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Loomis global leadership program: “Catalyst – leadership delivering business results”

Loomis program "Catalyst - leadership delivering business results"

In 2023, Loomis launched its first global leadership program, “Catalyst – Leadership delivering business results,” and Gaia has been Loomis’ partner in this program. In a company that has truly lived by the motto “business is local,” they had previously avoided large joint initiatives. However, Loomis is now in a situation where the company is evolving, and a global business and leadership program is needed. We spoke with Mårten Lundberg, CHRO/CMO at Loomis Group, and Elisabeth Stjerndorff, the project manager responsible for developing Loomis program “Catalyst – leadership delivering business results”.

“There was a strong demand from several senior managers: we need to create a business education to continue evolving.”

“There was a strong demand from several senior managers: we need to create a business education to continue evolving. And that’s when we started developing Catalyst,” Mårten explains.

Loomis is in the midst of a transformation where they aim to succeed on a new level in two major areas. They want to expand their portfolio and offer more products and services to existing and new customers. Where they currently offer services such as cash handling, they want to provide customers with other types of payment solutions and automated digital services. They also aim to evolve from a service provider to a proactive partner using the customer data they have.

“Our managers need to be able to lead in a more complex world.”

“We have skilled, often internally recruited, managers who have grown with the company. Now, as we broaden our portfolio, leadership needs to include broader perspectives, strengthen collaboration across borders and functions, and develop the business. Our managers need to be able to lead in a more complex world,” says Elisabeth.

“Loomis has been involved in transporting gold and cash since 1852. The company’s development means that our employees have had to complement their skills with a range of payment solutions on many platforms, new digital products, and thus meet customers in new ways,” adds Mårten.

The target audience for the program is managers who have worked for several years and have made progress in their careers. Through the program, they have had the opportunity to see different aspects of their leadership and delve into how they lead the business and its development. It was also important for participants to be able to apply their knowledge directly in their daily lives so that it wouldn’t become theoretical and quickly forgotten.

In the program, group coaching has been employed, and participants have formed business case groups where they have worked practically with real needs and opportunities.

Naturally, a crucial aspect has been how to involve employees so that what the company aims to achieve reaches all the way, while insights and knowledge from those who meet and serve customers every day also contribute to the overall success. Since many employees are value transporters who leave the office when performing their duties, managers really need to find ways to capture, involve, and meet them.

“The reason we chose Gaia as a partner is that we shared a vision in integrating business and leadership.”

“The reason we chose Gaia as a partner is that we shared a vision in integrating business and leadership. That alignment was crucial. Equally important was the experience of running programs in international environments,” says Elisabeth.

Are you seeing any effects already?

“We see that the knowledge of how to prepare, present, and even scale up a business case is incredibly strengthened in the group that went through the first program. There has also emerged a network of managers from different continents, making collaboration and knowledge sharing easier,” says Mårten.

What have you learned so far?

“It is extremely important that we make participants feel safe in the program. To help them grow, they need to feel a sense of security, dare to open up to learning. We really succeeded in creating that, and it was a crucial success factor for the program, for the participants, and thus for Loomis as a company,” explains Elisabeth.

“I see two important lessons from the pilot. The environment around the participants is crucial. How do the participants’ responsible managers take care of a well-educated employee? We don’t quite have that tradition in place, so we will continue to develop it. The second lesson is that a very professional handling of a global program is needed, from the practical aspect to getting top management on board. We have succeeded well in this aspect, and it is crucial that we maintain it,” adds Mårten.

Loomis program “Catalyst – leadership delivering business results” has become a winning concept, leading to a continued significant investment in leadership within Loomis. The pilot was conducted in 2023, and there is now a decision to also implement the program in 2024. They have hired a Head of Leadership Development, Claire Screaton, to drive the program forward.

Business and personal growth – at the same time?

Gaia Leadership: Business and persona growth at the same time

Many of our ways of thinking around business and organizational development, leadership and management were born during the industrial revolution, somewhere in the 19th century. We have transcended them from generation to generation, programmed us to think how an organization should be designed, what it means to lead and how we succeed with change. Let’s face it – the world has changed since then.

One thing that we have been programmed to do is to separate the interhuman and interpersonal processes from business development. We have been taught to separate the professional self from the personal self. The intellect from the heart. The smartness from the passion. To separate the structure from the culture. With increasing speed an uncertainty, this has caused us to feel less engagement, purpose and meaning.

We need to operate with a much bigger awareness and a clearer intent.

