Another tiring full day on Zoom but it was also energising, inspiring and definitely worth it. This conference last Friday was a collaboration between various Swedish organisations – the Stockholm School of Economics, the Karolinska Institute, a medical university, and 29K and the Ekskäret Foundation, which both foster personal growth and societal change.
It had been the strapline to the event that caught my eye: “Our shared commitment to Growth that Matters”.
As participants joined (apparently it was sold-out, with at least 1000 of us), a solo guitarist playing in a studio, which was a pleasant and welcoming change. The morning session was filled mostly with the Swedish contingent, with the founder of 29K, Erik Fernholm, giving an excellent opening talk on some of our current societal challenges and our need to overcome them through personal growth. Senior managers from Spotify and Ericsson discussed the moral imperative and urgency for businesses to foster human growth and cultivate cultures of connection. And just before lunch we were encouraged by professor Micael Dahlen to make a fresh start as if we’d all reached a big birthday.
Then came a few international “heavyweights”. Peter Senge and Amy Edmundson emphasized the need for collective development, while Peter also made a very good point about leaders having to let go and stop controlling, manage their egos better, and allow fresh innovative ideas to emerge from the margins, not the mainstream.
Fascinating was “the Nordic Secret” shared by Tomas Björkman of the Ekskäret Foundation. He told us about the retreat centres that were set up across Scandinavia in the 19th and early 20th centuries to facilitate personal growth among different classes of people. Robert Kegan explained how growth cultures should combine care and candour, while Otto Scharmer vouched for co-sensing what is happening and what is needed as well as listening with humility.
I’d like to have heard more from the panel of Amy, Robert, Otto and Jennifer Garvey Berger. And I would love to have met the other participants for a beer at the bar to share our learning. Ah well. Roll on 2021.