Topic 79 Posts


"Although there are questions"

In his speech to the Russian people, Ukraine’s President Zelensky asks more than 20 questions. Some of them he answers himself, but it is not his answers that makes his speech so powerful. It is the way he demonstrates that everybody has a responsibility to "hear our voices".

I shared some of his questions on LinkedIn and in the group Catalysts - unleashing the power of questions hoping that you will share your thoughts on how the questions impact the President's speech - and the people hearing it.

Too busy to read my new article?

Want to make an impact? Change your questioning habits.
Here are four ways to help employees become more reflective and more productive.

You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that the best way to ensure impact is to turn your organization into a collective reflection space where everyone asks each other questions.

You might even think that reflection:

🚫  Prevents quick decisions and actions
🚫  Makes people focus on themselves
🚫  Increases the strategy execution gap
🚫  Weakens your position and impact

But it’s actually the other way around.

The less time people in your organization spend reflecting and asking questions, the less they align with one another on what’s important, and the greater the risk that they are busy doing things that have no impact.

Working with Teija Saari and her team in GRUNDFOS and Søren Sjøgren and his fellow officers at Forsvarsakademiet, I learned that collective reflection spaces are the key to:

🌿  Quicker and better decision making
🌿   More collaboration across teams
🌿  Local anchoring of strategic decisions
🌿  Strategic alignment and global impact

Too busy to reflect on how to do that?

Read my new strategy+business article.

The most important experience

“He is a very experienced consultant, so he knows how to read organizations” - said one consultant about another consultant. I shook my head:

“No, it doesn’t work that way. The more top executives tell you about their visions for the company, the less everyone else shares their problems and ideas with you, and the harder it will be for you to read the organization.”

“So, you don’t think our experience as consultants is important?”, he asked.

“Yes”, I said.

"I just think that the accumulated experience and insight that lives among the tens of thousands of people who work in the organization is more important."

Decision-driven data

I like data-driven decisions, but I like decision-driven data more. Decision-driven data is what you get when:

Tech founders make a decision about
- what kind of data to collect and NOT to collect

Tech owners make a decision about
- what kind of data to use and NOT to use

Tech users make a decision about
- what kind of data to share and NOT to share

I like the idea of not making decisions without collecting data. But I like the idea of not collecting data without making decisions more.

The real secret to making change easy - and why it's kept a secret

My LinkedIn feed is crowded with people who want to help other people change their behavior.

Thought leaders, people leaders, change agents, agile coaches, HR consultants. You all ask the same question:

What is the best way to make people do something new?

And you all choose between the same answers:

  1. Tell them what to do
  2. Make it easy for them to adopt the new behavior
  3. Make the new behavior the default

Most of you don't seem to consider it a real choice, though.

You know that 1 doesn't work, and that 3 is beyond your control.

So, 2 it is.

Even though you believe the human brain is wired in a way that makes it hard for people to change their behavior, you insist on making it easy.

It's an intriguing idea that some people can make it easy for other people to do something they have a hard time doing themselves.

But what is your secret?

"We design environments that make the desired behavior the obvious choice", you might say.

But that's not the secret I'm looking for.

I'm not looking for the secret you are telling yourself. I'm looking for the secret you are not telling anyone. Maybe because you don't want to. Maybe because it's a secret to you too.

Either way, you are not going to reveal the secret, so allow me:

The real secret to making it easy for other people to change their behavior is to prevent them from making any choices themselves.

Or to put it differently:

You are not making it easy for people to make the obvious choice. You are making it easy for them not to make any choice at all.

Read the full article here:

The real secret to making change easy - and why it's kept a secret
My LinkedIn feed is crowded with people who want to help other people change their behavior. Thought leaders, people leaders, change agents, agile coaches, HR consultants.

Leaders have a lot to lose

Fear of change is real.

But it’s not the employees who fear change.

It’s the leaders.

It makes sense 👇

Research shows that a large component of fear of change is fear of loss. And leaders have a lot to lose:

Status, influence, power, respect, high income.

