Magazine article New Zealand Management

Making Work Meaningful

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Making Work Meaningful

Article excerpt

Why are we here? Who would miss us if we weren't? What if people do not mind change--but mind being changed?

Goran Carstedt is given to asking some fairly crunchy questions. It is, he says, what organisational leadership is all about--not so much managing people as leading them with ideas that inspire and that are in tune with the times we live in.

"To be able to take a group of people from here to there, you need to invite them to something that is full of meaning, purpose, learning--you have to invite them to something that is really worth their fullest commitment."

We are, he says, too caught up in the machine metaphor.

"Big institutions tend to make us think we are in control of something and we do things by telling, implementing, imposing--but there is another process which is about co-creating."

Carstedt knows what he's talking about. As leader of such iconic companies as Volvo, Ikea and more recently the Society for Organisational Learning, he brings a very practical, people-oriented perspective to his work as a global consultant on organisational development.

In Auckland last month as a presenter at the World Thought Leaders Forum, he spoke about the social revolution we are living through--from a life largely organised for us, to a world in which we are all forced to be in charge of our own destiny. It's a world in which the old organisational paradigms no longer work.

"I think somehow we have been so into building our machines, our cars, our things--even our schools and hospitals have become something you drive. I am invited sometimes to say how do we drive change, how do we drive innovation. Okay, we drive cars--but have you tried to drive your teenagers; have you tried to make a plan to change your wife or your husband?

"Of course it doesn't work but somehow, when we get into institutions that's where we seem to end up.

"Nobody says it but we tend to have in the back of our heads that we are running a machine--department by department, responsibility by responsibility. And we are sitting up there in the hierarchy pushing buttons, pulling levers, taking decisions and believing it is going to happen down there. But the world has become too complex for that."

One of the key questions he brings to any organisation is "who would miss us if we were not there" because it helps them focus on their real purpose--for customers, workers, shareholders and society in general. …

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