Ikea, Volvo and HR?

Today was day 1 of the People in Business conference, while I will not give you a complete run down of the first day I want to share a couple of things.

The first key note was very good, I must say I was skeptical, based on reading the brochure. The topic was “Energy, trust and success in leadership – the essential links” given by Dr Göran Carstedt the ex CEO of Ikea and Volvo Europe. Now given my background is IT and not HR I wondered what new soft HR things I would hear, sorry if I offend.

Dr Carstedt was very interesting. Firstly he presented with overheads! No powerpoint, no fancy things just plain old overheads! Compared to some of the other speakers who battled with the technology this was fantastic. It was clean, clear, easy to read and most importantly relevant!

He spoke about change, not a new topic but personally I found his point of view very engaging. Ideas such as “when you introduce change look at what you should conserve and what you should adapt, not just changing everything.”

And “approach each day not thinking what is good for your company, instead what is your company good for?”

And “if you are not serving the customer then you are serving someone who does”

And ” the mission is not the issue, the issue is what does the mission do for you”

And probably the one that got me thinking the most “who would miss us if we were not here?” The last item gives a foundation or a centre point or philosophy for an organisation.

Dr Carstedt also presented on what leadership means to him, he made a comment about inviting people to something that is meaningful. This process provides engagement, meaning and helps with change. To help develop this meaning he suggested we look at 3 factors, economic, ecological and anthropological. These there elements can form the invitation.

This got me thinking about Scoble and his post a couple of weeks ago on product philosophy, your product’s philosophy should be the invitation. The invitation as Dr Carstedt puts it is kind of like evangelism. Which is really funny (or ironic depending on your point of view) as I am currently re-reading “Rules for Revolutionaries” from the master of evangelism, Guy Kawasaki.

Another interesting point he made was about ideas vs things. If you give away a thing you have nothing left, however if you give away an idea (aka share an idea) and someone shares back you now have three ideas, yours, theirs and the combined.

Overall an interesting session.

The other two key note’s I attended were on emotional intelligence and linking metrics to the bottom line. Summaries of these will have to wait.

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