To achieve these things leaders have deprioritized other things.

So, if they lose their position in the company, they also lose their reasons for missing out on other important things in their lives.

Helping large companies undergo strategic changes, organizational change and digital transformations, I see it all the time:

Fear of change is real.

But it’s not the employees who fear change.

It’s the leaders.

Fear of asking questions

Have you ever held back a question or an idea because you were afraid of how your leaders and colleagues might react?

If you have, you are not alone.

Research from Harvard Business School shows that 70% face barriers to asking more questions at work.

But what are the barriers?

When I do workshops on how to cultivate a reflective and curious mindset in large organizations, people say they:

  • Find it hard to ask questions
  • Intuitively counter-argue rather than ask
  • Don’t have time to frame good questions
  • Are afraid of asking bad questions
  • Feel vulnerable when asking questions
  • Only ask questions in safe environments
  • Don’t know how to prioritize what to ask
  • Are afraid of asking selfish questions
  • Only know how to ask leading questions

It seems like good reasons not to ask questions.

But be careful ⚠️

My research shows that when we don’t ask questions, we:

  • Confuse relevant and irrelevant problems
  • Lose trust in ourselves and each other
  • Forget our responsibility to help solve important problems

I strongly believe that the reasons for asking questions are better than the reasons for not asking questions.

But I also believe that we must help each other overcome the barriers.

So, maybe the question we must ask ourselves is not whether we have ever held back a question because we were afraid of how our leaders and colleagues might react.

Maybe the question we must ask ourselves is:

What can I do to make it easier for my leaders and colleagues to ask questions?

How useful are your insights?

What most people don’t know about questions is that they tell more about those who ask them than about those who answer them.

That’s why the best salespeople make room for their prospects’ questions before they start sharing their own answers and offer solutions to their prospects’ problems.

They need to know what questions their prospects are asking themselves in order to come up with useful answers.

The same goes for leaders, teachers, parents, etc.

All our experience and insights are useless if we don't know the questions our employees/students/children need help answering.

So, my question of the day is:

How do you make room for other people's questions?

Now what?

Imagine you were a senior executive who just received a mapping of the questions your employees ask each other.

What would you do next?

My job is to help senior executives in large companies collect and analyze the thousands of questions their employees ask each other.

I help them translate the qualitative question-and-answer data into informal network mappings, maturity assessments, alignment scores, themes and recommendations.

But one question always remains:

What should the executives do next?

Yesterday I suggested that the executive team in a large company use the question data to distinguish between:

1. The questions they consider it their responsibility to answer,
2. The questions employees should collaborate on answering, and
3. The questions that are not supposed to be answered yet

The team responsible for Qvest in the company especially liked the third category, because it allows the executive team to embrace and demonstrate the fact that the organization is evolving and therefore still has a lot to learn.

But what do you think? Would you find this distinction valuable if you were a senior executive in a large company?

Or do you know of other approaches that would make it easier for the organization to move forward together?

You can always share your questions, tips and tricks in an email to or in comments to my posts on LinkedIn.

How to deal with boss babies

"When Emma wants something, she doesn't want it in two weeks or in two days. She wants it yesterday."

Sounds like something you would say about a 2-year-old who wants an ice cream, right?

But he wasn't talking about a 2-year-old. He was talking about his boss who wanted him to execute her latest idea.

Right now.

The only problem was that he was busy executing her previous idea. And the ideas she had before she had her previous idea.

So, what should he do?

I can identify with both the boss and the middle manager I was talking to, but it's when I identify with the 2-year-old that I realize what is needed.

When my 2-year-old self wants an ice cream, you only have two options: Either you give me the ice cream as quickly as possible, or you distract me.

You get nowhere by explaining to me that the ice cream will ruin my appetite or that we are in a hurry to get home.

I don't care.

All I care about is getting what I want.

And right now I want ice cream.

However, the beauty of 'right now' is that it is constantly changing. A minute ago, I didn't think of ice cream, and if you have an attractive distraction at hand I won't be thinking about ice cream a minute from now either.