And yes, we have moved the different perspectives closer – but we still tend to separate them and even pendule between them. To integrate perspectives requires more energy from us, more of our cognitive capacities. And let’s face it, our brain is by nature lazy. But the human being has incredible potential – for finding purpose, seeing the bigger picture, see different perspective, to learn, to be creative, to have empathy, to connect – and to take responsibility and leadership. To use these amazing capabilities, that the world and businesses of today needs from us, we need to operate with a much bigger awareness and a clearer intent.

We at Gaia always strive to work with business and personal growth – at the same time. The times where we could create a business strategy that were just smart – but no one really cared about – are over. To create sustainable, resilient businesses today – and that will continue to create value in the future, we need people to grow and mature. But not just to create self-leadership that is for me, myself and I. On the contrary, we would say it’s essential for people to grow in connection with the business, with commitment to a whole that is larger than me, with the feeling of accountability and ownership. With this integration of my own purpose, passion and learning with the business direction and development – we can create conditions for really great things to happen. And therefore, a potential for really strong, resilient and profitable businesses – that could manage whatever challenges the world throws on them.

Let your curiosity lead you.

Maybe you are thinking: “Is it really possible?” Well, when living and leading in complexity, the only way of knowing is to try. Let your curiosity lead you. What would happen if I started to integrate perspectives more, aiming for the both-and instead of the either-or? To challenge yours, and others, old ways of thinking. And if you want a partner in that wayfinding, or just someone to discuss with on how to do or think, we are always open for those conversations. In fact, we love them.

What is my intention?

Gaia intention

A simple question to ask myself before a new month, before a new day, before a meeting, or even in a meeting before I give someone a specific input.

Why do I do what I do and what do I want to succeed with? How can I expand my intention and also connect it to my learning?

Intention comes from the Latin verb intendere. From the beginning with the meaning to stretch, to expand. The meaning has wandered through the centuries, for example to the French entender – to hear and to perceive.

Part of the word’s journey has always been about transferred meanings of stretching, as in stretching after, striving.

So, a combination of perception and effort has followed the path of intention.

When the word intention is used within the social science context it is about describing an individual’s relationship to their own, future behavior. Or as the causal variable that precedes our acting or exhibited behavior.

The dictionary gives us the words objective and purpose. And that is perhaps the core of the word intention now. In the integration between objective and purpose, between what I want to achieve and why. My relationship to my own future behavior – a causal variable that precedes my actions. To intend, to mean.

Growing as a leader and achieving more with less energy is largely about becoming aware of and then expanding your intention.

What do you really want to succeed with? What perspectives do you consider when deciding on what you want to achieve? The point here is once we start focusing on this, we realize that we can succeed in many different things at once (thus achieving more with less energy).

Take the example of a manager who wants to push through a certain decision in a certain meeting. What happens when she only focuses on getting that done? And what happens when she expands her intention: What do I want to succeed with in the long term, what learnings do I want to create, what kind of culture do I want to nurture, how do I use this opportunity to increase the maturity of the group, etc.

I think it’s important that we let our intention expand, rather than shifting focus (which is another process). In the example above, for example, if she would completely let go of her first intention, to come to a decision, the gain is lost. Growth occurs when we challenge ourselves in “both and” rather than “or”.

Finally, it is also important to use the intention in relation to my learning.

We all know that we should build more reflection time into our calendars. We know that it is good to reflect and evaluate our leadership and to actively seek feedback.

To increase the effectiveness of our reflection, requesting feedback and learning, it is effective to link this to the intention I have.

It is in the light of our intention that we should make the subsequent reflection. It doesn’t always make sense to generally ask: – Did I carry out this meeting or this process in a good or bad way?

If person A asks the question after a management meeting to person B: -Could you give me some feedback. Maybe person B should ask the counter-question: – What was your intention into the meeting, what did you want to succeed with and how did you want to be in the meeting? If person A really thought this through before the meeting, the conversation will be much more effective. And in a similar way, of course, we could think about our inner dialogue.

So, a process to increase your own learning can look like this:

  1. Be clear about your intention
  2. See if you, with more perspectives, can expand your intention
  3. Link reflection and feedback to your intention

Talking about right or wrong in leadership is seldom meaningful. However, we can talk about awareness or unawareness – and awareness is always better.

So, what is your intention? And what happens in and around you when you pay attention to and honor your intention? And how can you expand it? What are the “both ands” that you want to succeed with? How can you connect your intention to your learning and development?

Wayfinding as strategy in an ever-shifting business landscape

Gaia wayfinding

Have you ever tried to navigate by completely trusting a GPS while hiking in unknown territory, like in the mountains? If yes, you know it might get you into trouble… If no, maybe you should listen to advice from someone that has tried: Don’t do it! You will probably only get stuck out in the mud somewhere you can’t get through, because the GPS wanted to lead you the straightest way forward without taking into consideration all the unknown unknowns on the way. This image can serve us as a clear example of the trouble we might end up in when we give navigation too much belief. But what happens when we shift our minds into thinking that we should be wayfinding instead of navigating? Maybe we would let go of the idea that we should reach a specific destination in a certain way and be willing to let go of the thought that there is a perfect plan. Maybe we would open up for the adventure itself instead.

