Change Management – books for personal transformation

Change Management, in my perception, often entails showing step-by-step models by American authors on how to persuade people to accept change. The more scientific and tested, the better, and if they have been listed in the Harvard Business Review, even better. These models can be helpful, but often the change management literature is a bit dry and academic. Change is an emotional journey for many, and all the models in the world can’t help people see more clearly. They need a sense of owning their destiny no matter what happens.

The company I work for, Haldex, has been subject to great change the last years. Some of it has been driven by ourselves, such as a new cultural framework with our 5Cs and our updated strategy for the coming years. Some of the change is caused by outside conditions, such as another company wanting to acquire us. Here, we don’t know what will happen, since the European and US rules and processes for acquisitions are long and complex. Meanwhile, media is writing like crazy about the potential merger, while we have a daily job to handle professionally.

Two books that can be helpful for dealing with change on a personal level are Ryan Holiday’s The obstacle is the way and Katie Byron’s Loving what is. They are very different from each other but both focus on concrete actions to overcome fear and doubt, and find a way forward. Ryan is more focused on the Stoics and their way of turning obstacles into a way forward, with modern examples of people doing this. Katie draws spiritual lessons from Zen and Socratic inquiry and more, to help us stop arguing with reality and instead create the life we want. I found both books helpful on a more personal level, and as a great complement to the more strict, academic literature on change.

The next step after reading Ryan’s book could be Ryan’s book The Daily Stoic, which helps you practice the Stoic mindset every day. Of course, any book by Marcus Aurelius or the like also helps.

The next step after reading Katie’s book could be Eckhardt Tolle’s The Power of Now where you can leave our analytical mind and ego at least some of the time.

So, if you work with change management, or you are subject to changes too big for you to influence, the above books might help you and your colleagues. Don’t just throw academic books with 8 steps at them, saying we are at step one now so buckle up! Don’t forget that change management is an art and that it also includes winning the hearts of people. Once we are reminded about the fact that we are in charge of our own destiny, it gets easier to succeed in our daily jobs no matter what happens.

My first self-published Kindle book is out!

Today is a fun and festive day indeed! Today my first self-published book has been released on Kindle. The title is “How to avoid information overload using social media tools: Steps to feeling calmer and smarter“, and the book is free to download the first three days.

If you use Kindle (otherwise download it for free here), I would be very grateful if you could download it and then send me any feedback by commenting this blog post. This way, I can do some necessary changes before the free period ends. If you like the idea of the book, please write a positive review of it here. The book is free at the beginning, and I am helped by friendly reviews.

I view this as an experiment and a chance to grow. I have studied what people like James Altucher and Tim Ferriss are writing about self-publishing and wanted to try it. Even though I have no illusions about reaching big audiences, I have crossed a mental barrier: None of us need permission from anyone else to write, publish, and sell books on any subject. If I can do it, you can do it.

Let us see where this lands. Meanwhile, cheers!


Enough with the digital disruption – show some stewardship also

Every morning on my way to and from work, I listen to smart people talking to other smart people about being human. For example, this morning I listened to Krista Tippett talking to Maria Popova about creating meaning in a digital age. In one of the passages, Maria quotes a conversation she had with Andrew Sullivan:

POPOVA: And then he said, “You know, culture needs stewardship, not disruption.”

TIPPETT: Mm. That’s lovely.

POPOVA: And I was like, “Yes.” But I actually think, yes, we have forsaken stewardship to a large degree, but we need both, always, to move forward.

When I look at Twitter and blogs, there is a ton of material written about ‘digital disruption’, as if that would awaken and guide us. Mostly, I just get tired and think the authors write ‘disruption’ because they have nothing else to say, no more words to use to increase the nuances. Let us look at the definition of ‘disruption’:


noun: forcible separation or division into parts.


noun: disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.

synonyms: disturbance, disordering, disarrangement, disarranging, interference, upset, upsetting, unsettling, confusion, confusing;

So, here we are, listening to all these consultants who think we find pleasure in hearing that our businesses will be “forcible separated” causing unsettling confusion. Again, look at what Maria referred to:

“You know, culture needs stewardship, not disruption.”

Where are the consultants and big thinkers who can show stewardship in how technology will support us? And no, I don’t mean how it can make us more ‘productive’ and create busy-work with yet another gadget, or show us where technologies are placed on Gartner’s hype cycle. I mean how technology can guide us to better businesses and help us lead better lives. Technology is part of our culture today, and it could sure win from more wisdom and less colorful hype with cool hashtags and top managers and consultants telling us what we already know.

Please, the next time you want to write about ‘digital disruption’, think about what you want to tell us. We all know that the world is changing, but please guide us more. Once you know how what you say will help us, write your words and publish.

