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I’m delighted to feature the work of Erik Korsvik Ostergaard on today’s episode. Erik is a co-founder of Good Morning April, a consulting firm in Denmark. He focuses on futures thinking and the future of work.
Erik is often engaged in complex corporate challenges, typically in the regulated industries. He is an engineer with an acumen in business leadership. Erik is a seasoned podcast host, keynote speaker, and author of two books about the future of work.
We had a lively discussion on a broad range of workplace future-related topics including how jazz music is similar to working in complex work situations, the new phenomenon of quiet quitting (or The Great Rethink in Denmark), and new ways of managing, experimentation, and leading change.
Referenced During the Show:
- Management 3.0 Delegation Poker Cards
- Many Voices One Song
- Who Decides Who Decides
- Corporate Rebels’ Video on Haier Group in China
- The Responsive Leader: How to Be a Fantastic Leader in a Constantly Changing World
- Teal Dots in an Orange World: How to Organize the Workplace of the Future
Connect with Erik:
Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you usually find your podcasts.
Listen on: APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY
Show Transcript (via AI – please excuse any errors):
Okay. I’m very excited today that we have a special guest on this show. We have Erik Korsvik Ostergaard who is the co-founder of Good Morning April a consulting firm in Denmark. He focuses on futures thinking and the future of work. Erik is often engaged in complex corporate challenges. Typically in the regulated industries, he’s an engineer with an acumen in business leadership. Erik is a seasoned podcast, host keynote speaker and author of two books about the future of work. So thank you so much for being here today, Erik, it’s great to see you again, excited for our discussion. So maybe before we get started, you can just kind of start by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got started and what you do.
Mm. Thanks for having me. It’s a, it’s a real pleasure. Yeah, but I was actually in my young days, I had a split way. I was actually having, I had to choose between becoming a professional jazz pianist or becoming an engineer. And I chose at that point of time to become an engineer. And that was absolutely right. I love technology. I love solving problems. And over time I actually more and more fell in love with the problem rather than the products that we were solving and understand how we can understand the problems and how we can also handle all the people part of business. So more and more, I was engaged in change management, in leading people, leading projects and handing all the tough questions. And over time I started challenging how we did stuff, and that led me into the area of new ways of working and the future of work, and that eventually led into the world of futures thinking. And what I do right now is to help leaders and organizations try to understand how they can, how they can explore and evaluate the possible ways forward, the possible futures that they are looking into so that they can understand how they themselves can shape their organization, their leadership, that processes, so they can stay relevant to the people around them. That’s what I do.
That’s an amazing story. Do you feel like your experience as a jazz musician helped prepare you for the work that you do today?
Very much. That, and my experience as a mathematician, I studied math at university. So the combination of chaos, mathematics, and jazz, and working in very complex areas, it’s all about two things. It all about spotting patterns, and also understanding when you have an anomaly, like when you play jazz, you might play something that is a strange something that is improvised. And, and maybe it’s a mistake, or maybe it’s a good idea that we can build on the same comes. When we look at, at, at businesses, when we experiment with it could be a new process, a new way of discussing things or making decisions. It could be a mistake, or it could be something that we really want to explore and how we can take that kind of implementation of that anomaly and make it into a thing that we do. So, yeah, I think it combines very well. <Laugh>
I love that response and I agree completely, and it really probably helped you to be able to kind of think out of the box and notice those anomalies and realize that sometimes those are even better than what you were trying to do.
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah, absolutely. At work, we really try to scout for the signals that are coming, the anomalies, and they say, okay, is this interesting to us, how likely that is that this signal is gonna affect us? And do we like the effect that it has on us? So it’s both the likelihood and the likability that we investigate when we work with like a life science organization or an engineering organization to try to understand what kind of improvisation they should embrace, what kind of experience they should embrace in order to shape their own world. So, yeah, I think it fits together
What a great approach. I love that. And I also really liked something else. You said that you fell in love with the problem. So are you meaning just kind of understanding the root cause and the complex system that it’s part of, or tell us more about that?
