Åke Reinholdsson - Continuous Executive Learning - Meritus - for Sharing and Learning

Åke Reinholdsson - Continuous Executive Learning - Meritus - for Sharing and Learning

The initiative

Meritus is a club of senior HR professionals founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1998. The initiative was based on a common interest in core HR fundamentals, a need for cross-fertilization and a willingness to share ideas and dilemmas.
At the outset, many of us (members) were close to retirement but keen to stay in touch with colleagues and the profession. We were ambitious like a think-tank and "shamelessly" invited very sophisticated leaders in business, politics and education to share thoughts, ideas, wisdom and vision. 8-10 seminars a year have deepened our insights and kept us in good professional shape.


The total number of members has been around 50. We have had leading roles in large companies in various business sectors like Banking, Home Appliances, Electronics, Forestry, Media, Defense Systems, IT, Pharmaceuticals, Retail, Steel, Professional Services etc. Leadership usually means an ExCom position in the respective companies. Some of us have also worked in the public sector at central and/or local level.
As most of the Swedish political institutions are based in Stockholm, we have had access to their expertise, e.g. government agencies, employers' associations and trade unions. 
Researchers and thinkers have also been welcomed. All members have been active for many years and have contributed to high level analysis as well as an intensive exchange of views and experiences. And we had a lot of fun too.

A wide range of topics

In addition to direct professional knowledge, HR managers have a wide range of interests and need to be well informed about legal and societal issues such as  
- Education systems, including university level
- Labor legislation, health and safety regulations, public support systems       
- Demographics and other relevant statistics
- Working conditions in relevant countries
- EU initiatives and restrictions i.e. on employee relations
Meritus has helped us to meet these expectations and requirements.
In addition, we have been involved in the development of the Swedish school (sometimes quite problematic). In 2014, we summarized our thoughts on the changing demands on the management team. (see attachment). Some members have written articles and books which they have shared before publication. We have closely followed the development of critical HR issues in Sweden and in the EU.    

Informal meetings

The arrangements have always been quite informal. We still meet for bistro lunches, with or without external guests. All activities are initiated and run by ourselves in a good democratic way. Our guests have enjoyed the informality and have been willing to share openly their experiences, ongoing work and plans, including tricky challenges. We prefer to think that they have received some fruitful thoughts in return, as well as a bottle of good wine. We have never paid a fee. 
We just like to see each other. The number of active members is smaller these days, but there is no real plan to expand. Perhaps we'll gradually move on to more existential issues. Most of us are in our 80s and the energy for deep involvement in future development is diminishing(?).

The President - a key person

Over the past 25 years we have had two chairmen. Hans-Olof Hallinder was the initiator and Per Thorsell followed in his spirit. Both were perfect for the job, dedicated and much appreciated. Obviously, the chairman has a very important role, even when leaders meet and are supposed to get things done. If he or she has a charismatic appeal, it helps, especially with external people, including guest speakers. We have been very lucky in that respect.

For others?  

Looking back, I think we really shared a deep need to stay alive as professionals and that Meritus was one of the ways to get the necessary stimulus to keep learning. From the late sixties to the present day, we have shared and shared frames of reference gained during more than 1000 years of active service in Sweden and abroad. The collective memory is enormous. Senior professionals who wish to remain vital lifelong learners are strongly advised to try something like Meritus. Define the common denominators. Keep it informal. Don't dig too deep into the past, but try to look to the future.  

Stockholm, November 2023

Åke Reinholdsson
Member, and Senior Partner, Global Executive Learning


From the President’s - Per Thorsell - archives

A selection of Topics and Guests during Meritus’ meetings
November 2016 - November 2023:

Nov 2016: Bengt Hansson: The Swedish model for collaboration between the labor market parties.

Dec 2016: Dr. Henrik Grönberg, Professor of Oncology on the leadership challenge of risk factors in different diseases.

April 2017: Manne Didehvar presents the Swedish HR Association.