Reinventing ourselves: Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, and Constructive Developmental Theory

The last six months I have made it a habit to read and listen to the books and podcasts from Tim Ferriss and James Altucher, and then apply some of their ideas. For example, Tim’s book “Tools of Titans” contains a tremendous number of tricks and tips to live smarter, while James’ books in the Choose Yourself series helps you build a stronger foundation for everything in life.

Meanwhile, via Lee Bryant and PostShift, I have been introduced to the Quantified Organization relating to the Quantified Self.  Instead of guessing if we are making progress or not, we can measure if we are or not. On a personal level, it happens via apps, habits, smartwatches and more, and on an organizational level we use KPIs of all sorts.

It is, however, hard to measure if you are progressing in your personal development. Many of the tips coming from Tim’s and James’ podcasts and books feel great, but then I wonder if I can measure if I am progressing or not. Then it struck me that I might as well practice ‘idea sex’ as James puts it. By combining the advice from James and Tim with a theory like Constructive Developmental Theory, I might gain some clarity. This is a half-baked idea, but that’s ok: I learned from Harold Jarche that a great way to develop your own thinking is by releasing such ideas into the open. Then others can react, and we can continue building our collective knowledge.

I first heard about John Kegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory when reading about change, and especially why some people never want to change. Fast Company wrote about it when mentioning the mind-set we need to succeed in the future, and linked to Future Trends in Leadership Development (PDF) from the Center of Creative Leadership. Then Ana Cristina Campos Marques Curitiba clarified all of Robert Kegan’s five levels in her post on Constructive Developmental Theory:

  1. The Impulsive Mind: The first stage is what mainly characterizes the behavior of children.
  2. Instrumental Mind: The human being has only one perspective, his own.
  3. The Socialized Mind: Such a stance tends to be reliant on authority for direction and less likely to question, making one a loyal follower.
  4. The Self-Authoring Mind: Guided by their own internal compass, such a person becomes subject to his own ideology. These individuals tend to be self-directed, independent thinkers.
  5. The Self-Transforming Mind: This multi-frame perspective is able to hold the contradictions between competing belief systems and is therefore subject to the dialectic between systems of thought.

No matter if such levels are true or not, they can work as mental models. I find that the ideas presented via Tim’s and James’ books and podcasts urge us to move up the above ladder. By adopting the best tips and tricks and habits, we can move from being loyal followers who don’t question anything, over to self-directed thinkers and then self-transforming minds. It is almost as if we in this later stage can hold ourselves in our hand and objectively analyze what is best for this person.

As Jay Barbuto puts it in this video, at this level we are no longer the prisoners of our own identity. Instead, we see all the different nuances and possibilities and can reinvent ourselves.

So there we have it: By merging great ideas from people like James and Tim and their guests with developmental theories, we can reinvent ourselves. A great start for a new way of life.

Most interesting #AI articles this week, from the Deckard Blog

My blog on artificial intelligence, the Deckard Blog, already has 100+ posts. This means there is a lot to learn from it each week. This is the first example of a Friday post where I list what I learned from the blog during the week. All images belong to the creators of the original articles.

An overview of the AI landscape

See which technologies there are today and how they rate on the scales of ‘Sophistication’ and ‘Mass adoption or application’.

What is Artificial Intelligence, by BBC.

An excellent site from BBC, with an overview of artificial intelligence, with movies and more.


VIDEO: What cognitive computing means for the workforce, from Davos

A discussion with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, and HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman on a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland.


VIDEO: Mikko Hypponen at F-Secure talks about the possibilities and dangers of self-driving cars

Already today are we facing difficult choices for using AI in our lives, and these choices will become even harder.


What Jobs Sectors Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over in the Near Future? | The Huffington Post

Very interesting post, originally from Quora, on which jobs will and will not be affected by artificial intelligence entering the job market.


VIDEO: Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google, explains his predictions for 2045

Ray has been called a genius for years, and now leads the engineering team at Google. A must see.


23 #AI Principles laid out by the Future of Life Institute

A set of scientists and business people lay out 23 principles that we must follow to avoid bad consequences from using artificial intelligence.


Partnerships in the self-driving car industry take shape

Companies are collaborating to reach the best effects, and I think we will see much more of this. Here are two examples:

#AI and driverless vehicles just took a big step forward: Uber Partners With Daimler

Audi and Nvidia in #AI collaboration for the Audi Q7

Disengagements per 1,000 Miles for Autonomous Cars: @google leads, Bosch last

A report that caught a lot of attention. Not only are the car companies seeing more or fewer disengagements in their self-driving cars (Google leads, Bosch last) – they don’t always measure them the same way.