Yeah, totally. You’re absolutely right. Well, in school, we are trained in providing answers in university, as an engineer. We are trained in providing answers, but sometimes we need to stop providing answers and keep asking questions, keep understanding the problem, the stakeholders, the ecosystem, the complexity, the lateral thinking, the horizontal thinking all the thinking about what if and I really like that. It shapes the way that we understand each other’s approach to the question, to the challenge that we are in, because we have this alter reaction here. Aha. I know that I know how to solve that problem underlying, I know how to solve that problem, but maybe I didn’t ask you or your colleague or a stakeholder, somebody else who has a totally diverse view into it, maybe I didn’t consider adding more time or adding more technology or less time or less technology, or all, all these things about what will happen if we stay in touch with the problem, rather than just going for solving it at the right way. That’s my thinking of it
Such a good point, because we do have such a tendency to just wanna solve the problem and move on. But sometimes that really gets us into a lot of trouble because we’re assuming we know the solution, but we’re missing so much other information and other perspectives that could help us develop even more creative solutions.
And, but <laugh>, the sad part is sticking with the problem also creates a lot of problems. People really, really like to move forward. Stakeholders who are investing their time and maybe paying for you to show up at work. They would like things to move forward. And for the <laugh>, it’s really a tough stance to say, could you please give us like two months or six months to fall in love with a problem to properly understand what we are doing and then to experiment our way forward prior to solving it. I find hard. And from time to time, I also go into mode and just provide an answer to get going. So it’s a balance of understanding how we take care of the problem, take care of the stakeholders, take care of the surroundings that we are in. It’s not just black and white and RO all the time. <Laugh>, it’s messy. It’s messy.
It is absolutely. Yeah. Great point. So, so how do you apply these concepts in the work that you do with Good Morning April and the clients that you work with?
Mm, so the, the typical questions that people have for us is, “how can we rethink the way that we do stuff so that we, as an organization stay relevant to the people or stay relevant to the market or both?” And then we try to, first of all, make some kind of rudimentary and overall business case to what do you wanna obtain? Like really let’s before we answer the question on what to do, I would really like to understand what you wanna gain from it. What gains do you wanna happen? What pains do you wanna go away? And from that, we start saying, okay, do we have some ideas? Do we have some experiments? Do we have some hypothesis that we can have around, for example, how we organize our people, how we organize our work, how we invest our time, how we make decisions, could we get inspired by some of the new ways of working to say, okay, is it interesting to look at sociocracy?
Is it <inaudible> to look at the flat hierarchy? Is it to look at the agile way of working lean startup to get inspired? Is it interesting to try some of that? And then for some weeks and months to experiment and say, let’s try and work out what happens. And then we might find out that, okay, this is really stupid, and we are not gonna do that again. Or we might say, okay, there’s really something to this. What will happen if we take what we just learned and scale it upwards? So we go into experimentation mode inspired thoroughly by new ways of working and by all the acumen that’s in there. And very important, we translate it into context of the organizations that we are working with, or the sub organizations that we are working with. And that translation to me is the fundamental idea of what we do. We get inspired. And then we translate agile, lean, new ways of working, whatever it is into context, because it’s always gonna be translated. That’s how we do it.
So many good points in there. Do you find that organizations are open to that kind of experimentation? Because I find a lot of time as a consultant, that organizations come to me and expect like a process to follow or protocol, and they may or may not be open to experimentation. So how has that been working for you and how have you been able to work with employers to get them to be more open to experimentation?
Hmm. I think the people who <laugh> call us, they are prone to experimentation because they know that’s what we do. <Laugh> so, oh, good. If they’re not ready for that, they might call up somebody else. They might call McKinsey or, or Deloitte, or who else who have proven ways of doing it. But when people contact us, they know that we not necessarily come with a thorough plan, but we have intentions of experimentation, some of the stakeholders, they really like that. Cuz to them, it’s like taking the yolk of having to provide G charts and all sorts of plans and budgeting and put that aside and then staying in that kind of experimentation, jazzy improvisation world for a period of time, until we have learned enough and then switching gears into predictability. So to have an amount of time, a period of adaptability before we go into predict, I think that’s a way forward. But as to your point, there are some stakeholders who really are in discomfort when we do this. And there are somebody who really like it, but getting people in the loop to try to try to involve them in what we are doing to keep them informed about what we do. I think that’s a very classical way of approaching that.
I love that. So it sounds like you work really hard to get some clarity about where that organization is trying to go so that then you can determine what are the right questions to ask and what are the areas that would be most suitable for experimentation? Can you give us like a few examples of what an experiment might look like? What types of things you might try within an organization?
