How do you activate your organization to support your clients need for Innovation here and now, as well as for future needs? You need to become an innovation catalyst.

Lecturing at a digital safari for IT-Consultants Acando at EpiCenter in Stockholm, I focused my key note around a few central topics:

Customer focus as a passion, not a task

Breed and celebrate an innovative culture. This all begins with understanding that Innovation is about value creation. Without realized value, you are stuck with ideas. And ideas are likely to be worthless. Focusing on customer needs and how to deliver solutions to these will increase your organizations potential to innovate.

Infuse curiosity and courage. Curiosity will bring fantasy to play and with this comes solutions, needed as well as unexpected. To harvest from curiosity we must have courage, which comes from an ability to balance risk and opportunities. Systematic control, is funny enough a way to solve this.

However, leaders with a close to manic passion for customers best interests, will form innovative organizations.

Share. Share. Share

The likelihood that the best talents work in your organization is slim. The likelihood that your talents can create fantastic opportunities with others, in eco-systems is pretty good. Adopting solutions brought from outside of your team will create agility and opportunity for leaps, that is wider steps taken than the incremental we normally are organized to take. An open approach will foster cross functional opportunities.

Destruct and Restruct

Structures, processes (and gates) are there to support development, not the other way around. Just as lean is supposed to free resources to be used for development, development will shape lean organizations.

Organizing for Innovation we will se many shapes and solutions such as cells with certain innovation focus, team that moves like corporate nomads within and between organization (such as Googol) and well distributed innovation capabilities that flourish throughout the organization.

Overthrow the order

We tend to look at our offerings and develop these. Yes, this and business models. This is good. The latter offers tremendous returns. However combining various forms of innovation focuses, shapes totally new values for all stakeholders.

The challenge is to overthrow the order in which we focus on different types of innovation. Few do, but those that do, do well.

Lead. Not to suffer.

Clients have a need to satisfy its clients, who need to… all the way until a last user is actually satisfied. And then, a whole new process begins. The one, which involves all of us, sustaining the way we use and consume resources.

We are looking at more than one shift of business here. There will be plenty. No need to give up. Keep recruiting talents, collaborate and create new solutions. Make certain you are part of your clients eco-system. Ensure that you help the accelerate and act as catalysts for their innovation.

This post is also published in Swedish here


It’s a gut feeling we have; To achieve bold moves we need to work in new ways. Whilst we strive at finding the best ways to steer and process Innovation, in it self a process, we feel that best accomplishments come from somewhat least organized situations. But is it true? How do we achieve successful Innovation? A study workshop we did in the Innovation Pioneers Network showed a few interesting pointers. Here are a few personal (philosophical) thoughts about this.

To process a process, in itself says it all. We focus on controlling risk. The risk of loss. We play not to loose, instead of playing for the win. This is why we need to ensure that we support and create drive, not the opposite. Optimizing risks in relation to stakes, needs, urgency and position is a must for organizations. Optimizing also means we must migrate. In the study of successful cases of Innovation amongst leading organizations from various industries, some common nominators were found.

..our processes are set around stages, not gates

Three pillar stones

I have in an earlier post suggested that successful Innovation is based on three pillar stones;

The known

The unknown

The resource allocation

Within the known, we set out towards strategical focus areas in our business plans. We aim at taking on cases that we can and will harbor towards success. We focus on stuff we want to see come true. So, key here is communicating where we are heading and why. How we aim at utilizing our assets, off- as well as on balance sheet, to create value for our clients and internal markets in new ways. Here, also the ability of the intrapreneur comes into play. An intrapreneur whom can package and sell the vision, will be more likely to assemble a team of competencies to master the development towards a lady offering.

Within the unknown, comes the fostering of curiosity. The better we understand the need of our ”users” and ”customers”, the better we can service them. The more customer focused we had our projects, the better they turned out. Navigating in the unknown includes insight work as well as piloting a (least) viable offering and studying the behaviors of our target audience.

The resource allocation comes down to basics. Boot strapping, start-up style, will help your teams develop in one way, on the other hand lack of resources will slow down and diminish strategic attention. Invest enough, but kill the ordinary ways of working. Don’t keep innovators in the corporate reporting trap. Let them act and act freely within certain controlled environments. These teams need management attention though. The more the better. Attention, not detention that is.

IMG_9673Basically it is all about putting the right people to work, with the right resources. And give them time. Time to fail and find new ways. Time to take that giant leap we so much need.

We all know this. But discussing and sharing experiences in one room, gave us confidence to further drive change within our own organizations.

