Why “Experts” Keep Getting It Wrong

Management theorists lack depth, I realized, because they have been doing for only a century what philosophers and creative thinkers have been doing for millennia. This explains why future business leaders are better off reading histories, philosophical essays, or just a good novel than pursuing degrees in business.

I just read “The Management Myth: Why the “Experts” Keep Getting It Wrong”, a book written by Matthew Stewart. It challenges the traditional ideas and practices of management in modern businesses. In his book, Stewart argues that the current system of management is based on flawed assumptions and that it is in need of a major overhaul. Basically, it needs more Schopenhauer, Kant, and Jung, than it needs Taylor.

One of the main ideas that Stewart explores in the book is the concept of expertise. He argues that the current system of management relies heavily on the idea of expertise, with managers being viewed as the experts who have all the answers. However, Stewart asserts that this notion of expertise is often misguided and that it can actually hinder progress and innovation.

“The idea of expertise is a trap. It seduces us into thinking that we know more than we do and that we can predict the future with greater accuracy than is possible. It lulls us into complacency and dulls our senses to the possibility of surprise.”

Stewart also critiques the way that modern businesses are structured, arguing that they often prioritize short-term profits over long-term sustainability. He argues that this focus on short-term gains leads to a lack of innovation and a failure to adapt to changing circumstances. It also leads to an all too positive view of what new shiny technilogy can do, dating all the way back to the beginning of the industrialisation:

This confusion of facts and values—or, more generally, the attempt to find pseudotechnical solutions to moral and political problems—is the most consequential error in Taylor’s work and is the cardinal sin of management theory to the present.

The book also brings up a thing I have noted when swithcing from privately owned companies to working for the City of Malmö:

“The main problem with the modern business enterprise is not that it is inefficient, but that it is a machine for the production of the wrong things. It is designed to produce profits for the benefit of a small group of shareholders and executives, rather than for the benefit of society as a whole.”

It is very liberating to not have a board of directors I never meet but who decide if I am needed or not, and to always work for the next quarter. Instead, we are in it for the long run and work for the great of the public instead of shareholders. A nice change.

Finally, the book brilliantly presents the steps anyone who worked with a management consulting firm has seen:

  1. Marketing (The Luring). Fly in “experts” from around the world, never to be seen again. Hold “conferences.”
  2. Diagnostic (Halloween). It’s trick and treat time. First, scare the pants off them. Crater their self-esteem. This requires what is known in the trade as a “trick.” A trick is a quick and easy analysis that will produce predictably horrifying results—predictable for you, horrifying for them. Consultants spend years honing these tricks. Second, offer to give them their self-esteem back in exchange for your treat!
  3. Implementation (Eating the Brain). The key to establishing an enduring presence is to colonize key functions in the client’s central nervous system. A good place to start is the planning function.
  4. Follow-ons (Metastasis). You’re already expanding deep inside the client organization, so think like a cancer.
  5. The Breakup.

It all ends in sending a hefty bill and the planning for a new round.

Of course, there are management consultants that can bring value. But after having read this book, written by a management consultant, I will be very cautious regarding whom to hire.

Image by maximiliano estevez from Pixaba, portraying a healthily sceptical manager.

The first concrete steps towards Office 365

A week ago, the management team of Haldex said yes to the idea of moving our intranet into the cloud. So now all my ideas over the years on how to build an including digital workplace for all employees can become a reality. But what are the first steps to take? It is easy to get stuck in all the models of the digital workplace or listen to vendors who say it takes a day to install their product. For me, I instead start in an internal pay-it-forward exercise to collect great ideas and in a more formal step of signing up for Microsoft’s FastTrack. I tell you more about these steps in the short movie below.

By the way, pay close attention also to Microsoft’s Planning Services. If you already are a customer of Microsoft, there is a good chance you can use free days to plan your setup and migration together with a Microsoft Partner. Just follow the steps in the Planning Services link and ask your Office 365 admin to log in and check how many days you have. And if you are a Microsoft partner, signing up for Planning Services is a must.

Photo by Wim Arys on Unsplash.

Back in black, and loving it

Last week, I did something rewarding and simple. I booked two meetings with very knowledgeable and nice people, Hanna from TetraPak and Fredrik from IKEA. We sat down on two separate mornings, had our black coffee, and enjoyed the sheer pleasure of talking uninterrupted for an hour or two about our work challenges and potential roads ahead. It doesn’t matter if our companies employ 2.000, 20.000, or 200.000 people – we all have challenges and headaches and win from talking about them.

My advice this week is don’t believe the hype: Spend less time reading about “grand strategies of implementing digital disruption” (what? be much more concrete please), “the intranet is dead” (no it isn’t, be quiet), and “our digital workplace solution will solve all your problems” (no it won’t since you don’t know even 1% of how our company functions). Instead, sit down with people you respect and from who you can learn. And drink coffee.

