Trends peak and go under. One of many designer’s superpowers is to spot the difference between a design trend and a revolution. Design systems have passed the trend phase and have entered to revolutionise the way designers, developers and other stakeholders are working. There is a buzz around design systems as a whole, and some misconceptions on what it is, what it does and why it exists. Let’s clear that up.


Call me traditional, but I think that different understanding of the same terminology is the beginning of the miscommunication cycle. Let’s get those out of the way since we will hear them when talking about design systems.

Design: a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of something.

System: A system is a group of interacting or interrelated entities that form a unified whole.
Components: a part or element of a larger whole.

Component library: a storage place where the coded user interface components are stored and documented.

Standards: a level of quality.
Principles: a proposition that serves as the foundation for a system.

A Mini-History Lesson

Feel free to skip this if you aren’t a history nerd. The point is, that, design systems are not a new concept and have matured over the decades. Design systems as we know them today are a new concept. However, like most new ideas, they are hardly “original” and have stemmed from similar ideas before them. Here I will cover a brief history of it.

1977- Pattern Language, a design system for architects

  15 Principles of Wholeness “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander
15 Principles of Wholeness “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is a 1977 book on architecture, urban design, authored by architects Murray Silverstein, Sara Ishikawa and Christopher Alexander. The book is considered by many as the start of design systems which the authors refer to as “pattern language”. A closer look at the book would reveal that most of their inspirations and examples come from medieval towns. Thus, the idea of a pattern language isn’t new, it just wasn’t accessible. Pattern language has revolutionised the thinking about those systems, in a way making it accessible to ordinary people, not only professionals to improve their houses, towns or schools by using those design tools. This book has lead to the next point→ Pattern Libraries

1986/1994- Pattern libraries

Book Cover - User Centred System Design(1986) by Norman and Draper
Book Cover – User Centred System Design(1986) by Norman and Draper

Although the idea of using “pattern language” in design was mentioned in” user-centred System Design”(1986) by Norman and Draper, it did not gain traction until the rise of web-pages during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Designers and especially developers found themselves needing to reuse components in different pages etc. Thus after the book “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software” came out in 1994, the idea has gained popularity. The Pattern Languages of Programming Conference (1994-present) became an annual event.

2016- Atomic Design

Atomic Design by Brad Frost
Atomic Design by Brad Frost

With the rise of different screen resolutions and devices, designers tasks grew immensely, and quite frankly, became unmanageable. Resulting in inconsistent UI’s across the board. The struggle was real. Atomic Design by Brad Frost, had solved problems and provided a system of thinking about these UI components in a scientific approach of Atoms, Molecules, Organisms, Templates and Pages. Many of the UI consistency issues were tackled. Some design principles were still lacking.

2014/2016- Google Material Design

Part of Google Material Design
Part of Google Material Design

2016 the birth of design systems as we know them today. Without a doubt, Google has pioneered the first complete and open-source design system. It has been used by countless companies either as is or as a template to build their design systems.

If you are interested in a deeper dive inside the history of Design systems, I highly recommend this blog post named “A HISTORY OF DESIGN SYSTEMS”

What is a design system?
A possible configuration by UXPin
A possible configuration by UXPin

Simply, a bunch of reusable components, guided by simple to understand standards and principles and can be assembled like lego pieces to create any number of applications. For designers, this could be done using design software such as Sketch, XD, Figma and many others. As for developers, this means using coded components libraries in for example react. For other stakeholders, this could mean referring back to standards and principles that can guide decision making.

A component library is not necessarily a design system.

Although a component library is one of the core elements in the design system, it won’t solve all the problems. Simply put, the component library answers the “What”, as for the rest of the design system answers the “Why”. In other words, how are those UI components used and why? Without understanding this critical step, we will still have inconsistent experiences despite having similar-looking user-interfaces. There are efforts being made, to unify the entire design system inside a single component libraries, but the process is still in its infancy stages.

What is included inside a design system?

Design systems are not a template to follow, nor does it come with a set configuration. It has to be customised to an organisation’s need. The size of the system could also have an impact on the things included. I.e. a fortune 500 company’s does not compare with a start-up’s design system.

Things that could be included but not limited to

  • Design Tokens
  • Components
  • Patterns
  • Tone of Voice
  • Brand image
  • Visual language / Look & feel
  • Design principles
  • Graphic guideline
  • Styleguide
  • Code libraries
  • Separate documentations
  • Team and contributors

Who uses it?

Countless top organisations have started to utilise design systems to scale the design, lower the cost and improve usability. It’s quite rare to find an industry leader currently, that doesn’t have a design system in place.

Spotify as an example has documented its transition to using a design system and the effect it had on their organisation.

 “Design systems help teams stay aligned so their output stays intentional.” –Stanley Wood, Design Director at Spotify. Read about their transformation here “Design Does Not Scale”.

Before the design system implementation

After the design system implementation

Another organisation that has written extensively about its design system as a key factor to their success and survival is Airbnb. More about Airbnb Design here.

Airbnb Design

Design systems as a way of working

Regardless of how detailed and meticulous the documentation is, verbal communication between all stakeholders remains a key point to create a successful design system. In other words, design systems are more than lego pieces with rules, they are a way of working and communicating. They help to awaken and revive the design thinking mentality in both designers and non-designers. The idea is not to follow rules robotically, but provide a a framework that would speed up the innovation progress. Many intangible yet critical issues to be address in a design system, that might not be apparent on face value.

What can a design system help with in real life?

Some of those benefits overlap but might be more interesting for certain groups than others. So divided it into three groups.


1. For shareholders: Pace! Saving time and money

Although designs systems require time to be setup, and get going, creating complex UI’s between designers and developers becomes potentially faster, ideation takes less time since we know what we have to play with. In essence, designers can draw wireframes on a whiteboard and developers can develop that from the components existing without the need for a pixel perfect design in the middle. Still, some designers prefer to craft pixel-perfect designs using pre-designed components. Airbnb has designed an AI that translates paper wireframes to coded layouts using their design system. Read more about that here.

2. For stakeholders: Design Debt Reduction

Design vs tech debt in small teams usually creates a prioritisation nightmare. Product owners, designers and developers will be pleased to know that once the design system is in place, there will be fewer discrepancies and inconsistencies to fix in future sprints. Developers will be using ready components and thus create fewer bugs. This will automatically reduce the design debt.

3. For users: Boost Coherency and Predictability 

Users, usually won’t and shouldn’t care about the top two benefits, when it comes down to usability though, users expect modern software to behave predictably. A design system will create a consistent experience across all UI’s and components. Design standards will help in the way everything behaves. Design principles will guide the team to take new decisions faster.

Facing reality

Design systems, like any other solution, doesn’t come with-out challenges. Some of those might be that designers feel that the design system puts some constrains on creativity. Others, think that it might hinder exploration, re-alignment and reflection. Other worries might involve the inflexibility of systems overtime. Thankfully, being aware of these pitfalls can greatly reduce the risk of these issues realising. Even if some of those challenges happen, there are solutions to overstep these hurdles. What is a challenge, is the constant amount of work and resources required to design and develop an effective system to transform your organisation.

A good design system is an ever-evolving one!

A good design evolves

How to create a successful one? Create a living, breathing system that’s flexible, maintainable, stable, scalable, and is designed for the long-term. Of course, that is no easy task, if you are interested however, we will be happy to guide you through it.

