Podcast 006 – Mats Larsson – The Blind Guardians of Ignorance: Covid-19, Sustainability, and Our Vulnerable Future

A handbook for change leaders, young and old.

The Blind Guardians of Ignorance: Covid-19, Sustainability, and Our Vulnerable Future

Show notes

Interview with Mats Larsson author of:
The Blind Guardians of Ignorance: Covid-19, Sustainability, and Our Vulnerable Future. A handbook for change leaders, young and old.

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blind-Guardians-Ignorance-Sustainability-Vulnerable/dp/1788360486 

Mats’s web links:


  • 00:00 Intro – Music
  • 00:10 Intro – Mats Larsson
  • 00:53 Explain the book title
  • 01:37 What are the challenges for the future?
  • 03:41 Sustainability is not about the environment? Peak oil?
  • 06:12 Book structure. 1. Age of Ignorance. 2. Driving the Change. 3. Starting the Transformation.
  • 08:34 The Age of Ignorance. Covid-19 exposes production challenges? Economic growth challenges? How to maintain growth?
  • 16:20 What is the end state? Where do we want society to go?
  • 18:46 Who is working on the economic research for stable state economies?
  • 20:04 Why not follow Elon Musk to Mars?
  • 22:59 Taking for granted luxuries of the modern world? Production systems are fragile?
  • 25:46 How does Covid-19 change your thinking on these topics?
  • 30:08 Efficiency removes buffers, but we need buffers for resilience?
  • 32:31 Economic measures of resilience?
  • 36:46 Growth model is in the human spirit? In our DNA?
  • 40:16 “A handbook” for change leaders. What is a handbook and who is a change leader?
  • 45:10 Change management. How slow change can be in large companies. Can we make such big changes in a quick time? Like WW2? Examples of these large endeavours.
  • 54:13 Does IT technology not make things easier now to meet the challenges?
  • 57:48 People are now experts. No one is looking at the big picture and addressing the big picture problems?
  • 1:01:11 People are more interested in sustainability now, but are Greta’s environmental protests useful? What should people do?
  • 1:05:45 Large companies often have people with the skills needed. Business managers.
  • 1:06:38 How did Mats get into this area?
  • 1:10:06 Change in public awareness of the ideas over the last 30 years
  • 1:14:07 How are these projects financed?
  • 1:17:05 Electric vehicles. What is your advice for auto executives and governments?
  • 1:24:24 Governments need to finance breakthrough technologies?
  • 1:27:40 Do we need competition to tackle the challenges of the future? USA vs. China vs. EU ?
  • 1:37:30 Tesla created their own infrastructure for electric vehicle charging. Good idea?1:41:36 We need people to run experiments of business models for sustainability? 
  • 1:48:35 What are the key points you would like a reader to take away from reading your book?
  • 1:53:36 Rate to convert conventional vehicles to electric vehicles
  • 2:00:25 How to get the book. When it is out? What is the cover like?
  • 2:02:26 Final thoughts
  • 2:04:03 Contact details


00:16okay00:16so today’s guest is max larson00:19of the global energy transformation00:22institute00:23mats is a business consultant with00:2630 years experience focusing on strategy00:29and change management00:31has written over seven books on00:32sustainability00:34and has a brand new book coming out um00:36this december00:37uh december 2020 called the blind00:40guardians of ignorance so uh welcome00:43matt um how are you doing today00:46thank you very much joshua i’m fine00:50very fun oh great and00:53um so the blind guardians of ignorance00:56covid19 sustainability and our00:59vulnerable future01:01uh can you can you take me through have01:03that title01:05yes it’s uh01:09an image of our present society where01:13decision makers world leaders01:16and large shares of the general public01:20are blind to the challenges that lie01:23ahead01:24and we don’t have any plans and no01:27um idea basically01:30of what we need to do in order to01:33transform our society01:35to a sustainable future so01:38with these challenges are you talking01:40about um01:42co2 causing climate change or01:45is it are there more challenges or or is01:47it just that one01:49and no there are more challenges01:52and the climate change challenged01:55challenge is well known and it’s seen as01:59the primary challenge by most people but02:02there is also um probably more pressing02:05challenge02:06of the peak in oil production which is02:10likely to02:11occur on a global scale in the next few02:14years02:15uh the international energy agency has02:17been warning02:18for more than a decade of this and of02:22the02:23severe consequences to our economic02:26development02:27and to our welfare basically uh02:30of this and there are also other02:32challenges02:33that make it more difficult or02:37challenging to02:38to transform society because02:42we have been driving development in a02:45certain direction towards02:47reduced cost reduced um02:50reduced or increased02:54value for money in in many areas02:57and that has has been going on uh since03:00after the second world war and even03:03before that03:04uh and now we are going to build uh03:08systems03:08that are um that that are03:12on the surface of it at least more03:14costly we are going03:16we need to move production away03:19from china for example and move it back03:22to uh03:23to europe and to03:27the united states and other developed03:30countries03:30and that is is vastly more difficult03:34than03:34uh moving it to to uh low-cost countries03:38in the first place03:40okay so it because often when people see03:43the word03:44sustainability it’s often03:47tied to environmental sustainability03:50but when you were mentioning the03:51challenge of peak oil03:54that’s more of a while you know peak oil03:57is probably good in the sense of03:59reducing co2 emissions04:01um our entire economy is04:04based around uh consuming this this04:06natural resource04:08and so it’s simply running out is04:12unsustainable for for our economy is04:14that what you’re leading to04:15uh yes um it’s04:20positive of course that we if we manage04:23to use04:23less oil but if we have less oil04:29and if oil production goes into decline04:31and permanent decline04:33it will pose a number of different04:35challenges for for countries04:37because we haven’t prepared for such a04:39situation04:42we are we are in instead we are04:44increasing our dependence on oil04:47every year and we are04:50when we need to reduce our um04:54our use of oil we don’t know which areas04:57to start with04:59and or which how we should go about this05:02this change so this05:06this development should have been05:07started much earlier and05:1010 20 30 years ago when we had the first05:14oil05:14crisis probably because it takes05:18a lot of time to build new new systems05:20it needs a lot of investments05:22and we can’t simply uh start05:25to change everything when oil starts to05:28get05:29scarce and because in that05:32that situation uh we simply have the a05:36very difficult05:37we’re in a very very difficult position05:40um05:40and our economy will be damaged and it05:44will be uh05:45uh uh well it will be a05:49situation that we that can easily get05:52out of control05:54yeah we wouldn’t have the resources if05:56we’re waiting until the resource is05:58depleted to use05:59resources to transition we’ve kind of06:02left it too late06:04we kind of need to use the resources to06:06to transition to a sustainable06:08uh future um so um06:12if we take the uh the way you’ve written06:15the book06:16i see yeah there’s three big chunks06:17there’s the age of ignorance06:20driving the change and then starting the06:23transformation06:24which i guess linked to to the title06:27you’re saying that the leaders and much06:30to the world population has ignorance to06:32these challenges06:34and then presumably you’re trying to06:37describe how06:38we’re we’re leading into into a bigger06:41problem and then what your solution06:42might be and could you take me through06:44those three big chunks06:46of your book and06:50yes um the age of ignorance06:53is a description of our current06:56situation it can be put in in07:00different ways but we have a very07:03uh naive mindset where most of us07:07don’t worry or we’re not aware07:10of um the development that lies ahead of07:13us07:13and we we simply go about our lives07:17uh using resources in a07:20thoughtless way and07:23most of us don’t don’t consider uh the07:26need to07:27to reduce our dependence on oil uh07:31already in the next few years or we07:33don’t even07:34think that that could happen07:37that we need to do that so07:40that’s the first part and that’s a07:44gives a a background of the07:48challenges in in our present society07:52um and the second part is about07:56um preparing uh for07:59for um the transformation and