The Karlskrona Dialogues, the public outreach programme of the Masters of Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability programme at Blekinge Institute of Technology, was pleased to host the visit of Dr. Göran Carstedt, former executive at Volvo and IKEA, and Chair of The Natural Step International, on October 4, 2006. The public event took place in swedish to a full house and to much acclaim. An article about the event featured in the local press and is translated below.
During his visit to Karlskrona, masters students from the Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability programme engaged with Dr Carstedt to discuss leadership and aspects of organizational learning. Dr Carstedt shared his experiences at Volvo and IKEA and spoke of a new global reality that is beginning to emerge, and the need for a new way of thinking relevant to the times we live in.
For more information about other events in the series visit: www.bth.se/dialog
Click here for event flyer.
A new way of thinking is required!
By Inga-Lena Fischer, BLT newspaper, Karlskrona
6 October 2006
An October evening in Karlskrona. All of a sudden, it seems like everything of interest is happening all at once. I had at least four conflicts that night, but I chose to listen to Göran Carstedt as part of the Karlskrona Dialogues series of public lectures on sustainability. The event was organised by the Blekinge Institute of Technology and sponsored by the County Council of Blekinge, the Blekinge Business Incubator, The Natural Step, the Municipality of Karlskrona, the County Administrative Board of Blekinge, Region Blekinge.
Göran Carstedt knows how to captivate his audience and makes them reflect on the importance of good leadership, not only in the corporate sector but in a variety of arenas including family, friends and community. His broad range of business experiences from around the world, not least with Volvo and Ikea, certainly made many laugh out loud. For example, who doesn't recognize themselves in his story of the thirds? When a new boss is brought in, a third of employees is enthusiastic, a third is interested but cautious and the last third outright critical. The organization must accommodate all three groups and find appropriate ways of engaging them. Carstedt stressed the need to make space even for know-it-alls and sourpusses.
What matter is how we think. What kind of society do I want around me in the future? What do I need to reflect on and do to make it happen? A leader should not wonder "What is good for my organisation?", but "What is my organisation good for?" - "Who would miss us if we were to disappear?" Today, we tend to view society primarily mechanistically, like a machine made of many parts that should be pushed to their limits. We must not forget that all the parts must work together. You don't run out and get the world's best gearbox for your car only to discover that it doesn't fit in the car after all.
Therefore, we must think holistically - in terms of relationships and functions. You can drive a car or a machine, but try to drive your teenager! We must always keep all parts of a greater whole in mind, for example truth, ethics and aesthetics. We must strive to find equilibrium and meaning in all that we do. Carstedt used the example of ownership to illustrate this era's new thinking. If I have something in my hand, I own it. If I give it away, I lose it. But if it is an idea that I give away, the person I share it with may share another idea with me, and suddenly we both have two!
Through sharing, the right new ideas will provide a new source of power. And this new way of thinking can help replace our society's longstanding and misplaced overemphasis on consumption. Carstedt provided a series of examples of this new way of thinking: companies and organisations that reform themselves to function in communion with Nature. It's only all right to be seen as intellectually pessimistic, if one retains optimism in one's emotions and personal motivation. People do not dislike change, but they dislike being forced to change. The more people are pushed, the more they tend to resist.
We should probably remain optimistic when we go one step forward and two steps back. Yesterday, Volvo announced that it would reduce the production of its bi-fuel model, which also runs on natural gas, which lowers emissions.
Acknowledgement: translation by Antoine Belaieff ('07).