My reflection on the Deloitte HCM 2015 trend report: 1-The naked organization

I value the annual trend reports from Deloitte. It provides a good baseline for what is going on and should, as a minimum, also serve as a sanity check for each organisations HR agenda.

“This year, culture and engagement was rated the most important issue overall… HR leaders (needs) to gain a clear understanding of their organization’s culture and reexamine every HR and talent program as a way to better engage and empower people.” – Deloitte 2015

This increasingly important soft item is not new under the sun though. Job applicants increasingly search for values when applying for new jobs. If values are hard to find or does not makes sense, please ring the alarm bell!

I personally always seek the values of each company I am to meet, to see if there are any overlap and if so where. I also try to understand how values are lived in every ones daily life, if at all. Most of the time it’s just words. Values that makes sense on a corporate level are rarely interpreted on BU, group, project or individual level. “Who is my personal customer? How do I innovate, in my role? How do I secure it is a great place to work?” etc.

You rarely see public organization talk about living their organizational values either. Do they even have any? Unfortunately I personally start to doubt who is in charge to drive employee engagement overall. It’s at record low 13 %. What a waste …

The naked organisation represents the full transparency enabled by social media. Today you can’t fool anyone in the company. You really need to understand how you engage your people and what makes them prosper the limited time they get paid by you.

Some weeks ago I spoke with a top HR leader who recently finalized the implementation of a global Talent Management program. This type of project should represent some of the most exciting things one can work with in HR today in order to demonstrate business value. I asked about the business case and if they, after knowing what they know today, would change the structure of the original business case if they could go back in time. First she did not understand what I asked about. Then she claimed they where happy as they indeed had reduced the cost levels they had targeted. Cost, cost, cost … if anything a talent management program should not be cost driven, it should be capability driven, performance driven, revenue driven… I sighed.  How about finding out employees passion indicator – like we did when I worked for HCL – and remove all the barriers to be totally engaged at work? Maybe you recruit and promote people with the wrong mindset but the right formal qualifications?

“Every program in HR must address issues of culture and engagement: how we lead, how we manage, how we develop, and how we inspire people. Without strong engagement and a positive, meaningful work environment, people will disengage and look elsewhere for work.” – Deloitte 2015

Later in report it also made very clear that one should not link talent management and performance management to compensation. The Bell Curve is dead etc. However we all know there is a linkage –  from a process perspective with a role based organizational structure – one should be compensated for what is being achieved irrelevant of when it is done. Time capture per role must be done and managed and calculated with flexibility. This is a time consuming mess in Retail and in Health Care business…

Said that it is obvious that whatever HR should be focusing on, core HR – such as payroll, time management, travel management, pension & benefits, sick leave, local compliance & reporting – is not on that list. It’s assumed to be working.

Let us do that work! The overall mission for Zalaris – my current employer – is to help our clients maximize the value of their human capital through excellence in HR processes. We focus on core HR operation excellency so that our clients can transform their HR organisation to do whatever Deloitte says they should focus on.  Transactional HR and payroll is our core business, including legal compliance reports and statistics. It’s not a support function. We live and die by it.

It’s unlikely that HR of today –  living in a bubble of cost – will get MORE money to do what is expected of them, is it? Bottom line you need to find a self-funded HR transformation approach where you reduce cost + invest + build new capabilities at the same time to perform better overall.

It is far easier today to do Business Process Outsourcing of compliance and control (e.g. Core HR) in the private sector. However, if any sector, this should be paramount in the public sector as well. Still the public tenders are focusing on extending existing capabilities, not dramatically changing them, where lower bidder wins and where there is no room to strategically discuss how to  lower cost + invest + create new capabilities to be able to provide a new services to the society. The future or of the disengaged professionals paid by the state is dystopic.

It’s a suitable and feasible agenda Deloitte outlines. However it faces organisational inertia and hence has a low internal doability. HR still has low priority, is cost driven and HR themselves seriously need to work with their self perception. One indicator is to look at the high turnaround of HR executives around you. Why is that?

