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!

Bevægelsen

Her er en lille bog med et stort potentiale: “Bevægelsen”, som netop er kommet på Gyldendal Business som den første i “High Performance Serien”. Du kan læse den på en aften, men vær forberedt på at det tager længere tid at føre ideen ud i livet!

Budskabet er enkelt: Virkesomheder, offentlige institutioner og foreninger kan tage et stort skridt frem ved at opfatte sig selv på en ny måde, nemlig som bevægelser i stedet for organisationer. Hvordan bliver COOP en formålsbestemt virksomhed? Hvordan kan et fængsel gøre dobbelt så megen nytte med færre fanger? Hvorfor er det bedre at skaffe rent vand til de fattige end at sælge pumper? Hvordan kan foreningen fokusere bedre og skabe mere værdi? Hvorfor er det bedre at stoppe energispildet end at sælge energirådgivning?

Emnerne har jeg arbejdet med før, men nu er det blevet til en lille bog som du får svært ved at komme uden om. Prisen er dog let at overkomme: 99 kr som papirbog og 49 kr som e-bog på Gyldendal Business. http://www.gyldendalbusiness.dk/products/9788702153194.aspx

Spændt på at høre dine kommentarer. Skriv en anmeldelse nedenfor!

Skattely, Jyske Bank, DR og moral

DR er stolt. Med en såkaldt DR Dokumentar optaget med skjult kamera har journalisterne afsløret at Jyske Bank Schweiz rådgiver velhavende klienter i hvordan de kan minimere skatten. Forargelsen tar ingen ende og Skatteminister Holger K. Nielsen bakket op af regeringspartierne bebuder et indgreb mod denne formastelige og umoralske adfærd. Endnu et bevis på at bankerne er samfundets fjender nummer ét.

Jeg kender ikke den konkrete sag udover fra medierne og ville gerne have set de resterende 10½ times bånd for at forstå den sammenhæng, Jyske banks rådgivning indgår i. Men nej, så langt går DR’s åbenhed ikke. Hvorfor mon ikke?

Hver eneste dag søger tusindvis af danskere rådgivning hos banker, revisorer, advokater og andre om hvordan de kan minimere deres skat. Det sker i forbindelse med køb og salg af aktiver, ægteskabssager, arvesager, investeringer og mange andre økonomiske transaktioner og selvfølgelig er det hovedsagelig folk der betaler meget i skat, der søger rådgivning. Heldigvis søger langt de fleste råd hos danske rådgivere, men udenlandske rådgivere står på spring hvis lovgivningen begrænser danske rådgiveres mulighed for at udføre deres arbejde.

Hvis man har tjent fx. 100 millioner kr ved at drive og sælge en virksomhed dygtigt, så forventer samfundet at man betaler ca. halvdelen i skat, altså 50 millioner kr. Jeg tror ikke at en almindelig lønmodtager eller skatteminister kan sætte sig ind i hvordan det føles. Ingen er i tvivl om at et samfund skal opkræve skatter i rimeligt omfang  for at kunne fungere, og de allerfleste accepterer det og betaler som jeg ved kasse ét. Men når man oplever eksempler på offentligt bureaukrati, unødvendige offentlige udgifter og en retorik der lægger folk der har tjent penge, for had, kniber det med betalingsviljen. Det begrunder ikke ulovligheder, men det begrunder at man undersøger hvilke muligheder man har inden for lovens grænser, til at begrænse skatten. Det synes jeg er moralsk fuldt acceptabelt og jeg spørger mig selv om hvad der egentlig er værst: 1) At minimere sin skat inden for lovens rammer eller 2) at opkræve høje skatter og bruge dem til tvivlsomme politiske formål.

Det kan godt være at banker og andre rådgivere i nogle tilfælde går for langt, men går DR ikke også for langt når de klipper en halv time ud af 11 timers optagelser med skjult kamera? Og går Folketingets flertal ikke også for langt når de bruger skattekroner til tvivlsomme politiske formål som kun har til hensigt at skaffe netop deres parti flere vælgere?

Jeg har tre forslag:

  1. Tving DR til at udlevere de sidste 10½ timers bånd så vi kan se hvilken sammenhæng, Jyske Banks rådgivning indgik i.
  2. Gør skattesystemet enklere sådan at muligheden for at spekulere i skat bliver mindre.
  3. Sæt skatten ned sådan at motivationen til at spekulere i skat bliver mindre. Ret forargelsen mod den politiske beslutningsproces der medfører unødvendige offentlige udgifter.

Og nu venter jeg spændt på at læse din kommentar!

GGGI, Rejseudgifter og Løkke

Er det rimeligt at Lars Løkke  flyver på første klasse som formand for en international organisation? NEJ mener et flertal af journalister, folketing og befolkning.

Så enkel er sagen ikke. De frelste journalister og folketingsmedlemmer glemmer nemlig at vores danske syn på lederes position og adfærd overhovedet ikke svarer til den måde man ser på tingene i hovedparten af resten af verden, især ikke i Asien hvor miljøorganisationen GGGI kommer fra. Der er det en selvfølge at de øverste ledere rejser på et højt niveau; ja faktisk bliver man opfattet som “provinsiel” hvis man opfører sig som på dansk lavprismanér.