Anmar Matrood
UX Designer

Anmar Matrood

Anmar Matrood

Anmar is a designer with a strong background in UX and visual design. His passion is to simplify complex UX problems and his goal is to make intricate information accessible to the masses. Anmar is also an avid freediver, photographer, traveller and researcher.

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The world changed. Organizations were dropped into the deep end, and no one had time to put their life jackets on. Has there been a time inrecent past when organizations and people have needed to deal with this much uncertainty? Once we’ve come out of COVID-19 pandemia or adapted to the situation, the world will not be the same as it was before.

With one or few weeks of remote work behind us, we’ve now learned how it’s done and people have built new routines and learnt how to balance the days. Organizations have been on a steep learning curve. They’ve re-organized work, adopted remote working tools and practices at a rapid pace, found ways to support their employees, and many have had to drastically modify their operations to secure their existence. Now it’s time to keep the business running, and to execute. Organizations also need to start planning ahead and start adapting to possibly changed customer demands and operating environment.

1. Customer understanding is once again the key

Do you already know how your customer’s business is impacted in the short and long term? Do you know if the previous demand is still there? Might the customer want you to serve them differently going forward? Restrictions and social distancing are causing huge impacts; we’ve already seen new services emerge and face-to-face services transform online. Some companies are manufacturing completely different products as usually (e.g. hand sanitizers instead of perfume). Perhaps everyone will love remote schools and getting food delivered to their doorsteps. Perhaps online yoga classes become a norm. Perhaps better business is found in new places?

Some services and products have not been available. Perhaps organizations have discovered, that they don’t need all of them after all. As further automation will take place, certain services may become redundant. The actions that were forced upon us may become the prioritized choice. Supply chains are impacted immensely. There are big and small roadblocks and delays here and there which cause a lot of inefficiency. These cascade to production facilities, distributors and merchants. Your customer is very likely preparing for financial challenges and some might even be struggling for existence. Do you know what your customers need now, and in the future and how they want it? Make sure you plan ahead for this and think about your customer strategies.

2. How do you maintain momentum

Leaders and managers are now faced with a whole array of (new) challenges. I foresee many teams losing their efficiency and new risks emerging and realizing. How to ensure everyone is still doing things, and that they are the right things? Set routines and practices for meetings and information sharing. Both are needed at more frequent intervals as you are targeting both work organizing and people leadership.

Do you know how your people are really doing? For many, workplace can be the place where you go and leave personal life behind for a while. Now they can’t do that. Furthermore, you worry about your loved ones and community at large. Employees maybe fear for their jobs – and their family members’ jobs. They also need to worry about their children’s care and education. Individuals are dealing with a lot.

How does a manager know if his/her team is still heading towards the same goal? Take time to ensure that the vision and targets clear to everyone and are they remembered. Try to understand whether “alternate truths” are born in discussion tracks and correct if wrong. It is good to understand that individuals may create their own truths as they are stuck in their own bubble and exposed to messaging from more and less reliable sources. Consider also, that as they seek to mitigate their uncertainty and search for information, what do they find.

Leaders need to consider how to increase transparency, create trust and reinforce direction. In the time of less physical structures we need even more interactional practices.

3. Revisit your plans

Do you agree with me that the world and operating environments will permanently change; either a little or a lot? If yes, it is time organizations revisit their strategies and plans. Let’s use the time we may now have in our hands and prepare for the future.

Build the starting blocks and get ready to run when you hear the start pistol. Virtual workshops work wonders and actually enable people to focus even more than in face to face meetings. When executed with skill, great results can be achieved.

Get your team together e.g. for scenario planning, customer insights, team strategies and visions, account strategies and action plans. Not only will this create clarity and direction, it also brings people together and creates a sense of community and commitment.

How do we come out as winners? Could the key ingredients be: positive mindset and drive, good leadership and forward-looking approach? What do you think? Stay tuned for further deep dives into the above mentioned and related topics by Gofore’s specialists!

Outi Määttä
Head of Business, Industry

Outi Määttä

Outi Määttä

Outi Määttä is Head of Business, Industry at Gofore. She is an interpreter between technology and business and is curious about how differently companies are impacted and challenged by digitalization; from daily lives to strategic level. She has worked with accounts, alliances and partnerships, and is keen on helping everyone grasp best value. Outi loves being outdoors either orienteering, skiing or running and she commutes by bike daily throughout the year. Most of her free time she spends with her children and family.

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It’s becoming clear that corona virus has changed the ways organizations function. In other words, how they work, their culture, and how they offer their services. Innovative ways of offering services emerge at high speed. Existing solutions are being used in various ways because there really is no time to plan the change. New ways are being tested quickly to see what works and what doesn’t.

In addition to current situation, the future of the society will face some big changes. For example, structure of the population and retirement will cause a lot of pressure on providing services. KEVA predicts that one third of municipalities’ employees will be retired in the next decade ( ). This can cause lack of resources in service production, degradation of service quality, and reduction of services. This will affect health care companies as well. Quite similar to what health care is experiencing now. Corona virus is basically an exercise of what the future holds.

Working remotely is the new normal

At the moment, employees are working remotely in every single industry where it’s possible. Traditionally in our culture, work has been bound strongly to a certain place and time. In many organizations working remotely hasn’t been a part of everyday life and such a sudden change has been a shock. Challenges are of course partly technical, but the cultural change has been bigger issue. Some usual reasons why working remotely has not been common in organizations, are issues with trust (“do they really work at home”), appreciation of face-to-face working (“It’s much easier”), and culture (“We don’t usually work remotely”). Many still assume that people travel for meetings and workshops, and teams work physically in the same place. At its best, corona virus provides the needed boost for a change in attitude and culture. Negative attitude towards working remotely is truly being tested when there is no time for hesitation. When things get done, there is less justification for monitoring and controlling work. Demonstrating trust usually strengthens employee’s commitment to their work and to the organization. Organization’s ability to work remotely are growing tremendously at the moment. At Gofore, the change was easy as we usually work remotely quite a lot, we facilitate workshops virtually, and our teams are often geographically dispersed. It has been a pleasure to follow how fast our customers have adapted to the situation, and together we have sought the best (remote) ways of working.

At its best, working remotely increases labor productivity and frees time from commuting. The carbon footprint is reduced as travel decreases. Hopefully, these new habits remain also after the crisis. This way, we’ll have a positive effect on ways of working.  

Overcrowded services

The situation forces organizations to a quick change in other ways as well. For grocery stores the demand for pick-up and delivery services has exploded, schools have moved to remote teaching, and health clubs have shifted to live web broadcasting. Payment methods lag behind and many of the entrepreneurs have to trust their customers’ goodwill to get paid for the service. Occasionally, the network capacity has failed. The future of many personal service companies is uncertain. Many public services have been simplified; what earlier needed a visit to the bureau, can now be handled through email. Health services have to be focused on treating the epidemic. All things that are not urgent, are postponed and dissolving these after the epidemic will take a long time. Wider use of digital services, automation and artificial intelligence could solve a lot of issues at the moment. Increased remote access would reduce people-to-people contact and allow location-independent business. It would also free time to social contact where it is especially needed. Most of all, we would be more prepared to situations such as this one we are facing right now. Pioneering companies have long been using different solutions for this that are worth exploring.