We think, discuss and co-create with our customers constantly on how to meet the complexity of our time. How can we develop our businesses when it becomes more and more difficult to foresee the future? How can we continue to be profitable, continue to create strong business results, when we have this feeling that what made us successful up until now might not be the answer going ahead? How can we innovate, come up with new ideas when our analysis and strong intellects might not be fully sufficient?

The metaphor of hiking in unknown territory, where we don’t really know what the nature will look like until we’re actually there, might be helpful also in the business landscape. We are so programmed to make plans, trying to predict and control, to ensure that we will deliver according to plan. Since the 19th century that’s how most successful businesses have been managed, it’s what most of us learnt in business schools and what’s been expected of us in our leadership assignments throughout our careers. And yet, most of the people we meet are starting to realize that navigating in this way isn’t helpful anymore – but what is then the right answer, now and in the future?

First of all, we believe that we have to let go of the idea of right and wrong, good or bad. So if you expected a right answer, we will disappoint you… But maybe there are mindsets that can be helpful when wayfinding instead of navigating, some learnings that we’ve drawn. Here we have tried to conclude them so far:

  • To view the adventure itself as both the destination and the journey – at the same time. It’s all about the progress, the movement. Focus on the sowing, rather than on the harvest.
  • To increase our awareness. To use more of our senses and capabilities than just our analytical and intellectual mind – our intuition, our emotions, our ability to take in our surroundings, to listen, to see and to be present. Why? Because we need all of that to be able to explore, learn, to collaborate and to be creative together.
  • An overall purpose and intention are powerful, it helps us set the direction – not in the exact GPS-coordinates but in which direction we should start moving and where to look for energy when we are starting to get tired or feeling lost.
  • Constant learning and reflecting are what will make us continuously develop and grow. If we use the insights to adapt our actions and steps further.
  • And what is a great adventure without joy, playfulness and laughing together? To invest in our relationships and working together, supporting and helping each other, will make the effort worthwhile.

This is how far we have gotten in exploring wayfinding as a strategy to be a successful, sustainable business in today’s uncertain and unpredictable business landscape. It’s probably just a starting point and we will learn more as we move on our adventure. Maybe you want to be part of that exploration with us?


Gaia interaction

What is interaction? Inter – between. Action – doing, acting. The middle ground.

We often long for interaction. A real meeting where we focus on something we have between us.

And at the same time, we talk a lot about the need for collaboration. Many organizations are struggling to increase collaboration, build collaborative cultures.

Several buzzwords here: collaboration, co-creation, cooperation.

Sometimes it is interesting and clarifying to look in to the actual meaning of a word. Especially to look at what sets it apart from other words that we might use as synonyms.

Co- as a prefix means something that is common, shared.

An interesting difference compared to the prefix inter-. Inter as a prefix points to something that is between us.

When the meeting and what we are going to do together are placed between us, instead of it being immediately shared, it might create more space for action. And perhaps even more important: a space for seeing more clearly, seeing the different perspectives and degrees of complexity.

And that space can also allow for a meeting between independent parties, where different perspectives can create movement and new insight.

Sometimes we might be helped by choosing interaction rather than collaboration. That we choose, as a mindset, to not make the task at hand shared. Instead we can choose to place it between us and work in that space, in the meeting between our perspectives.  Then it creates a better arena for the collaboration, co-creation, and cooperation that we always need to engage in, sooner or later, to create results and value.

To read more about our thoughts in the need for co-creation and collaboration, read about Gaia Mindset.

Without hierarchy – how doesn’t it get just an anarchy?

Gaia levande system

Governing in a living system

When we talk about the new type of organisations we see emerging – organisations without a hierarchy, that function more as living eco-system – we often get the question: “But how do they steer? Without a hierarchy – how doesn’t it get just an anarchy? Doesn’t people just do what they want to do and not what’s best for the business?”. A fair question! Especially since these organisations often also are successful in their business – how does it work?

Before going into trying to answer the question, let’s just imagine playing a football game without a referee. How many of us would cheat? Most of us would probably be very honest, admitting the ball were in or “OK, it did pass the goal line”. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make it a fair game. And how does it work with a referee in the field? Someone who is enforcing the rules of play and being the final decision-maker in the game? If the referee doesn’t notice that the ball went over the line – would we say something about it? Probably not. It’s the referees’ responsibility!