In a global services business  HR should be the place to be. It is still not that sexy.

Recommend to read the full report from Deloitte at

Please comment or reach out for a 1:1 to discuss Core Operational HR vs Strategic HR

Sven Hultin – Business Development Director at Zalaris, Sweden

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment

HR adds business value by being disruptive, not legal

I have a confession. Like Mintzberg, I love organisational challenges and finding ways for them to do whatever they are supposed to do better. I always believed it was HR or the Human Capital Management (roles) that owned this subject. They rarely do. Sofar. If you search for innovative HR you find very few, if any, exciting role models or individuals. You often see the CEOs facing the stockmarkets explaining the do’s and do not’s in turnaround situations, but seldom the HR leaders behind them. Why is that? For us who have survived major transformations or have driven them in larger than SME sized companies knows success comes down to having some profound capabilities and raw data in the HR domain. HR still remain invisible in the shadows why its reputation could be improved.

“Innovation drives economic growth”– Schumpeter

Can HR drive economic growth from only being being legal? Not really, if you ask me.  HR transactions such as payroll, compliance reporting, time management, reconciliation will never be a core capability, unless payroll and compliance reporting is how you make money as a company and live and die by it, like Zalaris, where I work, where it is part of our unique multi-country payroll based value proposition. Together we can bridge or enable HR to move its current overall reputation from legal compliance to drive business value and innovation.

0 being legal

For everyone else, just being legal will “never” be a core skill in itself. Critical? Yes. Hygiene? Yes. Nice to retain inhouse? Yes. Complex as hell? Yes. It will never really be a core activity, unless you are a lawyer.

My intention is not to be arrogant but to make a provocative point. Transactional HR  is an undervalued piece of art that simply must work, yes, but it is not a core process unless this is the way you make money.

What should HR do then if transactional HR is not core?

The answer is painfully simple. HR should focus on non-transactional HR. It all comes down to driving innovation; to enable business innovation; to continually build an agile business culture;  to drive organisation transformation and change projects, non stop, to stay competitive. To do that you need professionals who understand HR dynamics; who have access to the data enabling the right decision making; who understands the business; who also have the trust and respect from the business folks and who can drive change.  If you are in the process of driving ESS / MSS via a high responsive internal portal covering everything in the employment relationship life cycle to whatever you include in your  concept of talent management. You will need to change the behavior, roles and responsibilities of the staff and leaders, the HR related policies in the organisation supported by a culture that buys into this new behavior. If you lack this change mentality or skills, which is a critical skill, you  need to find an external ally. Many HR organisation lack this capability today. Driving change, in my world, should be more critical to retain in house than say payroll.

I recently shared an article the other day on HR innovation:

 “Despite great recognition for human resources (HR) as a source of value addition within firms, HR innovation remains poorly understood.” – by  Amarakoon, Weerawardena and Verreynne.

Why is it that HR still remain in the shadows? It should shift focus from legal to innovation and demonstrate business value. There are many HR roles and stakes in the processes of business innovation, business modeling and business transformation.

What is innovation? How does it link to HR?

“An ‘innovation’ is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.” – Oslo Manual

I  am unclear on the original source of this definition as it appears all over the place. Nevertheless, you can be very successful from innovating on something that already exists rather than inventing something entirely new, by introducing a new way of working,  a new method of production; a new way of sourcing skills & resources and new ways of making money. I my world it’s called business modeling. Every start-up work with this approach. HR should embrace it. It should be a mandatory skill by all the leaders in an organisation. How to fill logical holes in processes or fill unsatisfied needs in a disruptive and or pro-active way?

“Sustained competitive advantage comes from innovating how we innovate.  That’s the essence of real innovation.” – Sören Kaplan

If we had something like disruptive HR that would be innovating how HR actually innovate, what would it take and what would it look like?

