What’s your Cause?

I have a cause. Do you?

My cause is to make the next generation of leaders better than the present one.

What do you think? If you don’t have one, why don’t you? Here is why I love my leadership cause:

  1. The cause is worth fighting for, not only for me, but probably also for you and for many other people. Imagine what the world would look like if we had better leaders: More happiness, more wealth, more dialogue, more understanding and less pollution, less conflict, less stress and less waste. WOW! Can you imagine any better cause?
  2. The cause is realistic, because there are organizations such as Scouting and Guiding which today involve more than 50 Million young people in leadership training. One in three leaders today have already had an average of three years of leadership training through Scouting and Guiding. And we can easily reach more than one half of all leaders in the world.
  3. Everyone can join. Would you think a lot of people would join if my cause was to make money for myself and my family? Absolutely not. They would need to be paid a salary to join. The good thing about my cause is that people join without being paid. They are as passionate as I am.

My cause guides my worklife and much of my other activities including this weblog.

What’s your cause? To make money for yourself and for your family? To become powerful and famous?

I think these two are bad causes because they are only about you. A good cause should be about what you can do for other people. It is about your impact – the difference you want to make.

Everybody can make a difference to other people, small scale or large scale: You can make your community, your company, your country or the world cleaner, happier, more fun, safer or richer. You can develop a skill, a profession, a concept or something else and share it with others. You can fight injustice, discrimination, powerty, pollution or waste.

So in my view, people with no cause waste their lives.

My cause, next generation leadership, gives me tremendous joy. I am never bored: jusk think about how many examples there are of bad management which can be improved. I always have something to ask about and to talk about. Who is the best leader you have ever met? And the worst? Why? I learn every day because I am focused, because I reflect and because I try to apply what I learn.

Be courageous: Share your cause with me and about 20.000 others who read this blog every month. Write a comment below.

My personal “Hall of Fame”

While it is easy to be a critic these days, I want to praise some people that I really admire. I think they are worth admiring in my “Hall of Fame” simply bevause they give most to society.

Teachers, who despite being burdened by bureaucracy and petty rules, remain passionate about teaching children and developing their social skills, I admire the teachers who, despite being disrespected and subjected to unfair scrutiny by those unqualified to judge, remain determinedly true to their vocation.

I admire Entrepreneurs who cast off the safety net of their ‘good jobs’ and ’reasonable income’, in a quest to create something new. I admire their determination and willingness to work long hours to develop their projects, whilst struggling to comply with the demands of VAT accounting and other governmental bureaucracy. They must struggle for each and every order and receive no backing from the banks, whose modus operandi is to lend money to those who have no need for it.

I admire Scout leaders who give their precious time to participate, week after week, in activities involving other people’s children. I admire their patience, tolerance and respect for the parents of those small scouts; they often forget that the Scout leaders receive no payment for the time and energy devoted to developing leadership qualities in their children. Indeed, some parents believe they can make the same demands on unpaid volunteer Scout leaders as on the teachers at their children’s schools.

I admire the sons and daughters who, despite leading busy lives of their own, make time to care for their elderly parents in hospitals and nursing homes.

I admire craftsmen, who take pride in doing a proper job and who strive to keep the professional bar high. I also admire developers who have the ambition to create homes and offices that are not just great today, but which will still be significant in fifty or a hundred year’s time.

I admire politicians, who dare to be themselves and speak from their heart, even if the cost is losing votes.

What do these people I admire have in common?

  1. They are passionate about what they do.
  2. They cannot be tempted by the lure of quick fixes or fast money.
  3. They are genuine.

Therefore, they are worthy both of recognition and reward. Similarly, there are some, who fall into my ‘hell of fame’ and they are:

Politicians, who compromise on their principles and election promises in order to gain re-election. These politicians, I detest, because they cheat the voters and undermine the nature and future of democracy.

Bosses, who think first and foremost of themselves, their bonus schemes, career moves and golden handshakes, instead of the employees and the businesses they are entrusted to lead. To lead is to serve the greater whole, rather than just oneself.

The journalist, who is willing to write or say anything to increase his/her readership or number of viewers or listeners. It sickens me when I encounter journalists, who impose moral or ethical demands on their ’victims’, which they, themselves, are so clearly lacking.

Trade unions or employers associations who, at the expense of the whole of society, cling to outmoded labour systems (the so-called Danish model), as the power base from where to further their own interests. Selfishness is wrong. Group selfishness is even worse.

Desk clerks, like popes, sitting high on their pedestals. I detest civil servants, public officers and police alike, for abusing the power invested in them by their jobs to annoy the citizens and businesses that pay their salaries.

And what do they have in common?

  1. They all represent outdated systems and power structures, which are in sore need of revitalisation.
  2. They cling on to their privileges, becoming ever more corrupt.
  3. They display arrogance to the very people they are duty-bound to serve.