May 2017: Kajsa Möller, Head of HR at the Swedish Police Authority describes the police's new organization from 2015.

Sep 2017: Sofie Ek, Senior Manager at Netlight Consulting AB, develops her thoughts on a manage less organization. 

Oct 2017: Carl Leinar CEO of Trygghetsrådet TRR on restructuring and adaptation.

Nov 2017: Mikael Brännvall was Deputy CEO of Dramaten during the period 2009-2016. He is now CEO of the industry and employer organization Svensk Scenkonst. Leadership in the artistic production process. 

Dec 2017: Per Ericson, Senior Vice President, Head of Group Staff People & Organization, Husqvarna Group.

March 2018: Discussion on Fake News. B Anders and Per will introduce

April 2018: Anders Öhman presents Handelsbanken's corporate culture / Goals and Means.

May 2018: Stephan Erne, Chief Digital Officer at Handelsbanken presents the effects of digitalization & AI in the financial industry.

Sep 2018: Birgitta Södergren: researcher in "The Swedish Flag Factory" which is a development project to learn more about strengths in Swedish production.

Oct 2018: Marika Lundsten, Ruter Dam on initiatives for female leadership.

Dec 2018: Bo Göranzon, in collaboration with Dramaten in Stockholm, has developed a method for releasing silent (tacit) knowledge, for example within a company or organization.

Jan 2019: Torsten Ekström, CEO of Svenskt Underhåll AB, the service company that helps with the day-to-day operations of the national organization Svenskt Underhåll (maintenance)

Feb 2019: Pia Anderberg will share experiences and plans for the work that takes place within the Axel Johnson Group within "People & Innovation".

March 2019: Mats Agurén develops thoughts on leadership in matrix organizations. On the art of leading multidimensional organizations in an increasingly complex business world. Mats received his PhD in 2014 with a thesis on matrix structures and multidimensional problem solving.

May 2019: Lennart Francke. He has written the book "The agile company: shoals of fish or supertankers in a dynamic world?". Lennart has a background as CFO from Handelsbanken and Head of Finance from Swedbank. 

Sep 2019: Ulrika Boethius, President of the Swedish Finance Association. The title of the evening is "In the head of an association chairman 2019".

Nov 2019, B Anders and Marie-Louise on systems thinking. On the agenda is the question of how to get to a future where everyone can be a winner. 

Dec 2019; Jan Moritz, Anders Öhman and Rune Nyberg share their experiences from the major mergers Stora-Enso, Astra-Zeneca and Telia-Sonera.

Jan 2020: Charlotte Gustavsson on board work and HR. Charlotte has a background in Corporate Finance, Broadcasting and Professional Sports. Charlotte took over as Head of
Operations for Styrelseakademien Stockholm on 1 December 2018.

Dec 2020: Zoom meeting with Peter Örn former CEO of Sveriges Radio. The Swedish government presented a plan in 2018 to strengthen democracy. As part of this work, a democracy committee was appointed. Peter is the chairman of the committee.

Jan 2021: Zoom meeting with Karin Sparring Björkstén, associate professor of elderly psychiatry and specialist in general psychiatry, geriatrics and elderly psychiatry on legal aspects of autonomy in ageing.

April 2022: Lise-Lotte Argulander, expert on labor law and work environment at Företagarna (medium sized companies), who will be our guest.

Nov 2022: Anders Forsberg former President of Jusek, Secretary of the Labor Market
Committee, Head of the Parliamentary Administration (700 employees) and Director of the Parliament 1998-2010. President of the World Federation of Chief Parliamentary Officers. Advisor to the British House of Commons. 

Jan 2023: Ulf Lindberg on the Business Regulation Committee. Ulf, who is chairman, talks about opinion forming. He has been honored as Lobbyist of the Year.

March 2023: Åke Reinholdsson on leadership development and learning. Reflect on programs/experiences/events that have been of particular importance to your own development, and we will go around the team and share.

