Category Archives: Leadership

Inclusion: diversity from a strategic perspective to get to high performing teams

InclusionIs diversity in a team really contributing to your results? Or is your team composed out of differing individuals for the sake of statistics. Get a high performing team by thinking about the composition of the different profiles. They named it inclusion and it will lead to challenging solutions, vibrant discussions and high performing teams. Read further to see what’s the difference between diversity and inclusion.

Today we had an interesting discussion about the difference between diversity and inclusion. If you don’t know the latter yet, don’t worry: we’ll explain it shortly and I’m convinced that you’ll hear it more in the coming year as it’s becoming a buzz word.

The fact that diversity is needed at the work floor (and anywhere else) is probably not so surprising to you. But diversity only looks at the numbers and combination of different individuals. You probably understand that combining different individuals can lead to sparks at the work floor, both in a good and less good way. Much diversity on the work floor does not guarantee a high performing organization.

Inclusion goes one step further though. As with diversity you would combine an unplanned mixed of individuals, inclusion looks at it from a strategic point of view: which combination of different profiles do you need in your team to be successful? For diversity to be successful, the leader must team carefully when composing his/her team.

Next to making a team high performing, inclusion is also about respecting each other as a person. A different person with underlying beliefs and values that might seem strange to us, but which are an enrichment to the team.

Leaders that are aware and self-conscious of the need for a diverse team, probably have been using inclusion before by thoroughly combining different profiles via screenings like Myers-Brigss Type Indicator (MBTI)the Big 5 personality traits, Belbin team roles, etc.

According to “Beyonders”, leading a diverse team can make an average leader insecure. Having this specific mix of individuals implies a guarantee for healthy conflicts and (more) heated discussions. In a successful team, composed via inclusion, it will be harder to get to consensus which results in more diverse solutions and paths to solutions to be found.

Managing and participating in an inclusive team can require more of your energy. It’s always easier if everybody agrees with you and you don’t have to convince others and fight for your solutions.

The b

Is your team inclusive?

How do you know that your team is composed inclusive? Take these small tests to see for yourself:

  • Outsiders look strange at your team having a discussion and think you’re having an argument, while the discussion seems everyday normal to you (there’s no fight going on).
  • You have the feeling that you complement each other.
  • Do a short test and ask for 3 solutions to a stated problem. Take a look at the different answers you got from the team.
  • Ask your leader why you in particular were selected for the team.

Thanks to my colleague Isabelle for making the difference clear to me and Katleen Destobbeleir of Vlerick Business School for inspiring Isabelle!

Additional information

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Digital trends in 2015

Digital trends in 2015Disruptive business models, IT as an essential part of the organization and flexible leadership play a role in the digital trends for 2015. Ron Tolido, Senior Vice President Capgemini CTO Office, shares insights on these topics and what to expect in 2015. This blog post will share some insights.

After “Big Data” in 2014, “disruptive” will be the new trend and buzz word of 2015. Disruptive is used when you radically change your business model to disrupt the market. We know that the goal of many start-ups is making a swing at the big organization with their disruptive business model. But you don’t have to be a (small) start-up to join the ride. Even bigger organizations can take the same approach by, for example, starting a spinoff. In the financial world we saw this happening with direct banking: bigger banks with a long heritage and according legacy are often too rigid to react to the flexible market. As a solution they start direct banks as spinoffs without the legacy slowing them down.

But it’s wise to start a spinoff and become a direct competitor of your own (big organization)? Well, Ron pointed out that it’s better to eat some of your own cookie, than when others would do it. Fair point.

Leadership plays a key role in digital innovation to make (increase) profits and gain market share. Conservative leadership will also still work, but the effect will decline as new opportunities are missed and market share declines.

Innovation without dedicated and involved top management will not work. A dedicated Chief Innovation Manager, a Strategy Manager or CIO alone is not sufficient: the whole top management must be convinced of the need to enter the digital age. Bottom-up initiatives contribute, but without a clear direction from top, they will come to a halt.

