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.

I have a cause. Do you?

My cause is to make the next generation of leaders better than the present one.

What do you think? If you don’t have one, why don’t you? Here is why I love my leadership cause:

  1. The cause is worth fighting for, not only for me, but probably also for you and for many other people. Imagine what the world would look like if we had better leaders: More happiness, more wealth, more dialogue, more understanding and less pollution, less conflict, less stress and less waste. WOW! Can you imagine any better cause?
  2. The cause is realistic, because there are organizations such as Scouting and Guiding which today involve more than 50 Million young people in leadership training. One in three leaders today have already had an average of three years of leadership training through Scouting and Guiding. And we can easily reach more than one half of all leaders in the world.
  3. Everyone can join. Would you think a lot of people would join if my cause was to make money for myself and my family? Absolutely not. They would need to be paid a salary to join. The good thing about my cause is that people join without being paid. They are as passionate as I am.

My cause guides my worklife and much of my other activities including this weblog.

What’s your cause? To make money for yourself and for your family? To become powerful and famous?

I think these two are bad causes because they are only about you. A good cause should be about what you can do for other people. It is about your impact – the difference you want to make.

Everybody can make a difference to other people, small scale or large scale: You can make your community, your company, your country or the world cleaner, happier, more fun, safer or richer. You can develop a skill, a profession, a concept or something else and share it with others. You can fight injustice, discrimination, powerty, pollution or waste.

So in my view, people with no cause waste their lives.

My cause, next generation leadership, gives me tremendous joy. I am never bored: jusk think about how many examples there are of bad management which can be improved. I always have something to ask about and to talk about. Who is the best leader you have ever met? And the worst? Why? I learn every day because I am focused, because I reflect and because I try to apply what I learn.

Be courageous: Share your cause with me and about 20.000 others who read this blog every month. Write a comment below.

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!

What would SAS do, if they were an UNBOSS company? I have been asked that question numerous times while SAS has been struggling to survive. Let’s work on it together. Here is my first input:

There are three basic elements in UNBOSS: 1) Purpose before profit. 2) Engage everyone who shares the purpose. 3) Forget conventional hierarchical management and create new mechanisms.

1. Purpose befor profit. Of course SAS must make money; a lot of money indeed to be able to invest in new planes, new destinations and new services. But imagine if SAS rephrased its purpose like this: To help Scandinavians travel abroad fast, cheaply, comfortably and sustainably? Or even shorter: To help globalize Scandinavia.

Imagine SAS actually adopted that purpose and then focused everything they do on exactly that: To help globalize Scandinavia.

2. Engage everyone who is passionate about the purpose: Then SAS would immediately get a lot of new friends.

Who is passionate about improving SAS’ bottom line? Shareholder and not a lot of others.

Who is passionate about globalizing Scandinavia? A lot of people: Business, parliaments, local government and a lot of ordinary people. Actually, who wouldn’t be passionate? Without good air connections there will be no new growth companies, no new high-value jobs, no international conventions and no real development.

SAS could gain a lot of new friends with a stronger purpose. In UNBOSS we call all those friends the unlimited organization. In such a organization, conventional hierarchical and power-based management will never work. We need something else:

Mechanisms instead of hierarchy and power. Think of the so-called final negotiations last week between unions and management. This was a prototype of the industrial, power-based and hierarchical mindset: Accept these terms or the company will go bankrupt!

An UNBOSS SAS would do something quite different:  Drop decades of tradition to position employees and employer as opposites and turn the conflict into a common effort.

SAS market cap has never been lower; less than USD 400 Million. Shareholders have already lost almost alltheir money. Why not offer all staff the opportunity to by, say 20%, of the shares at a symbolic price, say 20 cents per share with the option of buying another 20% if the company performs really well. Of course this offer is only valid if employees accept salaries and working conditions that match the market. That would be a revolution. An airline where every single employee was turned into an associate or a partner. An airline where everyone pulled in the same direction.

Employee ownership is just one example on a mechanism which changes the rules of the game such that everybody gets a shared interest in succeeding. No power, just an opportunity which you can’t resist.

Employee ownership helps, but SAS needs more: It needs a management team that involves staff to the maximum extent in shaping the future SAS. There are hundreds of ways to improve and develop SAS and employees know what works. The necessary mechanisms can be found in UNBOSS.

SAS needs more than employee engagement: A genuine dialogue with passengers, business, government, agents, suppliers and others who care for Scandinavias future in a globalized world. What can SAS do and what can we do for SAS? Skype’s customers sell Skype to their friends who have not yet installed the software. And they even help their friends install the thing. That is free customer service! Sailboats help the navy patrol Danish waters in order to spot pollution. Voluntarily. Concerned parents patrol the streets at night to reduce crime. No salary. In all three cases someone has created a mechanism for people to contribute to the common good. That is UNBOSS.

Therefore SAS must engage customers and partners. Not with the purpose of improving SAS’ bottom line but indeed to help globalize Scandinavia. The UNBOSS SAS management must inspire and engage by creating the mechanisms that make it possible. No hierarchy and no new structures needed.

A well-functioning SAS is worth 5 Billion USD or more. 40% of that is 2 Billion USD. For each of SAS’ 10.000 employees this is 200.000 USD. Not bad! The old shareholders will be happy too. Their 400 Million USD has grown to 3 Billion. Seen before? Yes indeed. Remember hearing aid manufacturer Oticon 1990-1998.

The game is not lost. SAS has good management and a board with all the necessary qualifications. Employees have shown that they are responsible by accepting dramatic cuts in salaries and longer working hours. But the mindset needs change, both at employees and management.

It can be done. Give us your suggestions and thoughts. Write a comment!


Yesterday more than 200 people showed up to hear about UNBOSS at Pressen in central Copenhagen. This was actually the first public performance by Lars and I together, and we were therefore both excited and extremely nervous before the event.

To make sure we continuously develop these kinds of events, we chose at the end to eat our own dog food! We asked the crowd to score our talk on the Net Promoter Score scale and to give us some feedback on how to improve. More than half, 112 respondents, chose to do so! They all got the same question: “How likely is it, on a scale of 0–10 where 10 is best, that you would recommend this talk to a friend or colleague?” Here are the results:

For those who are not familiar with the Net Promoter Score (which we also explain and promote in our book), here’s a brief explanation on how to read the scores:

All red scores are detractors, meaning that these people are likely to talk negatively about this event and not recommend it to friends or family. If you’re fanatical about your NPS score, you should know that most detractors can’t be moved enough to go out of the red (except perhaps for the 6’s)—so you simply have to stop doing business with these people. That is, of course, if you’re fanatical about this.

All yellow scores are neutral, people who are also unlikely to recommend this talk—but at least they would not talk negatively about it. This is usually where you have your potential; here you can actually move people into the green.

All green scores are promoters, the people who will actually recommend this talk to friends and colleagues.

You calculate your Net Promoter Score (which is number between -100 and +100), you subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. In our case our score comes out at +53, which is extremely good for this kind of thing.

Are you working with NPS in your business? How does it work in larger systems? Has it improved your sales, marketing or something else?