the08:03need to to adapt or08:07transform society on a large scale08:11so that we we reduce our dependence on08:15oil08:16and other resources as much as possible08:18uh08:19over a short period of time and08:22the third part and starting the uh08:25transformation08:26is about how we take the first steps and08:30what we need to do now to start08:32uh the change okay thank you max for08:35that08:36so i guess if we go through those08:39those chunks in in a little more detail08:41so if08:42we are now in the age of ignorance and08:45um i hope you’re i guess hoping to08:49wake us up from that what08:52other than you we mentioned about um oil08:56peak oil and also um climate change08:59caused by09:00uh co2 i mean what other challenges09:04do we have because i know you’ve09:05mentioned covid19 in the title09:09yes kovi 19 is09:13a challenge of course and it creates09:15even09:17it makes the transformation even a09:20bigger challenge because09:21it’s it09:24it has hit our economy very hard and its09:27uh countries are aren’t09:30as strong uh financially as they were09:33before for the covet crisis09:35still we have this huge transformation09:37ahead of us09:38and we can’t avoid making large09:41investments in new09:42systems transport systems but09:46also production and distribution systems09:48and09:49uh the kobe 19 has made us aware of our09:53very large dependence on uh09:56production in far away countries in asia09:59like china for example and 30 percent of10:02our production or more than 30 percent10:04of our our10:05uh production in in the western world uh10:08is uh located uh in in asia10:13so so that’s a very big challenge but10:15there is also10:17a challenge that i have tried to10:21describe in in another book um10:2515 years ago which is about our10:29her that the room for10:32for improvement is running out uh in10:36in many areas as you you probably know10:39uh there is10:43the the global economy is dependent on10:47growth and we need to grow need the10:49economy to grow10:50year by year so that’s uh10:54and there is it’s not about10:57keeping the same uh11:00level of production and level of11:03efficiency11:05it we the global economy has to uh11:08continue to grow and the way to make11:10uh the global economy grow is11:13by improving the efficiency11:17of all kinds of industrial processes11:19distribution11:21procurement and also the11:24making the public sector more efficient11:28and as we all know nothing can be done11:31in less than no time or at the cost11:34below11:34zero and we are in many areas11:38approaching uh that situation where11:42things can be done in less than no time11:45and at the cost that is close to zero11:48uh which makes it more difficult in11:50these uh those areas to um11:54continue to drive uh efficiency forward11:58and in other areas where12:02you we still have the opportunity to12:04improve12:05like industrial production that will12:07never be done12:08you can never make a car in no time or12:12at a cost close to zero but we have been12:15working12:15in um in improvement through lean12:19production and other methods12:21um for example and digitization12:24and business business systems and so on12:29to to reduce cost12:32and so much of the original12:35inefficiencies have been taken out of12:37the economy12:39that our economy at present is very12:41efficient12:42so it will be increasingly difficult in12:46that uh12:47from that perspective as well to improve12:49efficiency even further12:53yes and i guess the as as12:56the the low-hanging fruit have already12:58been taken of efficiency13:00and you’re now a sort of very13:02diminishing returns to get from13:05a very high efficiency to a hundred13:07percent efficiency13:08is uh potentially an enormous amount of13:12work which isn’t13:13maybe even worthwhile because there’s so13:15much that sorts again13:17so i guess are you arguing that13:21a growth-based model doesn’t make sense13:24anymore13:25now the production systems and13:28technology13:29is already so advanced13:32we are coming up against the situation13:34where growth13:35will become increasingly difficult to13:37maintain13:38um and that’s13:43that that that’s really um13:46self evident i think if you if you look13:49at at the13:50um at the data that uh it’s13:54it’s likely to be increasingly difficult13:57to achieve growth13:58uh every year that’s that’s uh14:03every year in the future so uh14:06it’s we need to think14:10of how we can develop an economic system14:14that isn’t dependent on growth in the14:16way that14:17our present one is and that’s a14:19tremendous challenge14:20it’s it’s nothing that can be taken14:23lightly14:23it’s not about just um14:27changing to an economy where where14:30people are14:31happy with with what we have and and14:34everyone is helping one another14:36we need to have an eco14:39an economic system that facilitates14:43exchange facilitates investment uh14:47facilitates investment in education14:50in in looking forward we need to14:52maintain um14:54optimism uh above all so14:58and that’s a tremendous challenge it’s15:00not15:01as if this position i’m taking or the15:05conclusions i’ve made15:07are political as i see it15:10it’s it’s uh uh those are conclusions15:13based on15:14uh reasoning and uh uh the realization15:18that we can’t continue for very long to15:22uh to to drive efficiency15:25and improve efficiency in the way that15:27that we have done in the past15:29so i guess yeah what you’re saying is15:32that15:32at some point in the future we’re maybe15:35not clear at what it is but15:37we march towards it our production15:39systems will be15:41um if they aren’t already become um15:43[Music]15:45hyper efficient all the people on planet15:48earth are living a15:49standard of living you know the china15:51these places have15:52have caught up with um um15:56sort of a western standard of living for15:58for for15:59all the people living in those nations16:01and then16:02um it’s kind of like oh what do we do16:04now and um16:06as you said if the economy is dependent16:08on growth and then16:10pension funds and um all these things16:12start to16:13to break um as uh16:17they have this growth model built in so16:20i guess16:20um i know that you as the a16:23transformation expert16:24have a great deal of experience in16:28how to cause the transformation i guess16:31are you able to more concretely16:33articulate16:34what an end state could be that is16:37more preferable than where we’re16:39potentially headed right now16:43yes uh to some extent uh but16:47uh there is a need for a16:50very large amount of development16:54in the area of economics and16:57in the area of of business development17:01and in order to to develop the systems17:05that we need17:06that can take us into the future in a17:09sustainable way17:10what we need to have as the goal is of17:12course that we17:14all can continue to17:17lead um affluent lives17:21but while at the same time we use17:24much less resources and17:28we do that in in an economy that’s17:33that isn’t to this the extent uh17:36it is at present at least uh dependent17:39on17:39uh growth and we need to17:43to have as the ultimate goal to develop17:46an17:46economic system that isn’t dependent on17:50on continuous improvements17:54in the way that that our present economy17:56is because even if we have17:58countries um on the the other side of18:01the planet18:02that still have a lot of improvement uh18:04ahead of them18:05uh within the present system uh18:08our oh we need to have room for18:10improvement in our own18:12countries as well in europe and in18:14northern america for example18:16uh in order to make make uh18:20the economic system or the18:24uh viable so within the present economic18:27economic18:28system so that’s um18:31that’s the real challenge to to define18:34how this system could be built up um18:38and how it can work so that we can uh18:42still18:42live lead uh affluent lives18:46is are there is there anyone working on18:49this sort of18:50economics development um18:53in universities okay it just18:56yes to some extent um18:59there are um researchers working to19:02develop19:03stable state economies and and so on but19:07those have only been developed to a very19:10early stage19:11uh they are not um19:14at present developed to uh to19:17to a level where they can be implemented19:21um in any uh particular country19:26or in the global economy uh at large19:29um they need still need to be19:33tried out and and applied in19:37on a small scale and that’s also the the19:40a problem to to try out an economic19:43system on a small scale because it’s19:46um it’s difficult to to replace19:51a part of the uh present economy19:55in some some small area but what we need19:58to19:58make take rapid strides forward in that20:01area20:04yeah i guess because kind of the wild20:06card is20:08we we follow elon musk and we we20:11colonize other planets20:13and we sort