Positive Outcome

Unexpected change has created innovative ideas and most of all, courage to test different, even unconventional options, and act fast. In many ways, we cannot go back to the way things were, but hopefully these new skills will remain in our ways of working. This way, we can change to more proactive and agile culture, and move towards technology enabled services that are independent of time and place. The inevitable change came unexpectedly as a consequence of a very serious situation, but hopefully it can help us become a faster adapting society.

Riikka Vilminko-Heikkinen
Head of Business, Recoding Society

Riikka Vilminko-Heikkinen

Riikka Vilminko-Heikkinen

Riikka works as head of business (Recoding Society) and as a consultant. She closely follows how the relationship between the public and private sectors change, and how this change affects organisations. Her main interests include digital transformation of the public sector and organisations' ability to enable customer centricity. She constantly wonders how data could be used more widely to expand understanding, enable better decision making, and to fade the silos created by structures.

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Wiegestaltet sich einvirtuellesTreffen erfolgreich?  

VirtuelleBesprechungensind eine kostensparende Möglichkeit,interaktive Meetings durchzuführen undgeschäftliche Prozesse schneller voranzubringen. Es gibt einige gängige Praktikenhier findenSie die besten, die sich bei Gofore bewährt haben.  

Die Vorgehensweise lässt sichin fünf Phasen unterteilen (ähnlich einer Besprechung vor Ort)


Wie kann man bei virtuellen Treffen erfolgreich sein?



 1. Davor

Technische Voraussetzungen: 

Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom und Slack sind die derzeit beliebtesten Tools für Besprechungen.Die Auswahlhängt von Ihrem Team und dem Zweck der Besprechung ab.Einige Tools beinhalten bereits gemeinsam nutzbare Arbeitsbereiche – wie Skype for Business oder Zoom.Überlegen Sie sich,welche technische Anforderungen es gibt und entscheiden dann, welche Software am besten geeignet ist 


Gängige Kombinationen, die wir bei Gofore bevorzugt einsetzen:  

 Teams /Zoom /Slack + SharepointPowerpoint /OneNote 

  • GoogleHangouts+ Jamboard /Docs/Pages 
  • Teams /Zoom + Mural/Miro (für fortgeschrittene Workshops)

Praktische Vorbereitungen 

  • Die Anzahl der Teilnehmer sollte auf das Minimum beschränktwerden 
  • Einladungen rechtzeitig verschicken, möglichst mit einer Checkliste mit dem Hinweis auf die technischen Voraussetzungen, z.B. welcheURL s aufgerufen werdenmussoder telefonische Einwahlmöglichkeiten 
  • Bereiten Sie die Materialien vor, die Sie präsentieren undbearbeiten werden. Durch die verschiedenen SystemederTeilnehmer wird empfohlen, große Standardschriftartenund wenig TextproFoliezu verwenden sowie diePräsentationinBezug auf Lichtverhältnisse im Raumzutesten.
  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass alle Teilnehmer Zugriff auf die Dateien und Bildschirminhalte für die gemeinsame Besprechung haben. 

Die technischenMittel 

  • Der Voraussetzungen anOnline Meetingssindeinfach zu erfüllen:Internet Verbindung, Computer mit Mikrofon, Lautsprecher und Webcam. 
  • Bei einer Videoübertragung testen Sie IhreVideokamera vor Beginn der Sitzung. 
  • Bitten Sie Ihre Teilnehmer, sich vor dem offiziellen Startdes Meetingseinzuloggen,umeventuelletechnische Probleme rechtzeitig beheben zu können.Überlegen Sie sicheinenPlan B,damitdie Teilnehmerauchauf eine andere ArtamMeetingteilnehmen könnten(z.B. über das Telefon und ohne Internet).  


Der Ablauf des Meetings 

  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass Sie eine klareAgendamit max. 3 Hauptthemenfür das Meetinghabenund alle 30 Minuten eine kurze Pause einlegen. 
  • Wenndas Meetingeinen Workshopteil beinhaltet, ist es am besten, alle Besprechungsphasen zeitlich zu begrenzen. Planen und besprechen Sie gemeinsam die gesamte Agenda. Wenn Sie noch nie eine virtuelle Besprechung oder einen Workshop organisiert haben, ist es hilfreich, dies vorher mit Ihren Kollegen zu proben. 
  • Wenn die Sitzung der Ideenfindung dient, ist es gut, vorher Hintergrundinformationen mit allen auszutauschen.  
  • Erwägen Sie, die Sitzung aufzuzeichnen, insbesondere wenn einige Eingeladene nicht teilnehmen können. Denken Sie aber immer daran, vorher die Zustimmung zur Aufzeichnung einzuholen!
  • Wenn Sie mit einer größerenGruppe arbeiten, ist es sinnvoll,einen Partner dazuzu holen,welcher für Sie die technischen Dinge regelt und den Chat überwacht.Sie könnensich dann ganzaufdieModerationoder auf Ihre Präsentation konzentrieren. 


 2. Start

  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass sich alle hören können. Begrüßen Sie jede Person einzeln, damit sie laut antworten können.
  • Gehen Sie den Zweck und das Ziel des Treffens sowie die Tagesordnung durchPräsentationen, Ideenfindung, Abstimmungen, Diskussionen in Kleingruppen. Denken Sie daran: Unklarheit führt zu Passivität.
  • Fragen Sie nach den Erwartungen der Teilnehmer. Nutzen Sie dafür z. B. den Text-Chat.
  • Bitten Sie die Teilnehmer, zu Beginn zu äußern, ob sie eventuell früher gehen müssen.
  • Nutzen Sie „Eisbrecher“, um eine entspannte Stimmung für alle zu schaffen (fragen Sie uns nach weiteren Einzelheiten).
  • Schaffen Sie eineangenehme Atmosphärefür einen offenen Austausch. 


Verhaltensregeln festlegen 

  • DefinierenSie gegebenenfalls bestimmteAufgabenfürjedenTeilnehmer.
  • Verhindern sie mögliche Störungsquellen: Telefone sollten weggelegt, Mikrofone stumm geschaltet werden, wenn die Person nicht spricht. Bitten Sie die Teilnehmer auch, alle anderen Fenster auf ihrem Bildschirm zu schließen und sich ausschließlich auf die Besprechung zu konzentrieren. 
  • Kündigen Siemögliche Pausenzeiten an.
  • Informieren Sie darüber, wie Teilnehmer sich verhalten sollen, wenn sie plötzlich gehen müssen.
  • Gehen Sie die verwendeten Werkzeuge und Workshop-Methoden durch.
  • Wer etwas sagen möchte, sollte ein Handzeichen geben, im Chat mit dem eigenen Namenbeginnen.
  • Es sollte immer nur eine Person gleichzeitig sprechen.
  • langen Monologesollten vermieden werden 


Verwenden Sie nach Möglichkeit Video  

Ein Videobild hilft, sich zu engagieren und den Fokus zu behalten. Leider kann es auch die Verbindung verlangsamen und andere technische Probleme verursachen. Nutzen Sie die Videoübertragung zumindest zu Beginn der Sitzung, um einstärkereVerbindung derTeilnehmeruntereinander herzustellen. 



Einer langen Sitzung oder einem virtuellen Workshop zu folgen ist anstrengend. Es kann für jeden schwer sein,fokussiert und aktiv zu bleiben.Sorgen Sie für eine hohe Interaktivität und ein starkes Engagement aller, um die Energie auf einem hohen Niveau zu halten!  

