December 09, 2014

The ugly duckling

The ugly duckling is one of the greatest and most beloved fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. It is a wonderful story of a little bird that matures into a beautiful swan, a story about personal transformation. This includes the process of of disovering one's own values, listening to one's inner voice, listening to what one feels, finding one's own path of happiness in life, and developing / creating one's own personality.

A key topic in the story is also the seeking of acceptance / recognition / love from others that one lives among. I read here that the duckling is born in an environment in which
1. the duckling finds that is is different than the others: It does not look like the others, it does not behave like the others, and it does not think like the others.
2. the duckling is confronted with other animals who have little social competence. The duckling is not appreciated by the others and not wanted by the others. Through various signals / messages, it is eventually pushed out / ejected by the others - directly and/or indirectly.

I read on the English Wikipedia that when the critic Georg Brandes asked H.C. Andersen about whether he could write his autobiography, Mr. Andersen replied that it had already been written - The ugly duckling

December 07, 2014

Some great songs by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre

Three of of my favorite songs by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre:

December 04, 2014


Some quotes that I have found useful. What quotes would you add?

October 23, 2014


Buurtzorg (“neighborhood care”) is an innovative approach in the Netherlands which was set up to deliver home care to all kinds of patients. Compared with traditional nursing organizations in the Netherlands, Buurtzorg’s patients heal faster, require only half the amount of care, experience one-third fewer emergency hospital admissions, and have shorter average stays when they are hospitalized. Here are some inputs on how the nurses do it:
  • Teams of nurses consist of maximum 12 nurses.
  • There is no management structure and no hierarchy.
  • Teams are responsible for patients and have the autonomy to deliver the best possible care.
  • Patients are able to develop a relationship with 1 nurse over time. 
  • The nurse also acts as a coach and navigator for the patient and family - helping them find the most relevant and innovative solutions to receiving the care they need.
  • Patients are able to get the care they need where they most want it.
  • The personalized attention and team approach allow patients to stay in their homes and communities as long as possible - thereby avoiding more costly institutional care.
  • Teams correct things themselves when productivity drops.
  • Nurses are encouraged to build expertise in areas that most interest them.
  • All nurses are able to identify and access experts through the organization’s intranet.
  • Coaches are available when specific problems arise. The coaches may suggest solutions that other teams have used, but they have no power to impose these solutions.

October 16, 2014

Examples of dairy industry innovations

Watching this video I learned about the Rosa Brothers Milk Company, a company that have innovated quite significantly across the dairy business supply chain system. At Rosa Brothers Milk Company, milk is processed at the farm and packaged in refillable glass bottles. The milk is then distributed to and sold at farmers' markets / stores / cafes / coffee shops / grocery outlets etc.

At Stadtmilch I learned that milk is processed directly on the farm Längimoos in Rüschlikon near Zürich. I also found out that milk is then distributed to and sold in glass bottles at Tritt-Käse in Markthalle, and that customers do some of the work themselves by filling glass bottles with milk from a machine. To see how it works, watch the short video below.

October 14, 2014

What ideas do you have to make change happen?

There’s some great sharing of ideas going on across many different social media / crowdsourcing platforms / brainstorming tools as well as in many different meetings / seminars / workshops. The book / report embedded below centers on what we can do better to make the great ideas, that are shared across these and other fora, happen — and thereby create even more value for more people.


October 10, 2014

What is good leadership?

What do you think about when you hear the question “What is good leadership?” When you think about situations in your life during which you have experienced good leadership, what comes into your mind? What happened in those situations? Who did what? How was it done? Why was it done?


October 08, 2014

Learning strategies

How do you like to learn? When you think about a time and place when / where you learned something really well, when and where was that? What were you doing?


October 07, 2014

What do you do when you want to listen well?

When you listen well to a person, what exactly do you do? And what do you not do? What does it mean to really listen well? In situations during which you listened well or experienced that the person listening to you listened well, what was characteristic of the way you and/or others listened? When you reflect upon the way you listened to someone today, what did you well, and what do you think you could do better to become an even better listener?


