Posts in January

We are hiring

January 30th, 2017   •   Uncategorized   •   no comments   

By Tor Mesoy

We are hiring

 

Agnus Consulting moved our headquarters to Hong Kong from Oslo over a year ago – a consequence of expanding our service in Asia while continuing to serve clients globally on topics of leadership and organizational transformation. It has been a remarkable year of new exposure, and meaningful and exciting new engagements in Asia, and other parts of the world. Now we are looking for new team members to join us in growing our service and shaping the organization.

 

As the founder and manager director of the company, I have had the experience of growing businesses and teams as a partner of leading global consulting firms. I strongly believe in the value of investing in our people’s professional and personally development.

 

Please find below description of a ‘Consultant’ position. If you are interested or have a talent to recommend, please contact us at career@agnusconsuling.no

 

My team and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Who we are

Based in Hong Kong, Agnus Consulting serves clients globally on topics of leadership and organizational transformation. We support our clients in their quest to tackle their toughest challenges, with firm dedication to deliver high performance and maximum impact. Value-driven, we believe that our success is the results of our clients’ success. We build lasting relationships with industry leaders to shape world-class organizations.

 

What it’s like to be part of Agnus Consulting

At Agnus Consulting, you will have the opportunity to work with top organizational development professionals in developing leaders and transforming organizations around the world. We will challenge you and invest in your professional development. We expect you to be keen to learn and embrace challenges which will help you grow professionally and make a positive impact in the society.

 

What we look for in our prospective team members

We look for candidates who are eager to work with a small, rapidly growing team to shape a new organization. You need to be able to thrive in an entrepreneurial environment where you can contribute to growing the impact of our service. You need to be flexible and independent. Above all, you need to have character: total integrity, professionalism and an attitude of servant leadership.

 

To find out more, or to signal your interest in our positions, please email career@agnusconsuling.no.

 

Consultant

Responsibilities

You will:

  • Design, manage and deliver leadership development programs for organizations in the public, private and social sectors. The delivery of programs will largely be in Asia
  • Engage with clients in Asia from initiation to full value realization
  • Contribute to or lead design and production work in support of leadership development and organizational transformation
  • Undertake other responsibilities of the company in areas where your skills and interest match the need of the company

Requirements

You need to:

  • Have at least 5 years’ experience in leadership development or other relevant work (e.g. executive coaching, teaching, organizational development)
  • Be passionate about people and organizational development
  • Be skilled in coaching and facilitation (certification as a coach is a plus)
  • Have held leadership roles and demonstrated substantial impact in these roles
  • Be independent and self-motivated
  • Be fluent in English and Mandarin, working proficiency in Cantonese is a plus
  • Be a graduate of top universities with an outstanding record of academic achievements (Master’s degree preferred)
  • Be willing to travel, mainly within Asia

 

Remuneration

We will offer attractive remuneration packages depending your level of experience.


Tor regularly writes articles on his LinkedIn profile. You can visit his profile and follow him to receive the latest content and leave comments.

Ten factors to create the environment required for deep learning

January 27th, 2017   •   Uncategorized   •   no comments   

By Tor Mesoy

Ten factors to create the environment required for deep learning

 

As a leader, do you sometimes wish that the people you lead would learn and grow faster? Many leaders organize training for their people, but are frustrated by the limited impact. The issue, in many cases, is that people remain in their comfort zone – they sit through the training and may even listen intently, but they are not moved by what they experience. From the training they acquire a few techniques and perhaps they remember a few frameworks, but this only affects their behavior superficially – at best. The return on investment is dismal.

 

I recently delivered a leadership development program in Shanghai, where we had the chance to celebrate that much deep learning took place in the course of the week. Participants learned to name and confront their fears that were interfering with their performance. They saw new ways to reframe their challenges, enabling them to walk away with greater energy and optimism. They took on board the personal challenge to set higher aspirations for themselves and their teams. There was a lot to celebrate, and we did so – with participants – toward the end of the week.

 

This experience got me thinking – again – about why there is so much corporate training with limited or no real impact. And what, exactly, we do differently, to achieve the deep learning we aim for. Ten factors are crucial, and I will explain each of them below.

 

1: We don’t do training (for the most part)

 

2: We create a safe arena for learning

 

3: We role model vulnerability

 

4: We push participants beyond their comfort zone

 

5: We give participants ample opportunity to practice – and give them hard-hitting feedback

 

6: We love the participants

 

7: We clearly put the participants in charge of their own learning

 

8: … but we do also field faculty who are centered, who have a successful track record as leaders and who have decades of experience

 

9: We facilitate learning from peers

 

10: We tie the learning, thoughtfully, to the specific role and aspirations of each participant.

