ideas, red says ‘great, let’s do it’, green carries out the task and blue evaluates it. This creates good dynamics and puts demands on the leadership. It’s easier to lead a onecolour group than one with a coat of many colours.” This must put demands on line managers and top management.
“Leadership is absolutely vital in everything relating to people. This is why my main focus is on managers and leaders. Poor managers won’t necessarily give you poor employees, but you will get poorly functioning groups, and a manager with poor self-awareness could really put the cat among the pigeons, as highlighted in this old Norwegian joke: A man was out driving on the motorway when a voice came over the radio saying ‘Warning, a car has driven over to
the wrong side of the motorway.’ The man turned to his wife and said: ‘One? There are several hundred!’ Not many people realise that ‘I’ is the problem. They’d rather think that all the others are idiots.” Does this system have any disadvantages?
“The drawback is that you think you know all about it immediately. Some ascribe the same attributes to everyone with the same colour, and a person who is angry is seen as red and is treated as such. We must always have our tentacles out and should never be pre-judgemental. It’s also important not to be smug; I have this behaviour and it’s best. Or I have some yellow in me so I think I’ll fool about a bit and waste your time. I’m green so I’ll sit here and do nothing. Or I’m blue, as you know. If you don’t have any Excel files then I’m not taking part. If that’s the case then the coach has done a poor job.” There’s a lot to learn. Where do I start and with what?
“Self-awareness. If you don’t know yourself then you won’t fully understand others. You should start with an honest assessment of yourself and put yourself in the mix. These are my strengths and attributes that I can
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“The meetings culture in Sweden is a total catastrophe”
further develop. These are my weaknesses and this is the flipside, the drawbacks, that come with this behaviour profile. We take red because it’s crimson clear. The drawback is that you’re seen as a boor, aggressive, insensitive and you stick at nothing. A red person who sees this might say: ‘Yes, I may be a bit tough and people don’t dare to contradict me.’ They can then make a decision – is that good or bad?” Do people change when they discover that they are, for example, too red?
“The red behaviour has much strength, there’s no doubt about that. This is not a valuation because no colour is better or worse than any other. But it’s obvious that if you’re too forward then you should back off a little sometimes, and if you have another colour that dominates then there are other behaviours you have to deal with.” If I’m working with Betty, Nils and Donald and we get stuck on something, what’s the next step?
“Sit down with them one-on-one. For example, you could say: ‘Things seem to have got into a rut between us, Betty. It’s difficult to progress. What’s causing it, do you think? Could it be that I’ve curbed you in some way?’ When you speak with Nils you would perhaps say: ‘You were MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 14 2014
more creative a year ago. Am I restraining you in some way?’ To Donald you would say: ‘You take too much space. You’re treading on Betty’s toes the whole time.’” Am I a colleague or a manager when I say that?
“You can be both, but you can’t solve a problem that nobody else thinks exists. If you say to Betty ‘Our relationship’s not working’ and she replies ‘Yes it is’ then you’ll get nowhere. If you’re in charge of nineteen people you have to take a one-on-one with all of them. As a manager you can’t say ‘I don’t have time for this. I’ve got work to do.’ It’s your job to make sure the group functions. If you’re embroiled in a conflict with a group where everybody’s on the same level then you have to go to your line manager and tell them efficiency is suffering because of these things and ask for help to solve it. If they say no then change jobs. I give people a fundamental piece of advice: Choose your manager. Consultants can only change a manager to a certain degree.” All too many meetings are poorly prepared, badly implemented and never followed up. Do you agree?
“Yes, many meetings are poorly prepared with no agenda or purpose. It’s just a meeting and it should take
at least an hour. Why? The meetings culture in Sweden is a total catastrophe.” Are some colours worse at meetings than others?
“Yellow people can be quite hopeless at meetings. They’re fun and charming, and you can’t help but like them. They look after me, make me feel good and I get attention. But if asked to put together an agenda they’ll give it to you on a post-it note. Even red are poor at preparing. Yellow and green are often relationship, not task-oriented. Blue people are good at preparing, but their agendas are invariably too long. Structure and orderliness is blue behaviour. Setting a goal and going for it is red behaviour. Innovation and finding new paths is yellow. Green usually has to implement it. Too many meetings are run by people who’ve not thought it through properly.” Some people talk too much at meetings.