To which group do you belong?

(Original Danish version published in Jylland Posten)

Bevægelsen vinder over banken

Jyske Bank beskylder Spiir for at hacke og lukker kundernes mobilbank, hvis de bruger Spiirs værktøj til at få overblik over deres økonomi. Jyske Bank går så vidt at true Spiir med politianmeldelse hvis ikke Spiir lukker for Jyske Bank kundernes automatiske overførsel af deres netbank udskrifter til Spiir. Da Spiir efterkommer bankens krav politianmelder banken alligevel Spiir.

Det er sådan virksomheder ville reagere, hvis de var 100% kyniske og ligeglade med alle andre end deres egne interesser. Store banker har rigeligt råd til at betale alle landets advokater for at bekæmpe Spiir.

Og alligevel vinder Spiir: Politiet undersøger politianmeldelsen og konkluderer at anmeldelsen er grundløs. Det skyldes to forhold: 1) Spiir er en bevægelse med et samfundsgavnligt formål, og 2) Spiir er en ordentlig virksomhed der naturligvis har styr på at det den gør, er lovligt.

Spiir er en bevægelse med et samfundsgavnligt formål: Tænk lige på Boliga, som hjælper danskerne når vi skal handle bolig. Vi kan finde boliger, vi kan checke priser og vi kan få en masse andre informationer som betyder at vi kan kigge ejendomsmægleren over skulderen og endog i nogle tilfælde selv sælge vores bolig uden mæglerbistand. Da Boliga kom frem satte ejendomsmæglerne alle sejl til for at standse den gratis tjeneste, men uden held. Boliga er nemlig en bevægelse med det formål at hjælpe forbrugeren i forbindelse med bolighandel. Boliga henter data fra ejendomsmæglernes hjemmesider og præsenterer dem på en måde der giver overblik for forbrugeren. Fra et samfunds synspunkt er dette en god ting fordi det bidrager til forøget konkurrence.

På samme måde er Spiir en bevægelse der hjælper almindelige danskere med at få økonomisk overblik og dermed økonomisk frihed. Spiir henter – med forbrugerens tilladelse – netbankudskrifter for de konti som forbrugeren har i forskellige banker, og præsenterer dem på en måde der giver forbrugeren økonomisk overblik. Ligesom Boliga efterhånden blev overvældende populær vil Spiir blive det, og hverken ejendomsmæglere eller banker bør kunne få held til at standse forbrugerens adgang til sine egne data.

Heldigvis har de fleste banker intet imod at deres kunder bearbejder og analyserer deres egne data med et redskab som Spiir, også selvom en kunde med bedre overblik over sin økonomi måske vil være lidt mere kritisk over for sin bank. En del af kundens over blik er jo at kunden sort på hvidt kan se hvilke renter og gebyrer han eller hun betaler i hver af sine banker.

Jeg glæder mig over endnu et eksempel på at bevægelsen vinder. Hele sympatien er jo hos dem der laver noget som er gavnligt for kunderne og samfundet over for den virksomhed der kun tænker på kortsigtet indtjening og afkast til aktionærerne.

Hvis ikke du allerede bruger Spiir, så meld dig ind her og få et bedre overblik over din økonomi. Det er gratis. Hvis du er kunde i en bank der lægger forhindringer i vejen for din brug af Spiir, så fortæl banken hvad du mener om det.

Og skriv gerne en kommentar nedenfor!

Who has the greatest Social Impact?

Large companies, governments and large NGOs have great social impact. Preparing for tomorrow’s World Scout Committee meeting, I reflected about the social impact of Scouting and Guiding. Combined, their social impact is HUGE! Here are the numbers:

Scouting and Guiding (in the following just called Scouting) have about 50 Million members in almost every country on Earth except for China where Scouting is yet to be allowed. On average, Scouts stay for 3 – 4 years, which means that about 15 Million young people graduate from the programme each year at an average age about 15. Each Scout makes a promise to do his or her best to be a decent person as expressed in different ways around the world through the Scout Law and Promise. About 700 Million people between 15 and 65 have made that promise and trained proper behavior for an average of 3 – 4 years.

The world has about 600 Million white-collar workers and probably about 100 Million of them are managers. We don’t know how many Scouts are managers today, but I would not be surprised if that number is between 30 and 50 Million and it could actually be higher than that. This is indicated by samples in many countries. If the assumption holds, one out of every three managers in the world has a Scout background.

Try to imagine the social impact of this: One out of every three leaders has promised to be a decent person, has learned to respect nature, has learned to meet a foreigner as a friend and has practiced collaboration with others.

Translate this figure to your local community of, say, 100.000 people: About 10.000 of them have an average of three years Scouting background, and out of the 1500 managers in your community, probably 500 have an average of 3 – 4 years of Scouting background.

