Unusual combinations of leaders come together at the Xynteo Exchange/Norway!

Unusual combinations of leaders come together at the Xynteo Exchange/Norway!

To truly reinvent growth as we know it, we must do so together.

That means reaching far beyond the natural boundaries of our day-to-day tribes, to hear the voices that are often left unheard, to be comfortable engaging with those who have radically different perspectives from our own, and to be willing to give up something of ourselves, to make it possible to find common ground and take action together.

In the final panel at the Xynteo Exchange/Norway, we sought inspiration from leaders from across business, civil society and the creative industries who have successfully embraced radical collaboration, connecting the best ideas, talent and capital from all corners of our global society.

In ‘pairs’, leaders offered practical examples of how they have worked together in unusual combinations – and the benefits that have accrued, both to them and to society more broadly.

Pathfinder International’s CEO Lois Quam, who moderated the session, began by highlighted how “collaboration is important to work with others that are different from us.”

She then introduced our first pair: secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Jan Egeland, and media advisor to NRC, Becky Bakr Abdulla.

Jan explained how NRC helps around 6 million refugees, often by working with local staff who have very different backgrounds from his own.

Becky, an Iraqi national whose parents fled to Norway before she was born, told us how her story led her to work for NRC and to become a spokeswoman for displaced people in Iraq. She argued that we need “more nations and organisations to allow people that are different from them in.” “Einstein was a refugee. Somalia’s prime minister was an asylum seeker.” she said.

Our second pair consisted of two pioneering leaders from the oil and gas industry: CEO of AkerBP, Karl Johnny Hersvik, and EVP commercial at Subsea 7, Øyvind Mikaelsen.

Karl Johnny talked about how, in 2014, the oil and gas industry was “not really collaborative.” This realisation has led AkerBP to experiment with lots of different alliances where they collaborate with other organisations on a deep and fundamental level, including with Subsea 7.

Øyvind explained how he unlocked more productivity for his organisation by bringing diverse and integrated teams together to develop new business models. He anticipates that in the long-run they “will be able to halve the costs” through this process. “By doing this we can achieve so much more and add fantastic value.” he said.

CEO of Xynteo, Osvald Bjelland, and Norwegian musician and visual artist, Magne Furuholmen, took to the stage in our third unusual pairing.

Osvald asked Magne, “How has collaboration influenced your work?” Magne, who is keyboardist in the synthpop/rock band A-ha, replied by explaining how collaboration is essential for navigating some of the challenges that bands experience.

“There are hardships in every collaborative effort. In the arts we overcome these difficulties by measuring success differently.” he said. 

Magne went on to talk about what the cultural field can offer to the discussion around the theme of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway – that is, how to create a growth model that delivers commercial and human value. “Artists have a huge impact on the world by affecting people’s minds in a way that may not have been intended.” he said.

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