 

1: We don’t do training (for the most part)

 

We don’t do training (for the most part). Period. There are, of course, simple, technical challenges where training is useful. But the deeper, adaptive challenges that organizations are faced with will not be addressed by delivering training. We design and delivering learning programs and leadership development programs. This difference in vocabulary may seem trivial, but it represents a huge difference in mindset. If you set out to deliver training, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be successful. At the end of the training program, you will have delivered training. Mission accomplished. But has any real learning occurred? Often not. By defining the objective as deep learning – rather than training – you set the bar high – at the level where it needs to be.

 

2: We create a safe arena for learning

 

For people to learn, they must feel safe. They must feel that it is OK to share their concerns, their shortcomings, their fears. They must feel that it is acceptable to try something new and fall on their face, get up, and try again. They must have a risk-free environment. We go out of our way to create this. We typically deliver learning programs offsite, indicating that other rules apply at this program. We avoid having direct reports in the same program. We set ‘ground rules’ at the beginning of the program, highlighting respect and confidentiality as key norms.

 

3: We role model vulnerability

 

Setting ground rules is not enough. We must role model vulnerability. As faculty, we do this by sharing some of our own challenges and our own failures. By doing so, authentically, we invite participants to do the same. That creates an atmosphere for deep, personal learning.

 

4: We push participants beyond their comfort zone

 

We know, from experience, that adults learn best when they are pushed beyond their comfort zone. They must be nudged into their learning zone. We do this by inviting them to engage in a grapple exercise – a simulation where they are likely to struggle, or even fail. By dissecting how and why they struggled, participants are motivated to build the capabilities required to succeed.

 

5: We give participants ample opportunity to practice – and give them hard-hitting feedback

 

We may engage in “teaching” for 5% of the duration of the learning program. The rest of the time, we engage in grapple exercises (see above), open-ended reflection, guided dialog, peer coaching, one-on-one coaching and other activities that engage the participants at a much deeper level than teaching.

 

6: We love the participants

 

I could, of course, choose to express this using a “corporate vocabulary” and say that we care deeply about the participants. But it really is about love. We recruit faculty who have personal passion for what they do, who consider it a calling. We make ourselves available beyond the learning program to support each participant in their personal learning journey. We conduct faculty meetings each morning and each evening to explore, together, how we might remove interference for each participant. We ensure a faculty-to-participant ratio that permits due attention to each participant.

 

7: We clearly put the participants in charge of their own learning

 

This is demanding. We expect of the participants that they be fully present, and we make this clear. If they have so much else going on in their lives that they struggle to be present, we invite them to opt out. Deep learning will only take place if all participants are fully present – physically, mentally and emotionally. We ask that participants articulate their personal learning goals, and we ask them to monitor their own progress towards these goals as the program progresses. We encourage participants to free themselves from the tyranny of technology – parking their phones at the door, for example – to facilitate deep engagement.

 

8: … but we do also field faculty who are centered, who have a successful track record as leaders and who have decades of experience

 

Putting participants in charge of their own learning in no ways lets the faculty off the hook. Holding the space in a way that encourages deep reflection requires credible faculty. The credibility has multiple sources, but rich experience and a successful track record are required. This allows the faculty to share relevant stories from their own lives. Beyond this, faculty must be centered. They must have processed their own experiences to reach a level of maturity that allows them to engage with participants through all phases of the journey.

 

9: We facilitate learning from peers

 

In a learning cohort, some participants will have their spike in one area, others will have their spike in another area. Some will have achieved success in one area, some in another area. There is, therefore, ample opportunity for participants to learn from one another. All it takes is a judicious setting of the stage – carving out time, encouraging thoughtful questions, nurturing supportive behavior and safeguarding the risk-free environment. Learning from peers has a great benefit beyond the learning program: if participants can learn to learn from one another, they will gain from this long after the program is over.

 

10: We tie the learning, thoughtfully, to the specific role and aspirations of each participant

 

We spend time with each individual and with small breakout groups to understand the role and the aspirations of each participant. When we give feedback, we give it in the context of the individual’s role, aspirations and learning goals. When the participants engage in grapple exercises, we encourage them to reflect on how the exercise and their experience with it tie to their role, their aspirations and their learning goals. This personalization makes the experience “real” for the individual participant.

 

It is actually simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. By delivering learning programs according to these principles, organizations can greatly increase the value they derive from these programs. A word of caution, though: cherry picking from the list above will not work so well. It is the interaction among these principles that creates the magic. So go “all in” to achieve deep learning.


Tor regularly writes articles on his LinkedIn profile. You can visit his profile and follow him to receive the latest content and leave comments.

