VALID 2 - Tomas Carlson

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The second Global Forum VALID took place on 21 May 2020. The discussant was Tomas Carlsson, a Global Forum community member, who spoke about lessons learned from transformation and turnaround experiences in critical times, including the pandemic. He is President and CEO of one of the largest construction companies in the Nordic region of Europe, based in Stockholm. Tomas is also a member of the Stockholm’s Chamber of Commerce committee of academics and business leaders tasked to recommend how to “restart” the Swedish economy.

He outlined his key operational approaches in leading transformation. He drives profitability improvement and growth in a sustainable way with a focus on developing organizations fit for people and fit for purpose. On assuming the leadership at NCC in 2018 he took time organize the “right team”, to make sure they achieved sustainable growth well above the average. Today, two-thirds in the top team are “new” to the company.
His second operational objective was “effective “governance”. He wanted an empowered team that would lead and implement the three thousand ongoing projects in NCC. He also set up a special task force on the pandemic, spending time every day discussing and helping them implement recommended actions.
The third pillar was “the right allocation of capital” and fourthly, and certainly not least, “communication”.
There were several questions focusing on these topics as well as how he views the future of his industry and the company’s eco-system. His personal leadership goals and advice to other leaders are to always be looking ahead, be consistent with one’s leadership values and practices, and stay updated and “keeping perspective”. When asked how he does this, he replied that he tries to spend time reflecting, taking a full day once a month to do so. And his “yoga” is cooking to clear his mind and refocus. As a “thirsty learner” he reads a great deal, both non-fiction as well as fiction. Participants very much appreciated Tomas’ discussion and thanked him accordingly.

For more details and to listen to the recording of this VALID please login first please and click here [link].

VALID 1 - Drew Boyd

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Constraints Lead to Creativity!

On May 14th , during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Forum-Action Learning Team organized its first VALID—Virtual Action learning International Discussion-- The aim: to keep provide a forum for our community to continue in its learning and networking mode, and deepening our reflection on “The Future”.

Drew Boyd, our own “Mister Innovation”, launched us into our VALID discussion series with a session entitled “Creative Lessons from A Pandemic”. Listening to Drew is always a pure moment of entertainment, as he embeds profound lessons within a truly memorable story.
What is creativity? It is the sudden collision of two previously unrelated themes. With a few photos, Drew illustrated the definition, notably drawing our attention to the way in which the popular television show “MacGyver” served as an example of accessible creativity.  
Three Key Principles of Creativity:

  • The Principle of Constraints. You lack something and replace it with something else more readably available.
  • The Principle of Fixedness. You become stuck in thinking about your available resources narrowly, even though many options are available to you. Go beyond the obvious and anticipate that the unusual can happen.
  • The Closed World Principle. Prioritize the resources around you; proximity is the solution.

What a moment of self-awareness! Reflecting on a recent personal experience, compensating for the lack of availability of professional painters, I became painter. I painted the forged iron fences around my house. Because every gesture was new to me, I had to create and invent the best process for doing this work. I hesitated. I referred to the DIY manuals. I was out of my comfort zone, but I was so pleased to see the result.

What about you?  How have you successfully used the principles of creativity?

Postponement 2020 - Filippo Martino

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Dear Yury,

We are well so far and looking forward to remain fit. 

We where all unprepared, so we’re still in a learning process and, as everybody, we’re hopeful to see the end of this fairly soon and star the recovery.

Not everything will be the same. My hope is that, along with many uncertainties something good could come out of this global crisis. Among many:
- (unplanned!) learnings on smart working and distance learning wich are now used on a large scale in almost every job and service:
- a wiser national and international attention to unknown pandemics both to address research but also to be ready with structures and tools (masks, etc). In fact, its a strange situation: just in the meddle of debates such as returning to the Moon and planning to reach Mars or investing in AI for safe self driving, we discover population of the First World exposed to very old stile diseases! 

I’ve received notice of GF 2020 postponement (the first ever) as a consequence of the unprecedented situation affecting also our community. 
Let's be hopefull that before summer the pandemia will be over and soon after we could even find a time and a place where a few of us could convene and talk and reflect about this happenings. 

Best also from Olimpia, to Nadia, your family, the Gf team and colleagues,


Filippo Martino

Changing Our Communication

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Covid-19 is changing our communication – no doubt!

What for years has been a dragging business in our offices is now experiencing a huge boost. Our communication becomes more and more virtual. But there is no need to repeat the mistakes of those who have been gradually virtualising the digitalisation of their communication behaviour for some time now.
A good example can be found in an article in the Harvard Business Review, which Fiona Steward has drawn our attention to. The rules of conduct listed here are in line with our experience and could also be a valuable guide for you.