Man kan altså ikke dømme om hvilken adfærd der er rigtig for Lars Løkke, alene ud fra en dansk norm, og det er netop hvad journalister og folketingsmedlemmer gør. 

Når jeg rejser til bestyrelsesmøde i World Scout Foundation i Japan er det selvfølgelig på business eller first, og det er lige så dyrt som de rejser, Lars Løkke kritiseres for. Hvis jeg opførte mig på almindelig provinsiel dansk maner ville kollegerne fra Asien ryste på hovedet. Hvem er den dansker egentlig? Jeg må skuffe journalisterne med at der ikke er grundlag for en ny sag for jeg betaler selv udgifterne i forbindelse med bestyrelsesarbejdet.

Stop hetsen mod Lars Løkke! Hvad siger du?

UNBOSS Rotary

Is Rotary a thing of the past? Or a thing of the future?

That’s what I prepare myself to answer at a Rotary conference on 30 September in Copenhagen. What do you think?

Rotary has about 1,2 Million members in 166 countries. In Denmark just under 12.000 members in 272 clubs. The purpose is great: Service above Self, and since 1985 Rotary has worked on a spectacular project: eradicating polio to which more than 500 M USD has been raised.

However, many roatrians I speak to, call for change. They claim that Rorary has lost sight of why it exists. They are embarressed by raising pennies where dollars are needed. They point at numerous examples of rotarians who seem to be in Rotary more for “self” than for “service”. They question the wisdom of weekly meetings and they are highly divided on the question of including women in the clubs or not.

What should my advice to Rotary be? Help me by sharing your thoughts. Here is a small video for inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-uPMniS8DU which was shot at the Copenhagen airport a week ago.

Firewood and bureaucracy

A few days ago I posted an update on my facebook profile http://www.facebook.com/lkolind about another ridiculous tax which is being proposed in Denmark these days. You won’t believe it: For every m3 firewood you collect or buy, pay DKK 275 (about USD 50) to the tax man. The argument is even more silly: Due to heavily subsidized green energy investments (in particular wind energy), the government now gets less CO2 tax revenue and therefore looks for additional financing. Non-subsidized green energy (biofuel such as wood) to be taxed. Can you see the logic? Add to this that little Denmark has 25.000 small forest owners who will have to calculate, report, collect and pay this new tax, even on their own private use of their firewood.

I trust you agree that this is pure nonsense, but that’s not my main point. What really concerns me is the logic which make politicians propose such nonsense.

Can you help me? How come well educated politicians can propose such nonsense? Write a comment!

PS: I am currently in Beijing; impressed with the development and indeed impressed by the investments in environmental protection including green energy!

Management in China

China has gone through an almost unthinkable development since reforms started in 1978. Key strategies were 1) Focus on growth, 2) Excellence in manufacturing, 3) Collaboration with foreign companies, 4) Private enterprise in China, and 5) Massive focus on education.

Despite success, the Chinese government and visionary business people realise that the strategy that made China successful in the past, will not necessarily make China successful in the future.

Chairman George Lee at an early stage realised that Chinese business cannot continue to rely primarily on manufacturing; service and knowledge business will become even more important for the living standard of Chinese people to continue to grow. Chairman Lee therefore established the DeTao Masters Academy to engage masters within different fields from all over the world in this development. Each master will open a master studio within the Academy to serve as an educational hub and as a basis for sharing knowledge with Chinese business and society in general.

I am in the process of setting up the Detao Master studio of Leadership and Strategy. This week, executives from 24 Chinese comanies will participate in the first DeTao Master Class on Leadership and Strategy to be held at the Beijing University. We will identify the challenges that Chinese businesses will face in the years to come while building world-class service and knowledge businesses and we will discuss how to move forward building on the strengths and the traditions of Chinese society. That’s where UNBOSS comes in: China is not only about money; it is about values and harmony. China in not only about the individual; it is about the family and the community, and China is open to engage others in it’s development process: i.e. an unlimited approach.

I feel deeply honoured for being involved in this important work. China has more than fifty Million managers and to reach even one per cent means half a Million managers to be trained. This would take decades if we applied a conventional training approach, but in the spirit of UNBOSS we should engage the wider community in this task. The good news are that the DeTao Masters Academy also includes some of the world’s best experts in education and distance learning. It can be done, but we need to start today..

How can this inspire you? Share your thoughts. Write a comment!

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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.

Sådan får du fat i Kolind Kuren

Din boghandler har den. Du kan også bestille bogen online, f.eks. hos Jyllands Postens Forlag, SAXO eller en anden online boghandel. Vil du købe et større antal bøger, f.eks. til alle medarbejdere eller til leder-gruppen kan du kontakte jyllandspostensforlag@jp.dk.

Den originale amerikanske udgave, The Second Cycle – Winning the War on Bureaucracy, er udgivet af Wharton School Publishing i samarbejde med F.T. Prentice Hall Pearsons forlag. Du kan få fat I den og andre sprogversioner på f.eks. www.amazon.com.