So, what am I saying?

That if you have a boss or a customer who behaves like a 2-year-old, make sure to always have your pockets full of goodies 🍭 🧸 🧃 🥇


P.s. When I'm being a 2-year-old boss baby, I'm easily distracted by good news about one of my previous ideas 📈 - What are your recommendations for snacks to put in the pocket? Please share your tips and tricks on LinkedIn.

“Han er et godt forbillede”

For nogle år siden brugte Yussuf Poulsen en sen eftermiddagstime på at vise min søn og hans kammerater, hvad der betyder noget her i livet.

Det var ikke planlagt eller styret. Det var bare en stor dreng og hans kammerater, der benyttede en ledig stund til at spille lidt bold med en lille dreng og hans kammerater.

Efter den spontane fodboldkamp, hvor Yussuf Poulsen så ud til at more sig ligeså meget som drengene, sagde min søn:

“Han er et godt forbillede.”

Jeg vil altid være taknemmelig for den måde, min søn og hans kammerater lærte, at deres største helte er helt almindelige mennesker, som sætter pris på helt almindelige ting - fuldstændig ligesom dem selv.

I går viste Yussuf Poulsen og det øvrige landshold igen, at de er gode forbilleder.

De viste lynhurtig dømme- og handlekraft, og deres åbenlyse sammenhold og omsorg for hinanden rørte os alle.

Alligevel er det ikke det, jeg vil fremhæve som det mest forbilledlige ved gårsdagens kamp.

Det der gør landsholdsspillerne til gode forbilleder for min søn, hans kammerater og alle os andre er, at de i gårsdagens kamp ikke blot viste os, hvad der betyder noget her i livet, men også, hvad der IKKE betyder noget, når det virkelig gælder.

Jeg vil aldrig glemme Simon Kjærs kropsholdning, da han forlod banen 10-15 minutter efter kampen blev sat i gang igen.

Eller Pierre-Emile Højbjergs ansigtsudtryk lige inden han brændte det straffespark, der kunne have udlignet kampen.

TV-kommentatorerne fortalte os, at man som professionel fodboldspiller er i stand til at lukke alt andet ude, når først kampen er i gang.

Men spillerne viste os noget andet.

De viste os, at der er noget, der er uendeligt meget vigtigere end at score på straffe og vinde fodboldkampe, og at de hverken kunne eller ville lukke det ude.

Der er ingen tvivl om, at de danske landsholdsspillere er professionelle, men de er mere end det:

De er mennesker ❤️

Av av av

Åh nej, jeg har lige indset noget skrækkeligt om mig selv!

Som ung ledelseskonsulent fik jeg at vide, at mit ultimative succeskriterium var at få medarbejderne i de virksomheder, jeg arbejdede for til at lære virksomhedens værdier udenad.

Målet var, at medarbejderne kunne gengive værdierne ordret, hvis man vækkede dem midt om natten. Så det indrettede vi vores kommunikation og workshopøvelser efter.

Jeg forstod dog aldrig hvorfor:

Er det ikke ligegyldigt om medarbejderne kan gengive værdier, vision og mission ordret så længe de forstår og forholder sig til deres egen rolle i det store billede?

Er det ikke bedre - og udtryk for større ejerskab - at medarbejderne bruger deres egne ord og finder deres egen måde at tale med hinanden om værdier og strategier på?

Sådan tænkte jeg. Og sådan tænker jeg stadig.

Men nu har jeg indset noget skrækkeligt om mig selv som virksomhedsejer og leder:

Jeg HADER når andre bruger andre ord og billeder for mine ideer og metoder end jeg selv gør.

Jeg bør ikke. Jeg vil ikke. Jeg må ikke.

Men jeg HADER det 😳

Det får mig til at føle, at der er noget, jeg ikke har forstået. Noget ved min egen idé og metode, som jeg ikke har styr på.

Og det kan jo ikke passe, når det er MIN idé og metode.