Yeah, a classic experimentation is to what will happen if the leader in an organization – could be a vice president or a team leader or a CEO – what if that leader stops making all the decisions? What will happen if we discuss where to put the mandate? And there are some very nice way of doing it. Management 3.0 has made a very nice deck of card called business value, PGA, sorry. <Laugh> that’s no, it’s called Delegation PGA Business Value. PGA is another game that we play also. Okay. Where we put prioritization to our work. What I intended to say was Delegation PGA. So we play this kind of poker game to understand how we can rethink our mandate, how we can navigate, how we can negotiate the different decisions that we make and how we actually nuanced take them away from the hands of a leader and distribute it in the arms of people. So that’s a very classical experiment to do that.
That’s great because I think a lot of leaders are feeling a little bit overwhelmed right now, too, because they have so much responsibility for making the decisions and sometimes they can actually end up being the bottleneck. And then at the same time that their staff and teams are not feeling very empowered. Have you had a lot of success in implementing that type of experiment or what types of kind of outcomes have you seen?
I actually think that people really, really like working with that, that kind of card games or that kind of nuanced and very open and transparent approach to something as complex as decision making. I think the reason for that is, is that it becomes documented. What do we do? We have a thorough discussion about the nuances of whatever it is that we work with. And then we have a time-boxed approach to it. So we said, we make these agreements on anything. It could be our structure, our decision making our roles, whatever, but we do that for a period of time. It could be from now on until Christmas, we do X, Y, Z, and then we do that as an experiment. And then we promised each other when we reach Christmas or whatever deadline that we said, then we stop and reflect and change what we did. And that kind of number one, the transparency, number two, the open discussion and number three, that all of the things that we do have a hard stop where we reflect and change. I think that makes it easier. <Laugh> easier, not easier, but easier for people to actually lean forward in.
That’s great. I love that approach because it allows you to kind of learn, but then people don’t feel like it’s permanent. If something’s not working, you can tweak it and adjust it as needed at the end of the time period.
Yeah. And, and also normally I’ve seen people when we try to solve this kind of conflicts problem, they really wanna nail it. They really wanna nail every little detail, every caveat, every everything that is like, what if this happens and what is that? Every scenario they need to take that into consideration and create this complex and very gold-plated blueprint before they do stuff where we go in and, and say together with them, we, we do kind of the opposite to say, okay, we do something that is good enough for now and safe enough to try. So it’s not the full picture. We sold one thing to a state where it is good enough for now, so that we can stop and reflect and it’s safe enough for people to lean forward and start experimenting with. That’s also the motto of sociocracy and holocracy. So I boldly stole that from that area of that domain.
That’s great. I feel like some of those concepts are just emerging in the us. I feel like you may have been applying some of those concepts in Denmark for a little bit longer than we have here, or at least a lot of American companies. Do you have any kind of resources that you would recommend if someone wanted to learn more about those topics?
Oh yeah. If you wanna learn more about sociocracy and Holocracy, there are a lot of the tons of online resources on it. There’s also a book called Many Voices, One Song, which is a really good segue into understanding how that kind of role based and, and flat organization circle-based organizations work. There’s also a very nice book called Who Decides, Who Decides, who also lets you into the realm of distributed decision making based on consent and not consensus. So there are a number of, of resources, books, and podcasts and online learnings and whatever that, that you can lean forward to. So there tons of resources on that.
I appreciate you sharing those resources. I’ll put ’em in the show notes and also I have to mention your books as well, are, are great resources in this area.
Oh, thank you. <Laugh>
Yeah. I’ll have to put those in the show notes as well. So one of the things I wanted to ask you about is in the US right now, we are facing a lot of challenges with regard to workforce. We have a huge amount of the workforce are currently disengaged, and there’s been a lot of media around the topic of quiet quitting. They’re calling it where employees are just basically still punching the clock, but they’re doing just the bare minimum to get by. And then we also have the great resignation where we’ve had a lot of people leaving the workforce and have been slow to return after COVID. And so right now there’s two to three times more jobs than there are applicants. Are you seen similar things in Denmark and the rest of the world? And then what do you see as some potential solutions?
