The Motala model. How the Swedes trigger change with grassroots strategy and bottom up approach.


The Motala model. How the Swedes trigger change with grassroots strategy and bottom up approach.

This month we take a look to Sweden: We are interested in how our Swedish SWOPS practice partner, the participating companies and the consulting teams cooperate when it comes to the central objective of SWOPS, to successfully achieve the development of a structural change oriented personnel strategy.

Positive experiences were made by our Swedish colleagues with an approach of action research: managers of participating companies discuss with the SWOPS advisory team. Together they create a pool of questions, into which the experience from daily work of both sides have been incorporated – from theory and from practice.


Questions from the management to the consulting team rotate around new change models and concepts: Which of these are already implemented at other companies? What methods and models have proven successful? How can the distribution of working time and the available resources be managed well? Conversely, the advisory teams asks the executives about operational issues: How are recruiting processes organized within the company and what is the part of management undertaken to create a culture of mutual trust on all levels of the hierarchy?


Of particular interest for the consulting team is how the model can be developed such that on the one hand takes into account the needs of the corporate side and on the other hand gives room to apply the knowledge and experience of the consultants. The question pool forms the basis to explore what changes for contemporary positioning of the company can be useful and desirable. From the joint discourse arises a question cycle, from which in turn new questions result – the impetus for new innovative ideas and change processes.


From the mutual exchange in the corporate network of the Swedish municipality Motala, a platform has developed which – at the earliest time possible – can stimulate change processes; such as on the threshold of school to work. The Tillväxt Motala Network for Career Development is a cooperation between the municipal administration and the local businesses: Until it was established, different workshops were offered regularly. Detailed discussions were held around the question of how a creative exchange in Motala could be realized between schools and businesses.


Important to the four companies involved in the SWOPS project is to facilitate access for young people to local businesses. Based on subsequent feedback they can estimate which companies actually do have innovative working conditions. The aim is to improve the options especially for novice employees by introducing gender neutral recruitment processes and thus to achieve gender balance in the workplace.


Ahead of the network meeting in one hour long one-to-one discussions with the executives it was elucidated where the shoe pinches: “We have difficulties to recruit women” heard our Swedish partner from the personnel management of snowplow machine manufacturer Holms. “It is far from easy for us to attract men as employees”, says in turn the HR managers of nursing company Aleris. “We want to take more advantage of the diversity approach to reflect the diversity of our customers in the enterprise,” say Managing the municipal housing company Platen while the particular point of Industriekompetens‘ business chief is to develop more measures for female executives in the industry.


In order to effectively apply the ideas gained in ​​the network meeting, the discussions were documented and gradually implemented. The realization of the model takes place in different projects around the promotion of professional opportunities for women and men.
The city Motala is large enough to provide a wide variety of jobs, while at the same time just manageable enough to allow close and binding contacts between its people, companies and the public sector. The Tillväxt Motala Network for Career Development promotes the creative exchange between schools and businesses by bringing graduates into employment and thus proves at all useful as a cooperation group for the region and its companies. This is also of benefit for the model, which was created under the SWOPS project to improve the exchange between people and public institutions: the Motala model.


The Motala model does away with a stereotyped view according to which jobs in the industry are dirty and noisy, or that technically oriented jobs in the care sector require no special knowledge in nursing. The concept was presented and discussed at the turn of the year in the course of the cooperation group. The regular meetings are organized by HR managers from both the private and public sector.15 to 20 participants are present at every meeting.

Beyond the clichés that surround the respective sector, the Motala model is organized for interaction on the grassroot level and provides teachers with direct access to the local companies so that they can better prepare their pupils for practical vocational requirements in the working reality.

In practice, this works as follows: You are interested in geography? – So do visit one of the local export companies to learn more about interaction with our customers around the world. You study mathematics and want to inform yourself, in which professions you can apply your knowledge profitably? – Then pass by one of the manufacturing companies from the Motala network. Should it be a business degree? – Come visit us and talk to our employees about what you can expect after your studies on the job.


Besides the company visits and the continuous cooperation with schools and training centers, one of the prime objectives of the Motala model is to increase its visibility and the idea behind within the emerging corporate partnerships. To this end, an advisory council was formed specifically in which both representatives of the employers (companies) as well as the schools (municipal administration) are active in order to develop the model and spread the word.