Swedish Bankers Take a Different Approach to Learning
Berry, Leonard L., American Banker
GUNNAR STEENMARK is a change agent. Mr. Steenmark is a vice president with the Swedish Savings Bank Association in Stockholm. Along with his many other duties, he organizes marketing seminars for Swedish savings bankers. Bob Huss, senior vice president of marketing at Secuirty Pacific National Bank; George Rieder, president of George Rieder Associates, and I participated in his most recent seminar -- a May meeting in Stockholm.
Mr. Huss, Mr. Rieder, and I were the only presenters at the two-day seminar. Mr. Steenmark is willing to bring in presenters from anywhere in the world if he believes they have fresh ideas to impart. The fact that this particular seminar was led by three Americans didn't trouble him. His objective: "to open minds, to plant seeds."
He also brings his own bankers to other countries. This fall he will bring a group to the United States to study bank marketing practices, the second such trip in two years.
Mr. Steenmark's concept of education as the pathway to constructive, industrywide change in Sweden and the educational methods he employs are worthy of our attention. Gunnar Steenmark has something to teach all of us.
the seminar, attended by about 35 marketing and line operating executives, focused on the theme of developing a sales culture in a bank.
Day 1 began with all participants introducing themselves and stating what they hoped to learn. Each person's learning objectives were transcribed on large sheets of paper that were taped to the walls.
The three speakers then briefly introduced their topics and explained how these topics would relate to each other. I made the first presentation on a conceptual framework for developing strong sales cultures. George Rieder then discussed strategies for managing organizational change and talked about qualities of effective leaders.
Next, the group discussed what they had learned from the two presentations and how they could apply these ideas in their banks. Included in this discussion was a case problem on bank sales programs which they had received prior to the seminar. Networking, learning, and laughter characterized the reception and group dinner that followed. Mr. Huss, Mr. Rieder, and I were spirited participants.
Day 2 began with Bob Huss' "case history" on Security Pacific's approach to building a sales culture. Mr. Huss highlighted key implementation issues for concepts presented on the first day.
The participants then divided into four smaller groups for 30-minute private meetings with each of us and with Rolf Andersson, head of the Savings Bank University. The groups ahd carefully planned the questions they raised, leading to stimulating, provocative, useful exchanges. Finally, the smaller groups merged into one for a wrap-up-/feedback session, and it was over.
Gunnar Steenmark's educational philosophy and methods offer us lessons to ponder the next time we chair a conference or plan a meeting.
1. Foster dialogue. Mr. Steenmark doesn't leave audience/speaker dialogue to chance. He programs it. He continually searches for ways to spark an interactive experience. He reasons that true dialogue is more valuable, more lasting, and more fun than when one paryt does all of the talking and the other all of the listening.
Mr. Sttenmark's model encompasses having only a few speakers, keeping then around for the entire seminar, and providing multiple opportunities for them to interact with the participants.
when you are a speaker for Mr. Steenmark, you eat with the bankers, not with the other speakers. Indeed, you are more than a speaker; you are a resource!
2. Encourage networking. Mr. Steenmark recognizes that one of the most important potential benefits of a seminar is to extend one's network of contacts. A close look at Mr. Steenmark's seminar design (participatn introductions, case problem, leisurely group dinner) reveals formal efforts to encourage networking. …