Yeah, I think that quiet quitting and the great resignation, I think I would label that in Denmark as the great rethink, but I think it actually hits the nail better. And I do see that trend very strong right after COVID, especially where people are honestly rethinking their life, their approach to work, their approach to where they live, how they live, where they work, how they work. So that melting part of stopping, reflecting, and rethinking our approach to nearly everything that I see as a massive trend. And I do believe that the organizations who actually catch that moment together with our people to say, okay, we know that this great rethink is going on. I think we should do that. I think we together should rethink why we are together, how we create belonging, how we together understand how to create workplaces, where you really would like to show up. So I think people instead of resisting that and creating engagement programs and whatnot should go the other way. And, and, and say that maybe you answer something, maybe we really need to rethink how we do this. That would be my, yeah. That’s how I see it.
I love that. And I love that term. It just sounds so much more positive than some of the other terms that are being put out there right now. And one of the things that I’m hearing in the US is employers are feeling kind of forced to rethink work because that’s the only way they’re able to keep employees. One hospital that I know has a front desk staff. They’ve had to allow them to kind of self-organize a little bit. And the CEO actually said that he felt like he had to do that. Are you hearing that more and more from employers or do you feel like it’s more the opposite that they’re open to that?
That’s a good question. I do see increasingly that the power or the influence on how work is designed is flipping from the employer to the employee. There’s a tendency to that. There’s a tendency to, for example, hybrid work. Let’s just take that as an example that the rules or the guidelines for how you engage, where, and when you work are not those rules set by the employer, but by the employee. And that is lurking into all other areas. For example, how we organize, how we provide salaries, how we make sure that work is meaningful, that is purposeful even that we bring the whole person to work. So the understanding of the human parts of work is part of driving that shift towards that. It is increasingly the employee who’s part of designing how work is gonna play out. Yes, I see that not everywhere by all means. That’s so many tons of nuances and classical ways of approaching this. And there are progressive pockets where this is really, really going on. I see both actually
Interesting and it’s so discouraging kind of the current situation with a lot of employees being disengaged and not really feeling kind of connected to their purpose and, you know, bringing their whole selves to work. What do you think is possible if we’re able to rethink work and begin to engage these employees more fully so that they do, you know, bring their full selves to work?
If you had asked me five or 10 years ago, I would have the reflex answer to say, you need to create a purposeful organization. But I must say that I have changed my stance on that and changed the word “purposeful” to “meaningful”. And I think there’s way more closeness to meaningfulness. The meaningful interaction, the meaningful task, the meaningful, whatever that you’re doing and linking that to the overall massive purpose is really, really tough. I think it’s one sided, one eyed. If we only talk about the purposeful organization, but creating meaningful relationships, creating a sense of belonging, I think that’s the way to approach that. And then combining that with the intelligent approach to local solutions. And that’s one of the things that I have been studying over the past, maybe two or three years, ISED to understand or to see the, the pattern of that things are getting very, very local, very local solutions to organizational structure, to decision making, to culture, to mechanisms, to interfaces, to roles.
Some if you look inside an organization, some of the areas might like to be organized in a hierarchy where they find comfort in the structure, in the decision making, that’s there the culture and in the escalation routes and whatnot. And our other areas might like a variant of a flat organization with equality and all kinds of things that are in between. And I find it really interesting, in order to make sure that we have meaningful work, where we have a sense of belonging, that the leaders, that everybody encourages people to shape their own tiny part of the universe, to make sure that we have this tiny, tiny micro community in the organization that has their own traditions, their own jokes, their own Friday pictures that they send around, their own things that makes them them. And then understanding that over in finance, over in HR, over in product supply, over in primary care, whatever you do, they might do things differently, but we encourage people actually to make sure that they have a local solution to what they do. I think that is the approach to create places where people will like to show up it’s local, it’s fragmented and it’s a mess, but that’s the way forward. I honestly believe that.
How do you kind of see that working? I I’m with you. I see that as, as where we’re moving as a workplace as well, but I know organizations that currently have a very hierarchical structure and are very worried about, you know, connecting everyone to the same goals and mission. And how do you see that type of workplace working if you move to more of a flat organization or something in between where there’s not such a strong hierarchy?