Jeg tror, jeg begynder at forstå det, jeg ikke forstod som ung konsulent:

Succeskriteriet om at få medarbejderne til at lære virksomhedens værdier udenad, handler ikke om at skabe forankring og ejerskab til virksomhedens værdier og strategier.

Det handler om at holde lederens følelse af ikke at have forstået og have styr på alt i skak.

Problemet ved denne strategi er selvfølgelig, at lederens geniale værdier og ideer forbliver HENDES.

Ingen forankring. Intet ejerskab. Kun illusionen om kontrol.

Av av av.

Er det mon for sent at hyre en ung konsulent?

Would your organization pass The Monkey Test?

My favorite emojis are the little monkeys. And this weekend it occurred to me how perfectly they illustrate what happens when large organizations undergo a transformation.

Whether it’s a digital, strategic or organizational transformation, employees go through four stages:

🙊  Inactive

They don’t talk about the transformation

🙈  Reactive

They blindly repeat other people’s words about the transformation

🐵  Interactive

They use input from other people to discuss the transformation in their own words

🐒  Proactive

They use their own words and experience to deal with the transformation

The Monkey Test maps the distribution of employees across the four different stages, and responsive leaders use this mapping to adjust their initiatives.

For example by saying:

"65% of our employees are inactive or reactive, so we will slow down our overall transformation activities and instead focus on: 1) empowering frontrunners to pave the way, and 2) getting everyone on board."

Of course, not all leaders are responsive.

Some prefer to 🙉🙉🙉🙉

P.s. Ironically, you cannot take The Monkey Test with SurveyMonkey or other survey tools. To map and support the progress of your transformation, you need Qvest.

Want diversity? Forget being unbiased

Spirit of the Times: "What do you do to ensure that your analyzes are unbiased?"

Me: “I don't strive to make unbiased analyzes”

Spirit of the Times: "But aren’t you afraid that there are too many assumptions behind your analyzes and recommendations then?"

Me: “No. If anything I'm afraid that there are too few assumptions behind my analyzes and recommendations.”

Spirit of the Times: "I'm not sure I understand...?"

Me: "When people hear about Qvest, they often think that the data you get when you let employees ask each other questions is unbiased"

Spirit of the Times: "And that's not the case?"

Me: "No. When you let employees exchange questions and answers about important topics, you don't get unbiased and unambiguous data, but rather multi-biased and diverse data."

Spirit of the Times: "And that's a good thing?"

Read why my answer is YES in the full version of my conversation with the Spirit of the Times about her notion that algorithms and analyzes should be unbiased in my latest LinkedIn article:

Want diversity? Forget being unbiased

Finans: Store virksomheder transformerer sig ihjel

Store virksomheder transformerer sig ihjel
Tre transformationer på tre måneder! Under en pandemi, hvor de fleste arbejder hjemmefra. Og markedet er komplet utilregneligt. Undskyld, kære topledere, men hvad i alverden tænker I på?

Det kan lyde som en selvmordsmission.

Jeg er medejer af en lille startup, der hjælper store erfaringstunge virksomheder med at lykkes med deres digitale, strategiske og organisatoriske transformationer. Og så skriver jeg en klumme med titlen:

Store virksomheder transformerer sig ihjel.

Er det ikke at tage brødet ud af munden på mig selv at lægge op til, at de store virksomheder slår bremsen i? Stopper op. Sætter transformationerne på pause.

Måske. Men det problem, vi står overfor, er større end mig og mit levebrød. Det truer millioner af arbejdspladser og i sidste ende balancen på det globale marked.

Så jeg tager chancen.

The most important feedback

"Hmm, I think we just received the most important feedback we could get."

She could have said that. But she didn't.

Instead she said:

"We have promised people to run monthly surveys to get their feedback on how they perceive the transformation. The participation rate drops drastically for every survey we run, but we have to keep doing them to show people that we care about their feedback."

Just like I always look for the questions that people DON'T ask when they exchange questions and answers in Qvest, I can't help but thinking:

Is boycotting surveys and other activities not feedback?