My new morning routine, thanks to Tim Ferriss

Ever since I read Tim Ferriss’ book “Tools of Titans”, I have started to change how I live. One such thing is my morning routine. Before the book, it was the standard semi-haze, trying to eat, shower, and read the newspaper before waking the kids. Now I do the following every morning:

  1. Yoga for my back and overall mobility. Takes a few minutes, but helps me avoid the back pain I have suffered from since before.
  2. Drink Pu-Erh black tea with coconut oil. A wonderful way of starting each day, instead of the strong jolt of caffeine from coffee.
  3. Meditate 10-15 minutes using the app. A great way of putting things into perspective.
  4. Write in my 5-minute journal to set the goals for today. You will be amazed at the direction life gets already in the morning when you know what the three most important things are.
  5. Make my bed. As described below, such a minute thing actually helps.

Even if the rest of the day becomes a hectic mess, I at least had a great start and a focus. Highly recommended! Below, you can read more about how Tim starts each day, fetched from Business Insider.

“The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss breaks down this morning routine that primes him for his day.

Source (incl. the image): ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ author has a 5-part morning routine to maximize his productivity – Business Insider Nordic

Change – this time it is personal

I have written before on change management, and especially how it has failed to support companies. But that’s change on the macro level. Now it’s time for changing myself. I started the year by reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.

If you ever thought about changing your life for real, then read this book now. It has nearly no quick solutions. Instead, it has smart solutions. Really smart solutions. I have already started to meditate, planned my finances better, drinking wonderful teas, and building a stronger body. Gladly, many others such as Michelle Ockers are reading this book as well, and I look forward to many interesting ideas.

Thank you, Tim Ferriss, for all the time and effort spent to create this book. The rest is up to us.

Grow new habits with liminal thinking

I just discovered that I could grow new habits with liminal thinking, and it has already changed how I see things. By reading Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray, I was not only presented with tools to change my view of the world. Through reading this book, I also re-opened the door to the world of philosophy. Far too many have asked why I started my academic road studying practical philosophy and even asked me how philosophy can be practical. Well, those ideas can govern your whole world, and that is why you win from paying attention to such ideas.

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limit of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

The subheading of Dave’s book, “Create the change you want by changing the way you think,” stays very close to what Schopenhauer expresses above. Please note, however, that we are not talking about the over-optimistic, happy-happy, you-can-do-it mentality so prevalent in so-called self-help books. Instead, we are talking about the fabrics of life: If we learn to challenge our beliefs, judgments, theories, and more, we can lead a different kind of life than we are used to. By learning to work with the liminal space between what we experience as reality and the “obvious” way we think the world works, we can move our minds and bodies to places we never thought of before.

Dave explains the principles and practices of liminal thinking in a clear and entertaining way in this book. I recommend it to anyone interested in finding new paths to walk. And remember, again, what Father Zosima told Fyodor Karamazov after this depraved and muddleheaded family father made a fool of himself in Zosima’s cell:

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from the Brothers Karamazov

Yes, stop lying to yourself about how the world works. Instead, challenge how you view it. Please take the time to read Dave’s excellent book, and then head over to the Liminal Thinking site to continue the conversation. Thank you, Dave, for writing this book.

Spend your next 20 years doing something valuable

Once you reach your 40s or 50s, life can start feeling a bit more empty despite all visible proof of success. You have the job, the paycheck, the career, the diplomas, the car, the mobile, the wines, the bike, the travel, the clothes. But somehow the joy seems more distant than before. This might be a sign that your professional life should change in some way. Spend your next 20 years doing something valuable.

Let Peter Drücker guide you

Peter Drucker noted that our priorities change as we get older and that we should adapt for example by becoming social entrepreneurs. Yes, it might sound obvious that life changes, but I don’t think we always note and embrace this change. We are bombarded with messages of extreme youth, never ending beauty, and constant health, and it is said our attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish. I say: don’t believe this stupidity. As Søren Kierkegaard said: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” It is up to you to harness your wisdom, slow down, read as long texts as you want, and think about how to spend the next 20 years of your work life.

One way of going forward is by following the advice of Peter Drucker. You can either grow older and continue focusing on your satisfaction and growth. You have your boring job, but you get a raise in pay every year. Or you can start thinking about creating something of value outside yourself. Yes, the comfort zone breaks, but perhaps it is sunnier on the outside?

Create your future

“The best way to predict the future is to create it,” said Drucker. One way of doing this is by seeing the signs on the horizon, and adapting to them. This happens a lot when people talk about how future technology could impact our jobs. Another way is using your wisdom to create something the world has never seen before. Remember Arthur Schopenhauer’s “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

Therefore, if you stare in the mirror and wonder about what to do next, you have an option: Either you dig a deeper hole and buy that red sports car, or you start looking beyond where people in your profession are looking. No, I don’t say this is easy. But I for sure think it is worth it.