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> first of all, I do believe that the idea of the flat organization has a scalability issue in it. I don’t think it scales upwards to very much more than 50, maybe 100 employees. The reason for that is when you work in a flat organization with very few leaders and maybe zero leaders where you make decisions together, the amount of time you invest in governance in consent, in change management, in social capital, in relationship building, is pretty immense, and it does not scale outwards. So when in these kind of organizations, where maybe we are 1000 employees, or maybe 10,000 employees there, I think you need some kind of modern bureaucracy to be the glue between pockets of progressive flat organizations, flat departments. So let’s say you have one department that is progressive up until 50 employees, and then you have some modern bureaucracy. That’s the glue to the next part. That’s then also maybe flat. So that is, you can call that a network of teams on network of flat structures. I very much believe that’s the way forward. So it’s a combination of the rigid, predictable structure and pockets of progressive the belonging. That’s how I see it.
Interesting. So it almost sounds like the administration and leadership are more of a service to support the individual teams than actually kind of dictating what they do on a day to day basis. Would that be accurate?
Very much so. Yeah those leaders who lean forward, they increasingly see themselves as either team coaches or ecosystem gardeners, where they take care of the interfaces between teams or they, they clean up if something breaks or they go to wizards for complex questions. So servants to the ecosystem one.
I love that.
Yeah. One of the leaders that I worked with, he actually said that going into this area where you have teams that are self-led, or that in the flat hierarchy, he saw his own role change from being from having a full calendar, going to meetings, actually having his calendar cleared up and having time to be present for his teams, for his employees in the ecosystem, being that gardener of the ecosystem. That was really amazing.
Wow. That sounds amazing. And it seems like it gives the opportunity for the staff and the teams to take on bigger roles and more responsibilities if they don’t have as big of a management structure over them that are taking care of all that
Yes. If they want to. Right. <Laugh> because there’s the trap of going into the area of self-leadership and just saying, Hey, I empower you. You can do everything you do. Here’s the money, here’s the time you just go do thing. And people might just be a deer in the headlights and say, oh, what the heck just happened there? I have not tried engaging with a vendor. I have not tried purchasing software for 100,000 us dollars. I have not tried whatever it is. So they might feel left out and untrained unskilled and not prepared for that kind of empowerment and understanding. How we can have the nuances, how we can support each other into going into that area is extremely vital. It’s a mistake. If you just empower people and then run away, you need to stay with them and have the nuances and the training to do so. It is uncomfortable to some people to have that full empowerment. <Laugh> I have seen it happen.
<Laugh> yeah, that’s a great point. And at some point you’re almost, you know, relegating your responsibilities as well, and not really supporting your team. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. The model that you’re referencing reminds me a lot of the model that is used by Buurtzorg, which we’ve referenced a few times in previous episodes, which is in the Netherlands, and they provide home healthcare through a series of locally managed teams, and then they have a central kind of support network. And it infrastructure, are you familiar with Buurtzorg and then are there other organizations that you would also kind of reference that are showing some success in this area?
Yeah, there’s a, there’s a number of high-quality cases that always keeps popping up Morningstar the, the tomato company and so, and Haier in China where they also work with micro enterprises in the big companies. So there are a number of well-documented cases. I actually believe that if I remember correctly that the very nice two gentlemen creating the organization, that’s called, ah, what’s the name? Corporate Rebels. They have made some nice videos on board on Haier group. And if you, if you put them in nice videos on YouTube where they explain how it actually works, great resources, highly, highly recommendable.
Great. Yeah. I love those resources as well. I’ll put some links in the show notes to some of those. So where do you see kind of the futures of work moving, Erik? What, what do you see maybe 10 years from now?
Hmm. Oh, first of all, kudos to you for using futures in plural futures of work <laugh> because that is actually what I see as a futurist. I have stopped making predictions because that’s actually not what we do as futurists. We have scenarios with likelihoods and working with them. I think one of the approaches is that we will see a multitude of different approaches to what work is. We are gonna see many futures, both as organization structures and insight businesses. I think that
A bit back to what we talked about, the great rethink, the great reshuffle, the great re whatever that is gonna pave the way forward for a multitude of differences. So what I see is that our local solutions inside the organizations are gonna have tremendous amount of diversity. And the approaches to work on a grander scale is gonna have a lot of diversity. I think that people who have a lot of feminine traits, a lot of feminine virtues, they’re gonna thrive because I have a sense that the likelihood of that kind of organization, where communication and collaboration, and generally understanding people and collaborating with people is gonna be of high value. And that is to some extent, tied into the feminine virtues. So that’s kind of the things that I see going forward. I also see, of course, a lot of technology paving their way forward. There’s been some talk about, for example, metaverse how that is gonna affect work. I’m bit on the fence on that one. I rather believe that augmented reality is gonna play a massive, massive role in what we do now. I don’t think you understand Danish. I’m a Dane.