of export our model over the20:16um20:17beyond earth um i mean20:20is that too far-fetched i would we are20:22we placing all that eggs20:23in one basket with the um let’s colonize20:26mars20:27and the moon yeah that’s20:30it feels quite far-fetched because20:33all types of development need resources20:37and in a situation where we are likely20:40to face20:42a declining amount of resources20:46oil for example being the probably20:49being the first one uh that uh starts to20:52go into decline20:54uh i i find it difficult to envision how20:57we can20:58continue to um mature um21:02ideas of colonizing march21:06colonizing mars where this actually21:10would require a tremendous amount of21:13resources21:14to do that it’s uh we need to scale down21:17our expectations21:18and to uh to start to work21:21on the problems and and21:25challenges that are more close at hand21:28uh to to to secure21:31our supply of food in a situation where21:35we21:36have less oil our food supply is21:39dependent to a very large extent21:41on uh oil and21:44oil production uh we need to secure our21:48supply of of clothes um which21:52at present to a large extent are21:54produced in21:56asia and uh in other22:00faraway countries um22:03we need to secure our supply of22:06spare parts for critical22:09infrastructure in society like sewage22:12fresh water systems and22:16digital communication systems ict22:21and power systems22:25of course so that we can transport those22:28and we need to secure the the supply of22:31of spare parts and raw materials22:33for the most important industries um22:38in in our present society and that’s22:42much more important and much more22:44critical than22:46uh trying to colonize mars because that22:48will be a dream22:51uh for that can be um become a real22:53reality for a very small22:55number of people22:58so it seems that you sort of take a23:01position that23:03we can’t take for granted the23:06sort of luxuries of a modern world which23:09maybe are water and sewage and23:12transportation23:13ground transportation abundant food23:17but these things are actually23:21fragile or the systems that produce23:23those23:24uh sort of reasonable basic needs of23:28of living in the modern world are are23:31fragile23:32and or at least maybe franchise not the23:35word you would use you would say they’re23:36unsustainable and at some point these23:39systems are going to start to23:41break down due to for example23:44peak oil or some other resource23:47um depletion event23:50um i i actually um uh prefer the word23:54fragile um the systems23:57in themselves are uh are fragile and24:00that my background is from business24:03um business strategy change management24:07rather than from uh environmental24:10disciplines so um i i like24:15um the the um um24:18the word fragile here and it’s um24:21it’s obvious that if you spend or as24:25as we have done uh in in the western24:28society24:29we we have spent um the past24:32um 50 to 100 years in building a a24:37society that is almost24:41entirely dependent on transportation24:45and the supply of inexpensive24:48oil and and we’ve we faced the prospect24:52of24:53receiving less of that commodity uh24:56our fragile systems may24:59is likely to start to break down yes and25:02like it’s interesting how you said25:04because transportation is often the25:07uh target of much scrutiny with regard25:10to25:11um at least environmental sustainability25:14and the recent covert event has25:18presumably disrupted transportation the25:21most of all industries25:23in the you can see photographs of25:27vast car parks of aircraft at heathrow25:31and um25:32uh jfk and other big airports um with25:35just you know planes on the runway25:37um or at least the the they’ll keep one25:40runway open for25:41the odd flight but um the others are25:43parked up and25:46um how does this covert event25:50which um you know some people could say25:53was unexpected but to other people they25:56would say25:57was expected they just didn’t know when25:59it was going to happen26:00that this type of mass disease26:05contagion event where we have to shut26:07down26:09much of the world to keep it um26:11contained26:12how how has this changed your thinking26:16if at all um26:19as you’ve been because you’ve been in26:20this field for a while26:22um have you had a significant change26:24because of covid26:27and no i i haven’t changed26:30my way of thinking i26:34i’ve i took kovid as26:38an example in the book to26:42describe how governments have failed to26:44prepare26:45for a development26:49or a disease that was26:53predictable and to some extent we didn’t26:57know when but as you said we did know27:01that it was likely to occur at some27:03point27:04so so and despite this27:09uh countries have reduced the27:12preparedness27:13in in different ways uh reduced the27:16stock27:16of uh of a ventilators27:20of reduced stock of27:23of other necessities um27:27pharmaceuticals um etc27:31and we haven’t at all uh prepared27:34for this type of situation in in27:36industry27:37um companies have reduced their um27:41their stores um of of27:44of goods and they have become27:47increasingly27:48reliant on um on27:51just in time deliveries uh which which27:54which is uh creates a further problem27:56when countries close down27:59and uh and their production doesn’t work28:02and and supplies from from other28:04countries and28:05and even within your own country don’t28:08work as28:09as as you expect and and many um28:13experts have i realized that we have28:16probably28:17driven this development a little too far28:20and we need to28:21to um28:24reduce our our dependence and on others28:28and become more reliant in ourselves but28:31they have we haven’t started to do28:34to discuss uh the investments that will28:37be necessary in order to28:39rebuild um the28:42production resources um within our own28:45countries and28:46that that we have exported to28:50uh low-cost countries and and the uh28:54challenge of financing28:58uh that buildup that will will be29:00necessary because29:01it’s not just a matter of of deciding to29:04to uh29:05um produce less in uh29:08or import less from from china29:12and produce more at home we need to29:14build the resources29:15that are necessary to make that possible29:19yeah so i guess that lack of29:24robustness or resilience um29:27that you you mentioned with regard to29:30covid29:30becoming clear where a stockpiles of29:33medical supplies29:35uh or ventilators and things were not29:38available29:39which if if you’re going for efficiency29:42those stockpiles often don’t make any29:45sense29:46if the event in which they would be29:49called into use29:50is very low probability but29:54if you if you take in regard those29:57those low probability events but with29:58high impact30:00then suddenly those stockpiles start to30:02make sense and then30:03you actually have a covet type event and30:06you call upon them i mean it’s am i30:08thinking about this right that the30:10that as you drive to efficiency you30:12often30:13remove your um resilience essentially in30:17the form of30:18stockpiles or buffers and things like30:20this30:21yes um over the past decades30:25we have um or companies have30:28uh removed many of the buffers uh that30:32existed previously and countries have30:33removed30:34even even more of them30:37and in many respects we30:40are dependent on30:43daily supplies coming in from30:48across the world and that’s of course30:52uh not a big problem as long as all the30:54systems30:55work and are in order but30:59and each one of of the um31:05the problems that that may arise may31:07have a very low probability but we also31:09know that31:11now now and then something happens that31:14um31:16that changes or or disasters happen31:20that uh cause uh problems we have wars31:23and we have31:24have um diseases and and other things31:28that31:29um uh that create uh31:33temporary in most cases problems for us31:36and and we have also the prospect of of31:40uh developments that are permanent like31:42uh31:43probably the client in all production31:46that’s31:47likely to start as early as the next few31:50years31:51and so so um and in31:54in this type of situation where there is31:57a31:58large uncertainty of about32:02uh many things uh it it’s not very wise32:06to remove all the um32:10all those security um32:14aspects and and all the um the buffers32:18that exist in our uh our society32:23and rely totally on a system that has to32:27work perfectly day in and day out32:31so i guess are there has there been much32:34research done32:35or implementation done on economic32:39measures of resilience32:42in that if you32:45you most of our typical economic32:47measures of companies32:51tend to favor your your earnings today32:55and you they tend to be short-sighted32:58and if if you are the ceo you make the33:01decision33:02to to get rid of your stocks because33:04it’s