October 01, 2014

Bicycle friendly cities

Some ideas for cities that want to become more bicycle friendly. What would you add?

September 29, 2014

Rebuilding the Western part of Aarhus in Denmark

As I was in Denmark this Summer visiting my mother, I took the opportunity to visit the Western part of Aarhus, a part of the city that is undergoing significant transformation. Due to my interest in innovating work and living environments, I found it interesting to observe some of the changes going on in the area which will contribute to improving the lives of people. While I was there, I made the 1 minute video embedded below. To know more about the rebuilding work that is going on in the area, have a look at Helhedsplan Gellerup.


September 25, 2014

Six thinking hats

What about trying something new for your next meeting: Here's the six thinking hats method, a creative thinking exercise during which people think creatively together. In other words, we put the "argument culture" on hold, during which people discuss until people are so tired that someone wins - and the other part, yes you guessed it right, loses. The method can be used in a variety of settings, I have experienced. Try it, for example, at home with your family. Also, try it in a business setting with people, you work with, for example customers, supplier partners, and/or co-workers. Or try it with neighbours as you work on developing / renewing / innovating work and living environments in the neighbourhood. And for politicans, why not try it in parliament? Just try it.


September 16, 2014

How useful is multitasking?

Reading this interesting posting by Clay Shirky I noticed, for example, this part: "People often start multi-tasking because they believe it will help them get more done. Those gains never materialize; instead, efficiency is degraded." Reading the book Visible learning and the science of how we learn I learned something similar: At location 2500, for example, I read that the human mind is unable to genuinely focus on 2 activities at once. The moment you remove your attention from a task, you can expect no meaningful learning or skill development to take place. In other words, to learn well, we need to stop multitasking.

That people stop multitasking may not be realistic, however. And via this tweet I learned that in Chongqing, China's first “exclusive sidewalk for mobile phone users" has been introduced. At first, I was a little shocked about this initiative. However, after reflecting on the idea, I would think that it is not far out after all. And watching the video below, which is somewhat on the humorous side, one does, I think, get the idea that a new need may be on the rise ;-)

September 15, 2014

Great examples from Africa about innovation in farming

These 2 examples are among the innovations mentioned In the video embedded below that reduce food loss:
# 1: Lower quality peanuts are used to make soap.
# 2: Spoiled fruits are processed into juice.

September 09, 2014

Ideas for hospitals

An update to a report / e-book with ideas for hospitals.

August 28, 2014

Coffee and values

Via Isabella Lo, I came across this interesting 2 minute video with Tony Conrad brewing coffee. Being a coffee lover myself and - for some time - also fascinated by and how the website helps people to, for example, learn about and connect with other people, I almost instantly found the video inspiring.

Being interested in discovering values people have I had a look at, for example, Tony Conrad's collections. I noticed that he is inspired by many different topics / areas. Tony Conrad's collections represent a large variety of interests - ranging from founders over chefs and fashionistas to musicians, farmers, architects and interior designers Reflecting on 1) the relatively strong variation in interests of Tony Conrad, 2) that he has lived in such diverse places as New York, New Delhi, Jakarta, Chicago, Paris and San Francisco, 3) that he has done a lot of different things in his life - including working operationally, for example as a yogurt merchandiser, 4) that the colours on the painting in the room where he's brewing coffee are relatively varied, and 5) that Tony Conrad has been involved with / invested in several different companies with different purposes, I would think that values such as variation / diversity / creativity / experimentation / learning would be among one group of Tony Conrad's values.

