Drop in with an idea, go home with a film!


As new forms and forums for digital film keep appearing, so do communication opportunities. In our new studio space Symbal Studios, making the most of them is easy. We offer everything you need for turning film into an efficient everyday communication tool for your company, whatever the shape and size of your project.

Have a look at www.symbalstudios.com to learn more.

HR must lead the way in the digital workplace


Yesterday, the Smarter Change Network met in Malmö. The event was hosted by Malin Grundström at Elfa International while Stina Berggren, Regional Business Director at Atea, provided inspirational insights. The network is made up of leaders with a focus on HR and competence development.

The event was all about the impact of the digital workplace. New technology has brought a wave of change in how we work both on our own and with co-workers. Microsoft’s new Office 365 suite is about to usher in even more new opportunities. But it’s unfortunate that the digital workplace is usually driven more by technological breakthroughs than employee needs and behaviour. It’s time for the HR department to step up. We have to get our heads around how technology is driving new behaviour that competes with current company culture and work habits.

The network agreed that the impact of the digital workplace is business critical and that successfully implementing new technology comes down to one thing: leadership.

Your leaders will determine how smoothly people transition to new work habits. Cultural barriers and ingrained behaviour must be identified and taken seriously. Many in the network shared stories of implementing new software that never reached its potential. Learning from these missteps is critical – we’re in the midst of a workplace upheaval on a scale we haven’t seen since the computer revolution of the early 90’s.

The network came up with a few key ways to ensure success in the digital workplace:

Make time to understand your leaders.
Find out what drives them, what they fear about new ways of working, how they feel about increased transparency and knowledge sharing, their attitude towards digital tools, etc.

Get your leaders to loosen the reins.
The need for control is often a barrier to development. Help your leaders see the value of putting more decisions in the hands of employees. A leader no longer has to be the one with all the answers in a more openly collaborative workplace. Let them be the first to try out new tools. Describe good examples in business terms. The ones who dive right in are the leaders you want to put at the forefront.

Leaders must spearhead a shift in how we hire.
The most important qualities when looking for new employees today are talent and a willingness to change. The only thing we know for sure is that things are changing fast and show no signs of slowing down. An impressive CV doesn’t reveal how adaptable and driven to learn a person is. And those are qualities you’re going to need to unlock the potential of the digital workplace.

The Rendahl Model™ – an introduction

Knowing what matters to people deep down is the key to inspiring successful change. Watch professor Jan Erik Rendahl explain briefly about the scientific theory on existential core values, and how these affect us in our approach to change. With this theory as the base Symbal provides both target group analyzes for change communication and advice on how to build productive change teams.

(More films are available at Vimeo and Youtube)

Change Communication from a customers perspective with Ulrika Rask Lindholm, Group Communications Manager at Höganäs

Ulrika_Rask-Lindholm, Höganäs

What’s the best thing about working at Höganäs?
That we’re both a small and a large company. We’re present all over the world with global customers, we have production facilities and sales offices in fourteen countries, and yet we do it all with only 1,800 employees. That makes it easy to know who everyone is and connect with someone and have meaningful exchanges. It also makes it easier to influence what Höganäs does and how we do it.

What are the biggest challenges as communications manager at a global organization?
We’re a slim organization so out in the regions we have few resources for running areas like HR, finance and communication. When my central team wants to spread new ways of working or setup project groups around communication we do so through people who have communication as an extra assignment, on top of their main role, and often don’t have a communication background. Since it isn’t their main focus, they have to step in and out of the role, which can be hard.

Why do you think storytelling is such a great tool when working with film and content?
I’ve worked with editorial communication for a long time, so for me it’s clear that stories convey clear, easy-to-understand messages. Storytelling is a core part of our editorial communication and a great way to help people understand complex topics and events. We also use storytelling when we let individual employees step forward and tell their story as the experts in their field, and thus exemplify a vision or a strategy.

Why have you chosen to work with Symbal for such a long time?
We started collaborating with Symbal in 2009 when they helped us with a vision and values conference held in Shanghai, China. I knew we needed a partner who could help us with change communication, which is how I first found Symbal. The conference was a success and the cooperation worked very well so it was natural for me to continue to choose Symbal for assignments in various contexts.

