06/11/2014 - 06/13/2014 70 °F
The conference itself was enjoyable and well worth the trip. The three days were each organized around themes of transformation, beginning with personal transformation, followed by organizational transformation and then societal transformation on the final day. A few takeaways:
First, I was absolutely fascinated by this graph. It plots values in different countries based on where they fall in the spectrum of survival vs. self-expression values and traditional vs. secular-rational values. It is very interesting to see how a common history or common language keeps countries grouped together. I definitely want to look deeper into this.
In the afternoon, there was a breakout that seemed to have been tailor made for yours truly. It was at the intersection of brain science and positive psychology, about how some of the ways our brain is wired can influence our ability to flourish. Needless to say I couldn’t get enough. I definitely need to follow up with that guy.
That night, we had a midsummer celebration (one week early). The Swedish students attending the conference got a deeply discounted ticket by agreeing to host a traditional Swedish midsummer celebration. We made our own (crowns?) from (birch?) and adorned them with flowers.
They even brought in an authentic folk dancing troupe (complete with accordion accompaniment) to show us some traditional Swedish dances. Each member wore a costume that comes from their place of origin within Sweden. The men’s knickers were even made of elk hide!
Inevitably, they got us all to join in on some much simpler dances that mostly consisted of dancing around in circles holding hands.
Lest I think this was simply a re-creation of a bygone era, once we started the dances that we all participated in, the Swedes knew all the words to the songs. Apparently these dances (though not the ones the troupe entertained us with) are still popular at midsummer celebrations, especially among children. The wreaths and Maypole are a real thing too!
For day 2 on organizational transformation, it felt like we were at a Conscious Capitalism conference. There was a story of how the coach of the Swedish National Women’s Golf Team took a values-based approach to transforming the culture as well as a presentation that—save for a few different acronyms—was remarkably similar if not identical to Firms of Endearment. After a break, there was an inspiring talk from (Alan?) who runs the non-profit (??) based on the principle of “Buy One Give One,” where he helps businesses to partner with non-profits to provide life-changing resources for each unit sold of their products. For example, imagine how you would feel leaving the doctors office with a thank you note that says your visit helped to pay for a child to go to a clinic in Nigeria or a thank you for attending a training because it helped to pay for a month’s worth of school for a child in Haiti? Tim Kelley also gave a presentation on how organizations need to stop putting a band-aid on hierarchy and instead need a complete overhaul on the way that they are organized if they truly want to achieve their higher purpose. It was an especially compelling keynote, so I continued on for his breakout later in the afternoon. I also attended a fascinating breakout detailing case-studies of municipalities in Sweden using the Cultural Transformation Tools on their entire city government and community. It was truly exhilarating and made me wonder how such an initiative could be implemented in the States.
Day 3 on societal transformation was perhaps the most mind-expanding of all, probably because it was the area that I have the least exposure to. There was an interesting talk on “Positive Policing” which, like it sounds, is related to Positive Psychology such as giving positive tickets to encourage an increase in good behavior rather than punishing the bad behavior. He also discussed the ways they have been trying to get people to see the police as “on their side” to promote people not wanting to break the law rather than just trying to avoid getting caught.