15 June 2009

Starting point

So, today it really starts.

Between today and tomorrow, all my new team will arrive and we will be in the office together, for 13 months.

I love this "fear" feeling when I take huge responsibilities that demand me to learn new things I would never dare to think I would ever know. Such is the magic of AIESEC: we start one position as prepared as we can, but not as good as necessary, then we change, we develop and, by the end of this fast paced year, we are competent enough to say we can do it.

But then, it's time to leave for the new generation to learn.

I really love this organization :)

14 June 2009

Withing paradigm versus between paradigms (or, management versus leadership once again)

"You manage within a paradigm.
You lead between paradigms."

- Joel Barker, Paradigms

Very wise words.

It's easier to act within paradigms. People like the safe-side of a well stablished paradigm and dislike the shaky ground of a new mindset. But sometimes you have to take the unpopular call and lead the organization to the next paradigm. Evolution, even with resistence. Puting out your neck on the axe's range is not easy. Sometimes people will hate you because you are "changing how things are done to this crazy new way". But, if it's a good call, the reward of the new and better new paradigm pays off.

I think, as a CEO of an organization that needs a big deal of evolution to keep relevant and competitive in these mutant times, I will experienced a lot of that. In fact, I started experiencing it already, by changing the financial incentives and responsibilities of our local AIESEC Norway chapters.

So, what are the things that us leaders can do to move to move our organizations and teams to the next paradigm without so much bumps on the way? What do you think?

And what if we are wrong, the new paradigm is not the right one? How to be sure? (In fact I guess there's no answer to this one).

World starts to open its eyes to AIESEC

AIESEC Represented at the World Business Summit on Climate Change!

Aman Jain, the President Elect of AIESEC International 2009/2010 (picture on the left), spoke at the press conference launch alongside Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon confirming the role of young people in the climate cause. "Some call us the leaders of tomorrow, but I think of us as the leaders of today", said Aman during the press conference.

To read more on the Summit, follow the link: http://en.cop15.dk/blogs/view+blog?blogid=1361


AIESEC Meets the Next EU Presidency

Sweden’s Migration Minister met with the incoming and outgoing presidents of AIESEC International to discuss the challenges and opportunities to the mobility of young talent in the European Union.

As the host of the next EU Presidency, Sweden plays an important role within the policy agenda for the European Union in 2009. As the AIESEC international internships program operates across 100 countries and in 2008 sent over 5,000 young people abroad to undertake international internships, AIESEC’s interest and contribution to the topic of mobility is considerable.

On the picture: Juan Cajiao, President of AIESEC International 2008/2009)


AIESEC International receives an award for Most Democratic Workplace

AIESEC International maintains its place among the 40 organizations who are the annual winners of the WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces™ award for a third consecutive year. The award is sponsored by WorldBlu, an US-based non-profit specializing in organizational democracy.

More information on the WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces™ is available at the Worldblu website here: http://www.worldblu.com/worldblu-list/worldblu-list

08 June 2009

We are young and want to change the world... watching movies (?!)

The Swedish Pirate Party won a sit at EU parliament.

While this is cool at a copyright and entertainment industry reform point of view, it makes me think: is this one of the outstanding issues Europe is facing?

It's natural, the PP had a very good media coverage David versus Goliah style. Everyone get simpathetic with the poor citzen opressed by the big corporations full of money. I am not exempt of it also. I am very pro a reform in this area. The current model doesn't work anymore, especially in the develop countries where high speed internet is a common place. I don't want to talk much about any ideas on this, but it's easy to see the success of the Apple Store and Steam as examples of how we could move further in the entertainment distribution models.

But, I repeat, Pirate Party got an EU sit, is this really what Europe needs?

Well, let there be file sharing.

Just as a final though, it's interesting that again the theory (is it a theory?) "if you fight you lose" is proven. Authorities fought the Pirate Party. What happened? They became stronger and got theirselves into the power position. Probably would never happened if no one messed with them. They would be just sharing their files with the world - as it is happening now anyway, the only difference is that now the EU parliament has to get used with parrots and wooden legs.