<Laugh>, but you could have one of these sets of, of Google glasses where I could speak Danish and the Google classes could blitz to what I say, translate it directly and provide subtitles on the inside of the glasses. So you can read what I’m speaking, even if I’m speaking Arab or Farsi or whatever Indian language that I’m speaking. That’s an example of augmented reality. So technology’s gonna play a big role in augmenting our work, when it comes to collaboration and communication. That’s gonna be interesting.
I love that it could really be used to remove a lot of barriers.
If used properly.
Yeah. If used properly.
Yes. <Laugh>. How do you see these changes that are happening in the workplace kind of apply to the bigger changes and challenges we’re seeing in the world, you know global warming and we’re seeing a lot of inflation in the us right now, and just a lot of, kind of big interrelated, systemic issues that I feel like we need to address.
Yeah. I hope that the, these shifts and shocks that we are looking at right now encourage us to lean forward and move to organizations that try to solve these big problems. It could be green tech or clean tech companies. It could be healthcare. It could be organizations who only strive to save the planets. That is what I, that’s what I hope. I think there are tiny signals of this happening where people honestly start talk about sustainability in Denmark the university just launched a masters in sustainability leadership. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, and that is a signal of something that is changing. I do believe that this is all of these shocks that we have had with the financial crisis in 2000 and was 18, 19 20 with the C with the climate change, with the inflation, with the one, Ukraine is gonna be a kick in the butt to us to really get going, to really get ourselves together and solve these problems. I actually think I saw Bill Gates last week talking about, okay, this might hit us, or this is actually hurting right now, but this is this is the ignition that we need to get together to solve these big problems. That’s what I hope for.
I sure hope so. One of the things that I read recently from another futurist was she was talking about that COVID was essentially this shared trauma worldwide that we all went through and that the research shows like the 10 years following some type of trauma is a time of major change and shift. And I think that’s part of what we’re looking at with the, the great rethink and kind of revisiting how we work and how we operate in the world. What are your thoughts on that?
Hmm. I’m fully with her on that. All the things that we have been maybe discussing for 10 years, like self-leadership and the meaningful organization and the great rethink, it has been lurking. And that has not really been that you could say forced opportunity <laugh> to get it going where working from home and understanding how hybrid work and micromanagement need to be rethought. And all of that, that was, I think that’s the movement that that is starting to tip that this is actually going to happen. I hope so. That’s yeah, hope.
I hope so too. What are some practical things that employers who might be listening to this right now, CEOs and leaders, what are some practical things they can do to begin improving employee engagement and reducing some of the burnout that they’re seeing in the workplace and, and begin to kind of create a better work environment?
Hmm. So I, I think first of all to acknowledge that we might have a problem is number one, number two is to understand, do we actually wanna solve this? Do we actually wanna change what we do? Because the habitual we are used to doing stuff we need to change that. And then thirdly, to engage people, to talk to them, to say, oh, okay, what can we jointly do to make this a place where you wanna show up? What will it take to make, to create this kind of belonging, what kind of experiments should we have? What kind of things do you see? What kind of obvious experiments should we try out to make to create a shared learning of how we can do this and doing that forward? So the understanding of, or the acceptance that we might have a problem and engaging people to, to jointly solve that with them. I think that’s the way forward.
I love that. So not just trying to solve all the problems themselves, but by having those conversations with the people who work for them and engaging them in the, in the process. And you’ve mentioned a lot about creating belonging and connection in the workplace. And I do think that’s one area that’s really challenging right now. There’s a statistic out there that if people have a best friend at work, that they’re far more likely to stay with a company, and they’re also more likely to be engaged. So I think we need to find ways to increase that, especially with some people maybe doing the hybrid, you know, work from home, and we’re not always face to face. How do you see us being able to kind of increase that sense of belonging and connection within the workplace?