Innovation is mostly the result of a painful process triggered by an idea

“Innovation comes from hunger…You can’t innovate for the sake of innovation. It has to be genuine, not phony or insincere. It has to come from a good place with higher purpose. The most innovative ideas come from hiring really smart people and challenging them, not coddling them. If you do the opposite of everything you’ve heard, you will be innovative. If you don’t inovate you might become irrelevant” – Vivek Ranadivé

The view on innovation should at least be commented by most of companies in their value statements where HR has a key role to build its supporting culture with some success criteria for how this process should look like these days:

  1. Co-create with your customers
  2. Create a superior experience
  3. Master the service design
  4. Seek profit with a purpose
  5. Build an innovation network

The innovation is a process result from an idea that via an unclear path takes you to there and the organisation needs to allow people to live and prosper in that process and create the context for it:

  1. To analyse the market environment, your customers wants and needs and competitors. Be open to new ideas and adaptive to change. Given your business model, what’s the problem or opportunity at stake? What are the exposures or window opportunities? How can you be agile enough?
  2. To develop a strategic responsive plan which includes innovation as a key business process across the entire business.
  3. To show leadership in innovation. Train and empower employees to think innovatively from the top down. Inspirational leadership and motivation is what drives innovation in business.
  4. To connect with customers and employees to generate ideas for improving processes, products and services both internally and externally.
  5. Seek advice. Utilise available resources, business advisors, grants and assistance to drive innovation in your business. This may include seeking Intellectual Property (IP) protection for commercialisation of ideas.

HR has an imperative role in business modeling

The best toolbox or approach to this I have seen is the crowdsourced content and design of the book “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalded. If HR ever was keen to drive innovation in the organisation with the business folks, this should be a mandatory reading and a tool box for everyone. I was not paid to say this, but using the business model generation canvas is a very easy way to discuss and find out how and why and where you make money and with whom and what’s core and what’s not. If you don’t iteratively understand how you do and will make money you will be lost. Once you have done this mapping you will soon understand that transactional HR is not really the place to be or critically retain unless it is your core business as well. It’s still a piece of art, but it is not core.


business model canvas

HR must create a culture that encourages, recognizes and rewards skills on a regular basis – skills needed for organizations wanting to innovate, by cultivating them  and building the value network as outlined in the busines modeling . HR must  understand this to allocate the learning fundings on what matters in a more structured way. Ask yourself how much learning funding is tied to building key capabilities, supported by key facts and informed decision making. HR needs to understand what skills & capabilities to build, update, divest and/or strenghten. HR needs to cultivate aspired relevant skills and relevant behavior in the company and be in control of what is becoming obsolete around the corner, to tactically do what if sessions as well as strategic workforce (risk) planning instead of facing fait accomplit.

Below a typical list of behaviors needed in the innovative enterprise from @HRBartender. There are many lists available so make sure you create one that is relevant for your business model and your challenges, at least discuss it and document your point of view.

  1. Self-management: people need to know how they enjoy learning. Part of self-management is understanding the best way to learn a new skill
  2. Curation: being able to sift through mountains of data and information. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, shutting down the innovation process. Curation helps us find the right information to enhance the process.
  3. Decision making: Good decisions using information gathered. Difference between individual and group
  4. Empathy: Innovation is about change. Successful innovation means understanding the change being created. Demonstrating empathy and putting yourself in the shoes of the people affected is crucial.
  5. Leadership: The ability to influence others. Innovation is all about leadership. Influencing others to believe in the new idea or concept. Influencing others to support the new idea. And influencing others to adopt the new concept.
  6. Problem solving: Ability to work through challenges. Good problem solving > good decisions
  7. Project management: Make sure an idea or concept is brought to reality on time, within budget, and to quality specifications. Every innovation needs that.
  8. Systems thinking: Innovation cannot be accomplished in a silo. It enables understanding how things are connected and related. Know how that new idea fits into – or disrupts – the system.
  9. Verbal communication: Being able to articulate new ideas. Creating buy-in for new concepts. Leading a group through the innovation process takes excellent verbal communication skills.
  10. Written communication: This aligns with project management. Any team focused on innovation will want to keep notes about how a new idea started, took shape, and was ultimately implemented.