"Du har ret. Jeg tog fejl"

"Hej, det er mig - din chef. Jeg håber, du har haft en god weekend. Jeg ville bare lige ringe og sige, at du har ret. Jeg tog fejl."

Går du og venter på sådan et opkald, venter du formentlig forgæves. I stedet genkender du måske dette:

"Jeg har oplevet mange directors, VP’er og CIO’s som i min optik ikke tør erkende de har begået en fejl. Hvorfor har mange ledere så svært ved at sige 'hey jeg tog fejl, så lad os komme videre herfra?'"

Da jeg modtog dette spørgsmål i sidste uge, var min umiddelbare reaktion, at det er da også for dårligt - hvorfor kan de dumme chefer ikke bare indrømme, at de tager fejl - ligesom alle os andre?

Men så slog det mig, at vi andre måske heller ikke er så gode til at indrømme, når vi tager fejl?

Og så prøvede jeg. Midt i puslespillet:

"Du har ret. Jeg tog fejl. Undskyld jeg var så insisterende."

Det var rart. Men også tydeligt hvorfor jeg ikke gør det så tit:

Fordi jeg er flov over, at jeg ikke overvejede andre muligheder
Fordi jeg skammer mig over den skråsikkerhed, jeg lagde for dagen
Fordi jeg er bange for, at andre vil tænke dårligt om mig

Så måske er de dumme chefer slet ikke dumme.

Måske er de flove, skamfulde og bange?

The questions that are never asked

"Is agile the right thing for us right now?"

I help large companies collect and analyze the questions their employees ask each other. But to be honest, I'm more curious about the questions employees do NOT ask.

I look for things that cannot be questioned because those are the things that prevent us from learning, innovating and evolving.

I am currently working with three of the most successful companies in Europe. Two Danish and one German.

Working with these companies confirms my belief that the reason they are so successful is that their employees ask brave questions - such as:

“We hear about big transformations, many challenges, everybody needs to be ready for change...and so on. Can you give me one good and concrete example of what kind of benefits our customers can expect?”

Successful executives respond to such questions with great gratitude. But what about the questions that are never asked?

When I look at tens of thousands of questions across hundreds of different companies, I miss questions such as:

- Is agile the right thing for us right now? - and
- Should we pause the digital transformation?

Are these the same questions that are hard to ask (out loud) in your organization? Or would you add some to the list?

"Er du overhovedet klar til at ændre mening?"

Hun er genial. Min datter. Hendes far spurgte os, hvad vi synes om ideen om at plante et æbletræ i haven, og selvom vi havde stærke argumenter for, hvorfor det ville være bedre med et blommetræ, holdt han fast: Det skal være et æbletræ.

Det fik min datter til at stille spørgsmålet: "Er du overhovedet klar til at ændre mening?” Og lammet af hendes knivskarpe analyse, havde min mand ikke andre muligheder end at svare: "Nej. Jeg skulle ikke have formuleret det som et spørgsmål."

Og det er rigtigt. Uanset om vi er ansvarlige for haven, IT-afdelingen eller hele virksomheden, skal vi ikke spørge, invitere og involvere, hvis vi ikke er klar til at ændre mening.

I stedet skal vi sige: Jeg har tænkt mig at plante et æbletræ her. Det har jeg af de her grunde_____, og jeg forventer, det vil skabe de her resultater_____.

Det sparer alle for en masse tid og energi, og det gør det nemt at gennemskue, hvem der har ansvar for hvad.

For vi kan ikke spørge, invitere og involvere os fra ansvar. Vi kan dele ansvaret, men det kræver, at vi er klar til at ændre mening.

Derfor er min datters spørgsmål genialt. Det minder os om, at vi har et valg:

Enten planter vi et træ sammen 🍑

Eller også bider vi i det sure æble alene 🍏

Hvilken knap glemmer du oftest?

Du har kun tre knapper at skrue på, når du vil motivere og mobilisere andre mennesker. Tre.