As Tony Conrad - in the coffee brewing video - talks about coffee being a metaphor for, for example, "let's get together, let's talk, let's slow down and have a moment for ourselves", I couldn't help think about the possibilities you have on for sending a reply to a compliment you receive on the platform. For example, there's the possibility to simply reply "Thanks". There are also other reply possibilities such as "Thanks, I'd love to bounce an idea off of you" or "Thanks, I'd love to meet for coffee". Reflecting on 1) the coffee metaphors that Tony Conrad shares with us, 2) the connecting possibilities on the platform, 3) that Tony Conrad likes to laugh with others, 4) that he sees life as a contact sport, and 5) that Tony Conrad grew up in a small Indiana farming community, it struck me that another group of Tony Conrad's values would be values such as togetherness / friendship / community.
A little more about coffee:
Just about a month ago, I visited Hamburg. Being curious about how people, who live in Hamburg, are changing the way they get from a to b I also came across Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei, a quite unique place - at the impressive harbour in Hamburg - where coffee is roasted, brewed, and served. Visiting the coffee house, I not only tasted splendid coffee; I also learned a lot about coffee while I was there, for example where coffee is grown and how coffee is roasted. In addition, I learned at this coffee house - and  later on also over at Blue Bottle Coffee - that there are many different ways of preparing coffee. Reflecting on the different types of coffee, that exists, and the different ways coffee can be prepared, I developed even more understanding that determining what good coffee is is a highly personal matter - as I also read here

Being excited about the coffee quality and the unique experience of visiting Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei, I did this 1 minute video while I was there:

August 23, 2014

Event about city development in Zürich

The other day, I participated at this event initiated by nextzürich. Watching the movie the human scale at the start of the event, I learned, for example, that to rebuild the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, more than 100,000 ideas were developed by citizens. Watching the film, I also learned that, in New York, USA, ideas on city development were continuously tried out / tested. By testing / trying out ideas, one could, for example, find out how life in the city changes. Among other advantages of continuously testing / trying out ideas that people have developed for certain parts of the city, I come to think, for example, of the positive influence it has on the motivation of citizens: People experience - first hand - that their voices are being heard, that their ideas are taken seriously. They see the result of their creative work. Innovation is happening.

The moderated discussion after the film was interesting, I found. Reflecting on what was said, I recall, for example, that Frank Argast talked about that city development is not just about development of the inner part of a city / the centre of a city. It is not least about developing the outskirts of a city. During the discussion, I noted, also, an interesting question by another participant. She asked, as I understood it, about the degree of diversity, for example regarding the design of buildings. As I heard it, she was trying to make the point that there could be more diversity. I found the question relevant and came to think, for example, to what extent more buildings could have a form that is different from the squared / rectangular form. 

Looking for ideas to develop a city, I came across these outdoor work and living environment initiatives.

August 10, 2014

People in Hamburg are changing the way they move from a to b

Reading this article and this article, I learned that Hamburg is working on a plan that, over the next 15-20 years, is going to expand the number of green spaces considerably. The hamburg green network will connect parks, recreational areas, playgrounds, gardens, and cemeteries through green paths. These changes are not least being made, as I have understood it, to respond to environmental changes such as increasing temperatures and sea levels and - more generally - to make the city a healthier and more pleasant place to live. 
Digital technologies contribute to changes that are going on in the way people get from a to b. Via betahaus hamburg, I learned, for example, about citeecar. What I like about the solution of citeecar is, for example, that it is simple to understand - and a relatively inexpensive transportation solution. In short, it seems to be a carsharing solution for the average joe. Studying other transportation innovation initiatives around Hamburg, I also found out that by using the hvv mobile app you can actually save money when you buy your ticket online. And I learned that in Hamburg,  transportation by bicycle is being upgraded in priority - as this nexthamburg idea also suggests. For example, I was quite impressed by StadtRAD Hamburg, a very well developed bike sharing solution that enables people to pick up and leave bicycles at any StadtRAD Hamburg station that are situated - quite close to each other - all over city. The StadtRAD Hamburg bike sharing solution is, I noticed, very popular among the local population. Lots of people use the bikes to get from a to b. What I found great, for example, was the very good quality of the bikes and also, that within the first ½ hour of a rental, you use the bike you rent for free. In addition, I liked the very well developed bicycle streets in Hamburg that, as you can see from the photo below, are painted red.  On the photo, the bicycle path is the right part of the sidewalk.
Want more inspiration on the topic? Then take a look at this presentation about bicycle friendly cities And in this work on transportation innovation  I have tried to pinpoint some further, broader changes going on in the transportation / mobility space. Have a good time getting around.

