High Performance Leadership Inspiration

In November, I treated myself an inspiring day about High Performance Leadership at Copenhagen Business School.

The Scandinvian countries are already frontrunners and role models in terms of Modern Leadership Models (moving away from Power over People plus Money as External Motivation and moving towards Meaningful Work as Inner Motivation), and the CBS Executive branch had worked together with High Performance Institute to create this day to inspire top executives in Denmark, and the participant list was rather impressive.

The day in November at CBS was featuring some of my ‘Leadership Superheroes’ and I was especially looking forward to see Kasper Holten, Claus Meyer and Kim Kristensen on stage. Furthermore, I was going to have a chat with Mikael Trolle, one of the authors of Dreams and Details. Only if Jakob Bøtter, Lars Kolind and Helle Hedegaard Hein been there, had the day been even more perfect. They had selected Paula Larrain to run the show and ask the challenging questions - and she is such a competent, unafraid and strong person, that success was guaranteed.

What I find especially interesting about High Performance Leadership is the integration of the experience from arts, sports, business and science, as shown below.

It is about purpose and passion and to use all of the above to set the framework to allow people to unfold their full potential. It is about that true leadership is not about power - it is instead a deep fascination and curiosity about other people.

Below, you will find the main take-aways from the day at Copenhagen Business School. I hope you get inspired too.

// Sidsel


This man is a Colonel and is the main administrator and planning coordinator for the Danish Queen. He has prepared for war and lead soldiers in combat in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, and he has written a book called Follow Me. Recommended reading.

You would think that his message would be rather ‘military in style’, however, this was mostly about trust, loving and caring for your people. In his opinion, a leader must have the World’s greatest caring instinct, tell the people why they have to do what they do. He basically tells you to love your colleagues and emplyees, and when asked what you do about the people that you don’t really like he responded: “Then you love them even more - and the really difficult ones, you love them more than they can handle”.

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He talked about how true leadership is to take the heavy backpack from those challenged on that day, walk ahead and say “Follow me”, rather than standing in the back and let the employees take the beating. The latter will never be followed.

Kim also talked about how important it is to be reactive in crisis and take action, show initiative and do something - otherwise the leaders lose credibility. The main challenge in business, in his view, is that decisions are not being made.

His best advise for those Elements that Impacts the outcome of the battle are the following:

  • Create the unique Strategy

  • Train as you fight

  • Set the Dream Team

  • Prepare People to Lead: two levels up - two levels down

  • Focus on Team Spirit, Coherence and Culture

  • Make decisions - take responsibility

  • Be yourself, 100%. Be authentic.

The way he prepares his people for the best performance possible is training, training and training. He is training his people to expect chaos, to know the strengths and weaknesses of each other and to be there for each other when it is needed.

His book Follow me is highly recommended, and you can get a taste in this video:.


Kasper was made Director of the Danish Royal Opera when he was only 26 years old, and between 2011 and 2017 he was Director of Opera for the Royal Opera House in London. He is working closely with the artists, attracting the best talent (with little money) and always searching for the best performance. The one that touches the hearts and souls of the audience.

It is much easier for us leaders to have a conformable organisation.

But bloody hell, it would be boring.

As new Director of at the Royal Danish Theatre he doesn’t have budgets that enables him to compete for international top talent. So he has to offer something else: he has to offer meaning and direction that releases creativity. He has to attract top talent by creating a sense of purpose and make the organisation blossom. If he doesn’t, then the A-talents will leave them and then they would be left with the B-talents… and when they are leaving, the organisation is left with the C-talents.

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Helle Hedegaard Hein wrote her book “Primadonnaledelse” (Leading Divas) based on her studies in the Royal Danish Theatre, and Kasper Holten had brought one of the talented opera singers that he works with, to do a live performance of Primadonna leadership on stage. It was a fantastic experience! He coached her while talking about his experiences, the why’s and how he plants the seeds (the direction and concept) and the organisation follows up, grows ideas, train, tests and find the right direction towards the goal of The Best Performance.

It is much about how to create the trust and feeling of safety, to let the opera singers be able to let go and achieve top Performance. It’s about when the organisations “ignites” - or when it loses it’s fire.

“Now, your eyes lit up!”

If you are curious to learn more about Kasper Holten and his leadership philosophy, you can watch this interview on the topic Future of Work.


A politician, Søren Pind, was also there, and he talked about how this is now The Era of the Finance People: the era of budgets to keep and the bucket of money to increase. There is too much focus on Process and not Results. But this leadership model is outdated, and the most important thing to focus on is how to set people free.

He might have a point there, and as he said, you cannot plan and control your way out of the challenges that lies ahead. Highly skilled and smart people are needed in the right positions, and they need to be set free.