What is the most enjoyable part of working with Symbal?
I really appreciate that we have a lot of fun when we work together and that we laugh a lot. We travel together and sometimes we have projects that stretch out and then get prolonged even further. Symbal has a lot of patience for our internal processes and what we at Höganäs are going through.

What do you think is most important in a customer relationship?
To me, the most important aspect of a customer-supplier relationship is good chemistry, that you get along and have fun together. It’s as simple as that. The next aspect is to have a mutual understanding and exchange. An openness that works both ways. I as a customer can be open with my needs and expectations and Symbal in turn can be open towards me, what they need from us as company. Then we can develop together and form a solid mutual understanding of where we’re going.

(A shorter story about Ulrika are available at Vimeo and Youtube)

Latest meet-up of the Symbal HR Network

Over the past 15 years, Andreas Breiler of Idélaboratoriet has been teaching, inspiring and writing handbooks on idea development.

Last week, we were happy to have him join us for the latest meet-up of the Symbal HR Network. The network used the meet-up to identify the factors that impact an organisation’s ability to be innovative, such as its atmosphere, innovation culture, idea generation processes, how creative competence is managed, the physical environment and incentive programs. Fred Eriksson, who works with Expert Change & Organisation Development at Eon, hosted the event.

The network, which is run by Symbal, has met 2-3 times a year since 2012. The network is made up of specialists and managers within HR and Competence Development who are passionate about organisational development.

This year the network has seen strong growth. It now boasts members from 20 organisations, most of which are multinational.

Want to learn more about the network?
Contact Peter Gustafson at pg@symbal.com or 0708 45 62 62



Change Trap 7#


The planning is done and it’s time to roll out your change initiative. But there’s a problem: your middle managers don’t have the knowledge to answer all the questions they’re going to get and they haven’t taken those first key steps of a change process – going from resistance to engagement.

This happens when middle managers aren’t considered an important target in your change communication. If you’re a manager, it’s simply assumed you’ll jump right on board, you’re loyal to the company and you’ll do whatever it takes to make the company’s strategic initiative happen.

This assumption slams shut a huge opportunity.

Give your middle managers time to take it all in. Help them explore what’s going to be different and let them think through the consequences – before they start getting all the questions. When it comes to driving change, a middle manager that acts like a change leader is your most convincing communication channel.

Change Trap – “Why?”

Why should we? If you have a strong answer to that question you can create both commitment and understanding of the change you’re trying to implement. But why is often forgotten. By constantly leaving out the why, you risk creating a reactive attitude in your organization. Give why its due and it will give you an advantage as a leader. A well thought out why addresses basic human mechanisms like uncertainty, doubt and skepticism. So next time you see a why left out on it’s own – pick it up and take care of it. An engaging answer can make the impossible possible.


Change Trap – “The Ketchup Effect”

Dreaming of change? Our advice: Go slow! ”The Ketchup Effect” illustrates a common trap when change happens too fast. You continue to shake the bottle of change and suddenly it all comes flooding out at once, without proper anchoring with employees. A common mistake often made by leaders of companies, and project organisations, is that they try to move too fast from development into implementation. Involve middle management and key players. Make them ambassadors and secure their engagement. In this way, you can control the flow before unscrewing the bottle.


How to give back even when you’re strapped for time

An interview with Joanna Le Pluart on taking an opportunistic approach to being charitable

Last Christmas, we asked our community which organization working to change the world for the better should get a 10,000 SEK present from Symbal. The social media campaign reached 14,000 people and brought in dozens of nominees. When the votes were tallied, it was Communication Consultant Joanna Le Pluart who had convinced us that The Hunger Project deserved the gift because it has “the best business idea in the world.”

We recently reached out to Joanna to learn what drives her to get involved, how she merges giving back with a busy lifestyle and why she chose The Hunger Project.

Why did you get involved in Symbal’s competition?

