Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.
“It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
So, let us start with something very central to the Vikings. The Nine Noble Virtues:
Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance
The virtues are derived from ancient Nordic Mythology. It is believed that the Vikings lived their lives according to this set of values. Values of which each can be found in many religions and cultures, but somehow, when you combine them they form a unique basis for leadership – and a way of living. Chris Shern interviewed 50 very different leaders with very different perspectives on Nordic Leadership as part of his research for the book. And what he found for them to have in common were qualities similar to the Nine Noble Virtues. But we will get back to that later …
To Chris Shern the thinking was, that the Nordic approach to leadership is better equipped than others to meet the challenges of a chaotic future. Gone are the days when a boss could sit back and hold on to all the knowledge and information and you repeatedly had to go and ask him whether you can or cannot do something. What Chris Shern saw among the Nordic leaders was courage to delegate great responsibility to their employees, and for the employees to have the discipline and self-reliance that is needed to handle great tasks. This kind of corporation is depending on fidelity and for everyone to take an honour in their work. Chris Shern also found that all the people he interviewed were driven by something more than just making money. It was about having a purpose and giving back.
As a result of these states having largely rejected the core assumptions of classical economics, profit is seen as a consequence of work and not as its goal. Banking is seen as a service and not as the focus of economic growth. Education is viewed as vital to personal growth, which just also happens to be the perfect countercyclical investment that secures long-term prosperity. And underpinning all this is an expectation that each person will work to contribute to the overall well-being of the society of which they are part: this is a perception of work as a participatory activity.
The result appears to be a Keynesian, social democratic nirvana where education, healthcare and pensions are free, the social safety net is still strong and cooperatives supply 40 per cent of housing in Norway.
BUURTZORG’S HEALTHCARE REVOLUTION: 14,000 EMPLOYEES, 0 MANAGERS, SKY-HIGH ENGAGEMENT
At Buurtzorg, the circa 1000 teams are completely self-organised and they therefore take care of the entire health care process. Among many other things they take on new clients, plan their own the work, delivering care to their clients and they even hire new nurses for the team. There is, however, still a small headquarters of about 50 people to support the nurses.
But this headquarters has only one single function according to Jos: “The headquarters takes care of the inevitable bureaucracy, so the nurses won’t be bothered with it. Think about charging for the health care, making the official financial statements and making sure that our nurses getting paid.” Besides this back office there are also 18 coaches around to support the teams with problems they cannot solve themselves (i.e. conflict resolution).
New teams are still joining Buurtzorg on a regular basis. New teams can apply to run their own neighborhood. Once they start, they mostly rely on their own. Jos: “We noticed that the teams we supported the most, took the longest time to be up and running. This is how we learned to let go and let the teams find their own way.”
Openness promotes participation
Informality generates trust
Experimentation produces emergence
Knowledge sharing allows for scale
Media Literacy Index via @CBjola “Scandinavian countries have the strongest #resilience potential to #FakeNews, and Balkan countries the weakest; Key resilience indicators: media freedom, education and trust in people.”
The public sense that truth claims are contestable and mutable interpretations is undoubtedly bolstered by the multi-media communications revolution, and by the advent of new forms of monitory democracy featuring a plethora of mediated platforms where power is publicly interrogated and chastened.
Monitory democracy promotes the growth of public spaces where uncertainty, doubt, scepticism, irony and modesty in the face of arbitrary power are nurtured …
The radical originality of monitory democracy is its defiant insistence that peoples’ lives are never simply given, that all things human are built on the shifting sands of space-time, and that no person or group, no matter how much “truth” or power they presently enjoy or want to claim, can be trusted permanently, in any given context, to govern other people’s lives.