It might feel completely wild to dis-organize to achieve better control and drive. A bit like when you stare at your two feet before plunging into a bungy jump. How on earth will I make it? The only difference is, that this bungy jump is not falling 300 feet; its just like taking one step forward onto new solid ground.


I am sometimes asked what my driving force is. What makes me move on. I would say in life and in work, there are more than a few driving forces. And their importance vary. Momentum is clearly one, and an important one. But more importantly I have myself shifted to investigate what pains people have. These pains tend to, when expressed, better give me an understanding of their passions. And when there is passion, there is no need to stop. No reasons not to do it.

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.

True for love, art, entrepreneurship and many other endeavors.. Words by Charles Bukowski in his poem goes for everything in life;
“if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.
don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.”


It is not the Big that will eat the Small. It is the fast that will beat the slow!*

The Corporate Entrepreneurship workshops are crammed-packed, the interest for this subject has definitely been super hot. Why is that?

Do we now see how entrepreneurship can reinvigorate and spike certain behavior and be a source of long-lacked energy? Which characteristics does the entrepreneur carry that we need to “successfully” innovate our businesses, processes, products and lives?

What frightens us when we think of the intra organizational entrepreneur, or the intrapreneur as she can also be called? What do we need in terms of structure and processes to support these people?

Is it necessary “people”? Or can it be ways of organizing our teams?

As you eagerly study the multitude of apps, mails, tweets and news on your phone on your way to Innovation In Action; Give it a thought.Dariush-quote-09 (diversity) liggande

In which ways do I function as an entrepreneur? How could this behavior benefit my organisation, whether small or big?

Have we reached lines end to acquisitions of small tech? Will we see a continued journey of entrepreneurs choosing to take their technologies to large scale success, finding them more hand-over ready as the grow slow? Will entrepreneurs choose to take the escape route and refine yet another business idea of their own, rather than incorporating their freedom to operate?

If you would like, drop me a quick note on any thoughts you have, based on these thoughts.


*Originally the Rupert Murdoch quote is claimed to read “Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow”


Fostering entrepreneurial behavior, methods and approaches within an organization, demands a culture for intrapreneurs. How do we really form a systematic approach to corporate entrepreneurship?

A possibility for large organizations is to engage in true Corporate Venturing. Within these programs internal projects can be separated and externally driven projects can be integrated. Developing a strategy with balanced risk and efforts, network, competence and a working structure for this is vital for any organization engaging in venturing.G_Posters-08

We find that organizations toggle around the issue of managing Disruptive Innovation as a value creator. Since resources are scarce and  short-term results are high in demand, the disruptiveness often gets rounded off, so that it fits into the process of continuous improvements, rather than creating new values. This leads us to an inability to extract competitive changes and new revenues from our creative ingenuity. There are ways around this though.

In an approach of innovation portfolio management, it can be visualized how corporate venturing and corporate entrepreneurship fits our strategy. We need to find ways to govern, lead and allocate resources, while attempting to follow a supporting process. Now, the cultural factors behind this is of utmost importance. From choosing functional incentives to fostering an openness to “new”.

When digging into this, we also find ways to structure and organize for radical innovation and radical collaborations.

I am facilitating a workshop about corporate entrepreneurship at this years Innovation In Action. If you feel this or any of the other topics suit your taste, you should consider joining. There are 9 other magnificent workshops to choose from when forming your personal 2 days, 4 workshops agenda.



LockHär är en liten fundering mittinatten till vår nya “regering”. Så där innan jag, företagare som jag är, packar ihop datorn, hemma vid köksbordet.

Skulle inte ni kunna begränsa vinsterna i lite andra verksamheter också. Tag dagligvaruhandeln. Ja, låt oss begränsa hur mycket ICA med flera får ta ut i vinst. Jag menar, är det inte riktigt illa vilka marginaler de suger ur befolkningen? Bönderna får knappt ihop det så att de kan klara sig utan att hamna i bidragskarusellen. Ica handlarna åker Lotus. Det är klart, att utan dessa entreprenörer hade det egentligen varit ännu dyrare. De tjänar ju sitt levebröd på att vara VÄLORGANISERADE. Men ändå, begränsa dem!

Eller tag då matproducenterna istället. Borde man inte begränsa vilka marginaler de tar ut? Jag menar, de säger att de har knappa marginaler, men vi vet väl hur det ser ut där? Pumpa lite vatten i kycklingtutten så får du 20% högre intäkt, det är ok, men att utveckla och driva- det skall inte löna sig. Det kan vi inte tillåta. Eller är det så att MARKNADSKRAFTERNA över tiden styr de som bryr sig om sina kunders åsikter, snart driver mot bättre produkter? Men ändå, begränsa dem!