Using the “Change Equation”​ to accelerate positive change

January 19th, 2017   •   Uncategorized   •   no comments   

By Tor Mesoy

Using the Change Equation​ to accelerate positive change

 

I recently worked with a client in a declining market. The atmosphere in the company was rather glum. It seemed like most people had decided that there was not much that could be done about the structural forces buffeting the company, and the leaders were reconciled to navigating a genteel decline. Isolated voices called out for greater creativity and more entrepreneurship, but these were voices in the desert – their encouragements and admonitions had limited impact.

 

There actually were exciting opportunities to pursue, but risk aversion was high. In addition, there was a consensus that the market was against the company and that there was not much that could be done about this. Declining revenue did not constitute a burning platform. Rather, it was explained away. Several leaders had attempted to change this situation, but the effect had been limited.

 

In situations like this, creative thinking on how to make change happen – and stick – is required. There are many valuable models, theories and books that can support such thinking. Three favorite books of mine are:

 

Chip and Dan Heath: Switch

 

Otto Scharmer: Theory U

 

Joanna Barsh: Centered Leadership.

 

These books present rich frameworks together with inspiring examples that can make change easier when it seems really hard.

 

In this article, I will share a simple framework that can be conveyed in minutes and that can serve as a useful checklist when change seems daunting. It is the change equation. It states that

 

CHANGE = BP x CV x P x SFS,

 

Where BP is the burning platform, CV is the compelling vision, P is the plan and SFS is a series of successful first steps.

 

BP: The burning platform is critical. People must have a strong, personal feeling that the status quo is unacceptable. They must have the energy and the conviction to combat lethargy in themselves and in the people they lead. This can sometimes be achieved by modelling what will happen in the “do nothing” scenario. We can add fuel to the fire by encouraging people to confront truths that are often not discussed because they are too uncomfortable.

 

CV: The compelling vision is also critical. And again, the vision must be understood and embraced by the majority of people involved. Agreement is not sufficient. Ardent desire to see the vision achieved is required. This requires the vision to be specific, realistic (though it can be a stretch) and painted in vibrant colors. It must involve the intellect and the emotions of people. The vision work is not done until people go home and share the vision, enthusiastically, with friends and family.

 

P: But a burning platform that is well understood and a compelling vision that is fully embraced are not sufficient. I may grasp both of these but feel daunted by the journey. “It’s all so big and complex. I don’t know that I can scale a mountain that high”. A credible plan is required. Often it does not have to be very detailed at the beginning. But it must be detailed enough to give confidence that we can execute each step and that the steps together add up to the required change journey.

 

SFS: Even if I have a good plan, I may waver. Others might be able to follow such a plan, but do I have the resources, the knowledge, the determination, the strength to follow this plan? Change agents may benefit from engineering small successful steps at the start of the journey and celebrate these successes with much fanfare. When I have successfully taken the first steps and can convince myself that the plan really only calls for more such steps, I strengthen my conviction that this is doable and I bolster my commitment.

 

I have often seen change achieved with spectacular success when these four factors were in place.

 

On the other hand, when change seem impossible of when change fails, one of these factors is typically missing or is too weak.

 

So there you have it – a simple framework that you can use as a checklist and a diagnostics tool. Which factor, among the four, represents the weakest link in the chain in your context? How can you jointly get creative about ways to strengthen this factor? By listening deeply to the people involved in the change and by pooling your capacity for innovation, you will greatly increase our capacity for change.

 

What are your favorite experiences with bolstering one of these factors?


Tor regularly writes articles on his LinkedIn profile. You can visit his profile and follow him to receive the latest content and leave comments.

Managing conflict – slowing down to speed up

January 13th, 2017   •   Uncategorized   •   no comments   

By Tor Mesoy

Managing conflict – slowing down to speed up

 

Last weekend I was in Beijing on a mission. I was invited to contribute to resolving a personal conflict between two parties, a conflict that had been going on for years. The setting was interesting – and challenging – for several reasons, but one stands out: the two parties and I did not share a common language. This meant that everything had to be translated – substantially slowing down proceedings. We did not have a professional interpreter who could provide real-time interpreting. Rather, each sentence was translated after it was spoken.

 

There was a distinct possibility that this would be awkward. Resolving conflict depends on mutual understanding, and it would be easy to think that the lack of a common language would seriously impede progress. As it turns out, we made great progress; the parties achieved a real breakthrough.

 

Reflecting on this, it struck me that we turned what looked like an impediment – the lack of a common language – into a great strength. Because everything had to be translated, it gave people time to reflect. It gave the speaker (at any moment) time to think carefully about how to phrase the next part of their explanation, while the previous argument was being translated. It gave the listener time to digest the most recently translated argument, while the next statement was spoken. This forced time for reflection had a huge impact.