At a young age, this man decided to disrupt and improve the Danish kitchen (or what you would name it in the 1980’ies). And he did. Together with talented people he has positively impacted the life of every Dane - just through setting a direction and inspiring others to follow him. He was the man behind NOMA and now has an empire of engaged employees and happy customers.

Some of us hopes that he decides to enter Norway too, to accelerate the Food Revolution here.

“You never know what happens when you take the step and make your way into a project of great beauty"!”

Claus Meyer has the kind of energy that flows from the stage and goes straight into your heart, and he explained about how he, in his youth, was taught by his French Pére de Cuisine that he should find out what he loved to do - and then go for it!

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“Le bonheur c’est savoir ce que l’on veut et le volouir passionnement. Mon fils, quoi que tu fasses, il faut que tu aimes!”.

Happiness is to know what you want to do, and then doing it passionately. My son, what you should end up doing in the future, it has to be what you love doing"!”

He was explaining about the joy about working together with awesome people, how companies are statements, and how to attract idealists and send them off on an adventurous journey.

He told about unfolding the potential of people, about dreams, about purpose, sense of meaningfulness and more love. Claus also explained about building a strong culture with the longing after something to be proud of - and how to unfold the potential of people and have fun at the same time.

So… what do you love, and where do you want to have an impact and make a change?

Claus explained how they didn’t really have a plan, but they wanted to have an impact and change something. And they did.


Those two gentlemen were not exactly on stage on the CBS Executive day in November, but they make an important part of the story. They are and have both been part of the High Performance Leadership education at CBS, and they have written a book about a Leadership Model that provides the important tools that has the potential to change organisations and make them ready for the future.

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It is the positions and experience of Mikael Trolle and Jim Hagemann Snabe, that they have proven that this Leadership Model delivers results, that convinces me that this book is only the beginning of a Paradigm Shift in leadership models used across many industries.

Mikael Trolle is using his background within coaching sports teams and years of experience as a senior executive to develop a unique expert knowledge on what it takes in High Performance Leadership. His results, leadership experience and his ability to communicate around leadership has made him one of the most recognized leaders in the world of sports.

Jim Hagemann Snabe has his background within the IT industry. In 2010 Jim Hagemann Snabe was appointed co-CEO alongside Bill McDermott.  Together they successfully reinvented the software giant SAP from 2010 to 2014. Through his involvement with the World Economic Forum Jim is actively engaged in efforts related to the Digital Transformation of business and society. Jim is now chairman of A.P. Møller, which is one of the most respected and renowned companies in Denmark. Appointing him as Chairman of the Board sets an ambition for where the old organisation is going.

Here is an extract from the book - we’ll be writing our own, later.

Review Extract from Dreams and Details Website by Nik Gowing

Leaders at all levels are struggling to grip the new scale of global disruption.

Strategic assumptions are being turned on their head, sometimes daily or even hourly. The conformity which qualified leaders for the top in too many ways disqualifies them from embracing the scale of what now has to be understood, embraced then acted upon.

For many, the scale of change needed is beyond the kind of professional challenge they relish or even understand. It is not just uncomfortable: instead the evidence is that it is driving at least anxiety and in reality often deep fear.

Dreams and Details is an important book that help defines new thresholds of anxiety for leaders. It sets out to encourage those leaders by urging them to assess frankly their strengths and frailties, then re-define their capacities. In this way, there is a far better chance they will be able to re-invent themselves and survive, instead of being offloaded in summary fashion by a disillusioned board or governing council under pressures from shareholders or stakeholders.

For every leader the new challenge is how to disrupt all their assumptions about what leadership requires these days. It is about re-framing every way in which they assume they have to work. Snabe and Trolle argue that at the moment, too many just ‘paint over the rust’ and hope dark issues will just vaporise. ‘ Apparent success hides a crisis’. Ultimately – as with Kodak, Motorola or Nokia – ‘even the biggest become disrupted and irrelevant’.

In summary it is about ‘Goodbye Business Plan’, say Snabe and Trolle. Plans ‘rarely create the needed change’. So leaders ‘have to undo all they believed was right’. Yes! Business Plans are a conformist distraction.

‘Goodbye Business Plan’ captures their blunt and radical message of a new need for non-orthodoxy. It will be a struggle for most leaders, probably a painful one. Why so? ‘Change is hard – radical change is even harder’, they write. ‘The more detailed plans we make, the more defensive we become.’

If you are already now curious and inspired, you can learn more via the links below:

Main take-aways from the High Performance Day at CBS in November in this video.

Review of books that have inspired us at ExploCrowd is coming up in other Blog Posts. We would love if you would comment and share.

