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These are the 4 must-have skills of organizational development professionals

By Johan Mjöberg on Mar 29, 2018 10:08:38 AM

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When a manager understands his or her team, leading change will be a breeze. In this guest post, Johan Mjöberg, an experienced management consultant, tells us what other skills are needed to make change happen.

1. Never stop developing your business

Environmental issues became a topic in the pulp and paper industry late last century. I was working in a consultancy team at the time and despite originally offering a wide spectrum of services, we decided to focus on the environment.

Concentrating on and learning a new area was tough but rewarding. We visited paper mills and met with authorities all over the world and dug into archives.

We listened to our customers’ needs and developed our own operations continuously. You should never sit still! If you cannot follow the market, who would want to follow you?

2. Keep your plans realistic

Today, most work is based on projects and in projects, cost control and time management often seem to be challenging. The Karolinska Hospital and Globe Arena in Stockholm, the West Metro in the Helsinki area and Berlin Airport are a few civil engineering projects that didn’t quite go as planned. Why? Because the plans were not realistic.

In project work, always expect the unexpected. Changes must be calculated into the project blueprint from the beginning. Just a few months’ delay can be decisive: cash flow turns negative and one delay turns into another delay. The management needs to be efficient and have an eye for detail. That is why it is important create an ownership mentality within the team and give committed people responsibility.

3. Justify change

Major changes are often based on fluctuations in the market. Consultancies are especially susceptible to these changes.

Managers must ensure that their teams understand that change is good. People must be told how the future will be different from the past and that they will get there as a team.

Let your employees learn on the job and through training. At the same time they will understand that their own position is not threatened. Finally, make sure you also achieve short-term goals. And remember to celebrate even the smallest successes!

4. Understand and engage

Swedes are famous for their consensual management style: in a meeting in Sweden, Bengan, Maggan and Lasse can all provide their opinions. But if you actually want to reach a decision, you’ll have to arrange another meeting because Bengan, Maggan and Lasse first have to ask Ninni, Kicki and Titti what they think. Everyone is engaged in everything in the consensus process.

When the change is fast, a little less discussion is enough. Obviously, a team must agree on the goals and methods, and in the end, leadership is about understanding what the team needs. You can find out what the needs are by engaging the team and nowadays there are fortunately many ways of doing this, Howspace being one of them.


Johan Mjöberg, Managing Director of the consultancy Foritec AB, has worked in the pulp and paper industry all his life. After spending many years abroad Johan has now settled in Sweden, his home country, and currently provides consulting services to European pulp and paper companies.

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