Nov 2023 Magnus Söderström on Kerstin Hesselgren's work. She was the foremost woman in Swedish politics and public administration, also known as Kerstin the First. Magnus will lead the discussion on her importance.




One example of Meritus’ workshops: The Management Team of tomorrow

Meritus has held an internal seminar to discuss the management group of the future. The members, with a combined experience of a thousand years, gathered to share ideas and thoughts on this important topic. They recognized the prevalence of poor leadership in the media and drew from their own experiences of short-termism, slow product development, and communication breakdowns. However, they also acknowledged instances of successful leadership even in challenging circumstances.

The management team of the future will face new challenges driven by globalization, climate change, demographics, and technological advancements. The pace is quickening, mistakes are becoming more costly, and products are becoming more perishable. This raises questions about whether the current human capacity is sufficient to manage the complex systems we have created. Can a limited number of individuals possess the supernatural gifts, reasoning capabilities, and physical and mental capacity needed for effective leadership? The headlines about a lack of leadership suggest that the most important initiatives and decisions may be made by too few people.

The seminar emphasized the importance of teamwork in the face of increasing speed and complexity. The days of the heroic leader are over, and the team is now required for both practical and psychological reasons. Access to others' minds, knowledge, and perspectives is necessary to widen our field of vision, gain strength, and make informed decisions. The seminar emphasized the significance of consultation with employee organizations, especially in times of rapid change, to avoid confusion and mistrust.

The management team should take charge of their own development and encourage the individual development of each member. It is crucial to distinguish between operational and strategic tasks, learn about the basics of how the brain works, engage in mutual reporting, prioritize commitment to the future, and highlight new ideas and technologies. Problems should be tackled early, and transparency and sustainability should be integral to decision-making.

The composition, organization, and agenda of the management team will vary depending on the task, time, and situation. Different perspectives, openness to change, and external participation should be embraced. The HR manager, in particular, has a responsibility beyond the traditional role and should contribute to the team's success and development to justify their place in the team. The stakeholders model is also valued, with a focus on the societal and citizen perspective to drive improvement initiatives.

Shared values, the importance of employees, and the promotion of curiosity, independent thinking, and questioning were emphasized. Management teams should create norms, understand the role of the organization, and take responsibility for their own further development. Finally, the individuals within the team should be carefully selected and prepared to accept the uncertainty and sacrifice that leadership requires.

Each management team is made up of individuals, chosen with care and the best of intentions.  Each has carefully considered what the task entails, accepted the uncertainty and the sacrifice it requires. Less obvious is the readiness to take responsibility for their own further development, for the task of creating norms and role models, for the duty to share experiences and insights.  So please reflect on how you are shaping history, why others should be guided by you and how you are mobilizing for future exciting challenges.


Summarized by Åke Reinholdsson in cooperation with highly appreciated colleagues.


The Meritus brand – protected since 2007



Wolfgang Braun - Speed of Change vs. Speed of learning.

Wolfgang Braun - Speed of Change vs. Speed of learning.

"The Renaissance of Leadership: How Generative AI Transforms Organizations and Competencies"
In an ever-evolving digital landscape, organizations and leaders are continually challenged to adapt and innovate. Generative Artificial Intelligence (Generative AI) has emerged as a powerful catalyst, redefining the where, when, and how of leadership and organizations. This article explores how Generative AI is boosting productivity, reshaping leadership competencies, and bringing about structural changes in organizations.
Generative AI and Enhanced Productivity
Generative AI is revolutionizing the way businesses operate, leading to unprecedented productivity gains. The application of Generative AI spans across various domains:
  • Content Generation: Generative AI, such as GPT-3, can autonomously generate high-quality text, enabling writers to focus on more critical tasks while AI handles routine content creation.
  • Data Augmentation: In data-intensive fields like data science, Generative AI augments datasets with synthetic data, saving time and improving model performance for AI applications.
  • Design and Creativity: Tools like Adobe's Sensei and Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) empower designers to automate repetitive design tasks and explore new creative possibilities.
  • Problem Solving: AI-driven optimization algorithms find efficient solutions to complex problems in logistics, finance, and supply chain management, enhancing data-driven decision-making.
  • Automation: AI automates repetitive tasks, from customer support with chatbots to data analysis, allowing human employees to focus on strategic and creative tasks.