Eller tag mediebolagen? Skall de verkligen få tjäna pengar på böcker som används i skolan. Är det inte bättre att begränsa dem? Eller är det så att de SYSTEMATISERAT sitt arbete på ett sätt i en komplex värld, så att många andra får ett levebröd tack vare deras arbete. Men ändå, begränsa dem!

Eller ta de som arbetar med energi och råvaror.
Eller ta dem som arbetar med logistik och publika transporter.
Eller ta de som… ser ni vartåt detta barkar? det gör inte jag.

Bankerna lämnas orörda. Än så länge…

Kanske det vore bäst att begränsa politikerna. Varför skall de få mer än de behöver? Nej, bestäm en tillräckligt bra nivå för deras levnadsstandard och sätt lönen efter detta. Jag menar, är det någonstans vi inte skall ha folk med egenintressen så är det ju där.

Nu är det ju så, att ingen representant för denna regering läser mitt inlägg heller, så jag gör helt enkelt som jag tror att många andra kommer att göra. Drar en gammal filt över mig och blundar.


There are various ways of forming an organization. And there are various ways of organizing a formation. The way we organize will have effect on the way we work. For ever. We should put more emphasis and energy into building motion, not hierarchies.

I believe in blazing new trails, not only finding paths travelled by others. This is not a contradiction to my point that it helps to look in other boxes rather than outside the box. We need to do both.

Dariush-quote-03 (other boxes)While looking at what others have done in wildly different industries can enable free thinking and innovation of new aspects of the delivery model, finding our own ways can dramatically change our chances to actually get things done as well as turning the rules of competing up-side down. Let others inspire you to the “what”, and change the “how”- so to speak.

Doing both; studying and finding inspiration in what others do and radically changing the game plan of how we do things need to be balanced in terms of resource allocation and risk. Here is were lean comes in. Finding the resources and controlling risk can be done through agility, not through hierarchies.

We need not re-organization, we need to de-organize

During the Innovation In Action 2013 symposium I concluded in my final presentation that we needed to find completely new ways of working. Going to the de’s rather than re’s; de-organize rather than re-organize, de-struct rather than re-struct. Finding new forms of organizational structures is core to succeeding with this ambidexterity. That is; Agile organization forms. Rather than building hierarchies for delegation of work and responsibilities, mostly achieving complexity and report driven activities, we should focus on building motion so that tasks can responsibly be taken and achievements made the main focus. I also touch on this in my post on avoiding Taylorian systems.

Or as Professor John Kotter puts it in the article found in The Huffington Post “Rules and procedures that inevitably accompany hierarchies almost never change fast even if they are now irrelevant, overly burdensome, and the like.”

We want success at the right level of risk. Success is not always immediately measured in ROI (return on investment), it could rather be discussed as strategic- and financially direct or indirect results. And of course, the value derived from these.

Risk can be taken into account in many aspects here. Cost, time, timing and likelihood comes into direct play. Complexity to market, competitive advantages follow direct after. Preceding these are by all means competence and resources. And let us not forget luck!

Train for luck

“..the more I train, the luckier I am”, Swedish slalom hero Ingemar Stenmark is claimed to have said. Now, Stenmark was not only wise he was also more diligent in his work to achieve outstanding results. He gained balance, strength and a never ending focus on achievements. I take this into account as I contemplate organizational structures. stenmark_430One aspect is that the lighter the team structure, the faster we can act, the sooner we can decide on new routes. So, another effect with agile and light team organizations is that cost of failure tends to decrease. Another important aspect is that the more teams gain experience, the better they can parry unexpected events. So, with speed, ability to parry and a bit of strong legs, agile teams can manage their way through slippery and icy slopes. When we find ways to delegate responsibility to teams, ask for achievements not reports, we’ll see accomplishments improve as well. Look at the start-up structures. They can’t afford big failures, they can’t afford management structures, they can’t afford inefficient structures. Their natural organization around this is the agile team structure. We can use this in our large organizations as well. It will bring creativity to value creation. Innovation will be reached.

Innovate or Innowait?

In 2003, former Googolian Mattias Rydberg coined the expression; “Are you innovating or innowaiting?” G_Posters-05We know that risk aversion will lead to organizations eventually lacking the ability to take daring initiatives. The cost of this, eventually, is likely be the full value of your operation, whilst the comparably small cost of innovations going south, could even be transformed into valuable learnings.