Det skulle være til at overskue. Alligevel vil jeg vædde med, at du konsekvent glemmer at skrue på mindst én af dem.

Forestil dig, at du modtager en invitation til en fest.

Afsenderen er din fætter, som er den største festabe, du kender.

Anledningen er hans 40 års fødselsdag.

De andre gæster er hans altid sjove venner.

Tager du med?

Det tror jeg nok, du gør. Med mindre huset falder sammen om ørerne på dig, er du klar til at give den gas.

Forestil dig nu, at det ikke er din fætter, der inviterer til abefest, men hans kone, der inviterer til surprise party.

Hun er sød, men hun bryder sig ikke om din fætters venner.

Derfor har kun inviteret familien.

Tager du med?

Måske. Hvis der ikke dukker noget andet op.

Det er præcis det samme, der sker, når du vil have dine kolleger til at bakke op om dit initiativ. De spørger sig selv:

  • Er hun den rette til at få ting til at ske?
  • Kan jeg se mig selv i hendes initiativ?
  • Siger de andre deltagere mig noget?

Hvis de svarer nej til et eller flere af disse spørgsmål, er der stor sandsynlighed for, at der dukker noget andet op.

Så hvilken knap glemmer du oftest:

Afsender, Anledning eller de Andre?


"Dem nederst i organisationen skal tale mest og dem i toppen mindst, fordi deres ord tillægges mere vægt. Det kræver stor bevidsthed om, hvordan man faciliterer samtaler i organisationer."

Fra samtale med erfaren topchef.


Did COVID-19 make us more human?

The beauty of uncertainty — like doubt, wonder and curiosity — is that the minute we accept them as indisputable aspects of life, we instinctively turn toward each other.

Uncertainty makes us reflect on what’s important — to ourselves, each other and the world we share. It fosters questions like:

Who do I want to be — as a leader, parent, human? And do I have to change anything in the way I think and act to become this better version of myself?

How do we want to communicate and collaborate — as a team, organization, society? And do we need new ways of working to improve our interaction?

What impact do we want to have — on our customers, industry, society, the globe? And do we have to change our focus and priorities to have this impact?

These kinds of questions, and the reflection they give rise to, is what makes us human.

So, maybe we've become a little more human thanks to COVID-19?

From my article, What McKinsey gets wrong about uncertainty, May 2020.

Finans: Kan en kold skid være en skidegod leder?

Kan en kold skid være en skidegod leder?
Jeg har stor respekt for den kolde skids bevidsthed om og vilje til at indrømme, at han ikke er supergod til at føle sig frem til, hvad der fylder i andre mennesker.

Ja, selvfølgelig kan han det.

Den kolde skid er nem at arbejde sammen med. Forudsigelig. Effektiv. Og du behøver ikke at spekulere på, om han kan lide dig eller ej. For det betyder ikke noget.

Når din leder ikke taler med dig, fordi han elsker at tale med andre mennesker, men fordi I skal udrette noget sammen, så fokuserer alle mere på opgaven end på hinanden.

Og det er rart.

Jeg tager den kolde skid i forsvar i dagens Finans.

The biggest competitive advantage

"I would like to challenge what you just said. Is that okay?"

The executive in one of Europe's largest companies agreed. He said that he was interested in getting as many perspectives on the company's situation as possible - including mine.

I told him that I agree that the company needs to reshape the IT organization in order to come up with new digital products within the next few years - which is absolutely necessary for the company to survive in a time of immense market pressure.

But when he asked me how the senior management team should "spin that story" to the employees, I felt a strong need to challenge the assumption that important strategic decisions must be "spinned" for employees to understand them.

So, I told him that the company's hundreds of thousands of employees are the company's biggest competitive advantage, and that instead of "spinning a story", the senior management team should trust that their employees:

1) See the same need for reshaping the IT organization as they do

2) Know things about the company's situation that the senior management team doesn't know (because they don't deal with different customers in different markets on a daily basis), and

3) Will do everything they can for the company to survive

That's my perspective.

What's yours?