Leadership Competencies in the AI Era
Generative AI is not just about automating tasks; it also transforms leadership competencies, requiring leaders to adapt and evolve:
Where Leadership Competencies Are Changing:

  • Data Literacy: Leaders must be proficient in interpreting data to make informed decisions.
  • Technology Integration: Understanding AI's potential and limitations is vital for strategic decision-making.
  • Ethical Decision-Making: Leaders need to navigate ethical concerns related to AI-generated content and automated decisions.

When Leadership Competencies Are Changing:

  • Real-time Decision-Making: AI provides real-time data and demands quicker, quality decision-making.
  • Continuous Learning: Leaders must adopt a mindset of continuous learning to stay updated on AI advancements.
  • Adaptive Leadership: Agile leadership is essential for responding to dynamic AI-driven changes.

How Leadership Competencies Are Changing:

  • Collaborative Leadership: Leaders must foster collaboration between humans and AI, emphasizing communication, adaptability, and empathy.
  • Innovative Thinking: AI should be leveraged for innovation, requiring leaders to be creative and open-minded.
  • Change Management: Leaders must excel in change management to ensure smooth transitions and align organizational structures with AI integration.

Implementing Change
To successfully adapt to the AI era, organizations and leaders should consider the following steps:

  • Continuous Training: Invest in ongoing training and development programs to enhance leadership competencies related to AI.
  • Cross-Functional Teams: Encourage cross-functional teams, including AI experts, to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
  • Ethical AI Guidelines: Establish clear ethical guidelines for AI use and educate leaders on these principles.
  • Agile Leadership Coaching: Develop coaching and mentoring systems that focus on agile leadership practices.


Business Driven Action Learning
Generative AI can be applied to process improvements in various ways, helping organizations optimize their operations, enhance efficiency, and reduce costs. Here are some applications of generative AI in the context of process improvements:

  • Data Analysis and Insights: Generative AI can process and analyze large datasets, uncovering insights about process bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. It can identify patterns and anomalies that might not be apparent through traditional analysis.
  • Predictive Maintenance: By analyzing historical data and sensor information, AI models can predict when machinery or equipment is likely to fail. This allows organizations to perform maintenance proactively, reducing downtime and operational disruptions.
  • Process Automation: Generative AI can automate routine tasks and workflows, eliminating human errors and reducing the time required to complete repetitive processes. This can include data entry, document processing, and other administrative tasks.
  • Quality Control: AI can be used for quality control in manufacturing processes. It can identify defects or deviations from quality standards in real-time, leading to reduced waste and improved product quality.
  • Supply Chain Optimization: AI can analyze supply chain data to optimize inventory management, demand forecasting, and distribution routes. This can help organizations reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their supply chain operations.
  • Workflow Optimization: AI-powered tools can analyze and optimize workflows within an organization. This includes streamlining approval processes, task prioritization, and resource allocation.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) for Customer Support: NLP-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can handle customer queries, route them to the right department, and provide faster, more efficient customer support.
  • Energy Efficiency: AI can monitor and control energy usage in facilities to reduce costs and minimize environmental impact. This includes adjusting lighting and other systems based on real-time data.
  • Human Resources: AI can assist in the recruitment and onboarding processes, matching candidates to job descriptions and streamlining administrative tasks associated with hiring.
  • Feedback and Continuous Improvement: AI can gather feedback from employees, customers, and other stakeholders to identify areas of improvement. This data can be used to make iterative changes to processes and operations.
  • Personalized Marketing and Sales: AI can analyze customer data to provide personalized product recommendations and marketing strategies, increasing the efficiency of sales and marketing processes.
  • Regulatory Compliance: AI can help organizations stay in compliance with relevant regulations and standards by monitoring and flagging potential compliance issues.
  • Resource Allocation: AI can optimize the allocation of resources such as personnel, equipment, and materials to ensure efficient use and reduce waste.
  • Demand Forecasting: AI can predict demand for products or services more accurately, enabling better inventory management and resource planning.
  • Process Documentation: AI can assist in creating and maintaining process documentation, making it easier for employees to follow standard procedures and ensuring consistency in operations.