  •  Wenn die Sitzung länger als 1,5 Stunden dauert, machen Sie kurze Pausen (denken Sie daran, eineDauer festzulegen). 
  • Verwenden Sie “Energiespender”, wenn Sie das Gefühl haben,die Teilnehmer werden passiv(fragen Sie uns nach weiteren Einzelheiten). 

Den Fokus halten  

  • Halten Sie die Agenda sichtbar oder zumindest leicht auffindbarz.B. im Chat. 
  • ZeigenSieimmerdas aktuelle Thema auf dem Bildschirm,umden Teilnehmern eine Möglichkeit zugeben, sich zu fokussieren. 
  • DokumentierenSiedie Besprechungso, dass jederdie Aufzeichnungenmitverfolgen kann. 
  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass dieAufgabendokumentiertund jemanden zugeteilt werden 



  • Wenn Sie in der Ideenfindung sind, ist esoft angebracht,sich in kleinere Gruppen aufzuteilen. Einige Kommunikations-Werkzeuge ermöglichen dies (wie z.B. Zoom). Vergessen Sie nicht, den Gruppen klare Anweisungen zum Thema und der Dauerzu geben. 
  • Me-WeUs” ist eine gute Methode zur Ideenfindung und Problemlösung (fragen Sie uns nach weiteren Einzelheiten). 
  • Die Arbeit in kleineren Gruppen kann die Energie innerhalb des Teams steigern. 
  • Denken Sie daran, dass die Aufteilung in Kleingruppen auch etwas Zeit erfordert – berücksichtigen Sie das in Ihrem Zeitplan. 
  • Je kleiner die Gruppen sind, desto weniger Zeit werden sie für die Arbeit an den Aufgaben benötigen. Manchmal erscheinen 2 Minuten als eine sehr lange Zeit.

HaltenSie denZeitplanein 

DasSchönean virtuellen Besprechungen ist, dass sie für die Teilnehmer gleichberechtigter sein können alsbeiVeranstaltungen vor Ort. Stellen Sie sicher, dass während der gesamten Besprechung nicht dieselben Personen dominieren, und laden Sie die Stillen ein, ihre Meinung zu sagen. Geben Sie die maximale Redezeit vor.  


Nutzen Sie den Chat 

Alle Anruf-Tools ermöglichen denparallelenChat. Um schnell Feedback zu erhalten, bitten Sie die Teilnehmer, ihre Gedanken in den Besprechungschat zu schreiben. Geben Sie dann einige Minuten Zeit, damit jeder die Kommentare lesen kann, bevor Sie fortfahren.   


4. Abschluss

Zusammenfassen und überprüfen  

  • Haben Sie das Ziel erreicht? 
  • Was sind die nächsten Handlungspunkte? 
  • Haben allevereinbarten AufgabenEigentümer und Fristen?


  • War die Sitzung für die Teilnehmer nützlich?  
  • Was fühlte sich wichtig an?  
  • Was könnte beim nächsten Mal verbessert werden?  
  • Denken Sie daran, allen für ihre Zeit und ihren Beitrag zu danken! 


 SchickenSie mögliche Aufnahmen, Workshop-Materialien, Besprechungsnotizen und Aktionspunktean alle Teilnehmer. 


Denken Sie bitte auch an Folgendes:  

Der virtuelle Raum ist stärker auf den Ton angewiesen und Sie verlieren viele Details der nonverbalen Kommunikation. Daher müssen Sie der Interaktion mit den Teilnehmern mehr Aufmerksamkeit widmen.   

Lesen Sie hier mehr über das Thema:
DieZeit ist wertvoll.Freuen Sie sich über jeden,der seine Zeit ihrerVeranstaltunggewidmethat. 


Wünschen Sie weitere Tipps?  

Wirunterstützen Sie gerne bei der erfolgreichen Planung undDurchführungIhrer virtuellen Besprechungen! Zögern Sie also nicht, uns zu kontaktieren:



Wie man ein großartiges virtuelles Treffen veranstaltet  




Gofore Oyj

Gofore Oyj

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Working remotely and having virtual meetings has quickly become quite relevant, thanks to the coronavirus. For a while now we at Gofore have been interested in the best ways of facilitating virtual meetings and have trained many of our experts in them with Grape People. Having facilitated numerous virtual workshops and meetings myself I’ve found my go to way facilitating virtual workshops and here I’ll share few tips I’ve learned.

Before the meeting

There are few things you should understand before starting a virtual workshop or a meeting: the impact of your surroundings and technology available on the meeting.

Virtual space relies heavily on sound and you lose a lot of the non-verbal communication. Many prefer using video connection in order to feel more present but sometimes this can cause problems with bandwidth and cause e.g. “robot sound”. So you need to make sure participants stay focused without an eye contact. Ask participants to close all other apps on their screen and focus solely on this meeting. This seems radical but will be well worth it.

The other thing you need to ensure right from the start is the availability of good technical tools, including the platform you use. Make sure your participants know how to join in the meeting and where to get help if they have trouble. A technical check a day before an important workshop is a very solid idea. A good-quality headset or a speaker phone is a must too. Instruct your participants to join in using their own connection and microphone so everybody’s voice can be heard loud and clear.

As to platform I’ve been quite happy with Pepix, the video conference system we have at Gofore and MS Teams but there are also free tools available for use. Zoom is an online video conference platform that has a great free plan available or you can use Google Hangouts or even WhatsApp group calls.

Plan your agenda and share it with your participants beforehand to ensure all the right people are attending. Also prepare your presentation and online boards well. This will tell your guests you value their time and they will appreciate the virtual meeting more.

During the meeting

  1. In the beginning of the meeting go over who are present, making sure everybody can hear others and others can hear them. Say hello to every person individually, so they can reply out loud.
  2. Use an icebreaker to set the mood of the meeting. You can e.g. ask everybody to write in the meeting chat something easy, such as what they had for lunch, and after that, what their expectations for the workshop are. Pick a couple persons to share more about their expectations out loud as well.
  3. Show “the meeting rules” on screen and go over them. I usually use these instructions:
    1. Stay focused, and inform in the chat, if you need to leave early.
    2. Keep your mic muted always when you’re not speaking.
    3. Say your name first when you start to talk.
    4. Be patient in case of technical difficulties.
  4. Keep the agenda and meeting notes visible for all via screen sharing.
  5. Keep people engaged and interested by using different methods and tools. Give clear instructions on every method.
    1. Virtual whiteboards are very useful. My favourites are Miro and Mural, both of which have great selection of features, including voting. Miro has also screen share and chat available.
    2. For quickly collecting feedback, ask participants to write their thoughts in the meeting chat. Then allow few minutes for everybody to read the comments before proceeding. If needed, choose one topic to be discussed further.
    3. When you want to hear everybody’s thoughts about the matter in hand, ask all the attendants in turns to share their thoughts. This way you make sure only one person is speaking at a time and everybody will get an equal chance to voice their opinions.
  6. Make sure you ask participants to give feedback on their way out of the meeting. You can ask everybody to e.g. use an emoji in the meeting chat to represent their experience. A quick feedback round is useful too.

Virtual meetings can be as or even more productive than face-to-face meetings, so you might start to preferring them even after the current pandemia is over. Nevertheless, let’s stay healthy and safe, but still productive!