Focus more on awesome work, than using the LinkedIn Resume Assistant

This week, I received the news telling me about LinkedIn’s Resume Assistant. At first, it didn’t bother me, but after a while, I returned to it. On one level I thought such a tool might be great for people starting their careers but then again not since you are basically copying what others have expressed. On another level, this makes me wonder about some bigger questions:

  • If you want to be unique and stand out from the crowd, using a template for resumes will probably not help you land your dream job since you will be hard to separate from others. You will just sound like all others in your field. Instead, I suggest you engage in what Anders Ericsson calls ‘deliberate practice’ meaning you will be so darn good that recruiters will contact you for that reason. Share your work from that practice, and people will recognize you.


  • The best recruiters are probably using far better methods to find unique talents, than just getting matches on LinkedIn searches. The best recruiters don’t care if you have all the exact words and expressions on your resume. Instead, they will notice you since you are good at sharing your knowledge from all your deliberate practice. If a recruiter contacts me, I would much rather hear that they do so since I seem awesome at what I do, rather than my resume matching their LinkedIn search.


Of course, there is nothing wrong with having an excellent resume. But the main value of the resume does not lie in the exact words you use to describe yourself. The main value lies in performing the hard work that needs to be done to reach excellence and then sharing that excellence through LinkedIn and other forums.


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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 five ideas to improve Microsoft’s offering

Earlier, I posted about five ideas on improving LinkedIn, and now I have come to Microsoft. I use their products every day privately and professionally, and here are some ideas that could make them even better from my perspective:

  1. Guide us on how to use all your apps. Sometimes, it seems you launch a new 365 app every week, and then post about how awesome it is. But you forget to merge it into a context where all your other apps live. When I and others ask about what to use when, you only say it is up to me, but that is not enough. You launch your product for a distinct reason I hope. Tell us this reason, and which app to use for what, and then we have an easier time selling them to our colleagues.
    –>My suggestion: Gather a group of people who run 365 environments internally, and place them in a nice venue for a week. Let them design how to use your services based on real-world examples. Serve them double espressos during the day, and wine in the evening. You will come up with the best training material and guidance ever.
  2. Build a better sync client for OneDrive. We all know that there is one company that leads here, and has been from the start, and it is Dropbox. I have never encountered problems with their sync app, but a multitude with yours. Yes, you ditched groove and rebuilt it, but still it is no way near Dropbox. Your client is far better than before, but it still complains about file types, creates unnecessary copies, and is slower.
    –>My suggestion: Set a team of sync experts to rebuild a new sync client. Don’t disturb them – just let them do their magic. Serve them Bulletproof Coffee during the day, and make sure they sleep well at night.
  3. Open your mail and calendar to 3rd party apps. This is the main reason I use Google’s mail and calendar – it just works with any other Android app around. Adding the 365 mail and calendar to other apps can be done, but especially the calendar is too complicated and feels too proprietary.
    –>My suggestion: Be more open and inclusive regarding how other apps can connect to your services. By letting your customers choose which Android apps to use, you show you want them as customers. You know you don’t always build the best apps in all areas, but that is ok if you are open to other apps talking to your services.
  4. Create a much smarter email handling. Email is still the big dark monster that eats away at people’s days and minds, and it is time you acted on it for real. You have started this work, especially in the excellent Outlook app you bought, but online is falling behind. You have also started to include data in 365 on how much time is spent on email, which only will be depressing for the majority. Yes, I know why you do it, but this is more like treating the symptoms more than the source of pain.
    –> My suggestion: Start to experiment more, and use an alternative UI which is based on AI and Graph. Google has its Inbox, and so should you. Tell people that it is an alternative way of using email, and make sure you treat the data will full respect regarding privacy even if you use AI.
  5. Bring back the Sunrise Calendar. Sunrise Calendar was the most awesome calendar around and I loved how easy it was to use it. Then you bought it, promised that the calendar in Outlook would incorporate Sunrise functionality, and then… nothing happened. Don’t do things like this Microsoft. What if someone bought Excel, turned it off and then promised to incorporate it into the next version of the Supercalculator App (just choose a name), and never did. The bad will would be massive and no one would like it.
    –> My suggestion: Get the Sunrise functionality up and running right away. Their latest blog post was 9 months ago, and you had lots of time before that to start adjusting. If you acquire an app that millions love and use, then treat it and them with respect. Basically, it’s rather easy: If you just plan correctly, you can have parallel development teams while you acquire the company. This way, once you launch the press release that the app is yours, you also launch an updated calendar app that is awesome. People would love it!

I have no hopes that Satya Nadella will read this but maybe someone else at Microsoft will listen. Microsoft sure does a lot of awesome things, but here are some ways to become even better.

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.