Read it yourself [link]

Postponement 2020 - Lars Cederholm

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Warm Greetings,

In an irresistible urge I feel that I want to reach out to you hoping that you are in a good and safe place. Many of our friends out there in the world are busy looking over their own resources and coping with a revolution facing each one of us, regardless where we are and who we are. This morning I wrote to a friend in England trying to express something about Anna and myself and some general rambling about the world at large. It was good to just write and write so I just keep going……

I, the happy and incurably dizzy, self-proclaimed poet is challenged to sit here in my pleasant cage, peeking at the world through my own eyes, now in need of a serious check up. We are looking everywhere, local media, radio and TV, touching friends, surfing for information; different stuff, like f.ex. how people have avoided famine historically? That’s at the base of respect for older people in China who would be able to teach the young from experience of periodic failed harvests. Anna has a few things to say about facing a very serious shortage of food and I was around to see that for myself in Moscow 1990. Here is Anna's list from her experience at the time: Salt, toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and clarify butter for long storage life and cut and dry bread and pack in linen sacks, store hanging. Hope you don’t have to take this advise of self-protection from famine. We just have to find ways of stopping the panic. I worry when I see someone filling the whole car with toilet paper. It smells trouble, no pun intended.

Our days are busy, albeit in some new ways. Now Anna and I take some brisk nature walks together, more so than before. Just back from one of these walks reflecting on people who, like Anna and myself, were experimenting with ground rules for interpersonal distance, in this case while walking in nature. The government recommendation for interpersonal distance is, 6 ft. Or 1.80 m, may well save many from a whole range of new calibration of social rituals where distance is the meta language and also a sign language revealing differences in class and education. 

I keep flipping between the somber tone of reason pouring our of Swedish P.Radio and TV. And over to CNN, BBC etc. Suddenly a whole new Olymp of technocrats and many young people are showing up in the media, representing institutes that most people didn’t even know exist. The need for facts has taken the forefront and I, we, must calibrate our senses, instincts and emotions as we try to make sense of this huge domino in rapid motion as we speak. A great majority of people living here in Swedes trust that we have good leaders to help us through this. People in Sweden may not be so formidable as individuals but they are pretty good, level headed system thinkers so that will help us to navigate to a new future in this little country of ours. Right now every Schengen country has closed its borders. I am not even allowed to go to Copenhagen in Denmark which is in some ways an intricate part of Malmö, with a busy bridge between us. Who would ever believe that we would see this day?

When this is all over, I hope we will have a much better understanding of what a country is for in the face of a deep crises and how we can build a better EU and a better world? Differentiation before an even stronger European integration I hope! Flipping to the shrill tone in the US and (the unlovely and inappropriate) Trump who, just a week ago, was fabricating political propaganda for his re-election mixed in with his own version of facts; Just like commercial TV where the real goal is marketing of products and services and content is there to pretend otherwise. Not so good when a strong US leadership is needed.
Would it not be nice if people competing for power and influence can to stop using slander, spinning facts and twisting quotes. Now if ever is a good time for authentic behaviour based on science and facts, set in a frame of wisdom.

I think it is fair to say that we have a more solid health care infrastructure in most of Europe (one payer system and all the rest of it) to deal with this mess, more integrated than in the more fragmented health care business in the US and the Global South. The different systems of health care will reveal the pros and cons under pressure and we must learn together as we move along. Regrettably, Italy is a wake up lesson to us all to be faster in how to take use the authority of the state to avoid that the health care systems implode. I some places the critically ill are flooding the capacity to care and it is so sad to think about these tragedies. 

I can’t help to speculate about the loose ends of it all and I, like you and everybody else, am flooded by questions about where the chips will be falling next; what new people will float up to power and influence in our societies? Have we passed the stage where people will come with the pitched forks as a way of alleviating fear and envy? Can we cooperate and globalise in new ways and can we use the lessons so far to the benefit of all? This is a bit like the Apollo project when a group solved an “impossible” problem to save the lives of the astronauts using some good Yankee ingenuity. Now we must problem solve on a global scale. How will phoenix, the ultimate symbol of strength and renewal, rise out of the ashes? Some of the lessons du jour are obvious, other covered by emotions etc. And the rest of it will be some great surprises. And for many vulnerable people it is about life and death so we all know … this is not a simulation. A man or woman without clothes must learn how to weave! Looking at our human history, we have good reason to believe that a whole new dimension of opportunities will unfold, perhaps more subtle and more difficult to detect this time? 

How long will the tax money keep countries and companies shut down and pay for business losses and salaries? No dog has a tail that measures two meters!! … My guess: People like me (77 with a diagnosed untreated astma or some other respiratory problems etc.) must stay away from public life for a time to be determined. They, me, we who are at serious risk of loosing our lives will need compassionate support from the abled. For the rest of us, … we need to get out, go back to work and work together. We all must learn how to be with each other (no sneezing, no nose picking etc.) and let nature immunise us all. This is of course controversial to say and I am sure we can have some meaningful exchanges in how to develop plan B and C. For most people this Covi-19 is no difference than the flu in terms of its impact! Including the untested cases world wide representing a significant number, mortality may be as low as 0,3%.of the people contaminated. 

Please don’t forget! Now the birds have started to build their nests, flowers are popping up everywhere, trees turn green and the sun is shining. We are breathing fresh air.

Love from your friends Lars (who is writing a science fiction book) and Anna (who paints and paints) with profound prayers that we will all be safe and come out of this much wiser and happier. 

May all the people who are sick be free from sickness, may the nations of the earth live in harmony, may pure conduct and merit increase, may we all be free from fear! 

Lars Cederholm

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