Virve Kuorelahti
Senior Designer

Virve Kuorelahti

Virve Kuorelahti

Virve is Senior Designer focused in solving big problems with design thinking. After decades of designing digital services with user centered design, she found home in service design at Gofore. Believing strongly in multidisciplinary teams she loves to facilitate workshops. As a coach Virve's aim is to help others to find their highest potential and thrive.

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Self-management is exhausting  

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, one out of four working-age Finns has experienced burnout symptoms. According to Statistics Finland, more and more people are driven to burnout. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has stated that people with work-related stress run twice the normal risk of premature death. 

According to Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, work stress is caused by both work and the employee’s personal characteristics. In his thesis of 2004, researcher Jari Hakanen from The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health stated that burnout was primarily caused by work, but as the symptoms intensified and people became more run down, their private lives were also affected. Burnout becomes first apparent at home – not in the workplace – as the extra energy that should be devoted to private life is invested in work, trying to cope with the load. 

“To avoid burnout, it is important to experience success and have the feeling that your efforts are recognised and valued.”
– Jari Hakanen, From Burnout to Flow (Fin Työuupumuksesta työn imuun)   

Burnout is an organisational problem. It’s not OK for 25 % of employees to suffer burnout, with repercussions for their organisation and their private lives. Burnout should be treated as a systemic problem.

But why is self-management such a buzzword?

In their book, Self-management (Fin Itseohjautuvuus) Martela and Karenko discuss the reasons for self-management. They attribute self-management to megatrends such as a faster rate of change, increased knowledge work, and increasing technology. The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Individuals and organisations must make snap decisions that are clever and properly timed. This is not possible in a higly hierarchical organisation. On the other hand, people also expect more from their workplace: more freedom, opportunities and a balanced culture. For millennials, relevance and flexibility are greater motivators than money. Silos and powerstructures must be dismantled if you want to succeed in the above mentioned circumstances. While self-management pushes requirement of dealing with complex and rapid changes to individuals, it also offers a solution for serving customers and staff better. 

Self-management does not realize simply by telling people to manage themselves. In Miia Savaspuro’s book titled SelfManagement Arrived in The Workplace (Fin Itseohjautuvuus tuli työpaikoille), Laura Sivula says that freedom does not mean less work. On the contrary, work has become more demanding both in terms of time spent working and the content of work. In the same book, Veera Iliev says that burnout is often caused by two factors: people having no clear idea what is expected of them, and people being too hard on themselves. In the same book, Petri Aukia points out that self-management requires a good understanding of yourself, i.e. the greater the difference between your workself and personalself, the greater the problems you will have in a self-managing organisation. 

Self-management is a double-edged sword. In a self-managed system, stress is caused by unclear targets, endless interruptions, hurry, unclear responsibilities, constant change and lack of feedback. On the other hand, a self-managed system enables employees to work at their own pace as well as to affect on their duties and work processes. 

Self-management may appear publicly to be more fun than it actually is. Nobody shares their personal or company level failures on social media. Companies compete on creating the coolest work culture. In practice, self-management is not fun. Self-managed environment emphasises performance, sets no limits and fosters on uncertainty. To survive in a such environment, one needs self-awareness, confidence and initiative. Also self-managed organization has tons of bureaucratic tasks. However, now it is up to individual perseverance to get regularly all the needed but not-so-fun things done.  

Modern knowledge work creates an illusion of autonomy. One can work anywhere, anytime. This results people pinging others at any time through a variety of channels. An individual needs to have strong inbuilt time and information management mechanisms in place, to benefit from such a setup. 

Self-management may also create a free-rider problem, where people who do not work for a common goal enjoy the benefits. If decision-making structures are not defined, unofficial hierarchies and a leadership vacuum may arise. In such an occasion the people with the loudest voice will fulfil the vacuum. While self-management fosters fast change, the change programs are often abandoned. This results layers of unfinished structures and processes. 

What should you do to support self-management? 

Kirsi Ahola from The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health says that burnout always develops as a combination between work and the individual. According to Dec and Ryan’s self-determination theory, a self-managing corporate culture must offer employees feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness.  

  • Autonomy means people being free to decide on their own matters and motivation being intrinsic.  
  • Competence means work offering challenges and successes 
  • Relatedness means people being valued and nurtured.

Organisational support 

According to publication of The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health titled  Efficient Burnout Intervention (Fin Vaikuttava työuupumusinterventio), support at personal level rarely fixes the situation. Changes must be made to duties and work procedures. While structures and processes are always in a state of flux in a self-managed organization, support structures must provide security and permanence. When people burnout, an organisation’s structures must be reviewed. Burnout is never an isolated event. Attitudes, structures and practices must be tuned at organisational level. The whole organization must aim for minimizing conditions conducive to burnout.  

Susanna Paarlahti of Pihlajalinna presented hercanary in a coal minetheory in the Kauppalehti newspaper on 15 October 2019. A person suffering from burnout is not an isolated case, but a victim of circumstances. The workplace is running out of oxygen. 

Throughout the organisation, three things need to be clarified: 

1) Purposeful leadership. Accelerated change means that organisation is undergoing constant change. The direction and goals must be communicated constantly and continuously. The goals must be clear to everyone. On LinkedIn, Marika Toivola stated that a good leader does not let experts work ‘in peace”, while the leader is responsible for building the community. Clear goals mean that management explains repeatedly to everyone: what kind of an organisation it is, what it believes in, what its values are and what it is striving to achieve. Good management practices have a positive impact on the wellbeing of both management and employees. Good leadership practices should be stressed, such as regular team meetings, active feedback and prevention of bullying. Good communication has a generally positive effect on staff wellbeing. Good communication should be encouraged. 

2) Decision-making process. Decision-making processes must be clear. Self-management does not mean being indecisive. Everyone must be aware of who is making the decisions and who can asked for help. Decisions must be done quickly. A self-management organisation needs plenty of ground rules. At individual level, the organisation must set ground rules to protect individuals. It’s not OK to work overtime. The organisation must demand individuals to prioritise their tasks. On the other hand, while employees gain more power and responsibility, many will reach a new professional level. 

 3) Psychological safety. Psychological safety helps one to ask for help and voice own opinions. Rules must allow a constructive debate. And again, if the debate leads to conflicts, we have the above mentioned decision-making process and ground rules set. Psychological safety also means that no one is berated, trolled or mocked. 

Organisation must continuously take care of its people and help them to take care of themselves. Everyone can contribute by raising issues and suggesting solutions. Sharing experiences and problem-solving together also relieves stress and builds community. Organization can support self-reliance by adding awareness, providing structures and giving feedback. Awareness of stress and its origins must be increased. In terms of productivity, whitespace, energy, positivity and communication are just as important as time, money, content and quality. By taking employee wellbeing seriously bigger problems can be avoided. 

Managers must use most of its time for leadership and communicating the above mentioned. People must be at the top of the backlog of managers. In a hierarchical organisation, most time is spent on management, whereas in a low-hierarchy, self-managed organisation most time should be spent on leadership. 

Self-support of individuals 

People must be provided information and tools regarding the selfmanagement. Self-management is a skill that must be learned: one must be able to schedule, prioritise, understand personal and common goals, communicate transparently, create and understand data, and know how to fail fast. These are things that are not taught elsewhere in life. During the first 20 years at school, you are made to believe that the best results are obtained by grinding through books on your own, until you’ve reached perfection. And now, you should learn that an average performance is OK. Or asking a colleague quickly for help is the best way to go. 