So my opinion is that the cost of failing to innovate is larger than the sum of the cost of failed projects. In organizations were failure is not treated as a result, rather as a scenario that didn’t work; failures tend to be a turning point. Perseverance in the process and an ability to trust the process, will be a key success factor. Try new routes, find new ways. Entrepreneurial spirit in its essence.

Blaze on

To blaze on, there are a eleven conclusions from this text. A few of many out there.

  1. Form light team structures, not hierarchies
  2. Fight to decrease cost of failure, not to avoid failure
  3. Gain team experience to parry unexpected events
  4. Delegate responsibilities to the teams
  5. Ask for achievements not reports
  6. Look at the start-up structures and build like them
  7. Do not let risk aversion lead to inability to taking daring initiatives
  8. Trust the process
  9. Train
  10. De-organize. Not re-organize

Innovation is essential for business and society. It is a requirement for developing breakthrough services, products, and offerings, the imperative for higher returns, growth and competitiveness.

We are often asked to describe in different ways why Innovation is essential to an organization. We always come to a few conclusions in the discussions we have, these days. It is not necessarily growth that comes first. Profitability and competitiveness as well as quality and finding a raison d’être in the interaction with the stakeholders are seemingly as important issues.

Dariush-quote-01The ability to innovate determines the quality, character and values of the modern corporation. It defines future profitability, allows us to adapt to new challenges and opportunities; it also leads to solutions to social challenges. It defines both who we are and how we do it.


-Dariush Ghatan with help by Allan Freedman


Hej, jag heter Nils. Vill Du hjälpa mig skapa en skola för ungdomar som riskerar att hamna i utanförskap?

Ungefär så startade ett telefonsamtal jag fick 2007.

Vi hade precis engagerat oss i Friends, som motarbetar mobbing och vi var i färd med att lansera embryot till vad som skulle bli ett av vår tids mest anmärkningsvärda satsningar på socialt entreprenörskap. Hur kunde vi motstå Nils erbjudande att forma en utbildning som gav ungdomar med vissa kognitiva särskillnader sin rättmätiga möjlighet, plats och erkännande i samhället? En resa i social innovation.


Efter en flygande start, de första stegen är ju alltid lätta, jobbade Nils länge och väl med att etablera grunderna för att försöka evidensföra resultat av satsningen. Vi ville inte bli ett one-hit-wonder. Vi ville hitta en modell som skulle programförklaras, så att fler kommuner kunde ges möjlighet till fullständig integration av ungdomar, som på grund av t.ex kognitiva utmaningar riskerar att hamna i ett utanförskap.

Nils hittade kraften att inspirera och engagera personer i nätverket, från såväl näringslivet som från offentlig sektor. Nils hittade medarbetare och kanske viktigast Harry, som dagligen arbetar med att handleda och utbilda ungdomarna. Nils hittade också ungdomarna som ville ge sig själva en chans och ungdomarna har hittat sig själva.

När jag deltog vid invigningen av utbildningen, som heter På Rätt Köl, lyssnade jag på en av eleverna, som sa till sin mor:

Äntligen vet jag vad jag vill i livet och nu vet jag att jag inte är så dum som jag trodde.

..inte så dum som jag trodde.” Skall ett barn behöva tänka så om sig självt i ett modernt samhälle, bara för att skolan inte kan tillgodose deras specifika behov? Kanske bara de som någon gång lidit av bristande självkänsla inser vilken förflyttning i självuppfattning denna insikt innebär för en individ. Alla torde dock kunna inse det magiska i ögonblicket. Det är utan tvekan ett av de mest intrycksfulla ögonblicken i mitt liv.

När jag nyss stod under skrovet på elevernas första projekt, Friheten II och tittade på nästa stålskrov som var på väg att färdigställas. Då rös jag. Vilket fantastiskt arbete de här ungdomarna gör.

Friheten II. Byggd av På Rätt Köls elever.
Friheten II. Byggd av På Rätt Köls elever.


Slutet på början. En saga med resultat

Nu är pilotutbildningen och förstudien snart klar. Ungdomarna har en närvaro under sin gymnasieutbildning på så mycket som 90-100 %, att jämföra med nära 0 % i högstadiet. Den första kullen gick ut för en tid sedan. 75% av dem hade nått mer än 1.000 gymnasiepoäng. 67 % av dem har idag fast anställning. Det är en signifikant bättring mot målgruppens normala. Vi är glada att se fortsatt tillströmning av elever som vill gå vår utbildning. Vi är mycket tacksamma för stödet vi fått av alla instanser i kommun och skolväsendet. Umeå kommun visar vägen. Än så länge.

