Business leaders and politicians wait for the economy to recover. Until it does, they plan for no growth or modest growth, which in my view is a self-fulfilling strategy. So, don’t wait for the economy to recover – create your own recovery!

In my view, the key is to start a new business or to start a new venture. If you don’t yet have a good business idea, it is probably because you don’t have a clear enough purpose. Here is an example: Alexander Kierulff is passionate about helping people to be happy at work (his purpose). He started blogging about it and gave himself the provoking title: The Chief Happiness Officer.

Alexander learned so much from his dialogue with others about happiness at work, that he decided to write a book about the topic. He wrote the book in a collaborative effort and today the book “Happy Hour is 9 to 5” is an international bestseller. Soon Alexander could turn his passion into his job and today his company employs several people and makes a nice profit. Alexander didn’t focus on Happiness at Work for that reason. He chose his cause because he was passionate about it and because he wanted to make a positive difference.

This is the model that I recommend you follow. The UNBOSS puts purpose above profit, but he or she does not forget profit. Profit is essential for anything to be financially sustainable and profit is the fuel that allows you to have an even higher impact next year. The UNBOSS doesn’t know all the answers him- or herself. He or she engages others in the cause and creates a business model that will maintain their engagement out of self-interest. Running a business or an organization that way changes everything: people, structure, processes, marketing, supply chain, communication, R&D – everything.

Just do it! – let me have your comments.

Here is a great example of UNBOSSing a prison. I came across it last week in Granada, Nicaragua.
Most prisons see their primary purpose as guarding inmates safely during their sentence. Chief Police Commissioner (Comisionada Mayor) Teres de Fatima Flores Méndez in Granada thinks differently: Of course inmates should be guarded, but is it not equally or even more important that inmates build a desire to participate positively in society after they are released?
It is, and this lead the Commissioner to engage inmates in creating a new prison experience: Inmates would be offered to do normal work rather than just sit in their cells. Not because they are forced to work, but out of pure self-interest. Here is the mechanism: Every day the inmate works, he will be credited three days of his sentence. So if you work consistently for one year, you will have done three years of your sentence.
After inmates are released from prison, they are not lost: Every Sunday for the rest of their sentence they will come back to the prison and work for the day. This way the police will maintain contact with former inmates so they have a strong motivation to behave. If they don’t, they go back to jail. Now inmates have a real motivation to create a better future for themselves and their families, which is why this program is called Mi Futura – My Future.
The additional costs of the program are limited to tools and equipment needed to establish the workshops. The Commissioner found a donor, which happens to be my brother, Peder Kolind, who lives in Granada.
I was impressed when entering the prison’s gate! I had visited the prison in earlier years and it did not always look very pleasant, but today it is different: No waste lying around, new crops planted on every patch of land, flowers all around, workshops and even a new Virgin Maria shrine.
So what happened in UNBOSS language?
PURPOSE was changed from guarding inmates into creating a better future for inmates.
Inmates were included and engaged as a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem, i.e. an UNLIMITED organization was created.
A MECHANISM has been created to motivate inmates to do the right thing, not because they are forced to, but because they want to.
The Chief Police Commissioner is an UNBOSS at its best. Look towards Nicaragua and be inspired!

Thyra Frank may the the person, who is the closest you can get, to a real UNBOSS.

In 1988, Thyra Frank (born 1952) took over as manager of a small nursing home, Lotte, in Copenhagen. Nothing special; the institution was much like any other nursing home, where staff members was more focused on their own needs than the needs of clients.

Thyra carried through a mindshift. She defined a new purpose for the institution to make it into a real home for clients rather than an institution. She threw out most rules and regulations and made Lotte a place where old people could drink, laugh and love themselves into death. She substituted sleeping pills with wine for the meal and Baileys for the coffee. She opened Lotte for loved ones of the clients to come and participate, including eating with the clients as often as they wished – for free. She organized vacations abroad for everybody despite the obvious logistical problems. She moved out of her office and turned one end of the dining table into her office. She persuaded staff to eat their meals together with clients; thus eliminating the need for at staff room. The list is endless!

During the course of her work, Thyra fought constantly with labor unions and municipal authorities who wanted to tighten regulations and documentation requirements for Lotte in line with current New Public Management thinking. She managed to engage hundreds of volunteers in the work of Lotte and opened the doors to journalists and colleagues from around the world.


And results have been stunning! The waiting list is long, both for potential clients and for potential employees who want to be hearthunted (not headhunted) for at job at Lotte. Thyra has received a long list of prizes and her management model is rapidly spreading to other countries. A brilliant book has been written about her life and work – unfortunately only available in Danish (Thyra Frank, Livsglæde og Stjernestunder, Gyldendal) .

For inspiration – do you know anybody that would qualify like Thyra Frank for a place in the UNBOSS Hall of Fame?

What is an UNBOSS? Quite simply a person that not only manages his or her employees, but a person that inspires, engages and involves stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, users, members and others (the Unlimited organization).  A person that inspires his or her organization to do amazing things. The UNBOSS keeps the (unlimited) organization focused on the cause rather than structures, procedures, statistics and the like. The UNBOSS provides vision and direction, which is the basis for freedom for the individual co-worker. The UNBOSS invites dialogue; you seldom doubt what his or her opinion is, but the UNBOSS listens and engages with stakeholders.

We know many examples of UNBOSSes or at least people who act like UNBOSSes in particular aspects of their work. But you and your colleagues know more examples. Please share them with us. Tell us about a person who you think deserves the title of UNBOSS. It could be a well-known person such as Barack Obama, Larry Page or Nelson Mandela, but it could also be someone only few of us know. Share the story by writing a comment!