 

Naturally, this was not the sole key to the breakthrough. Other important factors include a conducive environment (a private room in a wonderful Japanese-style teahouse), mutual respect, willingness to listen, skillful acknowledgement of what was heard, expression of empathy and creativity. Nevertheless, the forced slowing-down imposed by the language gap was a key success factor.

 

How can we use this learning in other settings – the more common conflict settings where everyone does share a common language? I suggest four approaches.

 

The first approach is straightforward. You can unilaterally decide to reduce your own pace. You can use shorter sentences, slow your speech and take longer pauses. This will give everyone in the room more time to reflect. This will very likely affect the other parties, and you will see them mirror your behavior – slowing down. This will happen, quite naturally, even without any explicit conversation about pace.

 

The second approach is more explicit. At the start of the conversation, take time to acknowledge that this will be a difficult conversation and re-confirm that all involved parties are keen to understand one another and to find a solution. Then agree some ground rules for the conversation. This might include something about reducing the pace, taking time to reflect along the way and consciously acknowledging the contributions from other parties. This approach may work better if there is a third party in the room – a mediator, a counselor or some other trusted party that can facilitate the discussion. It will often be easier for such a facilitator to create the arena for a productive dialog, and to help ensure that everyone slows down. But, with practice, this can also be done without a facilitator, provided the parties trust one another

 

The third approach is more formal. It involves using a talking stick, also called a speaker’s staff. The stick confers the right to speak to the person holding the stick. This is a practice used in council meetings of traditional communities, especially those of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast of North America. The talking stick can be a beautiful, ornate, custom-made stick. It can also be any item of suitable size that can be held in the hand and passed around. Using a talking stick feels artificial in the beginning, but people typically get used to it within fifteen minutes, provided they have an open mind and are inclined to try something different. Using the talking stick slows things down – there is necessarily a pause when the stick is passed from one person to another. It also makes it more clear when someone is hogging the air space or someone is not participating. Offering the stick to a quiet person can be a way to get them involved.

 

The fourth and most radical approach can be seen as a simulation of the setting where everything is translated into another language. It involves using a talking stick, and takes the concept one step further. Now, after I have spoken for a short while, I pause, and I invite you to echo back to me what you heard, in your own words. Only when I feel heard, do I continue. When I have completed what I had to say – and you have echoed back to me what you heard at regular intervals – I pass the stick to you. Now it is your turn to speak and my turn to reflect back to you what I am hearing, seeking confirmation that I am hearing you correctly. This takes some getting used to. But it is a powerful technique for breaking out of established, dysfunctional patterns where people are speaking, but not listening.

 

In the coming week, pick an important conversation you are having, and slow down – using one of the approaches I have sketched. You may find that you reach results faster. Slowing down is a powerful way to speed up.


Tor regularly writes articles on his LinkedIn profile. You can visit his profile and follow him to receive the latest content and leave comments.

An ode to Hong Kong – my new home town

January 5th, 2017   •   Uncategorized   •   no comments   

By Tor Mesoy

An ode to Hong Kong – my new home town

 

I recently celebrated the end of my first year as a resident of Hong Kong. Over this period, the place has truly become home to me. My fondness for this truly cosmopolitan metropolis grows ever deeper. What a fantastic location for engaging in professional activities … and enjoying life!

 

Where else could I take the ferry to work and hear a dozen different languages spoken? Where else could I enjoy such superb hiking terrain – within 15 minutes’ travel from the city center – including pristine beaches, rocky crags and fragrant pine forest? Where else could I engage in people-watching from a sidewalk café and then engage in wildlife observation shortly thereafter – enjoying wild boars, monkeys, pink dolphins and more? Where else could I enjoy such a diversity of architecture – ranging from the gleaming skyscrapers in the financial district to the quaint cabins in the fishing villages? Where else could I enjoy the combination of a high-energy urban buzz and the quiet of paddling an outrigger on the water while observing kingfishers, egrets and herons? Where else could I enjoy such a variety of food – whether it be in the myriad restaurants or in the well-stocked wet markets?

 

I am in awe of my new home town! Thanks to the wonderful locals who have crafted such a wonderful environment!

 

My friends in Hong Kong will nod in recognition at the photos below.

 

To my readers who have not yet visited our fair city: I hope the photos will inspire you to plan your first visit!

 

Below: The Hong Kong that most people know – spectacular skyscrapers on the waterfront

hk1

 
Below: The less-well-known Hong Kong: quaint fishing village Tai O

hk2

 
Below: Dolphins observed by the island of Lantau – when it gets hot, they shed heat by “blushing” (sending blood to the outer layers of their skin) – hence they sometimes look pink

hk3

 
Below: From the beach in Discovery Bay – preparing for a peaceful trip on the water

hk4

 


Tor regularly writes articles on his LinkedIn profile. You can visit his profile and follow him to receive the latest content and leave comments.