If you go for digital innovation, you have to go the full monty. Some organizations digitalize and freshen up the front office, but the back office remains the same. We’re not only talking about shop design and used technology, but also of a culture and mentality shift. You cannot be a client centric organization if this is only valid for your front office and not for your back office. Imagine the best hospitality and service in the shop, and waiting for ages from a response from the back office. I’m sure you can recall a few example organizations where this is valid.

The IT department of your organization matters. There used to be a time where the IT department was located in the cellar. The employees were considered as pariahs at work, Ron shared jokingly, “We had to sit at a different table in the cafeteria and still our colleagues were looking strange at us”. These days are over for sure as we enter the digital age. IT is changed from a supporting function for crunching numbers to an essential role in the future of the organization.

Before showing some technical innovations coming our way, Ron concludes that IT management needs to evolve from an infrastructure to an infostructure. It’s time to cut off old applications instead of keeping the alive. We need to learn to stop things instead of providing support forever.

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My maiden MOOC

MOOC Introduction to Forensic Science

MOOC Introduction to Forensic Science – ToDo list for week 2

The future of learning is changing. Now that MOOCs, Mass Open Online Courses, are almost getting main stream, I decided to take one myself. What will happen if you’re eager to learn and have unlimited choice? You can find a MOOC via a directory and can sign up in a jiffy. The platform is easy and anywhere to use. A new world opens up to me.

MOOCs, Mass Open Online Courses, are the new way of learning. They provide a self-study framework in an area of interest in and you can learn on your own pace. No more obliged presence in an auditorium where you’ll fall asleep, but everything via the Internet.

I had already heard of MOOCs via a colleague of me, but somehow never took the dive to start one. When browsing social media and in the mood of new year’s resolutions, I came across some interesting free MOOCs (Essential Business MOOCs For January). Even if it was free, there was still some sort of threshold for me to start. What happens if I quit? Will I be put on the black list? Can I attend another? The same colleague assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, as about 90% of the participants quit during the MOOC. Indeed, 90%, he said, but don’t ask me (or him) for the statistics. Anyway, I decided to give it a try to see where I ended up.

MOOCs? Dime a dozen

As I’m quite late joining this trend, I was astonished by the number of MOOCs there are available. Only via the “Essential Business MOOCs for January” link I found many others, ranging in many different areas of expertise and hosted by many different colleges and universities. I decided to go for “Managing People – Engaging Your Workforce” at the University of Reading, a course for when you would take up a leadership role. Hosted on the platform. The course takes 10 weeks and requires 4 hours per week.

While browsing the directory on the FurtureLearn platform, I saw another interesting course “Introduction to Forensic Science“, a topic which looks interesting to me, but where I (except for the CSI TV-series) have no feeling whatsoever with. The course takes 10 weeks, requires 3 hours per week and I can start right away.

First experience

The platform feels refreshing and new. I’m easily registered and can immediately start my “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC. For the “Managing People” MOOC I have to week another week because it’s not started yet.

Week by week

The course is divided up in weeks and the weeks into small learn nuggets. These nuggets are reading material, videos, exercises, assignments, opinions, open discussions. The teachers regularly request to voice my opinion in the comment box and I’m impressed by the thousands of comments in an open discussion. To avoid a too theoretical approach on the subject, the teachers created an exercise with a crime to be solved, based on a real case. It’s that good composed that I feel like a true CSI officer solving a crime.

After the first week of the “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC, I must admit I’ll never look at a CSI episode in the same way again. It’s clear that fiction and non-fiction are two worlds apart.

When I complete the assignments before the end of the first week, I have to take a small test and pass without a flaw. Only 2 left to wait for week 2 with the next assignments, exciting!

Anytime, anywhere

As said earlier, we don’t need to be in a dusty auditorium somewhere, everybody learning at the pace that the professor maintains. Via the FutureLearn platform I can learn anytime, anywhere. It’s possible to read an article on my smart phone on the bus, view a video on my PC during a lunch break and go through any of the materials with my iPad on the couch. Talk about flexible…

Social media

The course encourages using social media to talk about the topic. The “Managing People” MOOC even provides guides for setting up Facebook groups, using Twitter and using Google Hangouts.

One of the open discussions for the “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC is hosted via Google Hangouts and directly connects me and hundreds of others to a professor in Scotland. During his explanation we can up and down vote at any point in time. No worries, if you cannot use Google Hangouts, everything is also streamed via a YouTube channel!