Mapping the Neo-Generalist in you

“The neo-generalist wanderer often has to adapt to contextual shifts and reinvent themselves when circumstances call for it.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

Recently, I finished reading an excellent book called “The Neo-Generalist,” with the Zen-like subtitle “Where You Go Is Who You Are.” Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin wrote this book – two authors that clearly have wandered between specializations, and learned a lot from it.

The book hits a current issue right on the head: Hiring managers and HR departments still focus most of their efforts on finding specialists. It seems to be the default view for everything. We have an issue here – let’s call in an expert! It is reminiscent of kids’ cartoons – the problems there are always clear, and a specialist can always solve them. As in Paw Patrol – they can dig, fly, stop traffic, pour water on fire, and more, focusing on one thing each to save the city over and over. But, as it turns out, the world is more complicated than that, and our work should follow. Yes, the world still needs specialists, of course. Meanwhile, there is a significant need to highlight the serial specialists/neo-generalists too. People who can draw experience from several different professional areas, and merge them into something new. For many of us, this is how we know we can bring value to the world, and we should nurture this. In one sense, it is like saying yes to the open, childlike curiosity we all have had at some point:

“Throughout our early lives we talk about what we want to be when we grow up. Then middle age hits and there is a slow realisation and gradual acceptance that, actually, we never grow up. The potential, the opportunity, remains to be many things.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

It might be that you have experience from different professional areas, and want to support all your skills and interests. One way of making this understanding more concrete can be to create a simple map of who you are as a neo-generalist. This way of thinking is fully in line with the Personal Knowledge Mastery ideas I have learned from Harold Jarche – throw out half-baked ideas to see where they land. I will start with myself as an example, based on my interests and experiences:


My current job title is “communications manager,” but I have done many other things earlier in my life: technical writing, Ph.D. studies in educational sciences, writing and producing e-learning, taking care of intranets, and focusing on how new technology can help us evolve the workplace based on a healthy culture. If I place them together, it can be a bit easier to see where my different set of skills can take me. I can see how experiences of various disciplines can merge and support each other. And since I have practiced Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) for years, I also know which people can help and inspire me for each circle. Yes, this is an experiment, but I like the visual idea of mapping the serial specialist areas to see where they land. Start by looking at yourself right now, and then build a map. In a few years, it will probably change. A good thing that might come out of such an exercise is that you find what makes you unique. As Oscar Wilde said:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

I highly recommend the book The Neo-Generalist. It has grown on me, gives me new ideas every week, and has awakened a childlike curiosity. Thank you, Kenneth and Richard! I look forward to more discussions going forward.

Digitalization and culture: From flirt to proposal

Last week, I was honored to be invited as one of the speakers at Intranätverk. The conference, held a few times a year, attracts people who want to talk about intranets and the digital workplace. My talk was (no surprise here) about culture and the intranet: Digitalization and culture – From flirt to proposal. The culture and the technology can flirt all they want, but we must also make sure they walk hand-in-hand.

At Haldex, we make sure we don’t just talk about our culture and the 5Cs. Among other things, we also make sure our intranet serves as a concrete evidence of them. There, we do a number of things to remind employees that our 5Cs are at the center of what we do:

  • The intranet is named “Connect”, after the first C.
  • For each C, we display clear examples of each, based on the business we do. For example, when we presented ‘Collaborate’, we created a video of our product manager for disc brakes telling a story on how great collaboration led to business with a customer.
  • We are building a business portal named ‘Connect the dots’, which is the sub heading for the first C ‘Connect’. Here, we will include all the necessary facts about our company, and the world we work in.
  • The intranet is part of something much bigger, which we can refer to as the Digital Workplace, which in turn is part of creating a great work place. At Haldex, we make sure Human Resources, IT, and Communications drive a mutual agenda for this. At Intranätverk, I included a Venn diagram (they always seem to display the truth and be highly scientific) to emphasize the risks of excluding any of these departments:


If Communications is excluded, the workplace can be filled by badly written and overly long PPT files nobody will grasp.

If IT is excluded, people have no access to the tools they need to work effectively.

If Human Resources is excluded, the rest don’t know what to emphasize.

If all play nicely together, we are taking steps to a better workplace tomorrow.

For those who are interested, my full presentation is available at Intranätverk’s Slideshare channel.

Culture-based digital change agent work: One road ahead?

The quest to solve central workplace related challenges affect us all to some extent. So far, I have begun this journey by posting things like Building a humane digital workplace, where we ground our work in our culture. I have also read a lot about the digital workplace during the years. Two excellent examples of making the digital workplace more tangible are:

This week, I also stumbled over World Economic Forum’s How to be an intrapreneur. Then it hit me: Maybe this, the change agent drive, is what might make the image more complete? Therefore, I added them all to a Venn diagram, to see if I am on to something or not:



If the above is somewhat correct (this is just a test), the workplaces we are moving towards can help us:

Make or save the company money while tackling a pressing societal issue, using digital tools feeling as natural as those we use privately, based in the strong company culture. Not bad for a day’s job, I think. The quest continues.