NBF16 – my takeaways


Last year I attended Nordic Business Forum 2015 thru the live stream and it was an amazing experience. I was so stoked that had to buy a NBF16 seminar pass right away –  I wanted to experience it physically, to hear the keynote speakers live, meet people and be part of the buzz.

Now, after digesting the whole experience for 2 weeks, I’d like to share some of my learnings with you. The four things that are still on my mind are:

Do, do, do =  Only action makes inspiration come true, execution is everything

Choose to matter = Everyone of us is the change, don’t wait for it to happen

Attention on solutions = Solve a problem, don’t concentrate on egos

Values & Trust = Employees 1st, customers 2nd

The main themes at the Nordic Business Forum 2016 (NBF16) were marketing, digitalization and culture . Two days, almost 6,000 people, tens of nationalities – the event was bigger than ever. And well worth the investment in time and money. Full agenda can be found at NBF16.

On marketing and change

Marketing is a service, an emotion and about making a connection. Today mass anything is dead, even niche groups are big enough to target. Scott Galloway continues:

  1. The young and healthy have left the building (=tv). 74% would cancel Netflix if there were ads. The price of freedom – adfree world – is a couple dollars.
  2. Store is the number 1 factor influencing the purchase decision – next come search, CRM and social.
  3. Ratio, heart and genitals drive the decisions. Technology helps reduce pain when you’ve first identified the actual pain points.
  4. Car is a service, Google is a spiritual guide and FB’s for love, empathy and sharing.

His final words were that “lots of things are happening that are not good for us”. Privacy issues and tax evasion are threats if you’re not transparent.

Peter Diamantes asked which problem do you want to solve. Solve and share it – like Uber. Everybody has potential to become extraordinary problem solver with latest tools around like sensors, 3D printing, virtual & artificial reality, genetics etc. But how to the unlock passion to do this?  Unfortunately our governments are the slowest to change as they are the most linear organizations on the planet. But even they can’t regulate against change in the end. We – the people – are the change, in the past citizens have started the biggest changes. And what’s not possible today, will be possible tomorrow.

Gary Vaynerchuk started his keynote stating that we’re still grossly overspending on stuff that we’ve done before. For example by using tv ads to interrupt storytelling. Everything should be about creating value. Communication drives everything and you can only learn by doing. Only action creates results, not inspiration. Do, do, do – test, test, test – and do it again. Try out all the new stuff and think how this could help your business. Create a culture where your employees are better than the competition and figure out a firing policy as well.

This was the first time I heard the godfather of creativity, Seth Godin of the Purple Cow, live. For him marketing is all about creating experience. So are you’re creating something worth mentioning? He focused on the value of teamwork, building trust, co-creation and sharing ideas – a connection economy. Sounds familiar to a service designer.   A few phrases of his that resonated with me:

  • There no such thing as a writer’s block – just bad habits and reluctance to dance with fear.
  • It’s all about creating marketing together, being fully human. Sow ubana – I see you.
  • There are not enough bad ideas to find a few good ones.
  • Do you want to make art or be a copycat?
  • Will you to choose matter?

And of course I have to share his picture of bats having a cocktail party. Certainly made me think of these creatures in a different way.


Vineet Nayar on culture

“Our 100,000 employee did the change. I got an opportunity to lead them”. The two first sentences totally stopped me in my tracks. Vineet Nayar’s key note was the one that made my day at NBF16.

Do stuff that others consider impossible, spend time on chasing the dream, extend the boundaries of logic. Get leverage thru innovation – and don’t forget to innovate on your company culture. Your people are your leverage – differentiation is created by the employees.

It took Gandhi 20 years to make change happen so it is not easy. These are 4 steps to change listed by Vineet Nayar:

  1. Find the leak – the need for change stems from dissatisfaction with status quo. So find out where you suck and make it visible to all.
  2. Trust – if you always instruct, nobody will have to courage to jump. Build trust so the trouble tickets, the ugly stuff, will reach the CEO fast.
  3. Define a clear vision to your people, make it compelling enough to wake you up in the morning. Their’s was “Employees 1st, customers 2nd”.
  4. Make management accountable to the employees – appraisal of the bosses by the employees.

Digitalization = Change

We are the change. A great example of how to rethink non-profit was Jessica Jackley’s Kiva.org – Loans that save lives. Instead of making you feel bad, charity can be about “wouldn’t this be fun”. Kiva.org offers a different way to participate in changing people’s lives. They offer a human connection, stories of budding entrepreneurs needing microloans to help their dreams come true. And give us, the overprivileged westerners, an opportunity to connect and give a hand in changing somebody’s life.

Final question – which change do you want to be? As for me, I want to be the change that helps to build extraordinary employee and customer experience – to create encounters that matter.

You can find the superb visual notes by Linda Saukko on the Nordic Business Forum 2016 blog here visual notes NBF16. An A4 on each key note.


One thought on “NBF16 – my takeaways

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences on the Nordic Business Forum 2016! I have this feeling that governments are trying to change their methods and ways of working, but this is happening very slowly. Also, their job is to take care of matters that no one else wants to take care of, and this isn’t always such an easy task. The start-up world has already put a mark on the way change is defined, and companies such as Uber have definitely hit the spot when it comes to understanding customer needs. Companies such as this are much more flexible to make fast policy choices, and change their services, while governments need to go through the official steps in order to make any changes at all. Also, legislative barriers may slow down progress in many fields, and this I guess is also a problem that cannot be easily fixed. Perhaps having a clearer vision might help? Perhaps bringing more citizen involvement into the mix could be one way to understand societal needs?

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