Summer Photo Competition 2007

Today Sweden changed from Summer time to Normal (Winter?) time. We gained an extra hour, which I spent on announcing this “competition”.

Although this summer has been a really rainy one, at least in Sweden and the UK, somehow I’ve managed to take lots of photos. Want to help me pick the one to symbolise the Summer of 2007? Write down which one is your favourite in a comment to this blog post together with your email address, and at the same time you will enter a lottery with a chance of winning a lovely bouquet of summer(?) flowers. Open until 1st of December.

HOW TO VOTE - in three simple steps

1. Look at the photos and decide which one you like the most.
2. Go back to the blog.
3. Click on the comments link followin this blog post where you can see what other people's votes and also cast you own vote.

Please note that it may take a couple of hours before your comment shows.

You find the photos in this Picasa PHOTO FOLDER.

1. Bore Place, UK (thistles)
2. London, UK (London Eye)
3. Läckö, Sweden (poppy pod)
4. Motala, Sweden (dew drop)
5. Painshill, UK (sunflower)
6. Peter Korn’s Garden, Sweden (spade)
7. Pilane, Sweden (fly)
8. Råshult, Sweden (table)
9. Strand, Sweden (bench)
10. Vallby, Sweden (bumblebee)

Looking forward to reading your opinion!

On the Beach

It took me six days before I actually entered the Pacific Ocean, although the hotel was very close to the beach. There were several reasons for this. My assignment was to present a paper at the IMTA conference taking place at Surfers Paradise, south of Brisbane. Since it was a great conference, I didn’t mind spending most of the time indoors. Another reason was that the weather wasn’t actually all that great. Warm, but mostly cloudy and in the afternoons we got tropical storms with heavy rain and hailstorms. Also, I’m a bit of a wimp (sometimes) and don’t like to be wet and cold.

But there was also another reason and that is that swimming in the sea in Australia is quite different from having a dip in the North Sea or the Mediterranean in Europe. The currents are very strong, as is the surf. I had trouble standing upright although I was just a couple of metres from the shore. There are also sharks to consider, as well as the poisonous blue-bottle jellyfish. This is why the beach is organised into sections where you are allowed to swim. These are marked with yellow and red flags and trained lifeguards watch from towers. 4WD cars, speedy boats and fast helicopters patrol the beach all the time.

This reminded me of the introduction in Charles Leadbeater’s new book “We Think” where he compares the Web 2.0 development to the self-organising principles ruling the conduct while at the beach. Although no special rules are actually posted, people tend to work out suitable arrangements themselves. However, self-organisation may need to be combined with organisation when the situation is very dangerous.

One of the most fascinating keynote speakers at the IMTA conference was David Schmidtchen, a former researcher in the Australian Defence Force. In his book “The Rise of the Strategic Private” he quotes Luther Gulick: “Good men seldom survive bad organisation”. He also talks about the need to change the metaphor behind Network Centric Warfare concept, and also to be aware of the limitations of metaphors.

The metaphors that we choose to make sense of the environment are at the core of our approach to exploration, experimentation and critical thought. Metaphors give our thoughts, and thereby our actions, direction. They help us to impose a degree of mental certainty on an inherently uncertain world. Metaphors produce new ideas and, on occasion, breathe new life into old ones. They can expose facts by prompting the right questions, or hide them by prompting the wrong ones. (p. 300)
Australian beaches are not the same as European ones. Armed Forces are not like other organisations. Peacekeeping is not business as usual. Ambidexterity is the key – organisation and self-organisation sometimes need to be combined. We need to remember this, so we don’t end up in a world like the one described by Nevil Shute in his book “On the Beach”.

Remember: No flag – No swim!
PS Want to see more photos from Australia? Have a look at http://picasaweb.google.com/lmholmberg/AustraliaOctober2007


Defining Moments

At the end of the IMTA conference dinner, Col Carl Castro held an astonishing speech. Since I had had the pleasure during the day to listen to his presentation on the US military mental health program Battlemind that he and his team had developed, my expectations were very high. And they were met and exceeded.

Col Castro succeeded to be at the same time extremely funny and very serious, telling us a story of courage, shortcomings, heroes, death and a ghost. He made us feel his own anguish and doubt, when he was asked (Advised? Told? Ordered?) to change his research report on the mental health status of US service members in Iraq. In his speech he very subtly reminded us of what our role is as scientists working in a military context, through repeating the words of his friendly ghosts: “It’s not about us. It’s about our marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen.”