just costing you33:06you money um is is there a move to33:10include some sort of metric of of33:13resilience33:17i i can’t answer to that33:22um clearly33:25what i’d i’d like to say is that um33:27countries33:28apply the goal of33:33economic growth and they have33:36governments and the national banks and33:39other institutions that that33:43are there to to33:46drive economic growth and and make sure33:48that33:50we’ll take care of our financial33:51well-being they look to33:54a level of growth and the level of33:57increased efficiency in the economy of34:00one or two percent34:01per year in in some countries like china34:05growth has been higher but that has34:09growth in in china and some other34:11countries has also declined34:13um over the past years so34:17and the cost of resilience34:20and the cost of sustainability34:23and the the cost of making the economy34:27less34:27fragile would be to34:31reduce growth and to34:34to not being able to34:37uh achieve the uh one to two percent34:40of increased efficiency uh every year34:44so so that’s34:47and and that that can’t be done without34:50really planning for that type of event34:53because34:54it’s it’s uh our entire economy our34:58entire society and35:00and our entire mindset as individuals35:03are geared towards the uh35:07continuous growth i mean people wouldn’t35:10uh invest in education and35:14spending uh four years at university35:17um if there wasn’t a prospect of35:21uh gaining something from it and and35:24making a profit35:25over the long term from from having that35:28type of education and that’s only an35:30example35:31when you buy your house when you buy um35:34other things the way you plan your35:38your private economy and35:41it’s based on an assumption that you35:44will35:46do better next year and the year after35:49than you are doing today and you are not35:52planning for a situation or most of us35:54aren’t planning for a situation where35:56where we’re not going to36:00do as well uh five years from now36:03as we are doing today and if we change36:06that mindset36:07and we start to think that that36:11improvements are not possible anymore36:14uh you you they start to evaluate36:17re-evaluate36:18um a lot of things uh and and36:23that doesn’t uh that can’t happen we we36:26need to36:27reevaluate things and we need to build a36:30new economy36:31that within which it it will be possible36:35to uh uh change their mind mindset36:38and do without economic growth or or36:41with a36:42with a smaller economic growth36:46yeah i mean could it be i mean is it36:49cross-cultural36:50but people and what i’m thinking is is36:53there36:56like something in the human spirit which36:58kind of requires this growth model and37:00that maybe37:01we we kind of behave like this uh37:04because of sort of some evolutionary37:06reason and it’s37:08it’s built into our dna um as a species37:12hey i’m speaking out way outside of my37:14knowledge area37:16well um i don’t37:19think it’s built into our dna37:24i mean uh37:28native people um37:32well um are live in small37:36villages and they don’t uh necessarily37:39expect37:40uh growth every year or37:43that they live in the same way uh year37:46in year out37:48uh generation after generation but37:52as soon as we start to organize37:56countries and we start to organize37:59economies38:01in in hierarchical fashion38:04and and and so on there is uh there38:07seems to be38:08a tendency uh a drive to build38:12those economies uh in a way that38:15favors uh ongoing growth38:19and this also creates an increasing38:21complexity38:23as um38:26as historians have noted and that38:30an increasing complexity of of of38:32societies38:33which tends or has had the38:37effect that that uh38:41previous societies many previous38:43societies uh38:45have collapsed due to largely the um38:50increasing complexity that has has been38:53created38:57yeah yeah i mean it’s39:00it’s always like something we could39:01maybe study in in sort of different39:04different cultures or maybe take a look39:06at sort of39:08somewhere like the soviet union where i39:11don’t know what their growth figures39:12were um39:14sort of in the sort of final 20 years or39:17so but39:17my understanding they were significantly39:19lower than that what was going on39:21um outside it and39:25um how sort of the people were39:27responding39:29to that where sort of industrial39:31products were39:33the same every year um you know you go39:36to39:37someone like poland and you see the the39:40old vehicle39:41that they made in that country and it39:43was in production for39:4530 years or so whereas39:49outside that in a sort of high growth39:52um sort of western world but whether39:54like sweden where you know volvo brand39:56and every um eight years or so they’d be40:00coming out with a new model with40:02substantially new features and um40:05uh power and fuel efficiency and how40:07sort of people respond40:09under those those different models40:13um so i guess um40:16sort of zooming out again on on to the40:19book40:20um you say a handbook40:23for change leaders young and old40:27what do you mean by a handbook and40:30who is a change leader yes40:35as people at present or most people at40:38present40:38don’t envision a need for40:42any major change um40:45there isn’t a drive for40:48large-scale change and people don’t40:51have not taken in how our present40:55society works40:56or how we need to go about changing41:00society and to a new situation where we41:03can use41:04less less resources41:08so in order to41:12to move towards a new city situation a41:15lot of people41:16not only you and i but many people out41:19there need to41:22understand these things and and41:26start to to change their41:30mindset and change their behavior and41:33towards41:35the change process that needs to be41:38initiated41:40and of course41:44that that type of the type of change41:46that we are talking about41:48here can’t be achieved by a few41:51experts uh or a few enthusiasts41:56uh that really take it upon themselves41:58to to try to change41:59society on a large scale the change that42:03we42:03that that will be needed inevitably in42:06order to42:07transform europe to42:10carbon neutrality by to 205042:15as the eu has set as a goal or42:18in order to transform um42:22our society to a reduced42:25supply of oil and will need42:29very large investments and they will42:31need42:32very large changes to the way that we42:35produce things42:36to the way that we live our lives and to42:39the way that we consume42:42so it is necessary42:45that many people start to42:49take in this information and and to42:52learn about the the challenges42:56and start to understand43:00the type of change that we need to go43:02through and43:03this is of course um nothing that can be43:08it’s not a message that i’m happy to43:11convey43:12to um the listeners of of this podcast43:16or to the readers of my book43:18it’s not not something that i i’m43:20enjoying43:21talking about um43:25it it’s it is a sad uh message43:28uh and it’s something that that uh43:31but but we need to take it seriously and43:33we need to43:35um to rapidly uh43:38start our change process uh on43:42on a scale that is relevant it’s not43:45about43:45you and i buying a few more um43:49locally produced uh43:52jars of jam or participating in some43:56some uh car sharing uh schemes44:00instead of buying our own cars uh it’s44:04it’s much bigger than that and we need44:06that there is a a need for44:09strategies prioritization of44:13activities in different different areas44:16and structured change programs44:20to go through with with these things um44:24in his uh address to the uh44:28climate meeting um the cop meeting44:32recently uh prince charles he said that44:35that countries need to go on a44:38wall-like footing which44:42is the first time i heard someone else44:46um except myself and44:51express it in that way that that44:55the transformation that we need to go44:57through that we need to go44:58go through uh is much larger45:02and that the new approach to the45:05to the change uh has has to be applied45:10yeah because i mean you as a45:11professional change manager45:13probably know more than uh something i45:17but the i’m always quite surprised at45:20how slow it can get to45:24make a transformation within45:28a large company of say45:31a hundred thousand people that45:33implementing some kind of new45:35change program can be um like be quite45:38disheartening you know45:40uh sort of a couple months in because uh45:43it45:43you know it can feel like you’re sort of45:44um pushing against a brick wall45:47and um i mean this is a large45:50organization but um45:52when you come to you know a country’s45:53economy or the world economy45:56you know if this is um so vast that um46:00the the the amount of effort required is46:04can feel very overwhelming and then if46:06you said um46:07prince charles