Let’s look at an employee life cycle that defines how HR can spend their time

This is my personal illustration what happens in a year or until an individual change jobs. You enter from the left in a new role or as newly recruited. You exit with same role, promoted, leave at your own will or sacked.

There are many HR discplines involved to enable an innovative culture. Being legal and fixing the basics are not any of them – critical yes, hygiene yes, nice to have in the house, yes – but never really a core activity, again, unless it’s how you make money.

employee value chain

Now, the dirty secret to all these fancy but core capabilities above are based on having access to some very basic people data, not only HR master data, that is generated and in the transactional HR data domain, including organisational structure data with profiles, capabilities, aptitudes, performance track record, ambitions,  compensation track record, employee survey trends, relevant updated and confirmed skills assessment, relevant time stamps on everything but also a record of dashboards related to the state of the organisation to be able to analyse and understand what these data means in a business context and being able to communicate it in a trusted relationship with the business and  having the guts to have informed opinion from an HR point of view fo what is best for the business and explaining how to drive change to realize the expected benefits and take ownership of these recommendations. Wow ! That’s a lot of stuff to do here!

HR data will advance the ability to analyze and predict with even greater assurance and insight – in addition to supporting implementation of corrective measures. Portal-based dashboards provide relevant HR-focused metrics to all designated stakeholders in your organization, giving your management team a comprehensive perspective at all times.

Said that, paying the correct salaries in a timely manner, reporting on compliance needs, and making sure people get the right reimbursement, have sick leave compensation etcetera are all very critical and important activities that should be performed in a high qualitive way with  high responsiveness according to best practise, with the highest integrity and quality. It will prevent the company from having legal situations and conflicts with the union but it will never create business value, from HR. Being legal will not be enough to drive innovation and sustain a competitive edge to survive as a company or attract future employees.

HR should drive employee engagement

You will never have an innovative environment with disengaged employees. There is a common fact that only 30 % of all employees are engaged at work. How can we make sure HR drive that figure above average, best in industry, get the best rewards, best customer service, most innovative xx….? You don’t drive engagement by fixing the basics. You sell a dream of doing something motivating and provide the space to perform this without micro management. Salary is not a motivator. Passion is. Salary is a demotivator if you don’t get enough compensation. You drive and understand passion in the non-transactional domain.

My view, it’s never been as exciting to be in HR as now. It is time for HR to step up. This is why I joined Zalaris as in Zalaris all those basic but extremely difficult transactional activities are core and performed with operational excellency complemented with the ability to create the information foundation upon which HR and business together can drive innovation and drive continuous change within HR.

Key points

  • Transactional HR is not core but still very critical for success in non-transactional HR
  • Build real transformation skills and business modeling insights in the HR population
  • Don’t underestimate the challenge with disengaged employees. Everything above is based on the assumption someone wants to work with  you in the first place. Try understand what gamification can do for your workforce. Don’t say “Oh no, here we go with another buzzword … ” if so, check up “behavioral economics in HR”
  • Timing is great for disruptive HR to  step out of the shadows and demonstrate business value in business innovation. Show thyself or run the risk of becoming irrelevant!

Just a strictly personal reflection. Comments?

Sven Hultin

Zalaris is a leading Nordic provider of innovative and cost effective HR Outsourcing (HRO), HR Technology and HR Consulting services to large Nordic and international customers. Our smartHR solution powered by SAP HR includes a full service range of comprehensive personnel administrative processes including payroll, employee help desk, talent management and analytics.

As SAP BPO Partner, Zalaris implement best practice SAP HR web supported cross border business processes that result in tangible business results for our customers, including reduced and variable costs and the ability to focus on strategic HR.

Zalaris delivers services from local language service centers in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and India.

Our mission is to mission is to help our clients maximize the value of their human capital through excellence in HR processes. We focus on large organizations with headquarter in Northern Europe. We are the leading expertise supporting the HR function and implementing SAP HCM SuccessFactors based solutions.