Nobody knows exactly what the impact of this is, but I trust you agree that it must be great; probably greater  than most mega-companies with maybe one Million employees or even governments of countries with 20 of 50 Million inhabitants.

Scouting’s vision is to double in the next ten years. One generation later, we will live in a world where the majority of all leaders have a background as a Scout.

Come join!

Let me have your comments…

6 rules to simplify complex work

Here is a really thought-provoking 12 minute TED talk: Why structural change is no more the solution when work gets more complex.

Yves Morieux’ six rules are: 1) Understand what your people do, 2) Reinforce integrators, 3) Increase total quantity of power, 4) Extend the shadow of the future, 5) Increase reciprocity, and 6) reward cooperators.

In other words: avoid organizational layers and departmental silos. Empower people and make them work together, forget the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and you can increase productivity and improve employee’s lives.

In my ears, this is exactly the core of Oticon’s spaghetti organization, which we created as early as 1991.

What do you think?

Scouting, drugs, street children – it works

I am just back from the Philippines where I discussed with Philippine Scout leaders how to scale up the great work Scouts do with street Children.

Scouting is simple to understand: You make a commitment to develop into a decent person and Scouting provides the tools to do so. Street children who take drugs and participate in gang wars, know that they aren’t doing the right thing, they want to change and Scouting provides them with a ticket to a better life.

The ticket is to become a Scout. To discover that I have people who love me and care about me; to discover that I am a creation of God who is destined to a better future; and to discover that I can change my situation if I commit myself to do so.

I was speechless when I heard Jerwin tell his personal story. How he was involved in gang wars, how he smoke marijuana and how he discovered that be becoming a Scout, he could change. Now he goes to high school and next year he will go to college. What a difference!

I was also speechless when I visited the two square m home of Queenie and her family in the corner of a city park. The family had lived there since Queenie was born. Queenie is now a Scout and through education her goal in life is to get her family away from the street.

Scouting works because it gives young people the opportunity to learn life skills. It gives them hope and self esteem when they progress in the Scout programme and it makes them feel safe because they are part of something great. They are encouraged by the fact that their school principal is a Scout, their mayor is a Scout, their governor is a Scout and the vice president of the Republic (Dr. Jejomar Binay) is a Scout. Scouting is the prime leadership development in the Philippines with two Million members as it is in the rest of the world.

Here is a summary of what the King of Sweden did on the first day of the visit to the Philippines last week.

What do you think?

Ambition, China and Europe

In tomorrow’s edition of leading Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, I have written a column about ambition, China and Europe. The point is straight-forward: The Chinese companies I work with, easily understand that successful companies in the 21st Century need to pursue a purpose beyond profit if they want to engage employees, customers, suppliers and others to work with them and even work for them.

Chinese CEOs are hungry. They are driven by a strong determination to win, not only in China, but globally, and they will win. Not because they are smarter than managers in the west, but because they work harder and because they are more hungry for success.

Therefore I am gradually selling the shares I have in big Danish companies. I simply don’t have confidence in their boards who are dominated by finance people in grey or black business suits with no purpose beyond profit. The boards tend to employ CEOs who share the same lack of purpose. It happens everywhere, in banks, in construction companies, in manufacturing and in service. And even worse, the same lack of vision and perspective is penetrating the public sector under the “New Public Management” umbrella. Just look at the lack of vision in the Danish Parliament.

I am personally neither unhappy nor depressed. Because I have the privilege to start new growth businesses with a purpose and even more importantly, I have the means to go out and make a difference beyond business (for me this is Scouting). But for Denmark and Europe, I am concerned: We are gradually eroding what our ancestors built up and we are getting poorer and poorer every day. I have enough, but this will affect a lot of Danish families who certainly do not have enough.

I invite your comments and contributions. We need them!

How to make open office work for both employees and the company

There is an interesting blogpost in The New Yorker where Maria Konnikova concludes that most open office environments are a failure. I share her conclusion in general, but there are ways to overcome the disadvantages of the open office! And if you can do that, there is potential for creating organizations that are far superior from what we know of today.

Here are two references, which will give you food for thought:

  • UNBOSS (2012), outlines how organizations can achieve greater impact, higher growth and happier employees by defining a clear purpose and involving stakeholders (including employees) while applying a new concept for a knowledge-based organization, which  has open offices and transparent communications as a prominent feature. www.unboss.com
  • Revolution at Oticon A/S – a Harvard case Study which remains one of the most studied business cases in the world. The Spaghetti organization has open offices as a prominent feature.

