I would like to take this opportunity to extend our best wishes for an elated yuletide and a happy, prosperous and healthy new year!
In my role as the chairman of Oslo Consulting Group, I am also reviving an old tradition of sharing some reflections on the times we are living, now that we are approaching the end of yet another year.
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This has been the first (almost) full year under our new name and brand identity.
We wanted a name that would help us develop and communicate a distinct identity, clearly putting our mark on the consultancy scene in Norway - and in the rest of Europe. Based on the response during the past months, we are definitely on our way!
We have enjoyed working with a number of great customers, and helped them grow, overcome obstacles, speed up processes, develop new skills, reflect and learn. Thank you all! It has really been a joy.
We have strengthened our ties and our collaboration with our European partners in the IMCN network, and we are on our way to building a strong base of offerings together. Most imminent is our offering in the field of Sustainability.
Our Christmas present this year, from all if us in Oslo Consulting Group, is a donation to Mental Helse Ungdom, a Norwegian NGO working to improve the mental health of children and young adults.
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The past year has also been a strange year. The second year of a pandemic with all its ramifications on individuals, families, businesses and whole societies. A year of growing awareness of our climate challenge, with little but faint hopes coming out of Cop26. To quote Alok Sharma, the COP26 President: "We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action". It is almost as if we are saying: We need to change our ways, and we do not really want to...
My thoughts have more than once this year gone back to the words of Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
These opening words of the novel A Tale of Two Cities hint towards the radical opposites taking place across the English Channel, a story of contrasts and comparisons between London and Paris during the French revolution.
This past year, or indeed the past two years, or even the past 4 years - or even (some say) the past 40 years, these words are ringing more and more true. The distance between those who have and those who have not, is increasing. The struggle of modern day democracy in the face of truths, half-truths, fake news and lies - all mashed up and served in the same "ready to digest" fashion - through a plethora of channels on line, on print and on screen. A time of increasing paradoxes.
Today, we talk about post-postmodernism, and some favour the term metamodernism. This "meta-" is not the same as in "metaphysics," meaning referring to itself, but relates to Plato's ideas of metaxy; a state of being in between two opposing views while at the same time moving beyond them. This suggests that we need to hold at least two thoughts in our heads at the same time; both despair and hope, sincerity and irony, light and dark, deconstruction and reconstruction, belief and incredulity. And move beyond. Come to terms with the paradoxes.
So how are we to manage in such a state of flux? How can we create the necessary predictability, stability and hope in our societies? How do we act as leaders in our various businesses - in such a way that we can provide a sound basis from which to operate for all our employees - and also leave hope for future generations?
Maybe we cannot hope for predictability and stability in the same way as before. Maybe the new normal is a state of recurring flux, in the sense that stability is more and more short-lived. Moving beyond and coming to terms with apparent paradoxes may require us to navigate with a stronger sense of own direction and drive. A stronger sense of identity and vision.
We believe navigation is a skill that can be learned, so let us put metamodernistic navigation on the agenda and learn how to maneuver better; with more strength and inner guidance, all while retaining our sense of curiosity and refrain from falling into traps of hasty assumptions. With a sense of clarity and curiosity, being forceful and nonassertive, precise and inclusive. Coming to terms with paradoxes by learning how to live with two opposing thoughts in our minds at the same time.
We look forward to 2022, with great hopes for good health, development and prosperity for us all. We will continue our journey and our continued effort to understand the times we live in, what they require of us and how we can grow. How we can continue to increase our value creation capabilities through the creation of new praxis.