Life balance is based on self-awareness. In his book Intelligent Self-Leadership (FIN Älykäs itsensä johtaminen), Pentti Sydänmaanlakka compares self-management and self-awareness. Self-awareness stems from accepting yourself as you are. A person with high self-esteem approves herself. A high self-esteem helps a person to befriend with him/herself. Low self-esteem results in being unsatisfied with yourself, and hoping to be something different. Self-esteem is built on three pillars: safety, self-awareness and competence. Improving self-esteem requires active thinking. Adequate self-awareness and self-esteem are needed to create a base for self-management. Jari Hakanen of Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare writes in From Burnout to Flow (FIN Työuupumuksesta työn imuun) that the key resources for work are optimism, self-esteem, resilience and systemic intelligence.

Wayne Dyer (1981) viewed self-knowledge and balance as a line. Diseases are treated between 1 and 2, while a high-quality life resides between 2 and 3. People rarely put enough effort into having a better life. If you ain’t sick, you will concentrate on something more concrete than on life. 

Pentti Sydänmaalakka states that self-management consists of conrete actions spanning on long timeframe. Self-management requires prioritisation, scheduling, discipline, tolerating uncertainty and being outside your comfort zone. While self-leadership requires self-reflection, assessing your own characteristics objectively and taking others into account. Self-management means exceeding your current self. This creates positive self-reliance, which radiates positivity on spheres of life. We associate self-management with positive images of happiness, drive and enthusiasm. Still many suffer burnout precisely because of self-management. People who are used to hierarchical structures and clear duties are merciless when given authority to lead themselves. People have learned all the way from the school that you must always put your best foot forward. Once they become their own managers, a vicious circle awaits. A merciless boss follows them everywhere inside their heads. 

Even while the work itself is self-managed, organization must however provide a clear framework of commonly agreed vision and targets. The framework will provide power and responsibility. The framework ensures that everyone proceed towards the same direction and the same goal. Employees are given the opportunity to plan, either alone or in teams, how to achieve this goal. The framework helps people to define their own roles in such a way that everyone moves towards the same target. 

It takes motivation, time and energy to change oneself. Change thinking and ways of doing things on a personal level. In addition to work environment, burnout may be exacerbated by an employee’s personal characteristics, such as a strong sense of duty and excessive performance requirements. Poor stress management skills can result in skipping breaks and frequently working longer hours. Early intervention can help to prevent potentially serious consequences. Please, look after yourself and your colleagues. 

A quality life is built around quality habits. Aim for creating smart ways of working. Smart habits. Visualise this as an elephant and its rider. The elephant represents habits. A simple creature that is strong and lives by its instincts and needs. The rider is the conscious mind. Clever and full of ideas, but weak. As the load and stress increases, habits-elephant overwhelm the thinking mind-rider. It takes time and energy to internalise a habit. Praise yourself for small victories and, if you stray off the golden path, lead yourself back. It takes an average of 66 days to learn a simple habit. Perseverance, that’s the trick. 

Five tips

  1. Be merciful 

Show yourself some mercy. This will motivate and encourage you. Develop your self-confidence. Congratulate yourself regularly for everything you’ve achieved. When you understand that you are currenlty reaping the rewards of long-term achievements, you will prioritise better. You are doing your best. Assume that everyone else is too. 

Keep your spirits up. If you feel good, you will feel more motivated; when you’re motivated, you’ll concentrate better; and when you concentrate better, you’ll achieve more. Happiness and balance comes from good relationships and feeling good about yourself. Not just one or the other, but both together. Happiness and balance are achieved by combining high demands and strength with gentleness and acceptance. Challenges should make you feel useful, while you are also lenient on yourself when short on time or energy. 

Be aware that you can affect your feelings and reactions through self-awareness. You have the ability to control feelings within you and to observe the related process. Try to inhabit a positive emotional environment. You can do this by consciously processing negative feelings and accentuating positive ones. When something happens, you can choose how to react to it. Process negative feelings constructively, and accentuate positive feelings. 


  1. Be firm

Learn to say ‘NO’. 

The first step in taking responsibility is to limit your personal area of responsibility, prioritise work and complete tasks that you begin. If you say ‘Yes’ to everything, you’re not really in control of your life or achievements. Divide your time and energy smartly. There’s always room for improvement. 

Don’t shy away from some crap jobs. There are always plenty of motivating interesting jobs, but do some of the less attractive stuff, too. But don’t fill your days with them. Don’t be a freeloader, but you don’t have to shovel shit all day, either. 

Quantify matters. Track your working hours and your tasks for one week. Find out what you spend your time on. This will give you a better idea of which jobs must be done and what you really have time for. Consider how you allocate your time at work. Work must have creative breaks and innovation, in teams and individually.   

Plan and work on small items at a time. Finish what you started. Crossing the finish line creates energy. People tend to plan too optimistically. Huge goals are never achieved. 

Prioritise. Which things are truly important in the long run? You will achieve more when you have fewer items on your list. 

Do things quickly. Don’t try to be a perfectionist, just publish. It will retunr to your desk in the future, if it’s not good enough. 

Check out the Eisenhower decision-making matrix. 


  1. Seek balance

Make sure to recover from your work every day. Get enough rest and do something completely different to get your mind off your work. Allow yourself time to prioritise, innovate and develop your Production Capacity (PC) instead of just Production (P). Breaks, ‘whitespace’, are where you both recover and have your best ideas. 

Live a full life. Divide your energy suitably for all aspects of life. Reflect on and study yourself. Reflection is the key to learning. Strive for “quality participation”. Is what you are doing at the moment the best you can do for your team? 

Develop your ability to change. Change will only accelerate in the future. Resilience means that while change is always present, you should still try to strive for and finish things, and become better. 


  1. Help

Listen, help and lead by example. You will often feel more competent when helping others. 

Choose your battles carefully. Also in your mind. Make a conscious effort to avoid dwelling on things you can do nothing about. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything. Create your personal DON’T TOUCH list about the things you should steer clear of. Consider Stephen Covey’s idea about three concentric circles. The biggest circle is the circle of concern, things you may be worried about but have no control over (the weather, global economy, politics...). The middle circle, the circle of influence, are matters that you may be able to influence indirectly. The smallest circle describes matters you can genuinely control. 


  1. Ask for help

Since the simple stuff in life tends to be the trickiest, plenty of help is available for getting to grips with your own wellbeing. Tell a colleague or supervisor that you’re out of puff. They are both certain to provide support. 

Get a coach who will gently nudge you onto a better path. 

If you are completely wiped out, start by visiting occupational healthcare, and then talk to your HR department. Take a couple of weeks off work and return with a lighter workload. 

Jari Hietaniemi
Service Architect 

Gofore aims to be a recognised reformer of work culture and to have the best possible work community. Our mission is to make the world a better place. We can improve working life by developing practices, tools and the community spirit at work.

Jari Hietaniemi

Jari Hietaniemi

Jari Hietaniemi is an enthusiastic digitalization consultant. He specialises in complex and vast software projects. His philosophy is based on thinking that a consultant must know technology, architecture, project management, quality assurance, human resources, coaching and sales. His versatile experience and constant quest for improvement help to finish projects successfully and to bring new drive into client organizations.

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Transforming Teams to AWS Cloud

Many of our clients are currently working on cloud transformation. To better support our customers, we have recently qualified as an AWS Training partner. We have four AWS authorised instructors, who can deliver official courses from the AWS curriculum. All the instructors have a strong hands-on background and they are also working on customer projects. The delivered curriculum includes courses for people new to cloud as well as for technical professionals.