was talking about a46:09war-like footing46:10i was thinking that so over world war46:13two world war ii was only um46:15six years at least um yeah 1939 to46:191945. but the amount of46:22you know uh societal change46:25technological change um your country46:27border change46:28um in those short years is uh46:32pretty immense so uh while you know46:37starting world war iii is clearly uh in46:39no one’s46:40favor um it does suggest46:44that um human society is capable of46:48of radical change but under those46:52that very um uh very dangerous condition46:57or46:57uh where where the country or the world46:59feels like it’s under extreme threat47:01and um presumably we were all united47:04under a single goal47:06and that um maybe maybe that’s what what47:09helps if in that sort of war setting47:13yes i often use47:17a few different large-scale programs47:21development and change programs as47:23examples47:25of of the the type of change that is47:28possible47:29when countries um47:33um focus their resources on a particular47:37goal47:38uh it’s amazing what can be achieved47:41in a few years time when47:45uh when there’s an awareness of47:48the uh the goal that needs to be reached47:51and47:51the the the resources that need to be47:58need to be used in order to achieve that48:02goal48:02uh what the three examples i i often use48:06come from48:07the united states the first one being48:10the48:11transformation of american industry48:14overnight virtually from market48:18economy in 1942 to48:21a planned economy um48:25where all or almost all48:28of of uh american industry was48:32geared towards supplying um48:35military material for uh48:39for for the um allied forces and48:42the uh volumes that were produced48:46from 1942 to 1945 were tremendous48:50in terms of tonnage of ships and and48:53the number of aircraft and and the48:55number of48:56tanks and of course that’s not the type48:59of of49:00production that we’d like to see more of49:02but but as an example of a change49:05uh uniforms uh production of uniforms49:08and49:09boots and and everything as an example49:11of change49:13this is a very good examples of what can49:16be achieved49:17and the second development project49:21that i i49:24tend to use is the the marshall plan49:28which was put in place49:32by the united states in order to help49:34europe recover49:35after the second world war and that’s49:39another type of of change and another49:41type of of um49:45of um mobilization of resources49:50for uh for the greater good of49:54of society and the united states did49:56this in order to49:58help europe recover because50:01in large parts of europe people hadn’t50:04enough to eat and people had to many50:07people had to live50:08on less than 1 500 calories per day50:12so so they starved and in only three50:16years50:16um to a large extent through the the50:19marshall plan and to50:21activities that were supported by the50:23marshall plan50:24um the uh50:27uh economy of europe or the economy50:30of european countries were put back on50:34the the right track and and um50:38the program could even be uh finished50:42one year before it was planned to50:44because50:45the the results were so good in terms of50:48economic growth and50:50and um other effects50:53that it had so that it was um50:57so it could be finished um and and the51:00third51:01example of a large-scale development51:04program51:05uh is the um the apollo program51:09uh that um51:14that involved uh over 10 years51:17almost 10 years um 400 000 americans51:21in the effort to send a man to the moon51:24and51:24bring himself safely back to earth51:29and um that was a tremendous effort51:32as well in terms of system development51:36um all aspects51:40of the uh the program all aspects of51:42space51:43space travel had to be covered in this51:46within the program not only i mean it51:50wouldn’t51:50have made any sense to to build a rocket51:52if you didn’t have the control51:54um center in houston um51:58the launching ramps uh the the52:02the huge building uh that was needed in52:04order to52:05uh assemble the um the rockets and and52:08the52:08vehicle that that was used in order to52:11to52:12to um move the the52:15rocket from from the52:18house where they they built it or the52:20building where they built it52:22uh to the um launching ramp52:25so so that is an example another example52:28of a52:29tremendous effort that that shows and52:31indicates52:32how how much um can be achieved52:36if countries pool their resources52:39towards a a particular goal and52:43these three examples are not the only52:46ones that exist throughout history of52:48course52:49we have germany uh bill rebuilding the52:53eastern parts of germany after the52:55reunification52:56and further back in time we have for52:59example53:00venice equipping and building53:03the fleet of of ships for the fourth53:06crusade53:07uh around the year 1000 i i think it was53:11or no the in the year 120053:14which involved the building of almost53:18100 ships in only53:21a year in the small city of of53:24venice with only 100 uh53:27inhabitants uh which which was a53:30tremendous um53:31achievement at that time uh so so we53:34have a lot of examples53:35where uh countries where cities where53:39um where53:42humanity have has pulled53:45re resources towards a a53:50high level goal and they have made it53:53possible to achieve that53:55and at present we haven’t even started53:59to to develop54:00the uh systems and the the drive the54:03change54:04that we need in order to create a54:06sustainable society and54:08reduce the fragility of our present54:11economy54:13so i guess on that those those five54:15examples you gave us54:18they were all at a time where i t54:20technology was54:22substantially lower than it is today54:26i mean the the one you said um in a54:28slightly modern era was the rebuilding54:30of uh east germany54:32which presumably that’s i mean in the54:341990s54:36but um even like the the apollo moon54:38program you know they landed in 196954:41and you know most of the design work was54:44occurring54:44substantially before then and you know54:46microsoft as a company didn’t exist54:48until 1975.54:50and so how is it that despite54:54back then the tools they had were54:56substantially less than ours54:59that um today we we don’t seem to be55:02replicating that55:03despite having it in some ways a bit55:05easier than they did back then55:08we in some ways we may have it easier55:11but in other ways we have it more55:13difficult55:15the aspect of complexity i think is a55:18is an important um55:21thing and it has made life55:25or it has made change more complicated55:28every year55:30that goes our society becomes55:33increasingly adapted to doing more55:37of the same thing and to continuing to55:39drive development55:40in the present direction our present55:45production and distribution systems are55:46tremendously efficient55:48we have improved them very much55:51over the past uh decades and55:56and we have really our industry has55:59really been56:00successful in56:03driving this development forward and we56:05have done it to a large extent56:07with the use of digital tools56:10and but this use has also56:14increased the complexity complexity56:16means specialization56:19and the level of specialization has56:21continued to increase56:23and with digitization56:26specialization has increased even56:28further56:29so we have been able to drive our56:32development much further than any other56:35society56:36throughout history through uh the56:39application of advanced systems56:41new materials more specialized materials56:45and we are now developing metals and56:48alloys of metals56:49that are56:52intended to be used for various special56:55specified purposes and it’s56:58and that is a great asset57:02when we plan to drive development57:04further in the same direction as we are57:06doing now57:07but it becomes uh57:12great difficulty and a great liability57:15um57:15this uh complexity uh when we want to57:18change things57:19because each one of us is more57:21specialized than we57:22than people have been before and we we57:26were good and very good at a much57:30narrower set of tasks than than57:33was the the situation uh57:36only 10 or 20 years ago57:40so so that creates57:43uh makes change a much bigger bigger57:46challenge57:49so we are and by we i mean as a global57:52community we have all become57:53experts at a micro level57:57and then we’re simply pushing58:00the incremental change upon those58:03small areas that we focus on and no one58:07is zooming out and58:10taking that bigger picture of you and58:13saying well we’re58:14incrementally approving something that58:16is58:18fundamentally sort of a local optima and58:21we really need to58:22radically change such that we can start58:24to move towards a58:26a new optima which is ultimately higher58:29than the one we’re currently on58:31does