Observations and Reflections on Colour Palettes for Maps

Visualisation and personal preferences dominate the geoscientists favorite chosen colourbar. However, science can actually help us to guide our work, and we have put some thought into our choise of colour palettes for our regional structure maps to best represent the structures and avoid visually generating features that are not there.

Depth and thickness maps are represented by sequential data, and a reliable way to visualize sequential data is with a colour scale that continually increases or decreases a brightness ramp or a hue ramp.

This is shown in the example of the Perceived Lightness Graph for a perceptual palette, where you can see how the color lightness is perceived by the human eye closely correlates to a sequential dataset.

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'Rainbow' or 'spectral' color palettes are not perceptual pallettes in the sense that the perceived values do not necessarily match the data variation. An interpreter should be aware that this color palette can introduce perceived thresholds and contrasts in the map where non exists in the data. It should also be noted that this palette can reduce the emphasis on details that are present in the underling data. Most of the issue with this palette is due to the use of bright colors (yellow, green and cyan) on non-extreme positions of the scale, this introduces perceived sharp transitions as shown in the example with the Perceived Lightness Graph for the ‘Rainbow’ Palette.

The default time or depth 'rainbow' palettes used by DUG InsightTM is used in our daily work . For final depth maps in reports, a modified version of 'rainbow' palette is used where the red and yellow colors have been switched positions on the scale. This minimizes to some extent the issues and limitations described on the above paragraph.

A simple comparison of both colour palette used is shown in the example.

Comparing Colour Palettes.PNG

Our Values

Our values are trust, integrity and transparency. Here is what they mean to us.



Trust is the basis for everything that we do. This is the basis for how we work in the team, this is how we work with our business partners and clients. If they didn’t trust us to act in their best interest, we would not have the same possibilities that we have today.

Our contributors trust us to commercialise the work that they do for us, and they take the risk because they trust us. In the team, we trust each other and are confident that there is always someone there to have your back, to catch you should you fall. Trust add strength to the team and to the business.

Trust. It takes long time to build it. It takes a second to breach it beyond repair. We are very conscious about this.


In our view, integrity is the most valuable you own as a human being. If you don’t have integrity, and do the right thing, then you have nothing left because no one will trust you again. Those are strong words, but this is important.

Scientific integrity is the basis for our work. Being respectful to others and open minded about other opinions and world views is also part of our core.



Transparency is reflected in the way we document our science, to clearly communicate the detail and highlight the uncertainties. It is also reflected in our every day work, where all information is shared with the team. It takes time and effort to communicate, but it engages and gives direction. If everybody know all that is going on in the business, everyone are empowered to work towards the target, in the best interest of the company and everyone in it. Furthermore, by sharing all information and involve the entire team, you can select from a wide range of ideas and use different opinions to navigate on the best course - make the best decisions.

Transparency is also reflected in the sense that everyone knows what everyone in the Core Team get’s paid. Because it is the same. This enforces the trust and also the integrity, that everyone knows that they are treated equally, fairly and with respect.

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How We Work Consciously to use Diversity as a Competitive Advantage

We are convinced that a diverse team is a competitive advantage, and we do all we can to ensure that we don’t think the same way. Diversity to us is difference in experience, mindset, cultural background, age, gender, company cultures and even personality. If we hired people with only one personality type, how would we then be able to look out for all opportunities?

McKinsey also argues and document that companies managed by diverse teams in terms of ethnicity, culture and gender has a 33% higher chance of outperforming companies managed by conformable teams (probably with the same world view and mind set). See documentation below.


The way we do it in practice is to have established a company culture based on respect for people, regardless of cultural background, a company culture that is curious and based on the sound belief that everyone has something to contribute with, being it of scientific nature, but especially also sharing world views based on travels and own experience from the different countries we lived in. With us and our collaboration partners you will find people from many continents; UK, Norway, Iraq, Sweden, Nigeria, Czech Republic, US, Brazil, Russia, Denmark, France, Belgium and Italy.

One of our core values is TRUST, and based on this everyone are encouraged to speak up - especially if they are curious about something, or thinks something is wrong or unfair. Especially if you are young. And everybody in ExploCrowd listens, because they truly care. The immediate result of that is that everything is discussed in the team, it being global politics, history and religion, and this widens horizons and expands mind sets, because we all have something to learn from each other. We all have something to contribute with. This way, hierarchy is avoided to a large extent, and that strengthens the integrity of the organisation further, enabling it to respond to change and opportunities at a faster pace.

We plan to share our learnings, but will need more time to document and measure the performance results over some years. However, the financial results are a good indication that working consciously with diversity and a leadership philosophy optimised for the future, and it is going in the right direction.

