January 2024  -  Author Chat

Author Chat: Aha… Wow! Yes. by Gunnar George

Aha… Wow! Yes : how to accelerate learning, collaboration and transformation: towards a world of hope and joy” (Com-passion, 2023) explores nine mindset shifts essential when facing our future. It also outlines ten marks you need to make when leading transformation of organizations, systems and culture.

In this edition of Author Chat, Disrupt Your Career speaks with Gunnar George about his book Aha… Wow! Yes. Join Gunnar and his learning expeditions around the world – full of observations, reflections, big questions, practical models and inspiring stories. An edited version of our conversation with Gunnar follows.

What inspired you to write the book?  What audience did you have in mind when you were writing it?

The people I had in mind was everyone who is working with change or leading change. Since I’ve been working with change for so many years, and especially working with leadership development in the last years, this has brought me to the insight that more sharing is really important for leadership development. I also thought I needed to share my own experiences. So that was the inspiration for that. I worked a lot with big multinational, global companies, and it doesn’t work the way you learn in school and maybe read in magazines. So I wanted to give also an insight from how it is to work inside a company doing big transformations.

What are the key concepts and insights discussed in your book?

I tried to summarize one of the concepts in the title: “Aha… Wow! Yes”. Aha, Wow, Yes is the new Why, What, How. Normally when you do strategy work or whatever work you do, you try to cover Why, What How, and that is good. But if you want to take it to the next level and work with transformation, change, and learning, if you instead can put in more feelings into it, then I think Aha, Wow, Yes are the three steps you need to cover. Aha is the learning part, the Wow is the inspiration part, and the Yes is the action and change part.

What I think is missing most of the time is the Wow part, the inspiration for the big goal or the vision or the role models and that type of things. There’s so much analysis and execution in business today and I think we have lost the inspiration part in many cases. So that is the reason I wanted to have this. I call it the Aha, Wow, Yes circle – so you have to go around that either way in order to really get a good change process. That is one of the concepts.

Then the book is covering nine different mindset shifts that I think are crucial. We are facing big common challenges in the world: geopolitics, sustainability and new technology. These three are the ones that need us to change the way we are thinking. One of my point is also that it is often the leaders of change who need to change their own mindset and behavior the most. I have also outlined a change and transformation model with 10 different marks that you have to make in order to really get a good transformation going.     .


Could you share with us any particular success story or case study?

Well, the first one is about the inspiration and the vision. Starting with the end, I think, is really important. Then, with inspiration, we need to see it more as sort of a quest, not just something that happens, but more something that you have to go for and really create. It’s also about collaboration: we need to have a much more collaborative mindset.

I have a lot of stories in the book and one thing about collaboration is when I work with these leadership development programs, they work with the real strategic issues for the company. You start with the executive management team and then they define the business challenges and then they give that to the participants and they work for half a year and then they present back what the solutions are and what they have done and so on. One of the stories is about the value of this collaboration. It is one of the most well reputed industry leaders in Sweden. I was with the CEO of that company and in the end when he had got all the presentations, he was very excited. Then he had his final speech and he said “I was going to talk to you about giving you feedback on all the different business issues you have gone into and everything, but you just blew me away and I want to talk about leadership instead.” So he started to talk about leadership instead of his business. And then in the end his final word was: “When I first met you, you were a group of national champions (because the participants were managing directors from all over the world), but now in front of me after six months, I see a very tight network of global leaders.” This story I think underlines how important these types of programs are for collaboration and building true global companies through global organizations.

To order Gunnar’s book Aha… Wow! Yes.

To learn more about Gunnar LinkedIn profile

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