that make sense58:35yes um the uh the global economy58:38is without doubt the most complex58:42um creation of mankind58:46it’s um tremendously uh58:52well geared towards58:56doing everything that that people are58:59doing at present and59:01everyone within the the global economy59:04whether you’re uh uh working in59:07production or whether you’re a59:09researcher or you’re59:10you you um you’re a manager of a big59:12company59:14and gets rewarded59:18within uh in some way59:21through the the various flows of of59:23money and and59:24other um goods and and other things59:29that uh that are created through the59:32um global economy and it’s an amazing59:35system59:36it’s uh really i mean59:40if you understand it and and59:44i i i stand in awe59:48and uh and uh even even when i think of59:52of the complexity and and the fact that59:55this system59:56works on a daily basis and and gives59:59seven billion people or uh a large share60:02of seven billion people um that daily60:05bread60:06and much more than that uh at present60:09but it is a difficult system to change60:13uh60:14and it it will be a great uh60:17challenge to change it but it’s it’s the60:19type of perspective we need to take60:22and we need to to i mean this this60:25idea of more people becoming change60:28leaders60:29it means that people need to work on60:32different60:32aspects of this um large system the60:36global economy national economies60:38local economies and build up a new way60:42in which we can organize60:45production distribution and60:49so that people can lead good lives in60:51the future as well60:52and that is an extremely tall order i60:55know60:56and it’s a really big challenge to uh60:59to do that but we need to start and61:02there there is61:03actually no way of of uh going about it61:07or avoiding it61:12and that there seems to be appetites in61:15the wider public61:17for this topic or at least more so with61:20time61:21in that um greta thundberg is uh61:25swedish and she seems to61:28have um caused61:32a lot of people to uh run protests61:36in the streets around around the world61:38uh including61:39in the uk and united states and uh61:42well beyond and61:46but how i sort of sometimes think how61:49much of a productive use of time is this61:52in that um61:55[Music]61:56having an awareness of something is one61:58thing61:59and then choosing to use your awareness62:01to make other people aware62:03and disrupt their their daily activities62:05um62:06is so so as part of sort of a handbook62:09for for change leaders62:11is there a place for this kind of62:13protest and sort of62:14um minor disruption or is it more that62:18people should be focusing on62:21uh more concrete actions that lead to62:25um steps with regard to62:28technology or economic research or other62:32things62:35i think it’s it’s necessary if62:38that people protest in various ways62:42but we need to take those62:46or channel those protests uh in a62:48productive way62:50uh towards action uh it doesn’t help62:53to protest it doesn’t help um to62:56continue to62:57to uh lament environmental damage and uh63:01and the lack of sustainability63:03in our present way of life we need to63:06take action63:07and we need to start moving towards63:11a better better solution and the bet and63:14the more sustainable and resilient63:16society um that’s that’s63:19the um63:22the situation we’re facing i think uh we63:25need to take in63:26the magnitude of um63:30this set of challenges that we have63:32ahead of us and63:35the change must be be led i i think63:38not by sustainability experts but63:42but by people understand industry and63:45who understand63:46change um when63:49when um63:53when franklin d roosevelt uh63:57during the second world war um64:02changed the american economy to war64:05production64:06he didn’t appoint a military as the64:10head of this of of the64:14uh government agency that um64:18drove the change and and procured all64:20the material64:21and and the uh and organized the64:24production he didn’t64:25think that that the um general64:28was the best one who could do that64:32even though it was a type of war64:35effort instead he appointed a64:37businessman64:38a person who had been a manager who had64:41been the64:42uh procurement uh director64:46of csn roebuck so64:50and who knew american industry inside64:52and out64:53and i think that’s an example that’s64:56uh that we need to to learn from uh65:00governments can’t continue to treat65:04the the um transformation to65:07sustainability65:08and and resilience as a sustainability65:11challenge65:12because the problems may be that that65:15the65:15uh that society is not sustainable65:18enough65:19but the challenge is to transform65:22industry to transform65:23production to transform distribution65:26and to to build new transport systems65:30um and that those and in order to to do65:34that65:34you need um the the competence of65:39of a very experienced business managers65:42uh65:42who can build those uh those new systems65:46so you might suggest we would find these65:48people within65:49um some of our our largest uh65:52industries and companies they might well65:54have other people with the skill to do65:56this65:56and if we set them loose on this65:59challenge66:00we we might be very uh pleasantly66:02surprised it66:03is always suggesting well uh66:07yes the only way to to solve a problem66:10is to apply66:11the um the skills of the people with the66:16with the most knowledge of um66:20of the issues at hand and the66:23the ones who are most skilled at66:26changing66:27production and distribution are66:29obviously business managers66:32and other people with a business66:34business background66:36yes yeah yeah i agree and66:39i guess for yourself matt what got you66:42into this topic era given you’ve written66:44uh66:45you know a large book on this um it must66:48be reasonably important to you66:50to spend that time yes i’ve66:55written seven books now um or66:58perhaps eight um67:02on this topic and i’ve i’ve dug deeper67:04with every book67:06and um found67:09new interesting uh aspects of these67:12challenges67:13that i mean in any in any67:17area with any issue67:20that is as important as this uh the67:24usual67:24situation is that there are67:28um kilometers of of67:31bookshelves filled with different books67:34on different aspects of67:36of uh67:39quite narrowly defined problems so67:43so the fact that i’ve written eight67:46books on67:46on this uh topic is not uh it’s not it’s67:50not a very big production67:52when we look at the tremendous67:55breadth of the challenges that lie ahead67:57of us67:58so but for me i’ve been working for68:0230 years as a business consultant68:06and i’ve looked into many of these of68:09the areas68:10and i’ve worked with companies in in68:12many different industries68:13uh on very a lot of diversity of68:17subjects68:18so um i think i’m i’m one of the68:22persons um in the68:26in any country that that could um68:29understand68:32a large share of of the the problems68:36uh that the companies and countries68:39will be facing through this68:43this change and i took it up upon68:46myself in 2008 to start68:50to look at what68:55or or actually i started with this in68:562004 but i68:58started writing the first book in 200869:00and69:01and i started to unravel the69:04complexity of these challenges in the69:07first book69:08global energy transformation and and the69:10continued with the business aspects69:13in the business of global energy69:16transformation69:17and later uh i looked at the69:21transformation of production and69:22distribution in69:25circular business models which was69:28published in 201869:30so i i’ve spent quite a lot of time69:35um analyzing and and69:39looking into the various aspects of this69:43change69:44and i i can’t stop69:47writing until i’ve reached some type of69:51um69:52[Music]69:54of until i’ve succeeded in in69:58getting more people to understand what69:59this is about and and to accept70:02that we have a tremendous challenge70:03ahead ahead of us70:08and over that career have you noticed a70:11shift70:12in um the public’s perception of these70:15ideas70:16yes very much um when i started70:20to write um there was70:24very little awareness that70:27any type of change in this direction70:29would be necessary70:32um and70:35people were i mean many peop70:39some people uh paid lip service to70:43the the thing that we need to change and70:45and70:46they they said they were uh pro change70:50and so on70:51but very little was was done and i70:54didn’t receive70:55much support uh when i when i had70:58meetings with um71:00people in different positions uh71:03i i graduated gradually managed to71:07to build some support and um i worked71:10with two71:14members of the swedish parliament um in71:17from71:192011 i think to71:212013 and we wrote71:25a motion to the parliament um71:29and so on about large-scale