Generative AI can support process improvement initiatives by providing data-driven insights, automating tasks, and facilitating decision-making. However, it's important to integrate these AI applications carefully, train employees on their use, and continually monitor and adjust the AI systems to ensure they align with the organization's goals and changing circumstances.
Generative AI is reshaping leadership and organizations by revolutionizing productivity, transforming leadership competencies, and driving structural changes. By embracing Generative AI and fostering a culture of adaptability, creativity, and data-driven decision-making, leaders can navigate the AI landscape effectively. Leadership competencies, aligned with Generative AI capabilities, create a dynamic synergy propelling organizations toward a future of innovation and success. In this renaissance of leadership, leaders and organizations must seize the opportunities presented by Generative AI to stay competitive and thrive in the digital age.

wb AI Gartner

Gartner Hype Cycle for AI

AI had gained significant attention and was being tracked on the Gartner Hype Cycle. The Gartner Hype Cycle is a graphical representation of the maturity, adoption, and social application of specific technologies. Technologies typically go through different stages on the Hype Cycle, including:

  1. Innovation Trigger: This is where a technology or concept is introduced. In the case of generative AI, this might refer to the emergence of new techniques and models, like GPT-3 or similar innovations.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: This is the stage where there is a lot of hype and often unrealistic expectations about the technology. AI was experiencing this in various fields, including natural language processing and content generation.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment: In this phase, some initial disappointments and failures may occur. This could involve concerns over biases in generated content, limitations of the technology, or ethical issues.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment: As the technology matures, it starts to find more practical and valuable use cases. Solutions to initial challenges are developed, and the technology becomes more widely adopted.
  5. Plateau of Productivity: At this stage, the technology has become mainstream, and its benefits are widely understood and accepted.

Please note that the position of generative AI on the Gartner Hype Cycle can change over time as the technology evolves and its applications grow.


Filippo Martino - Award Lucani Insigni  (2023)

Filippo Martino - Award Lucani Insigni (2023)

The award Lucani Insigni is assigned once a year to personalities born in Basilicata, that can be a role model for the work done in Italy or abroad, in different fields. Relevant for the assignment of the award is also the actual commitment of lucani insigni for a better image of Basilicata, a region south of Rome whose inhabitants are named lucani (for historical reasons).

Among the 2023 nominees, Filippo Martino, founder member of Global Forum , and a Robert L. Dilworth award recipient in 2010.

Main reasons for the award are:

  1. His contribution to enhance the understanding of changes in the international competitive arena through:
    *Managerial assignments in large enterprises --ILVA/Mittal, IRi Management Centre, AERITALIA/Leonardo, ISVOR-FIAT Corporate University;
    * Consulting to International Companies (Ferrero, FIAT, Finsiel, Fincantieri, etc);
    * Action lLarning for executives and high potential managers;
    * Publishing of book and specialized periodicals that have influenced scholars and faculty members as well (Filippo Martino has been a founder member of Bocconi organization design research centre).