Posted in Innovation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jag älskar nördar

Jag inser att jag mer och mer älskar nördar; personer som snöat in på ett område och blivit riktigt bra på det. De behöver inte vara bäst (dvs 10,000 timmar) men de skall vara kompetenta+ GILLA det + vara passionerade + stolta . Tror att själva yrkesstoltheten, glädjen och hantverksskickligheten i kombination är ett måste. Sedan spelar det ingen roll om man är murare, säljare, spelar tvärflöjt, kan segeltrimning, är revisor … Det är väl därför TED och Big Bang Theory är så poppis. Jag är inte ensam om detta. Men även du och jag kan bli / är nördar.

Vi hade en galen konduktör på Roslagsbanan mellan Näspybark och Teknis ett par år som var SLs motsvarighet till Plex Pettersson. Han var totalt oförutsägbar, delade ut godis, berättade skämt, refererade om resan (“Nu slår vi Åkersberga tåget med 5 min”.) En regnig helt jävlig fredagseftermiddag kunde förvandlas till en glad avrundning på en vecka.

Jag tyckte själv att jag var på god väg att bli något av nörd inom eld/brasa segmentet tills vi hade Skorstensinpektören på besök i veckan, en ung kille som talade extremt tydligt som om farbror Sven var döv, på sin tydligaste Österlensskånska, medan han luktade och granskade våra pipor. Jag insåg efter ett tag att jag var en novis inom området. Som en CSI Danderyd pillade han på aska och sot och berättade med Dr House övertydlighet att jag varit nära en skorstensbrand då och då … temperatur si och så … vår kasett var tydligen en “unik” så kallad “3D” KEDDDY kasett (+ skröna) … effekt förlust 2-3 kW … osv … jag var hänförd … bla bla … kan jag få din autograf ….

“Är du från Fobbikahueland” frågade Rebecca med en dyrkan i rösten ty jag har varit noga med att föra arvet från den skånska myllan vidare.

Då släppte det för Jocke, som han hette. Det som varit en formell inspektion på riksskånska förvandlades till en Eldpredikan av Edward Persson och där stod jag med en ny idol; bredvid Zlatan i fotboll, JanB Jan Bengtson i tvärflöjt, Björn Österberg i segling… hamnade Jocke i divisionen ELD. Veckans höjdare!

Man skall inte underskatta nördars betydelse. Vi behöver föredöme , de behöver inte vara BÄST, men de måste nog vara närvarande i och ödmjuka med sitt hantverk. Min pappa i USA var/är en sådan när det gäller motorer. Allt han tar i börjar brumma…

Själv försöker jag bli en nörd inom korta jobb och affärsmodellering just nu. För att lyckas med nya modeller för t.ex. en start-up måste man vara extremt nördig, på gränsen till tråkig, tills man plötsligt når tipping point.

Igår kväll hade vi en extremt udda bokning på yobeeda och vi hittade människor som verkligen ville och kunde hjälpa till med något som många andra inte skulle vilja ta i. Det var en extremt häftig upplevelse. Jag fick nästan rysningar.

Väck entreprenören i dig och låt mig hänföras! Det går inte att fejka passion. “Det behöver inte ta mer än 10-11 månader för dig att bli expert på en tjänsteprocess idag” sa den gode Peter Gustafsson till mig i våras. Extremt provokativt men just nu idag stämmer det nog. Tyvärr. Det som krävs är genuin passion och nördigt fokus.

CSI Danderyd hade passion. Jag tror att dottern hade kunnat fly med honom om hon varit äldre.

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment

Varför används inte ordet “ety” längre?

Varför använder ingen ordet “ety” längre?

Tror vi hade fått ett bättre samhälle om vi använde krångliga ord som ingen förstår i stället för att slåss. På derbyläktarn kunde man istället för bruset av bengaliska eldar höra något energikrävande i stil med:

“Mål till Bajen? Yttermera visso! Djurgårn skalda i aggresivismo.”

Varpå en självgenererande debatt med ännu mer komplexa ord följer för att ömsesidigt förklara ordutväxlingen.
– Pondera ni på den!
– Vafalls?!!