What’s in it for me?

After each MOOC you get a statement of participation and if you pass the exam (if any), you can get a statement of attainment. Of course the exam is taken at your home and you have full access to the Internet. And of course you have to pay for the statements. I’m not sure if I would take (pay for) such a statement, because to me the added value is more into what I learned.

I wonder if I’ll keep up for the whole 6 and 10 weeks of both MOOCs and what stays in my memory after a hard day at work. To be continued!

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Create a start-up mentality in your big organization


Start-ups are the current hype, but according to Vlerick professor Miguel Meuleman there’s still a lot of potential in larger enterprises themselves. You have to overcome some obstacles to create a start-up mentality in a large organization though. An important one is finding the balance between management and entrepreneurship.  This blog shares some insights of the “Vlerick Feed your mind – Getting back to innovation” session.

Finding the balance between management and entrepreneurship

Many big organizations only have managers. Managers who are often too controlling and not allowing any room for innovation. Opposite are the entrepreneurs, who explore possibilities and discover new grounds. Entrepreneurs have an exploration mind-set that allows them to see opportunities and take risks.

Too much management will make your organization less flexible and projects are only realized after a long time, for example via the waterfall model. But with too much entrepreneurship and exploration you can loose the focus of your organization. The truth is: you need both management and entrepreneurs. To survive in an ever changing world, you need a search mind-set, but also an execution mind-set.  It’s the challenge for management to create an innovative climate where these entrepreneurs can thrive.

Critical ingredients to stimulate start-up culture in a big organization

So how do your create the necessary climate and start-up mentality in a big organization?

Management support

That you need management support is a no-brainer, but it’s key to have the right structures in place. It should be possible to take person out of their day-job to work on new idea. 

Who’s making currently making the decision about spending your budget? Is it based on realizing the best ideas? You can have the crowd decide where to invest in, for example with an investment market. Of course, budget needs to be made available for these investments.

Encourage small experiments and have a fast decision making process in place. If you fail, fail fast.

Work autonomy & time availability

Give people freedom to try their own methods of doing the job, which leads to new innovations.

Make time available to work on ideas. Do not give full freedom, but give direction. Clearly define the challenges that your organization is having and invite your colleagues to think along.

You can make it explicit by defining a clear challenge: “We want to find a solution for … and you have these days to work on it”.

Miguel Meuleman: "Intrapreneurship is fostered when individuals have the freedom and autonomy on their work, but this freedom must be balanced to make sure individuals' creative efforts stay aligned with company objectives."


Just like external entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs need sponsorship and sponsor support. A sponsor from management can remove obstacles when needed.

A culture of trying, failing and learning needs to be installed. You can do this by actual trying, sharing failures and also asking to sharem them and the lessons learned during an evaluation talk.

Encourage the expected behaviour by assigning awards for entrepreneurs.

Organizational boundaries

Open up the hierarchy in your business. There are some walls needed between the entities, but make them low so the colleagues can jump over them.

Do something different. Swap jobs within organizations. Don’t go the same conference every year, but join one in another area, eg. start-up conference. What are they doing there?

Get the outside in. Invite external entrepreneurs to give feedback on in-company ideas. Involve your customers in the journey for finding new ideas.

Additional reading

Session Miguel Meuleman

Eric Ries on The Lean Start-up (video)

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Leiderschapslessen van Rock Werchter

Rock WerchterAfgelopen maandag was er in het programma Bel Pop op Canvas een documentaire over het ontstaan en de groei van het wereldberoemde festival. Rock Werchter zit al sinds de oprichting onder leiding van Herman Schueremans en uit de reportage blijkt al vlug dat deze organisator alles goed op een rijtje heeft. In deze blog enkele lessen die we uit de ervaring van Herman Schueremans en zijn team kunnen leren.

Heb geduld

In de begin jaren krijgt de organisatie niet de gewenste artiesten op het festival. Het festival is te klein en daarvoor komen ze niet uit Engeland af. Herman geeft het niet op en zoekt minder bekende artiesten. Hij rekent op groei en wacht zijn beurt af.