August 09, 2014

Feedback tips

The last time you gave a feedback to someone, how did you do it - and why?
The last time you asked for a feedback from someone, how did you do it - and why?

July 13, 2014

Who is winning?

During the 5th set of this year's Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, two great athletes, I thought that both players deserved to win. I simply could not see who was the better one. It seemed like a win-win-win-win match - a win for Federer and his family / friends / coaches, a win for Djokovic and his family / friends / coaches, a win for people participating by watching / learning about the match at the stadium and on the Internet including social media, a win for the sponsors and suppliers of all that is needed to make a sports event happen, and a win for many more. According to the rules of tennis and many other sports, there has to be a winner and a loser, though - not only in the final match of tournaments but also in all the other matches leading up to the final match of the tournament.. And when Djokovic had won, I recall, for example, that he - in the interview following the match - said to Federer: "It was a great match to be part of".

In this blog posting, Paul Sloane touches upon the contrast between competition and collaboration. He writes, for examples, this:
"Sport is all about beating the competition but if you are working in care for the elderly or a hospital you are not concerned about beating the competition.  You are concerned about collaborating with your colleagues to get the best outcomes for the client.  In business you are focused on the customer – not the competition.  Sport is about beating the opposition.  Business is about pleasing the customer."
This posting by Paul Sloane led me to think about customer needs and about what Lars Kolind explains in this blog posting comment:
"I certainly appreciate the positive impact of sports, but there are fundamental difficulties: In sports one person or one team wins, while scouting is designed to make every person be a winner. In sports, the participant concentrates on one activity while scouts perform a wide variety of activities in order to develop the person’s full potential: Physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually."
Please correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to see signs of change - not least fuelled by the Internet. Concepts such as the sharing economy, crowdsourcingcrowdfunding, and - more broadly - social media have led, I think, to stronger cultures of, for example, openness and sharing of thoughts and ideas / collaborating / helping each other - cultures in which people want to contribute to increasing the standard of living and quality of life for more people around the world. As Gary Hamel explain, the web has unleashed human capacitiy in ways that few of us could have imagined a decade ago. These ongoing changes - that are, not least, about changes in values that we live - seem to also be increasingly reflected in, for example, the way we organizethe way people are paid, and the way leadership is done. Regarding the last point about leadership, I was - as a I read this article - struck by this comment by Philipp Lahm:
"Today there aren’t any players that single-handedly lead their teams. Today you share this responsibility. Every single player has to take responsibility for what they do."
Dealing with these topics, I would like to also guide your attention to the important work that each one of us has to work with ourselves - including what we do, how we do things, and not least how we think. In this regard, you may find it useful to have a look at the previous posting in which the great book Winning from within is mentioned. If this is a topic that interests you I would like to also recommend to you the book True North.

July 10, 2014

Winning from within

Reading the book Winning from within I came to think about the song Hero that Ms. Mariah Carey performs wonderfully  in the video embedded here. I added the lyrics of the song below the video.


There's a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid
Of what you are
There's an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away.

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you.

It's a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear.


Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way.