Det viktiga är fortfarande inte att vinna. Det viktiga är att tala utfyllnadssvenska. Att prata med varandra öht. Det viktiga är inte att säga något. Det viktiga är nog att prata. Alla kan prata. Alla kan inte slåss. Men krångliga ord tvingar fram eftertanke. Som en first hand shooter tvingas jag hålla på hanen.

Ety bokstäver är vackrare än blåmärke.

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment

Varför används inte ordet “ety” längre?

Varför använder ingen ordet “ety” längre?

Tror vi hade fått ett bättre samhälle om vi använde krångliga ord som ingen förstår i stället för att slåss. På derbyläktarn kunde man istället för bruset av bengaliska eldar höra något energikrävande i stil med:

“Mål till Bajen? Yttermera visso! Djurgårn skalda i aggresivismo.”

Varpå en självgenererande debatt med ännu mer komplexa ord följer för att ömsesidigt förklara ordutväxlingen.
– Pondera ni på den!
– Vafalls?!!

Det viktiga är fortfarande inte att vinna. Det viktiga är att tala utfyllnadssvenska. Att prata med varandra öht. Det viktiga är inte att säga något. Det viktiga är nog att prata. Alla kan prata. Alla kan inte slåss. Men krångliga ord tvingar fram eftertanke. Som en first hand shooter tvingas jag hålla på hanen.

Ety bokstäver är vackrare än blåmärke.

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment

How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2-Minute Rule”

“Skjuter jag upp nåt, så skjuter jag upp till imorgon”

Jag tänker alltid på Mats Anders låt “Raketvisa” när jag möter folk som inte får saker och ting ur händerna. Ibland är detta självklart jag själv och då blir jag ännu mer irriterad… men så nynnar jag refrängen med ett självbelåtet leende:

“Skjuter jag upp nåt , så skjuter jag upp till imorgon” – genialiskt Mats!

För den som inte gillar instruktioner via gitarrballader med knepiga ackordövergångar rekommenderas den samlade erfarenheten i “How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2-Minute Rule””. Praktiskt och hands on för alla lata tonåringar och andra planetmedborgare med bägge fötterna på jorden, dvs alla som står stilla och pruttar i sin lokala mylla.

Likt multiplikatoreffeken i ekonomin kanske vi kan skapa underverk tillsammans om vi får alla dammiga och viktiga bollar i rullning ? Vem vet? Det är ju valår! Kanske något parti tar det som slogan?

“Fråga inte vad ditt land kan göra för dig. Stop procastrinate!” 

Eller något. Typ. Ba. Finns det något bra kraftord på svenska för procastrinate?

Fast man måste ju avsluta jobbet också. Det är en dock annan disciplin. Man får dock det beteende man mäter. Heisenbergs osäkerhetsprincip i vardagen? 

I Milano på en av flygplatserna såg jag dock ett dåligt exempel på 2 minute rule men inget fokus på avslut. De hade kvalitetsmålet “Första bagaget på bandet inom x minuter.”

Det hade ju varit bättre med “sista bagaget på bandet inom y minuter” . Väl?

Ha en bra dag! Idag alltså, Skjut inte upp det till imorgon.

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment

Today is World Story Telling Day – so for most of us, shut up!

The great idea for this formal recognition day originates from Sweden 1991.

Storytelling, however, has always made us human and hence has been around for some time.

My personal reflection is that better food, longer life span and the art of communicating without throwing rocks at each other provided Cro Magnon with that social knowledge management based comparative advantage that enabled them to beat the Neanderthals. Who knows? It sounds like a good plot though? If you pay, I can write the script?

By the way, we Swedes don’t get another six weeks of vacation or parental leave because of this. We do have a work to go to you know (even if all Americans wonder) being one of the top 4 innovative countries in the world.

There is a lot of buzz around story telling these days and picked leaders from top executives to foot soldiers are sent away to expensive off site meetings to become better in oral communication – oh, not only top executives, everyone should tell stories!

I really like the idea of storytelling but I do have a problem with this: not everyone CAN tell a story.