Herken opportuniteiten

Buitenlandse artiesten in België krijgen voor één optreden/festival was niet gemakkelijk. Maar ze passeerden wel allemaal via België naar de andere landen. Herman zag dit en ging samenwerken met een organisatie in Torhout en zo ontstond Torhout/Werchter. Een tweedaags festival waardoor het voor de buitenlandse artiesten wel de moeite werd om eens te stoppen in België.

Later wordt samen met een partner het bedrijf StageCo opgericht dat podia bouwt voor wereldwijde tournees van topartiesten zoals U2 en Metallica.

Hou een hoge kwaliteit standaard

Eén van de verwijten die de organisatie krijgt, is dat er te weinig Belgische groepen op het podium staan. Herman is hier echter heel duidelijk in: Rock Werchter kiest voor kwaliteit en als de Belgische groepen op dat moment dit niet kunnen waar maken, zullen ze geen plek op het podium krijgen. Eén van de eerste Belgische groepen die er wél in slaagt, zijn The Scabs. Later worden ze snel opgevolgd door Channel Zero en dEUS.

Respecteer je personeel

Rock Werchter staat er voor bekend om zijn artiesten goed te behandelen: er zijn betere accommodaties en het eten wordt gesmaakt. Alle artiesten zijn zeer tevreden over hun behandeling en promoten het festival.

Investeer op lange termijn

Herman heeft altijd de kans gegeven aan jonge groepen om zich te bewijzen. Zo stonden groepen als Simple Minds, U2, dEUS en Placebo in hun beginjaren al op het grote podium. Door de bekendheid van het festival worden de artiesten internationaal gelanceerd. Een investering die zich later goed terug betaald omdat de artiesten deze aangeboden kans niet vergeten zijn. Midden jaren ’80 doet de nummer 1 band Simple Minds opnieuw een bezoek aan de wei te Werchter.

Durf beslissen

In de beginjaren is er de combinatie Torhout/Werchter omwille van logistieke redenen: er zijn bijna geen festivals in België en ze willen de artiesten toch op hun podium krijgen (zie “Herken opportuniteiten”). Wanneer de festivalmarkt in België groeit tot één van de grootsten ter wereld, is de competitie hoog en Torhout/Werchter verliest bezoekers. Er geen nood meer aan de samenwerking en Herman neemt de moeilijke beslissing om enkel verder te gaan met Werchter.

Neem risico

Mag een rock festival synthesizer bands toelaten? Deze vraag is zeer actueel wanneer Depeche Mode op het podium staat. De media zeggen nee, maar de menigte zegt ja. Het tijdperk van de elektronische muziek wordt ingeleid door een moeilijke beslissing om zulke bands van een club naar een festival zoals Rock Werchter te verplaatsen.

Durf differentiëren

Door de jaren heen is de affiche van Rock Werchter gegroeid van een echt rock festival naar een gedifferentieerd festival met vele soorten muziek. Er is voor iedereen wat wils en een breed publiek vindt haar weg naar het festival.

Luister naar wat de klant wilt

Rock Werchter heeft altijd nauw samengewerkt met Humo. Deze samenwerking heeft vruchten afgeworpen en het bezoekersaantal vergroot. De redactie van Humo heeft echter een bepaalde visie over wat tot muziek gerekend wordt en wat niet. Herman is hier niet mee akkoord en besluit om de vraag van de klant te volgen door bands zoals Metallica te programmeren. Het wordt een ongezien succes. Met de intrede van het danstijdperk bewijst Herman voor een tweede keer dat Humo er langs zit en maakt een belangrijk besluit: wij programmeren wat de klant wilt horen.

Blijf vernieuwen

Elke tien jaar wordt het festival herbekeken. Onder het moto “stilstaan is achteruit gaan” probeert Herman met zijn team telkens zichzelf heruit te vinden.

Durf jezelf in vraag stellen

Als je het beste festival ter wereld wilt blijven, moet je jezelf ook in vraag blijven stellen. Rock Werchter hoort toch in Werchter door te gaan hé? Niet als het aan Herman ligt: elk jaar bekijkt hij opnieuw of de terreinen in Werchter nog steeds de beste keuze voor zijn festival zijn.

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