06 June 2009

AIESEC Norway CEO's success 1 out of ?? - New Financial Model: approved

For context on this, read the previous post: AIESEC Norway CEO's failure 1 out of ?? - New Financial Model: rejected.

Just after the rejection (one full day) I was completly in shut down mode: blaming everyone, bad mooded and just plain disapointed with me, with others and with the organization as a whole. Then, at the end of this terrible day which I thought a lot, I just decided this is not a true leader reaction and I had to change it. I "fired" my old self for being so incompetent and "hired" the new me, which would turn the tide.

And we did turn it.

Looking back, I can see most mistakes were mine (because I was leading the project):

- No dialogue seeking - I didn't proactively approach the local presidents to discuss their views on the model and gather feedback. I thought that silence meant they didn't have any problem with it. So silly of me, sometimes I can't understand how I miss so much the obvious: silence doesn't mean agreement, means only that people think something you have no idea about.

- Argue against feedback - instead of acting upon the few received feedback, I argued and fought against them. (see the post "Communication technique: never fight people if you want them to do something to you" to see why I failed by doing that).

- No allies help - I steped into the room me against the world. No wonder it failed, I didn't have any one to advocate pro the new financial model. I didn't even spoke to my board collegues what kind of help I needed from them.

- Lack of hope dealing - "Leaders are dealers in hope": everyone was scared they would go bankrupt and I didn't address their fear and gave them hope.

The result of all this you know from previous post, I failed.

But them I acted upon them, I learned and that's what I did:

- Seek dialogue and feedback - I proacvelly schedule chats with the presidents and the board members interested. I also had an open door policy: whoever and whenever someone needed to talk to me about the model, I stoped everything to talk to them and trully listen their voices, ideas, feedback and negotiated agreed solutions.

- Incorporate feedback - by negotiating and reaching agreement of what should be changed on the new financial model, we addressed most of the problems and fears of everyone. Whoever gave feedback, I always made sure I would end up the conversation telling what I would do with the feedback and got the agreement of the other person. (And, of course, I fulfilled my word).

- Deal in hope - I made sure everyone understood how the new financial model would make AIESEC Norway grow and why. I also made it quite clear that in case things went wrong, we would push the stop button and rethink an approach together.

- Have a strong process to take the decision - thanks to the dialogue I created inside my own team this time, we worked together to create a very good process to facilitate the discussion during the legislation. So it would go in an orderly manner, addressing all the remaining doubts one by one and that everyone could speak their minds in an organized way.

- Have allies - I identified the key people that would be more keen on the model and took time to ally with them, to discuss their ideas. When I entered the room, this time I didn't need to sell the model for everyone, they already bought it, it was just about delivery.

The result is that the model was approved, almost all of it by full consensus. And, to be really sincere, the proposal in the model was not that different: the pillars of the model were still there. The only difference is that I dealed with the human aspect much differently than before.

Of course I couldn't have done anything if I didn't have the support of the local presidents, which were able to take a bold step towards own accountability. I am very proud of them, they are showing a level of maturity and engagement only dreamt in past terms. I have no doubt these people will strive for their goals and we will take, together, AIESEC Norway to a new level - where we, one of the countries that founded AIESEC 61 years ago, should always be.

Thanks a lot for the valuable leadership lesson, AIESEC Norway.

01 June 2009

Canon Japan: cruel talent management technics

Canon in Japan came up with this amazing idea:

- What if we remove all the chairs from the offices?

And they didn't stop there. They had also a new brilliant idea:

- What if we put sensors in the corridors that horn sirens and red lights if some employee is walking slower than 5m each 3.6 seconds? (talk about fast-paced business environment).

Well, Canon Japan went beyond the "if" and did it:

Check the details here.

That's the kind of thing that leads to people thinking Japan is an extreme place to work. I am sure it's more an exception than a rule, but it's a little scary that it can actually happen there and people do keep working without torching the place.

Work union, anyone?

Next time you see one jap in any touristical place with a Canon camera, offer your respect, that's a though guy.