Many top executives (leaders) I met are real assholes and it’s really not genuine when they bring along a fabricated ghost written story about a cat that was run over on their way to work which made them think of their “grandma who had a cat and the major memories she had of the cat was putting out the milk saucer every morning and you know what, the same day that the cat was squashed the saucer broke (sigh!), which made me realize that our sales pipeline that sucks and is related to ….” Storytelling must be genuine.

There are many opinions about the Iron Lady. I love one quote.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that. And I think I am fine”.

Words are important. They reflect your thoughts and form the culture around you. It is sad that the art of building strong company cultures is taken so lightly but it starts indeed with the words or the company story that attracts the people working in it. Ask around today for top ten recent anecdotes/discussions of the company that are not related to financial success, downsizing, an idiot decision etc.! Are they inspiring you to a heroic act? If your contribution does not create order or inspiration it is far better to shut up. Why gossip? Sometimes silence is way more powerful than words.

I have had different sales / client facing roles for my entire career with a lot of focus on business development, pipeline management and creating what we call value propositions for complex deals (here, in IT industry). It’s a pretty lonely and bi-polar role. When things are great you are a hero and you will suddenly realize there are many around you for a while. For most of the time people have no clue what you are doing and rather look at you as a waste of skin. It takes a lot of effort and time to go from a cluster of white space clients to a refined list of defined opportunities. The early stages of the cycle cost a lot of money and cannot really be outsourced. It’s like all the early trappers that was eaten by bears or killed by natives, or missionaries for god knows which religion that was killed in their quest building the first temple of worship: Ungrateful endurance by people no one will ever remember.

My role is one of those.

The biggest dopamine kick comes twice, when closing the deal and when getting the bonus. Rest of the time is a constant battle against the elements of the industry. Now the inspiring words in our industry are primarily focused around the deal closure. The closer you get to a qualified opportunity the more stakeholders you attract, like flies around shit. The rest of the time the stories around you are normally not very inspiring. I personally get a monotone constant kick from the daily challenge and battle against time and logic with prospective clients to understand what they really need. My untold stories are my way of reasoning.

Looking back, the majority of the meant-to-be-inspiring cat stories came from pipeline reviews, questioning and beating up on actuals, not on the heroic acts or role modeling. Top executives are bound to be on top of very deal signed. It’s inevitable. I was on a sales ceremony once where the top executives got more medals on their chest than anyone else. Awkward. Even that symbolic act failed.

Once I told another top executive I reported to, after an hour of patronizing me, to actually tell me one positive or inspiring thing about that particular meeting. He was stunned. “What do you mean?” “Well, you have not told me anything I already did not know. You personally pushed for this agenda. As a global leader you must inspire some energy into the people around you. Even if we failed this tactical mission we both need to get back into the cross fire again. Without your mental support, how fun is that from my side when you fly back to XX? What is the story of this company actually besides <add any financial metric>?” Puzzled, he squeezed out something positive and generic:

My point is that Story TELLING is extremely important but the story DOING is way more important and relevant for most of us as we all can indeed influence that with integrity and professional dignity.

At Chalmers University of technology, our director Henrik Nittmar of the “Spex Gutenberg” (a major student amateur show), instilled the vision for our year:

“We are not to tell stories. We are going to create stories”. Great inspiration & quote!

Actions comes after words, but actions can be done by everyone and the way we chose to do these actions create the atmosphere around us, in the book about our individual life. So don’t fret if you can’t story tell. Shut up. Do instead. Daretozlatan and stop take crap elaborations (like this, if you think I am off target).

PS Always remember that EVERYONE you meet has a story to tell, especially old people.

Posted in Brainstorming | 1 Comment

Gary Hamel on reinventing management for the 21st century

Looking back to all good content I captured via twitter the last years I identified a handful of entries that was more compelling than others. This is a very graphical pitch by Gary Hamel on the big numbers related to the exponential changes impacting management of you, me, organisations and nations right now.

Posted in Brainstorming | Leave a comment