“Especially yellow, but red also talks a lot. Both take up space, but red only enters a debate when they have something to gain from it. And blue doesn’t talk enough, perhaps. I once attended a management meeting because the MD thought it wasn’t working properly. There were eight people, and the sales manager, who
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BRAIN CHECK | 93
“Yellow people can be quite hopeless at meetings”
was bright yellow, spoke 63 percent of the time. One person out of eight took up more than half the time and only had one item on the agenda. Nobody could stop him. Such inefficiency.” It’s not unusual for people to fiddle with their smart phones and laptops during a meeting.
“At longer meetings I usually say ‘If your phone rings, I’ll confiscate it. I’ve been given that mandate by your line manager.’ ‘Why is it so important?’ they ask. ‘Well, I want to give you everything I can and a good return on your invested time. It’s your time after all.’ ‘Quite right,’ they say, but not many take any notice. Then a phone rings. I take the phone and the guilty party looks at me aghast and asks what I think I’m doing. I reply that I’m doing what I said I’d do if a phone rang. I then give it back immediately and it doesn’t happen again. ‘Great,’ say the majority. ‘We can now focus on one thing at a time instead of checking our emails and text messages.’”
Is it because we don’t know enough about each other as behaviour types that so many meetings fall apart with no end result?
“Yes would be the answer to that. When a person gets stuck on an issue and is getting nowhere then somebody has to step in and tell them to drop it. Stop sawing sawdust, as somebody once said. Somebody has to put their foot down, but that isn’t really acceptable in Sweden. Therein lies the explanation as to why one person is allowed to speak 63 percent of the time, despite everybody else wishing he would shut up. Quite often the manager will say something that everybody repeats in their own words. Women are better at not doing that. Yellow men are hopeless. But it doesn’t need to be that way.”
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 website veryimportantbrains.se.
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Roger Kellerman Publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. Has close to 30 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. Founder of Mötesindustriveckan. twitter.com/thekellerman
Business Intelligence OPENS A GATEWAY TO TOMORROW We live in an age where information seems to increase constantly and where it is increasingly difficult to funnel the information we need and can trust. Thus we have created the first issue of Meetings International Business Intelligence Report which we’ve published in parallel with this issue of the magazine. We are not trying to give the impression that this is what you need to know so that you can ignore the rest of the flow of information, but rather it is our picture of what we believe to be important in the flow. It’s obviously not an easy journey and the material continued to grow in our hands. But we have allowed interesting thinkers in the meetings industry to express their opinions about the next ten years of industry development. We have looked at some very interesting events and organisations, and their view of what the future may bring. Our contemporary information flow feels as if it is still expanding, the channels are increasing. Technological developments in the IT and meeting industries are still only in their early stages, it was only in the mid80s that we started to computerize seriously and historically-speaking, this feels like only 5 minutes ago. Think back 30 years and try to understand what happened in the
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computerization and development of information flow. It is a huge leap we’ve been through in terms of technological development. Now try to imagine 30 years ahead in time, it is in my world next to impossible. IATA says that in 2034 we will have 3.5 billion flying every year. It’s hard to imagine when we have just passed the 1 billion mark and it’s already crowded in the air, not to mention at some airports. Imagine then the development of information – we recognize that technological developments will be extremely important on all levels and for all channels. This is very exciting, isn’t it? At the same time small destinations, like our own favourite Faroe Islands, can expect a fantastic development for meetings and incentives, for we need to think of incentives when we think of meetings in the future. We just got home from Antalya and the ICCA Congress which was a very good meeting at a destination we should have had time to learn more about, but our meetings were interesting and intense, as I’m sure it was with the 900 that attended. We realize, of course, that not one of the 900 has had a chance to absorb all the knowledge and information available at this single congress. Imagine then approaching 10 congresses, or 100 congresses. For there
are people in our world who have been to maybe 100 congresses and then we realize that meetings are like universities, huge opportunities for new skills and new networks that could change all of us. So our contribution to looking to the future is our first Business Intelligence Report, which stretches from tomorrow and in some cases also gives glimpses of what might happen until 2024. We expect to publish our second Business Intelligence Report in time for the ICCA Congress in Buenos Aires and to then have a much clearer perspective on South America, North America, India and Indonesia, to name just a few regions and countries where we are already seeing an evolution in our questions, which is very exciting. We will also delve deeper into why the meeting industry, which is one of the most important channels for improving and moving knowledge, cannot get away from the tourist-trap label politically. The mayors are the new prime ministers, we write in this report. They have also begun to understand that the meetings industry is not tourism, not available to fill hotel beds, but to develop individuals, associations, organisations, universities and society.
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