De här barnen är mycket talangfulla och har stor kreativitet. De uppvisar stark ledarskapsförmåga, men har aldrig blivit handledda så att de vet åt vilket håll de skall leda. Nu visar de samhället, sina familjer och sig själva att de är begåvade och att de oavsett är, självfallet, en del av ett “oss”.

Vad är det då Nils gjort som är så bra?

Det är kanske svårt att sätta fingret på en enskild faktor. Det är också svårt att tala om andra resultat än de vi ser och mäter. De långsiktiga effekten är heller inte fastlagd, men som en av deltagarna sa i mötet; “..jag har jobbat med och forskat i frågan i mer än 20 år. Jag har inte stött på något program som uppvisat lika bra resultat.” Då syftar personen i fråga nog på de direkta resultaten med barnens utbildning. Det finns andra resultat som bör belysas också.

De har satt fokus på att identifiera direkta och indirekta resultat. Samhällsekonomiskt kostar en denna utbildning lika mycket som en jämförbar gymnasieplats. Studieresultaten är mångfalt bättre. Barnen hamnar inte i en bidragsfälla, utan uppvisar samma möjligheter till samhällsbyggande (läs: skattebetalare och konsumenter) som andra. Stämmer detta blir också trycket på samhället i form av destruktivitet mindre. Vi har också fått information om att anhöriga till eleverna presterar bättre och har mindre sjukskrivningsgrad på sina arbetsplatser. Men viktigast är barnens hälsa och självkänsla.


Det är utan tvivel så att den passion och det engagemang som Nils, Harry och de andra har, är av avsevärd vikt. Men det finns andra intressanta faktorer att peka på.

De har engagerat hela eco-systemet. Från lågstadie till högskola. Från socialtjänst till kommun och näringsliv. Föräldrar och elever. Alla är engagerade och deltar.Utbildningen stöds och drivs av rätt parter. Kommun och skolväsendet är huvudmän för utbildningen. Båtbyggandet och den praktiska vägledningen drivs av partners från näringslivet.

De arbetar långsiktigt. I försiktig framfart har de letat sig fram nyfiket till rätt metodiker. De har deltagit i utbildningar och seminarier och låtit sig inspireras av helt andra och nya parter än normalt är.

De bjuder på sin kunskap och får kunskap tillbaka. Det eviga nätverkandet och tillgängliggörandet har lett till att Nils på ett entreprenöriellt sätt kunnat navigera mellan nya möjligheter och ta till sig av dem.

De har arbetat i team, där varje medlem kunnat bidra med sina särskilda talanger och egenskaper. De har verkat agilt och undvikit strukturer som bromsar processer. Ändå har de navigerat i en för många ogenomtränglig djungel av regler och förutsättningar.

Viktigast är kanske att de sett eleverna, ungdomarna, som sin målgrupp. De har verkligen satt dem, deras upplevelse, deras behov och utmaningar i fokus. Allt är till för dem, för att de är viktiga.

Ja, så har alla haft stöd av sina familjemedlemmar, som nog ställt upp tunga dagar såväl som dagar då det firats någon elevs särskilda framgång. 


När nu Nils, Harry, vi på Googol och alla de andra fortsätter arbetet med utbildningen, i syfte att hitta formerna för fler kommuner att få ta del av metoden, går eleverna vidare i sina liv, med sina familjer och på sina arbetsplatser. Förhoppningsvis och troligen också med rollen att inspirera fler att ta initiativ till samhällsutveckling.

Det nya stålskrovet som byggs av de nuvarande eleverna.
Det nya stålskrovet som byggs av de nuvarande eleverna.

När jag skriver detta har jag precis varit i Umeå. Jag har deltagit med Nils när han idag presenterat utbildningen för kommunen för uppskalning i regionalt styre. Detta är nämligen gjort utan eget ekonomiskt intresse. Nils har gjort detta för ungdomarna, för samhället och för att han hade en idé, som han verkligen kände behövde förverkligas.

Träffar ni på Nils; glöm inte att ta tillfället i akt att tacka honom. För att höra Nils berätta om sitt arbete, se filmen vi gjorde från en av våra “after-works” nedan. Vill Du komma på en av våra presentationer, maila bara någon av oss så fixar vi det.


Film med Nils Holm, som berättar om På Rätt Köl.

Ni kan läsa om Nils och projektet på och
För att se filmen med Nils, klicka på “bilden” ovan, eller gå direkt till filmen här