“It was an excellent idea! I think companies should focus more on supporting charities than buying presents for customers. It comes down to finding new ways to contribute to a better world and social media can make it much easier. It helps companies and the public connect for a common cause. Plus, social media makes it simple to get involved, raise your voice and do something to make the world a little better.”

How do you decide which organizations to support?

“As a busy professional running my own company, I don’t have much time to research which charity to support. In fact, I have supported charities rather opportunistically in different phases of my life. For example, I supported SOS children’s villages when I had small children. I supported UNICEF’s Christmas vaccine campaign as an alternative to giving Christmas gifts, and now that my daughters are a bit older, I have become more focused on the situation of women in the world – hence my special interest in The Hunger Project.”

“Every drop counts – it’s always going to be better than nothing!”

What’s so special about The Hunger Project?

“Firstly, they do not give aid, but offer financing to empower people to improve their own lives and the lives of their families over the long term. So they’re not just pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom!

Secondly, the Hunger Project focuses exclusively on women. That’s because the research shows that strengthening the position of women is THE single factor that has the greatest impact on reducing hunger and poverty.

It makes perfect sense to me! A woman’s love for her children is arguably the most powerful force on earth. Women invest in the future for their children’s sake, and, in this way they carry humanity forward from one generation to the next.

So it’s about equality, too?

Women make up half of the world’s population, yet they own way less than half of the world’s wealth, land and resources. I also chose the Hunger Project because their bias towards financing female entrepreneurs goes some way towards correcting this massive global imbalance. It puts women in a better position to claim their rightful place as equal members of the human race on a par with their male counterparts – often in the world’s most sexist cultures!”

Any advice for people looking for a way to give back?

Find an opportunity to do contribute to a better world that fits your life. Don’t hold back because it seems like anything you do is just a drop in the ocean. Every drop counts – it’s always going to be better than nothing!

About Joanna Le Pluart

Joanna grew up in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire as the youngest of four siblings. She became a feminist activist early as a consequence of the unfair favoritism afforded to her brothers. She aimed to hold her own against them in rugby, swimming and cricket.

It was during her time as a student at Cambridge that the idea of living in Sweden took hold. A half Swedish friend told her all about the country, inspiring Joanna to pack up and make the move. She landed in Lund in 1993, where she later founded Crystal Clear Communications. Today, she works as a Communication Consultant for clients around the Öresund region.

Joanna och hennes barn

Joanna with her daughters

Crowd learning takes center stage at Symbal HR event hosted by Axis Communications

The year’s first meeting of the Symbal HR and Learning Network was held at Axis Communications. The team behind Axis Academy told the captivating story behind their successful learning concept for partners and distributors around the world. Axis’ unique approach to learning as a strategic and competitive advantage gave the attendees a fresh perspective. Learn more at www.axis.com/academy.

The network was treated to a presentation from guest speaker Torvald Jacobsson from Edumanity. Edumanity was born out of a pioneering social learning project at Lund University. The company has developed its own methodology and technological platform based on crowd learning.

Crowd learning suits the modern workplace as it’s based on social networking, mobility and personalization. It makes an excellent complement to formal learning by answering a fundamental question all big companies struggle with: How do you facilitate an organic exchange of know-how in a large organization?

Many in the learning industry approach learning according to the 70-20-10 model. While many have mastered the 10% that covers formal education, few have found the key to unlocking the full potential of the 70% of learning that happens on the job. Crowd learning could be that key. A smart crowd learning platform lets people seek answers in real-time by drawing on the crowd’s real world experience. In comparative studies of learning complex topics, crowd-learning yielded better results than traditional classroom learning or e-learning. Learn more about this new learning frontier by visiting www.edumanity.com.

Together, Edumanity and Symbal are bringing two new concepts to market in 2015. The concepts will leverage the power of crowd learning to unlock companies’ potential for innovation and facilitate the on-boarding of new hires.


In the photo from the left:
Helén Rönnqvist (Axis), Kristina Rydälv Kåreby (Axis), Charlotte Löffler Ivarsson (Axis), Torvald Jacobsson (Edumanity) och Håkan Dennersten (Edumanity)