uh71:32energy transformation so so um71:35i’ve had i’ve met people who have taken71:38an interest71:39and who have tried to to support and to71:41to do a part of71:43of of uh pushing the matter forward71:47and it’s it’s there’s a big difference71:50today71:51as we we see the growth of71:54electro mobility uh the71:58still um only 0.572:02of all cars in the world are electric or72:04hybrid72:05and the um the72:08the change to electric mobility would72:11take 500 years uh overall72:14uh to change global car fleets uh if72:18it was would be done at this72:21and pace are 1.2 billion cars and there72:23are present72:24seven million electric and hybrid cars72:27so so a very small share72:30of of cars are still um72:34electric but uh and and there’s no72:37system ready yet for for the72:40transformation72:41of um heavy truck heavy transportation72:45so but um the the it is much easier72:51today to get people to um to agree that72:55there’s the need to change72:56we have seen the success73:00of uh greta turnbull in um73:04in approaching world leaders uh with it73:07with her message73:09uh and i think it will be easier uh73:12gradua it will gradually become easier73:15uh73:15for people to accept that the um73:19change that lie lies ahead of us is a73:22is a large-scale transformation and a73:25challenge73:26that um73:29people up until now have not really73:32realized the size of um73:36so so i’m i’m optimistic uh when it73:40comes to the73:41the opportunity to um get through with73:44this type of message and uh73:47the mindset of people is much more73:48geared towards73:50change now than it was but there is73:52still73:53a lot of of ground to be covered73:56uh in terms of of understanding the74:00complexity and the74:02magnitude of of the change that we will74:05need to undertake74:08and could you speak to so when you’re74:10doing projects74:11uh within this era how typically are74:14they they financed74:15in the um if the the economic return you74:19know he’s speaking a lot about economic74:20growth previously74:22i mean is is there economic return that74:24um74:25is um interesting to the type of people74:28who would invest in projects74:29or is that a struggle and74:33now that’s uh that’s a struggle74:36actually because even though74:39uh companies are building uh74:42an increasing number of charging posts74:46for electric cars and some other74:49investments are74:50are going on it’s74:54still very difficult for companies to74:56make a profit from74:59electric vehicle charging and that’s75:02probably going to continue to be75:05difficult75:06because with the growth of75:09fleets of electric cars uh it’s75:12there will be a need for more an75:14increasing number of75:16charging posts and the time it takes to75:20charge a car75:21or a truck or or any vehicle uh75:24is too long compared to the revenue75:28that’s made75:28from the charging for the company that75:31operates75:32the charging infrastructure so that’s an75:34example of75:35the difficulty of getting75:41achieving profitability in in these75:44new systems the the the business models75:47for building and financing and and75:50operating these um new infrastructures75:54have not become uh successful75:59uh yet and and there’s a lot of work76:02that needs to be done on that76:04and the same is true for for the uh the76:07financing of the uh76:10of the rebuilding of production and76:12distribution systems76:14building new factories closer to to76:16markets76:17in uh western countries um76:21and and other other investments that76:23need to be made76:26it has been relatively easy to to76:29finance76:30the move to to low-cost countries76:33and but it’s much more difficult to find76:36the financing and find the uh economic76:39rational76:40uh behind the move back76:43to countries where where labor is76:47more expensive and where or all all76:50types of resources are more expensive76:52and still get um76:56get make production and77:00and well business is uh profitable77:05and and speaking to um electric vehicles77:08and as you said77:10to uh at current production levels you77:13know we’re looking at 500 years77:14to replace the existing um77:18conventional vehicle fleet if if you77:22were advising77:23say a large car company77:26i mean what would you be advising them77:28because it’s easy77:30for for someone in the public to say oh77:31just make electric vehicles77:33but if you already have you know several77:36plants around the world77:37making internal combustion engines uh77:40and each of those plants77:41you know was maybe a billion dollars in77:44investment with77:45uh several thousand people’s jobs in77:48that in that plant77:50and you you know you built that77:54facility with an expectation that it77:57would operate77:58for a certain period of time and78:00customers are willing to buy the78:03conventional vehicle and operate it78:06i mean it’s it it’s not an78:11uh a trivial uh challenge to to say oh78:14well you should shut it down and make78:15electric vehicles78:17um particularly where they say that um78:21the maintenance of an electric vehicle78:24is78:24potentially far lower than a78:26conventional vehicle78:27and a lot of the profit is coming78:29through the the maintenance the ongoing78:31maintenance of a vehicle78:33um with with the uh the manufacturer78:37so i guess it’s kind of like if you are78:40advising78:41um some auto executive what would you be78:45saying78:47well that’s that’s a really good78:51question because78:52it78:56it shows all78:59the the difficulties in this79:01transformation79:02in79:06technology development situations79:09throughout history79:10governments have always or almost always79:14at least79:15taken a very large79:18share of the financing through the early79:20stages of the development79:23now we have moved over to79:27a system79:30where the market is expected to79:34provide the financing for for79:38all kinds of of um development in79:41or at at all stages of development79:45and that is not realistic79:49governments need to step in79:52and in the way that the us government79:56has has done for a number of different79:58technologies79:59such as uh the development of computers80:02the development of the internet uh the80:04development of80:06of aviation and airplane technologies80:09and space80:09technologies through the apollo program80:13and nuclear power80:16and other uh power tech80:20technologies and and the way that80:23governments80:24have done earlier in in the development80:27of the um80:28of telephony um of80:32fresh water sewage technologies and80:35and systems and also as they80:39did in order to boost the the80:41development of80:43of um car use and80:46and uh the increased growth of80:49of uh car use when when80:52um countries started to motorize their80:57armies80:58uh they they which81:02created an amend tremendous growth uh in81:05in uh for for the um uh car industry81:09because it81:10it made vehicles a lot81:14less expensive and and the armies81:17required81:18better easier maintenance and and more81:21reliability81:22for vehicles and so on so these things81:26are roles that81:29governments have taken historically81:33in a lot of different technology81:35developments81:36and governments will be needed81:39and it will be necessary for governments81:41to finance81:42uh the development in the uh in the81:45these early stages of the transformation81:48and81:49they need to build to start to build81:52the systems for e-mobility81:55and the other parts of of the81:59um production and distribution82:03systems that will will need to be82:05changed82:08because e-mobility is not only82:12a matter of us buying82:15more cars more electric cars82:18because as electric vehicle fleets82:21grow and the pressure on the the power82:25grids82:25will increase and we will find that that82:28there will be a82:29an increased need for effect and82:32um a need to invest in smart grid82:35technologies82:36to control charging to the times during82:39the82:40the day and night when uh82:44when there’s a surplus of electricity or82:47when82:47electricity is at the lowest price82:52for example and that means investments82:55in82:55in power grids to expand82:59the capacity uh it means investments in83:02connectivity to uh in order to83:06be able to communicate between um83:09grid operators and uh electric cars83:13uh to to control charging of in83:16individual vehicles83:18um and uh83:21there will be a need for payment systems83:23and83:25charging infrastructure um83:28in in various forms so so these83:31system development needs and83:34need to be taken care of83:38and at present it’s seen as a matter83:41only of individual families83:46or households and companies and83:49and some um public organizations83:53buying an increasing number of cars and83:56soon a small number of of lorries84:00and other transport vehicles as well84:04but a systems approach needs to be taken84:08and it we