Business essentials is recommended for sales and business persons, whereas Technical essentials is an entry-level course for IT persons. Associate level courses are suitable for architects and software developers who want to get AWS certified. From the Associate level courses, we recommend starting with Architecting on AWS, which is aimed at achieving AWS Certified Solution Architect certification. It gives a very good overview of AWS services and teaches the fundamentals of building your own AWS infrastructure. Our complete course offerings are available on the Gofore website.

At Gofore, we believe teams are the key factor in successful software projects. We have had a recruitment campaign to attract complete teams. Also, we believe that training teams is a very efficient way for companies to gain cloud competence. There are two clear benefits. The first is that a cloud infrastructure team is the key enabler in cloud adoption by creating company standards and reusable cloud infrastructure. The second is that, when the business grows, it is essential for software teams to take responsibility for their AWS infrastructure and can maintain it. Transforming teams to the cloud era increases teams’ productivity and autonomy. Increased autonomy enables scaling as the number of projects increases.

The duration of official AWS courses is from one to three days. Last autumn we did something quite different. We organised an intensive three months AWS Developer Academy program together with Academy Finland (a part of Academic Work). It was a holistic program on software development in AWS cloud, including programming, scrum, CI/CD, APIs, databases, containers, and infrastructure as code. And, of course, we studied all the essential AWS services. We covered various compute options from virtual machines to container services and serverless, as well as relational and noSQL database services. The whole course was very much hands-on. As teachers, we were committed to follow the Academy’s action learning methodology. This means very short theory lectures followed by a lot of hands-on exercises and group work. All the stakeholders, including the client and trainees, were very happy with the results in terms of the learning outcomes. The program concluded with two weeks of final project work. As a result, ten junior AWS consultants graduated just before Christmas. All of them started a new IT career at the beginning of 2020.

Anna Ruokonen
Cloud Specialist


Anna Ruokonen

Anna Ruokonen works as a Cloud Specialist at Gofore. She has a background as a full-stack developer. However currently her main focus and interests are in DevOps and cloud platforms. She has been working for industry clients, developing an Industrial IoT platform, and well as on the government sector. She is also an Authorized AWS instructor and delivers AWS trainings. She holds a PhD in Software Engineering.

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At Gofore we are currently building the next generation of services for the Finnish labor market. Together with the Työmarkkinatori (Job Market), our goal is to improve the relationship between work and workers.

A rainy, dark December evening, while walking home after a long day, I smiled. I was thinking about the events of the day. We had just been through six sessions where customers were testing our latest UI and demo. All in all their reactions and feedback had been positive, one of them had described the solution to be “Impressing” but the one that stuck with me described it as “something that could be even therapeutic to someone who has been looking for a job for a long time.” She was talking about and algorithm, a good algorithm.

Describing your skills is not always easy

When looking for a new job it’s not always easy to describe what you know, what your abilities and skills are – things that makes you valuable and a good worker, a good employee.

  • It’s hard if you are just fresh out of school with little or no experience for the field you are applying.
  • It’s hard if you’ve been securely tucked away from the job market and working for the same employer for the last 20 years and maybe have not kept your CV up-to-date and suspect that your skills might be outdated and now you want a change and a new career.
  • It’s especially hard if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time, have applied to maybe hundreds of jobs and have been rejected again and again. How to describe your abilities, skills, what makes you a worthy asset to the companies and employers out there at that point?

AI solution designed to do good

At Gofore we are currently building the next generation of services for the Finnish job market. The situations described above are just some that customers who arrive to the service might be experiencing. Työmarkkinatori / Jobmarket aims to improve the way people and work find each other, we want to improve that match. It’s a service for all citizens to use, whether in school, at work, unemployed, or on leave, it’s serving everyone. And the starting point is a person’s situation, we talk about situation-aware services.

To help our customers describe their skills and know-how better our AI team together with our UX and service designers and development team has been hard at work. The key to finding a new job is to give the Jobmarket some relevant information about you and start building a personal profile. Even a small amount of information can be used to search for keywords that describe your skills. You can then add these keywords to your profile. The keywords will make your profile stronger: they help you to describe yourself better, more in-depth and more accurately. The better you have described yourself, your work experience, and skills the better the results when the service then matches your profile to the jobs that are available.

So, there, you should also smile as not all algorithms are designed to trick or fool you. This one is a good, therapeutic algorithm, an AI solution designed to do good. And it will be available in Työmarkkinatori service now.

Minna Vänskä
Senior Service Designer

Minna Vänskä

Minna Vänskä

Minna has several years of experience working with international teams, across organizational boundaries, running UX studies, concepting, development and quality improvement projects. She is an experienced user researcher and communication specialist. At Gofore she is responsible for user research, user experience design, and service design projects. Minna loves to apply service design methods in user research and to involve organisations and people to discover the insights.

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Good tribal leadership brings high performance

I want to help you to grow your mindset and share my passion for impact. Thus, in this blog series I have hand-picked the bestselling publications and essential managerial tools. This enables you to make a sustainable renewal to your business and personal life. The goal of this first season is to build a common body of knowledge and starting platform for you. Depending on your experience with the subject matter, some of issues represented might be obvious to you. However, try to dig deeper and connect any missing dots for your benefit. By reading further you will:

  • save your scarce reading time on renewal, culture and the best performing teams
  • extend your leadership toolbox to support your business decisions
  • build your personal growth-mindset, required to excel as an evolutionary leader 

Building Thriving Organisations

The topics of discussion in this blog and the related vlog are based on the contents and insights of two books covering the topic of new ways of working. At the same time, they look at purpose, leadership and culture growth in an evolutionary way rather than a quick win or action.

The first book “Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization” by Logan, Kingand Fischer-Wright was published in June 2011, however, its insights and the large study together with findings are still relevant today. The second book referred to in this blog is a brand-new book “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek which is influencing many business leaders and thinkers globally. In his book he summarises, very well, the leaders’ role in current organisations:

“Today´s leaders are not responsible for results, but responsible for the people who creates results”.

In the Tribal Leadership book, a tribe is defined as a group of 20 to 150 people in the same organisation working together. In the book´s context a small company can be one tribe, bigger companies are tribes of tribes. The upper limit of 150 reflects the Dunbar´s number1 which is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships – relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group.

Low performing organisations

As the basis of the Tribal Leadership book, there is an international long-term research project with  7000 respondents from 12 organisations which has been going since 1997 and continued up until the update of the book a couple of years ago. The findings are that culture evolution can be described in five distinctive phases in terms of behaviours, relations to people and language used. Note that at an organisational level, the stage defined as the one where the majority of its individuals saw them presented.

In stage one an individual is undermining oneself, feels alienated from others and uses wordings like “life sucks”. According to the study, 2% of individuals belong to this stage. In stage two one feels as an apathetic victim sees themselves as separate from other people and uses words like “my life sucks”. In the research, 25% of people studied belonged to this category. Stage three is all about me, myself and I. These 49% of people are behaving like lone warriors. They are seeking personal domination. The talk about how great they are and others are not. Stages 1-3 represented 74% of the people studied. However, according to the findings, this majority of the current workforce were not happy in what they have achieved or are doing and also organisations, where they acted, were low performing. 

