Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (1)

The renewed Nordic Museum in Seattle, “the only Nordic Museum in the world,” (in its complete regional rather than national focus) is sponsoring the Nordic Innovation Conference, with underwriting by Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications corporation.

Keynote speaker is Kristen Skogen Lund, CEO Confederation of Norwegian Employers. Speech title: “The Future of Work–Prosperity and Well-Being for All in the 21st Century.”

Era for labor has high-skill, low-skill bipolar distribution. In Norway, high wages in general cost job opportunities because everything that can be automated is. Resulting low-skill jobs have high wages relatively, which attracts many immigrants, which increases labor competition.

In 1987 Commission led by first female Prime Minister of Sweden, coined term “sustainable development.” Pushed concept of making environmental progress and sustainability actually profitable.

Is a main issue that we don’t have right way to measure current phenomena? Example: workers are measured as business cost, yet environmental pollution has no measured cost at all.

Inequality is a cost too; how is this measured? Consumption goes down when wealth is concentrated at the top, since upper income people spend less of their wealth in proportion to poorer people.

OECD: increase of inequality by 1 percent will decrease GDP by 0.8 percent.

Yet good news: global poverty has decreased from 40% to 10%, even while increasing inequality within countries.

Businesses must take the lead in facing society’s challenges. Outstanding leaders not only understand change, they meet it. In fact, they create it.

Two key words: openness, and courage. Openness to the need to change; courage to create it.

First lesson: take initiative in change, can’t wait till it’s obvious.

Second lesson: leaders must learn to differentiate between metaphorical “passing storms versus climate change.” Example: dot-com bust was storm; digitalization was climate change.

People tend to think in linear ways; but sometimes the future is not more of the same; sometimes it’s very different. If you are linear yourself, surround yourself with some people who are not.

Estonia: concept of e-citizenship; more people can be Estonians whether they live there or not. Another disruptive thought.

“Lifelong learning” is the key phrase. “Discretionary learning” as it’s called is the concept; Norway, Sweden, Denmark are the leaders in this, for adult learners. You learn the most by doing new things; so mobility in the labor force is crucial.

Empowerment is also key; worker quality and empowerment of Norwegian employees are a reason there is still much industry in Norway, rather than being outsourced to cheaper areas. Nordic work-ethic and committed employees are incentives for businesses to locate there.

Oversight and insight, key terms. Leaders may have oversight, but not insight. And employees often have insight, yet little oversight. So bringing these together is a key need.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

You learn more from people who are opposed to you, than people who agree with you. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about striking a balance.

Young people are not looking for career planning; they are looking for purpose.



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