The Oticon’s “spaghetti” organization has been featured in thousands of books and articles including Tom Peters Liberation Management. More references can be found at

The key to making an open office work for both employees and the company are:

  1. Design the physical environment carefully, taking into account acoustics, visual factors and indoor climate.
  2. Design the office layout carefully to reflect the working styles that you want to promote, and include space for both individual and group work in both silent and less silent environments.
  3. Design the meeting facilities so that they encourage the behaviour you want to see. At Oticon the tables were removed from most meeting rooms and there were numerous spaces for informal stadn-up meetings – of course separate from working areas to avoid people being disturbed.
  4. Install a working culture where employees understand an gain ownership of the rules needed to make the open office function. My experience is that open offices will only work if employees understand WHY they work in an open office and WHY certain working styles are to be preferred.

Intelligently designed open offices are great! Open offices just for the sake of open offices are a nuisence!

Comments very welcome…

Zappos moves to UNBOSS

Zappos – the legendary Las Vegas based retailer – takes a bold move: Bosses will go, the corporate hierarchy is out and titles are obsolete. The conventional chain of command will be substituted by a number of overlapping and self-governing “circles” with the intention to empower employees and avoid that the company becomes bureaucratic as it grows beyond today’s 1500 people.

Have you heard this before? Yes, it is UNBOSS. Zappos calls it “holacracy” and the idea is to organize work around what needs to be done instead of who should do it. Employees are assigned several roles and usually belong to more than one circle. John Bunch who is leading the transition at Zappos, notes that the change decouples the professional side of business from what he calls “the technical getting-the-job-done side”.

I am not surprised. Once companies grow, hierarchies become bureaucracies and flexibility and innovation dies. Look at any big organization you know. They are all the same!

Zappos has introduced the key aspects of UNBOSS: It has a clear purpose (excellent customer service), it engages stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers) as partners and it now introduces the UNBOSS knowledge-based organizational model. The whole thing is based on a strong set of values. Welcome on board and congratulations!

Share your thoughts including other great UNBOSS case stories. Write a comment!

Glædelig jul!

For mig har 2013 først og fremmest været et travlt år. Jeg har undervist ledere af kinesiske virksomheder i DeTao Masters Academy, arbejdet med at udvikle de knap ti virksomheder jeg er involveret i, holdt en masse foredrag og skrevet en ny bog “Bevægelsen” (Gyldendal Business), købt en ejendom i København og rejst verden tynd for at rejse penge til spejderarbejdet. Fordi man er fyldt 66 behøver man ikke at holde op!

Her er tre ting som jeg glæder mig over i 2013:

  1. at der er rigtig mange der interesserer sig for ledelse og udvikling af videnvirksomheder, især i Asien,
  2. at spejderarbejdet er godt på vej til at finde sin nye rolle som verdens førende lederudviklingsprogram,
  3. at den økonomiske krise er ved at lette; så kan vi komme i gang med flere ting der peger fremad.

Og tre ting, som jeg ærgrer mig over i 2013:

  1. at Danmark synes at være faldet helt i søvn; der er simpelt hen for lidt i gang der kan give håb for fremtiden,
  2. at uduelige ledere stadig sidder på vigtige poster i både offentlig og privat virksomhed,
  3. at vi ikke hylder de mange iværksættere og selvstændige, der skaber nye jobs, nye løsninger og velstand i samfundet.

Min plan for 2014 fokuserer på Bedre ledelse. Jeg er mere sikker end nogensinde på at bedre ledelse om noget er nøglen til et bedre samfund. Gode ledere handler bæredygtigt; gode ledere bygger bro mellem mennesker og gode ledere skaber rum for menneskers udvikling. En god leder kan påvirke hundreder eller tusinder af menneskers liv. En god leder kan inspirere andre til at lede bedre og blive en bedre medarbejder.

Jeg har fået en del kritik af at jeg især arbejder for at forbedre ledelsen i kinesiske virksomheder. Hvorfor ikke i danske? Svaret er enkelt: 1) Jeg bruger fortsat megen tid i Danmark og går ikke af vejen for også at arbejde med danske virksomheder, og 2) Kina er 200 gange Danmark, behovet er enormt og interessen det samme.

Har du lyst til at dele med os andre, hvad du vil fokusere på i 2014, så skriv en kommentar.

Glædelig jul!

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Bloggen er et forum for debat og inspiration. Den er et virtuelt torv, hvor vi kan mødes og blive klogere. For tiden omkring 400 personer hver eneste dag. Lars Kolind skriver et indlæg en eller flere gange om ugen og alle er velkomne til at kommentere. Helst med dit rigtige navn og ikke under pseudonym. Kolind kan ikke svare på alle kommentarer, men meningen er jo også at alle skal inspirere hinanden. Hver blog-post tilhører en eller flere kategorier og vil du læse alle indlæg i en bestemt kategori, trykker du blot på kategoriens navn. Du kan også søge på alle indlæg, hvor et bestemt ord forekommer, f.eks. bureaukrati. Du kan læse og skrive kommentarer ved at klikke på ”kommentarer” under blogposten.

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