By admitting to his own shortcomings (he actually changed his report for a while), he also illustrated the importance of having good senior leadership who has the courage to support junior staff when faced with difficult situation (he changed it back again to the original version at very a crucial moment). Good leaders recognise that it is only human to put yourself first sometimes.

The New Zealand Army has developed a new leadership competence framework, where storytelling is included. As it happens, one of the partner organisations involved in the development, Winsborough, is into Appreciative Inquiry. I sincerely hope they invite Col Castro to the training as a speaker, since he certainly has lots of very interesting stories to share and does it in such an eloquent way!


Appreciating Factory Work

I could not in my most vivid imagination think I would find working in a factory such a joyful experience. In all fairness, it should be said that this was not an ordinary factory and the work did not last that long, but while it lasted - boy was it fun!

I attended the pre-conference workshop "Designing Strength Based Organizations: An Emerging Practice" skillfully put together by Bernard J Mohr and Bob Laliberte from Innovation Partners International, Nancy Shendell-Falik and Bob Belanger at The Power of Positive Change conference in Orlando, September 2007. The program was a delightful mix of presentations of real cases from both a company and a hospital, theory and excercises.

In The Flying Starship excercise, we were divided into groups making up the various units in the factory. There were paper cutters, assemblers, decorators, material managers, a quality assurance department, general managers and, of course, a concerned customer. Our task was to provide hand-made bright-coloured paper flying starships. We had five minutes (!) of training and then we went to work. I worked in one of the assembly departments and we were asked to put som love and care in our work. We found this a real challenge since it was really difficult to get the corners sharp and precise, but we did our best and started to sing while we were toiling.

As could be expected, our little factory ran into all sorts of trouble. Materials were missing, quality was lacking, people did not know what to do and so on. However, when we did the appreciative interviews in pairs and presented the results in groups and to the whole workshop we also got a wonderful demonstration of the strenghts of strenght-based work. We discovered lots of good things about the way we had conducted our work, and heaps of new ideas for improvement emerged (see photo).

This exercise was my absolute highlight during the workshop. I will use it as an introduction to strenght-based development, especially when working with companies. Using the Flying Starship Factory simulation as an analogy, will make it easier for the co-workers to view their own organisation in a new manner.

Thank you for this useful excersise!

Once in a Golden Hour

One feature I really like about Picasa is that it makes it so easy to find all your pictures. Even the ones you have forgotten you ever made. If you also add the picture functionality to your Google Desktop you will be constantly reminded of all the special moments that made you pick up your camera.

When browsing today I found this picture I made last year when visiting Highdown in England. Then I was still using my rather poor mobile phone camera, but with a little bit of editing and magic it turned out quite right, if I may say so. I don’t recall how I got the Tennyson poem, but I like it because to me it’s a fable about innovation and intellectual property rights. Enjoy!

Magical Moments

When you spend some time in the Disney realm, you find yourself reflecting upon what is truly magical. I believe I have a collection of magical moments I keep in my heart and like to think of from time to time.

One of those moments took place in Melbourne in 1994 when I was spending some time in Australia while writing my PhD thesis. The people at the department at RMIT kindly invited me to watch “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the Royal Botanical Gardens. We had a superb picnic and sat on the grass watching the sun set wakening the big bats that started to hunt in the dark. The actors had amazing costumes and performed in an acrobatic way under the stars, dangerously close to the torches.

Another magical moment took place in Cape Town 2003 when my mother and I went to a Christmas concert in the Kirstenborch Garden. We got there early and got very good green “seats”. Soon the lush lawn was full of families eating and having a good time. Then the concert began with a nativity play and choirs singing. It was kind of strange to sing carols in such a warm climate, but when everybody lit their candle it felt a little bit like our Swedish Lucia tradition.

The magic of candles was also a feature of the fireworks concert closing the season for Dalhalla this year. The combination of a very mixed program with excellent artists and the visual effects in this old mine turned into a concert “hall” was stunning. The lights were glowing in the green water, a long long row of pitch torches marked the very edge of the mine and the fireworks at the very end was spectacular. When the male choir Orphei Drängar sang softly and we were urged to light our candles, the cold and damp no longer mattered.

It seems like my magical moments all have some things in common: sunsets, naked flames, music, blankets and good company. Excellent! Now I know what to go for!

Have a Magical Day!