High performing organisations

High performing stages were stages four (22% of respondents) and five (2%) respectively. Stage four is about behaviours, putting emphasis on tribal pride, “we are great language” and stable triad partnerships. These triad partnerships are more efficient and innovative three-person relationships without titles or hierarchy instead of typical dual boss-subordinate relationships where there is always risk present if high trust has not been achieved. At stage five behaviour can be described as an innocent wonderment, the team is the smallest unit of relationships and people talk with terms like “Life is great”. At the end of the research in 2011, there were not so many high performing companies. However, when looking at the situation today, more and more successful organisations are heading towards the direction of stage five.  Good often quoted examples of these organisations such as Zappos, Burzoog and Southwest airlines. The key seems to be able to shift the group´s behaviours, relationships and language from stage 3 to higher levels to gain competitive advantage and success. When you have assessed your current situation and stage, how can you leverage your organisation from low performance stage 3, to higher performance stage 4?

Tribal leadership in action

As a tribal leader you can give your support to move your people from one cultural stage to another. There is no fast-track or miracle. This must be done step by step, one person at a time. It starts with your willingness to change and grow your own mind-set. When ready:

  • You need to show that individual success will not be enough to move forward You can help the person concerned by conducting an appreciative inquiry with him/her to clarify your expectations.
  • You should assign individuals to projects that cannot be done alone. By doing so you show that you expect partnership creation and you encourage them to form successful triad relationships.
  • You should elevate successful internal role-models as good examples (”we” focus instead of “me” focus, evidence in creating triads, celebrating group´s success). Mostly it is about walking the talk.
  • You should have courage to drop your armour, normally with excuses of no time or blaming others for mistakes. You reveal your current behaviour for both good or bad.
  • You should put emphasis on storytelling and be honest about your own transformation learnings. When daring to show your own vulnerability, people will follow.
  • You should understand that real power comes from networks rather than knowledge. This is a growth mindset coaching matter, no more.
  • You should be able to manage transparency. Concretely this is done to encourage your people to even, ”over communicate”, rather than thinking if something should be informed or not.

Evidencing tribal leadership success

When you want to move your organisation from stage three to stage four and take its organisational culture from low to high performing, how do you know you are on the right track? How can you be confident that there is progress towards better times and results? You will get insights just listening more actively your people. Some good findings and results present with most of the best performing groups are:

  • When the secret of success was discussed, the language changed from I to WE
  • People are forming TRIADS instead of DUAL relationships
  • More things seem to be done in less time which were evidenced in lower operational cost and better employee wellbeing
  • Negative communication around ”no time” and ”others fault” will stop
  • According to studies, there was a minimum result increase of +30%
  • Communication is more transparent, effective and frequent in your organisation

To conclude, in my opinion, there is now enough evidence that success becomes a reality in working environments where trust and psychological safety is present every day, in every encounter amongst people. The time for command and, particularly control is over. People have the full power to make or break organisations. Modern leaders have the responsibility to spark passion, give guidance, show caring, create flexible boundaries and take away impediments for their people in order to make them succeed. When your people succeed then your organisation will follow, not the other way around. This new brave new world requires a new type of leadership. In order for a leader to succeed, strong renewal and interpersonal capabilities, skills to connect people´s behaviours to shared strategic intent, and a personal commitment to life-long learning are the strong foundations of a personal growth mindset.

“Success is a journey, not a destination”



This was the last blog in this series on our Growth-Mindset Journey together. A new series will be published in late spring 2020. Meanwhile the Finnish audience can follow the podcasts on Employee Experience (EX) and Customer Experience (CX) released soon.





Jere Talonen – Your co-pilot helping you to bridge the gap between strategy, values and behaviours from the boardroom to the shop floor by combining EX with CX. In the blog series, he shares his learnings from a multi-industry international career extending over 20 years as a leader, entrepreneur, business coach & consultant, as well as an executive team and board member. Currently, Jere acts as Principal Consultant – Recoding Culture and the Future of work at Gofore Plc.

Jere Talonen

Jere Talonen

Jere works at Gofore as a lead and service culture development consultant. He has over 20 years of management level business experience from global consumer brands in nine countries and three continents. In addition Jere is also a seasoned entrepreneur of start-up ecosystem and network building.

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This blog post is part of our Recoding Society blog series started by Mikko’s blog ‘Creating a positive impact’ and continued by Kaija’s blog ‘Creating empowering solutions‘. The series highlights the impact our work is having on Society. We are helping organizations and citizens to overcome several challenges and in this series, our experts share their thoughts featuring real projects one theme at a time.

Work and employment are a significant part of our lives. Employment related events affect everybody. All of us have been looking for a new job or unemployed at some point in time. So, we have strong feelings about the employment related services different public sector organizations offer. At Gofore, we have had the opportunity to be involved in creating several new solutions for future employment services in different areas of employment and business development. All of these solutions start from the needs of the customer using the services.

A new era of employment and business services

Previously Sipilä’s government in Finland started a program for renewing current employment services. These services are being developed by creating new digital services whose main goal is to match job-seekers and jobs better, faster and easier than before. The short-term objective of the TE-Digi program is to provide seamless customer guidance with the prevention of continued unemployment and provide clear online services, which will support the self-motivation of the job-seekers. The renewed approach and information systems will reduce bureaucracy and streamline processes. The new digital services will play a big role.

The key element of the new solution is being customer-centric. The development team has run a lot of studies and done plenty of service design to get a proper understanding of the needs of customers and public authorities. These studies and findings are the base of the design for new services. It is time to lift employment services into the 21st century. The program will take advantage of modern technologies and use for example AI solutions to create better matching for employees and open positions. The TE-Digi program started in 2016 and it continues at least, to the end of the year 2020.

As we are using agile methodologies, for example, SAFe, TE-Digi builds gradually. Parts of it are already in production and a new release is targeted for September 2019. While the new Rinne government in Finland still has a strong will to improve the employment rate [FI] and to focus on services [FI], for example, for incapacitated or elderly persons or for immigrants, the TE-Digi program is still more than valid.

Designing services for protection in the event of restructuring

In the case of employment termination and lay-offs, the enterprise has certain obligations it needs to follow. In these situations, employment services offer dedicated services both for the enterprise and for the employee. We have been re-designing the services to make the service offering even better in co-operation with Häme Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment [FI]. Through this service design, there have been some concrete improvements to the services. For the enterprise, the services are now listed in a service plan that is easier to follow. There have also been some concrete ideas about how to improve communication with the affected employees. For the employees, the focus has been on encouraging job seeking before the actual layoff and improves guidance in this situation. One big advantage of this project has been creating networks for the different parties working on this area like for example, employment services, employment funds, collective industrial organization.

Enterprise development

The Finnish Government has several ways of supporting the development of enterprises. Enterprise development grants, enterprise development services and start-up grants are used to add new business, to encourage existing companies to develop their business and to make use of new business opportunities. Finland needs varied, future-forward business and an encouraging operating environment for companies. Public financing is used to lower the barrier to entrepreneurship and to encourage companies in goal-oriented development of their operations.  At Gofore, we have been involved in creating new digital services for these grants together with the Ministry of Economic affairs and Employment.

Jaana Majakangas

Jaana Majakangas

Jaana is Gofore's technical project manager. She has twenty years of experience in a variety of roles within the IT industry including extensive knowledge of the public sector and how digitalisation can benefit society.

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