July 08, 2014

How the Internet helps us include each other

Reading this posting by Gary Hamel I noticed, not least, this part:
"The Web has already engendered a dramatic shift in bargaining power from producers to consumers.  What’s coming next is an equally dramatic and irreversible shift in power from institutions to individuals. BYOD is just the beginning. If your organization is going to attract and engage the most creative individuals in the world, then as a CIO you have to think about how you might help facilitate SYOG - Set your own goals, DYOJ - Design your own job, PYOC - Pick your own colleagues, AYOE - Approve your own expenses, or CYOB - Choose your own boss."
Reflecting on this, I came to think about how, during the past decade or so, the Internet - including social media - as well as mobile electronic devices have had a tremendous effect / impact on our business lives and personal lives. As a matter of fact, I find it quite amazing to reflect upon what role electronic devices and the Internet played in my life at the beginning of 2000s - and what role electronic devices and the Internet play in my life today. It's fair to say that the change has, indeed, been significant. That, for example, the way organization is donethe way people are paidthe way meetings are done, and the way education is done will continue to change quite significantly seems a natural consequence of the technological revolution that is taking place in these weeks / months / years right in front of our eyes.
What I, not least, find particularly noteworthy is how the many crowdsourcing technologies and crowdfunding solutions, that have been developed and launched in recent years, are helping people and companies get help from outside / from external people. In his book UdefraJacob Bøtter gives several interesting examples of this. Here are a few more examples. And reading the book Accelerate: Building strategic agility for a faster-moving world, I learned that we need to get better at involving external people to help with innovation initiatives - not least because an inward focus that is a consequence of managerial processes, which tend to focus people's attention inward, means a lower probability of seeing external strategic opportunities or threats. From the book UNBOSS, I took out a similar lesson: Next to the importance of discovering your purpose, it is of strong importance to also work on involving external people - for example in innovation work. The company Swiss Re has showed that it is possible: Using, for example, events and various media such as the Open Minds dialogue platformTwitter and LinkedIn, external people have, to a relatively large degree, been able to participate in ongoing development.
Over the past years, I have learnt that whether people choose to exclude or include people, for example regarding innovation initiatives, has a lot to do with values, we have. In this regard, I find the book Winning from within: How to create lasting change in your leadership and your life very useful. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend that you do.

June 19, 2014

Isn't it amazing how sports create joy and unite people - and how technology can help?

As Haris Seferovic, whose family immigrated from Bosnia Hercegovina to Switzerland in the late 1980s, scored the winning goal in Switzerland's 2-1 victory against Ecuador, I heard, here in Zürich, loud yells of excitement from cars and homes - many of which were beautifully decorated with colourful flowers, Swiss flags and flags of other nations. People shouted "Hopp Schwiiz" cheering on the Swiss national football team. At that moment, which was indeed full of positive emotions, I saw an elderly woman walk past with her dog. As we got eye contact, we both smiled. I came to think of this moment of joy, as I later on listened to this 2 minute video and this 1 minute video in which United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon - in the first video - and Mr. Nelson Mandela - in the second video - both talk about the powerful ability that sports have to unite people.

Technology / media - including social media - can indeed contribute to creating these feelings of joy and unity around the world. A few examples:
  • Studying this visualization that I came across via this tweet by Open Data Zurich, I noticed that quite a lot of players on many participating teams at the world cup in Brazil have parents or grandparents who come from other countries than the country for which the respective players play during the tournament.
  • I have been fascinated about the technological innovation at this year's world cup. This posting that I came across through this tweet by Paul Sloane sums up quite well, I think, some of the value adding innovations. For example, I find the goal line technology useful - a technology that reminds me a bit about the hawk eye technology used at tennis tournaments. Also, I like the vanishing spray that umpires can use, for example at free kicks, to keep players at the required distance from the ball and to define the correct placement of the ball.
  • A visit to the creatively made Google doodles of the world cup is also worth it. My favourite is world cup doodle # 15 - perhaps because I recall that I in my childhood spent hundreds of hours kicking a ball against walls. To see the other world cup 2014 doodles, simple change the last character in the url to another number, for example 1, 2, 3 etc. Or simply click on the arrows pointing to the right or left.

June 14, 2014

Extract of tweets from April to June 2014

June 13, 2014

Reasons why people resist change

Here is an update to a booklet with reasons why people resist change - and ideas on what you can do about it.

June 04, 2014

The busting bureaucracy hackathon. Results of brainstorming

What new management practices could provide an alternative to the bureaucratic model of top down control and formal rules? Emerging from the contributions to phase 2 of the busting bureaucracy hackathon were the following 8 categories:
  1.  Serve peers and customers - not the boss.
  2. Break up monolithic structures.
  3. Give everyone a place at the table.
  4. Radically expand the scope of employee autonomy.
  5. Create meritocracies where influence is based on contribution - not credentials.
  6. Provide open access to real-time information.
  7. Drive performance through a shared sense of purpose and community.
  8. Ditch formality.