With this metaphor as a mirror – how do you steer a living system? First of all, they all have clear rules of play – often called a constitution. It describes why the company exist, what they want to create, how they view the world, how they want to run and steer the company. You could say it’s a complete integration of strategy, governance model and leadership culture. It gives direction on how to run processes, how to take decisions. And it’s non-negotiable – if you are here you need to accept the playfield. This integrated with high levels of transparency, where everyone has access to most information and everyone can see what the others are doing, creates an arena where entrepreneurship and autonomy can grow, but that requires accountability and co-creation. Everyone is the CEO, everyone is the referee – everyone is taking responsibility. So governing is someone that everyone does, themselves and others in the system as well.

We at Gaia have strived to be a living system since the start and mor specifically since 2018. And for sure it’s an adventure and learning lab every day. We have created a story of our constitution, it’s created mostly for internal sense making and learning – but if someone presently outside Gaia is curious to learn more about our story to become a system that integrates autonomy and co-creation, our story is here.

Creativity in three steps

Gaia creativity

We humans have an amazing capacity for creativity. We base it on our unique ability to imagine things that don’t exist. Imagination – what a thing! We use it all the time. When someone tells us about their morning, we see the cereal in front of us. When one of our loved ones does not answer the phone, we can see the most horrible scenarios in our mind.

But what separates creativity from fantasies, imaginings, and worries?

The word creativity obviously comes from the Latin. Specifically, the verb crere, to create. With a fancy reference to a French guy who died in 1650 due to the chilly castle in Stockholm (but also point out something important): Creo ergo sum. I create therefore I am.

When we talk about this in Swedish, we tend to talk about creativity or being creative rather than about creating. Creativity is then a noun and creative an adjective, created from that old Latin verb. Which is kind of interesting. It immediately becomes something you have or are, not something you do.

And here we come back to what separates creativity from imagination. You have to do something with your imagination, pick out what you imagined inside your head and actually create something on the outside. And seen that way, being creative is a three-step process, each of which uses strong human capacities.

Or no, there is clearly a step 0, namely the fact that we are constantly receiving impressions that can inspire, worry, arouse new thoughts. This is a continuous flow of multitudes of impressions. The trick is, of course, to manage to catch the gold nuggets that glimmer. Or maybe it’s the grain of sand that feels a bit annoying. Or the unexpected, elusive, which perhaps neither glimmers nor annoy but actually touches us. What we usually just call inspiration.

The first step of creativity is about taking that inspiration, that seed into a more active inner process. After all, we have a strong cognitive ability to imagine things mentally that do not currently exist in our concrete, manifest surroundings. It can be about objects, events, situations, experiences that we fantasize about, whether we worry, daydream, or solve problems. The basis here is therefore the imagination, something that can also be cultivated and taken advantage of. Then it is necessary to allow oneself to play further with one’s idea or thought. Let your imagination take it further, make it bigger and explore what possibilities you experience.

The second important step taps into our capacity to realize, do, solve, and create in the external. It’s about taking hold of some of all our fantasies, ideas, dreams and picking them out of our inner self and beginning to form a manifestation of some kind on the outside. The usual images of this are perhaps the artistic ones, to see a image inside your head and paint a picture, to hear music and sit down at the piano or write down the notes, to catch words and write them down on a piece of paper. But also, to see a need for clarity and create a new excel sheet with flexible formulas and macros or to draw attention to a bottleneck and form a new routine.

And finally, our creativity does not reach its full potential if we do not share and transmit what we have created to others in some way. Humanity’s capacity to help others dates to our earliest history, when one of our strongest success factors as a species was our ability to cooperate and help each other. And in this I think our longing to share lies. We want and need to be in contact with others even when it comes to our ideas, stories, what we create. And it is also only here that the full potential of creativity is reached, when ideas, work, stories flow and are shared between us. It is in this that we ourselves develop and grow and in turn develop the context we are in.

Of course, the transitions between these steps are sliding. One way to spin one’s idea is to associate in words or images and that is where the external manifestation begins to take shape. Playing or co-creating with someone else is a way of shaping and sharpening the form you give your imagination on the outside. And with this, we start transmitting and sharing.

Another aspect of the transitions between the three stages, imagination, manifesting and transmission, is that it often comes at a cost for us to take that next step. It can feel scary, difficult, unfamiliar to go from having a mental image to a form on the outside and perhaps even more so when we have to share it with someone else. And here we need to both grasp what it is we want and what it is we long for to actually move forward in the process, because it is actually only in the third step that our creativity reaches all the way. The support we need to give ourselves here is our courage and our self-compassion. To equally challenge ourselves and remind us that our worth is not in our achievements and that the task is not to succeed but to seek meaning.

Try it! You create (all the time) – therefor you are!