If you need inspiration and practical advice to secure diversity in your own organisation, below you will find a description of how an international consultancy handled it.

McKinsey Report: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity

Workforce Case: http://www.workforce.com/2018/07/19/gender-parity-in-the-workplace-is-possible-we-did-it-you-can-too/

How We Work

The way we are organised is that we have a Core Team, Contributors and Strategic Collaboration Partners.

Our Core Team is working in the day-to-day work, handling Data Management and Data Quality Assurance, documenting work done in reports with high quality drafting of figures and seismic interpretation. The Core Team consist mainly of early career geoscientists who learn fast and handle data and software efficiently. They work with the experts, providing data and integrating results, and taking part in all aspects of the business, thereby gaining valuable experience.

Our Contributors have long experience within the industry and work with us either part time or full time. The advantage for the Contributor is that they manage their own time and work with what they find interesting to work with, and they have the freedom to do what they find is the right thing. Working this way and contributing to an integrated high quality product is very motivating for this type of highly specialised self-driven, and the framework is optimised for flexibility and high performance.

Our Strategic Collaboration Partners provide services and have competence and expertise that make us in ExploCrowd move faster and reach further. An example is Estimages who has velocity models of high quality already made, and with our interpreted regional horizons their Depth Conversion models are even more accurate. We could not achieve this ourselves, within ExploCrowd, but by collaborating and creating win-win situations, this is good business for both parties.


This way we have created an agile organisation with high degree of empowerment and optimised for cost-efficient use of industry leading expertise. The way of working is highly scalable, and can be fitted to increased work load from client projects.


The ExploCrowd Team is racing together, sailing regattas on Wednesdays as often that time allows.

When racing, it is the teamwork and the good spirit on the boat that matters. It is about full concentration, adrenalin and being able to respond quickly to threats and opportunities. It is about optimising the performance on each individual on the boat, train together to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each other so everyone instinctively know where they can contribute when something goes wrong. Because something always goes wrong, such as a sail that could be trimmed a little better a twisted spinnaker, and you have to be prepared for that through ‘training for chaos’.

On certain boats, you can have someone at the helm shouting at the crew, but usually the outcome is bad spirit on the boat and a poor performance - however, to us the road to the target is the priority. It is more important than reaching the target with all means necessary, living up to one of our core values that is integrity.

It is never the person on the helm winning the races. One person can never do it alone. It is when all team members are equal, focused on performance, communicate well, are on the outlook for opportunities and better wind - that is when the boat is performing best. It is when you get the perfect tack, that you feel team satisfaction and little touch of happiness. It is worth fighting for.

We have no problem admitting that we are not top three, and we probably don’t want to pay the price of being there in time and money, but we are there when the competition make mistakes - and we’ll race in StavangerSeilasen Business as defending champions, doing our best to win the beautiful trophy and have it to stay in our office for the next year too.


The Tale of The Orange Colour

The graphical design profile of ExploCrowd is rather clear, with the orange circle symbolising collaboration, and the orange colour highlighting what is important while keeping the rest of the information in black or greyscale. This is an efficient way of communicating, and we observe several companies changing their graphical profile lately.

This is the story of where our orange colour come from.

Many years ago, when we were sailing in the Maersk Sailing Club, we were not impressed by the fact that most of the sailing clothes available was either black or dark blue. If you end up in the water, it is impossible to see you in the big waves, and since we were coming from the oil business, which has a strong safety culture, we were trying to find sailing clothes with safety colours, without much luck.

After a few years, the sailing gear brand Musto started their Fire Orange line, but most regretfully only produced Extreme Offshore Sailing Gear with face protection and such. And we can’t really defend Volvo Ocean Race style for extreme weather equipment while sailing within the Norwegian fjords. We did, however, purchase a couple of bright orange windbreakers for sailing.

We had purchased an old 26 foot Albin Express from 1980, which should be used for sailing regattas outside Stavanger. The old lady was ‘cigarette coloured white’ and had about 300 holes from different owners and equipment solutions over the years - and it needed a massive overhaul. The holes were fixed and top painted white - and then the rest of the boat looked horrible. The solution was to foil the sailing boat in a dark grey ‘stealth’ colour. Out of practical purposes. And it worked really well. We also decided to paint the tiller orange, to highlight what is important when you are sometimes running around the sail boat when handling both ropes and being on the helm - and the orange colour made sure that it was somehow always within focus. It turned out to be really efficient.

When starting up the new ExploCrowd Company, the orange colour was chosen to highlight what was important, and tone down less important details with a greyscale. The graphical profiles has changed through time, simplifying and strengthening the layout, as it will do, when you get better ideas with time. It is a constant evolution. But now you know where our colours come from.