Read more about the 8 categories in this blog posting by Chris Grams and Michele Zanini.

June 02, 2014

Experiences getting external help - using techology

Being interested in renewable energy technologies and technologies that help improve energy efficiency, I have come across, for example, solar energy technology and LED lighting technology. When investing in solar energy and LED lighting, the actual purchase of products is one part. Getting the technologies installed is another and important part. Not being particularly competent about installing solar panels and LED lamps, we decided to get external help / help from outside. In this regard, 2 websites, jacando and Rent a Rentner were of great use. Via jacando we got in touch with a person who helped us competently install the solar panel enabling us to generate energy, and via Rent a Rentner we got in touch with a person who helped us install an LED lamp. Both projects worked out well. 
Just an additional note regarding installing solar energy: In an earlier posting, I referred to the use of solar energy at Niederhorn in the Swiss mountains, 2,000 meters above sea level.  Reading this article I learned that sharply declining costs are the key to the potential of solar energy. While module costs should continue to fall, even bigger opportunities lurk in the costs associated with installation and service. These cost reductions will put solar within striking distance, in economic terms, of new construction for traditional power-generation technologies. In the interesting article, I also read that over the last several years, the demand for power in Europe has fallen, while the supply of renewables - including solar - has risen, driven down power prices, and depressed the penetration of conventional power sources. Reading this article I learned about a report showing that in some European countries, for example Germany, Italy and Spain, solar power has become as cheap as buying off the grid.
For more information about renewable energy, have a look at this google group. To know more technologies that make it easy for you to get external help / get help from outside, have a look at the book Udefra by Jacob Bøtter. Also, check out these links on crowdsourcing.

May 16, 2014

HP company history and values

About 16-17 minutes into this 25 minute video about the HP company history and values - a video that I came across through this tweet - Don Hammond says this: "They had a slogan: Decisions should be made at the lowest possible level." Michael Malone follows up saying: "This was what HP did: It trusted people to do the job. And you stepped up. You really stepped up. It scared the hell out of you - made you into a better person." Listening to what the people participating in the video said, I also learned that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were strongly oriented towards the future, towards opportunities, towards change and promotion of entrepreneurship. They wanted to work with and develop people, who worked innovatively - people who wanted to create something new. In this respect, it's also interesting to note how many different products HP has created.
For inspiration about values, have a look at this presentation about values. For inspiration about questions to discover values people have, have a look at this presentation with questions to discover your values. For personalized services such as individual coaching and/or workshops, feel welcome to get in touch using any media of your choice.

April 18, 2014

W.L. Gore culture

Minute 2: Gary Hamel mentions that people, who work for W.L. Gore, have no titles.
Minute 3: Terri Kelly mentions that at W.L. Gore, they avoid big corner offices.
Minute 4: Gary Hamel mentions that at W.L. Gore, all commitments people make are voluntary. Terri Kelly follows up by explaining that there's a totally different level of commitment when people decide themselves what they do.
Minute 4-5: Terri Kelly talks about the sweet spot between passion of the individual, unique skills of the individual, and the company purpose. Ms. Kelly continues by talking about the role of sponsors who help people become successful and maximize their contributions.
Minute 12: Gary Hamel mentions that at Gore, leaders are selected by people, who want to follow them. In other words, authority trickles up at W.L. Gore - not down like in most companies.
Minute 16: Terri Kelly explains that simply asking people - and thereby involving / engaging them - can very much help create alignment.
Minute 17: Terri Kelly mentions that when a senior leader is brought in from outside, he or she is first put into an area where he / she can share his or her knowledge as a kind of knowledge expert. If it shows that he/she has the same value system as the company is based on, he / she will emerge naturally into a leadership role taking on more responsibility.
Minute 20: Terri Kelly explains that at W.L. Gore, people rank other people, they know, for their contributions. The ranking determines how people are compensated financially. People rank up to about 25 people. When ranking people, focus is on how big a contribution people are making to the success of the enterprise.