Oh, that’s a complex question. And I own first thing is a question with answers that are very different from Europe to UK, to US, to Canada, to Arab, to wherever we are. I think it boils down to, can we create relationships with each other? Can we be open? Can we be honest? Can we be ourselves? Can we invest in our mutual connection with each other? Do we, can we, and do we want to try doing that? Do we wanna be vulnerable and open? Can we create psychological safety amongst us? I think it is that willingness to understand each other, to understand who you are yourself and what you need us to also to learn, to be vocal about your own needs. What do I need when I go to work? How, what kind of, what kind of group thing or connection do I wanna have with you, Monica? What do we create together to make sure that we have that kind of culture, that conversation is needed? And that conversation is gonna be diverse and different from culture to culture. We need to think about that.
Yeah. That’s a great point. I like that you mentioned kind of vulnerability and creating that safety in, in the discussions, because that can be a pretty big shift for a lot of workplaces where it’s very competitive and almost cutthroat, and you’re not really allowed to bring your personal life and personal issues into the workplace. So for some of us, that could be a pretty major shift
Mm-Hmm yeah. One, one tiny trick that we try to use when we, when we work with people, instead of the very classical check-in question, when we start either on a scale from one to six, how are you right now? Or an open question. Like if you were to change jobs with somebody in here, whose job do you wanna have, or what’s your favorite band? That opens up to something that is not business, like not work connected, but the check-in question on scale from one to six has proven to be pretty powerful that people increasingly dare to say I’m not a five today. I’m only a two I’m low on energy, or I’m sad. So that is a tiny trick to get that conversation going.
I love that, cuz I feel like by answering those types of questions, we can begin to see the similarities between us and that we’re not so different and we can relate to others that we’re working with at a much deeper level than we might be if we just have real baseline conversations.
Mm, totally. Totally.
So where would you suggest that an organization kind of begin because this can seem a little bit overwhelming for leaders and CEOs. Who’ve kind of grown up in this traditional hierarchical model and they know they need to change, but they also don’t wanna create so much change that they disrupt their business and their finances and you know, they still need to operate. So how can they begin to kind of move into this space without too much disruption to the bottom line?
Yeah, that’s a very good point. And again, one that’s complex, so thank you.
I think that start solving one problem. Just one problem at a time one tension, one friction, one thing that is, that is nagging you solve that. And then once you’ve done that, take the next and the next and the next one thing at a time start where you are and then solve one, one problem at a time. I think that’s the, the best answer we can give. I think it’s getting inspired by other people by other organizations by hearsay and rumors getting a lot of inspiration and then trying to translate that into your own organization and say, oh, okay, that was odd. Can, can we do that? Where in our organization will that fit staying in that kind of imaginative area to say, okay, that self-led thing, could we do that in customer service? Could we do that in global finance?
Could we do that in with the GPS? Could we, could we, could we, and, and then say, okay, maybe, maybe we could do that in customer service. Let’s try, let’s try this one thing to make it well, to investigate if it works or not. So be bold when you dream and her around a lot of ideas and, and this can happen and be imaginative and then boil it down to one tiny thing that you try solve one problem and then learn and then start learning and learning and learning and learning and learning.
Great advice. I love that. Try to solve everything at once. So we had great conversation today. I’ve really enjoyed visiting with you again, what is one kind of key takeaway? You wanna make sure that our listeners take with them from our conversation?
Hmm. Play some more jazz.
That’s always the win <laugh>.
Yeah. But like, if we take that, not that literal, but move into business, play around with things. Try to improvise a bit, try to make a mistake and see what happens. Try to learn from the other people’s improvisation. Try to let loose of your strict predictability and go into the area of experimentation so that you learn stuff. The whole idea of improvisation is to discover new solutions. And we can only do that if we go into that area of, okay, we need to spot the anomalies, the things that are art, the things that makes us go Hmm. That was art. And see, can we play around with that? I think the improvisation part, I think that’s really, really important.
Good advice. Thank you. And if people want to connect with you kind of outside of the show there websites or social media, where should people look to learn more about you or connect with you?
I am the only one in the world called Erik Korsvik Ostergaard so I’m very easy to Google. <Laugh>. That’s great. The second one is LinkedIn. I’m active there and you can find me on a daily basis, either writing or commenting or chatting with people or on our website. GoodMorningApril.com, where you can find who we are and what we do, and maybe can inspire from what we write. So, yeah.
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us here today. I really appreciate it.
It was a pleasure. Thank you.
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