2- Current studies/research on sustainable energy production. Issues relevant for the home region Basilicata (first European producer of on-shore oil & gas);
3- 12-year chairmanship of Associazione dei Lucani a Roma and its web communication program that has spread knowledge of history, tradition, present work, and perspectives about the Basilicata region.
The award ceremony took place in the museum of a 124-year old bitter liquor producer

See the award video: [link]

RetroReflecting on 2022, Preparing for 2023: A Year of Transformations, Leadership & Learningspectives and 2023 Future Forward: A Global Forum Community Discussion (VALID #21 | January 26, 2023)

RetroReflecting on 2022, Preparing for 2023: A Year of Transformations, Leadership & Learningspectives and 2023 Future Forward: A Global Forum Community Discussion (VALID #21 | January 26, 2023)

Summary By Yury Boshyk

I am pleased to provide a summary of what has become an annual tradition -- the Global Forum community’s sharing of retrospectives on the year gone by and perspectives on the year ahead. This virtual meeting was held on 26 January, 2023 and was not recorded (unlike Global Forum virtual events (VALIDs)) in order to ensure uninhibited discussion. Community members from many parts of the world were asked to reflect in advance on three questions: to share their thoughts and feelings about 2022--“what did I like? what did I learn? —and what do I wish for 2023”?

Although I have tried to distill participant comments as accurately as possible, one cannot adequately convey the sense of community sharing and friendship that everyone experienced during this VALID. Participants said they deeply appreciated and were inspired by being able to sit at this “reflection feast”, and “for the opportunity to listen, share experiences and pass on words of wisdom together”.

As for the “what I liked” in 2022”:
What stood out was the experience of more meaningful family engagement, the celebration of friendships, and in general, the joy of reconnecting. Many were surprised and heartened by their own resilience during critical periods of global and family turmoil, and that this gave them confidence to cope with any further uncertainty and complexity. One person pointed out how grateful he was for surviving COVID. Others were impressed and encouraged by the accelerated focus on sustainability and purpose, both personally, in organizations and within society.

In 2022 what participants “learned” in 2022 also brought forward some common themes:
The war in Europe, with the Russian re-invasion of Ukraine, led some to reflect on whether peace in Europe is an illusion, and to ask how many other illusions do we have? Why haven’t we questioned ourselves more about some of our assumptions? We have not been good at reading weak signals in the geopolitical environment that came to take us in a shocking and surprising way. We have taken some things for granted, like democracy and the steady dehumanization of life. On the contrary, we should not take anything for granted by learning to appreciate more of what we have. We should be more supportive and compassionate because we are all part of a larger ecosystem. Learning how to “stay in the moment”, to listen more attentively and reflect more intentionally were also mentioned as was the oft cited and encouraging vison that we should pay more attention to relationships between people, and that even small connections unify us.

Views on “what I wish for 2023”?
A common thread was the call to action and collaboration—the necessity to act with more courage and determination to commit more personally to help change the world in a positive, respectful, peaceful and sustainable direction—"to continue countering what we didn’t like in 2022” said one participant. Some hoped for leaders in their organizations and the world to better manage growing complexity, and to do so with greater wisdom. Along with this were hopes that companies and organizations would adopt a less hierarchical, less shareholder and a more stakeholder mindset and practice. We should also help younger talents to better understand globalization and to act accordingly to the reality that we are in an interconnected world. It is because of our considerable life experience that we should go forward and carry the message of human potential. To do so will require determination and perseverance because it takes time to create a new world as someone added.

To make sure that these wishes for 2023 come true we must think as a universal family, added someone else. I was reminded by a community member that these words echoed the words of wisdom from another ancient culture, namely from the Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad-- “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. This indeed reflected the ethos and spirit of this wonderful Global Forum community’s “reflection feast”.

In conclusion, I would very much like to thank all those who participated, and on your behave to thank the organizers of VALID 21: Chantal, Karl and Michellana for their hard work and contributions, and also to express our gratitude to Michellana for her compassionate moderation of this session.

Much of what we discussed will be further examined in more detail and shared at the 26th Global Forum in Barcelona at IESE Business School’s beautiful campus. We look forward to seeing you there from 18-21 June 2023. For more information about the program, registration and other details please go to:

With best wishes,


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