can’t expect84:12the market to to finance84:15all the aspects of electro mobility84:19that need to be um taken care of84:25so so we’re kind of sometimes deluding84:27ourselves when we think84:29that some of these breakthrough84:31technologies were simply84:33an idea from the private sector that was84:35financed by the private sector that84:37actually84:38there was a substantial84:41at a minimum research level from84:44governments around the world which84:48then got this thing into widespread84:51adoption84:53yes governments have taken different84:55roles84:56in this in the different developments85:00and they have taken the different roles85:02because they have85:03understood what roles they have85:06had to take it’s not it has not been a85:09matter of85:10of a coincidence or chance85:14that they have happened to to support a85:17certain85:17technology85:21when at least not not85:25usually because when railways were built85:30governments realized that they needed to85:33uh85:34to invest in in tracks and they needed85:36to invest in in signal systems and85:39uh in um85:42in locomotives and cars and they needed85:46to build stations85:48and and it wasn’t until much later85:51that they started to expect some some85:54level of profitability from85:56from these investments they were made in85:58order to develop85:59countries and in the case of of86:02space technology um for example through86:06the86:06apollo program and subsequent programs86:09um86:10these investments were not made uh86:13with the mind to uh making a profit from86:17from space travel or to86:21to spin off new materials86:24from the development projects that were86:26run they were made in order to uh86:29to establish in that case the united86:32states as the leader86:33in the in the space race during the cold86:36war86:36and and so on and86:40and when it come came to the development86:43of86:44aviation commercial aviation in86:47the united states for example the86:51american government um developed86:55very very um86:58they were very very aware of which types87:00of subsidies87:01and and um research and development87:05programs that they had to finance87:08and and a lot of them were for for87:11the development of military aircraft but87:14these developments in the intern spilled87:17over87:18to the civil aircraft uh87:21industry and and they made it possible87:25gradually for for um87:28for um the87:33airlines and and uh at transportation to87:36uh to grow basically87:40yeah i guess sort of a question would be87:43like is there this sort of competitive87:45nature87:46that we need to inject into um87:50the tackling of these crises87:54uh or problems do you you envisage and87:57with that so so if you could have a88:01so so if the cold war led to strong88:04development88:05in um aerospace and led to88:08the americans going to the moon like88:11is there a way in which we could sort of88:14frame88:15some of these problems such that um88:18there can be a88:20harness that competitive instinct if88:23that’s being quite powerful88:24historically yes88:27i think so i don’t have the uh the88:30solution but i88:31you need to raise awareness and88:34competitiveness88:35is one way of raising awareness um88:40i think it it’s one reason why88:44um sweden is the third88:47uh third is the88:50third country uh in the world uh of88:54in the in terms of uh sales of88:57electric costs i think is to a large89:01extent89:01because the norwegians have made such89:05uh great progress um and89:09we norway has has developed or they have89:13had um electric cars and and89:16sold electric cars in norway since uh89:19the olympics in lillehamer in 199489:23when a norwegian electric car think89:26was launched and so they have built89:30awareness of electric cars and now that89:32they have89:33uh the government has subsidized89:37electric cars and they have supported89:39this development89:40in different ways i think to some extent89:43that89:43that the so to speak89:47rivalry between the nordic countries and89:51uh sweden and always within the denmark89:53and so on89:54uh has played a role89:57in um propelling the development of90:01e-mobility in sweden and and we are90:03looking to to norway and and90:06saying that how can it be that norway is90:10making so much progress in this uh90:12uh respect when uh90:16we have to do at least as as well uh90:19because we90:20after all we have our car industry90:23with volvo and we have truck industry90:25with90:27with volvo and scania and and we have90:32other industries whereas um90:37so so we we tend to feel that that we90:40shouldn’t be90:41behind our neighboring countries in in90:44such an important respect so i think90:48that that type of rivalry has has90:51made our politicians make the uh90:55subsidies and and it has made90:58uh the swedish public aware that the91:01progress is being made in norway91:03and we don’t want to be um behind91:07or too much behind uh in an in a91:10discipline that91:12we see as basically um91:15one of the um one of the good uh par um91:19one of the competencies of of sweden as91:21a nation91:23that’s interesting and that how that91:25sort of competitive nature has been used91:27in a in a positive sense and perhaps i91:31did i was reading something91:32a while ago about how91:36um it was around solar panel production91:39and how cheap chinese or chinese91:43manufacturers of solar panels were able91:46to91:47export to the united states on very low91:49tariffs91:51which was leading to91:53[Music]91:54u.s domestic solar panel producers91:58um essentially being not able to compete92:01uh with the low prices and i’m not sure92:04if a tariff was brought in or or not92:06um but sort of getting a dynamic where92:10um the united states and that and china92:13are competing with regard to who can92:14produce the most92:16uh sustainable technologies um92:19would would certainly be uh very92:22fruitful for for the92:23for the entire planet it sounds yes92:26absolutely um and the the uh92:31growth of china as a production um92:37as a production center for the entire92:40world92:40is a challenge and a threat92:44to a lot of industries92:47and in a92:50in a for an industry like the automotive92:53industry92:54with in which uh europe is very strong92:58there is an obvious apparent threat um93:02in that battery production is93:05is growing rapidly in china and and93:08europe is lagging behind for example93:12and that china is is the center of93:16development of of93:17many other aspects and and many new car93:19models come from93:20from china and there is a93:23a clear risk that the european car93:27industry which is a tremendously93:29important93:30industry in many many parts of europe93:32like93:34where um93:37in some places 20 of the population93:41are directly or indirectly dependent93:45on uh car production that93:48that um countries will93:52will uh lose market share companies will93:54lose93:55market share to chinese competitors and93:58that um93:59um europe as a whole will94:02uh lose out in the competition against94:05china94:06it is really important here that uh94:10european countries and european94:12companies94:13mobilize resources to stand up against94:16china in this area and94:20to drive the the development here94:22forward and build up94:24not only markets for electric cars but94:27also production resources94:29for electric cars and trucks and94:32that we um we don’t let94:36this um opportunity to to94:40transform our automotive industries94:44and slip through our fingers94:47and um and94:50leave us uh poorer uh in the end94:54than we were at the start and as you94:57also mentioned94:58um the the cost95:03or the the production content95:06of an electric car is much lower95:09than the production content of95:14diesel or petrol car which also mean95:19is a challenge in itself even if we95:21could maintain95:23all of car production in95:27the present locations in in europe95:31and the united states the um95:35the uh the car or the automotive95:38industry would probably shrink95:40due to the fact that that uh95:43there are fewer parts and less less uh95:47work to be done to produce uh uh95:50an electric car and or an electric truck95:53so so that’s a challenge in itself if we95:56also look at the the challenge that um95:58china or and other low-cost countries uh96:01may take over an increasing share of96:05this production uh that is a96:10uh a challenge on top of that and and uh96:13we we simply can’t neglect96:16um this uh this strategic96:19um uh threat to um to europe96:23and to the united states yeah that’s96:26very interesting96:27so sort of when we were talking about96:29aaron advising an auto executive96:31it’s it’s almost that if you don’t adapt96:34and embrace this potentially better96:37future96:39your customers will um96:43end up buying a competitor whether96:45that’s96:46from a new upstart brand within um96:50your own country or potential upstart96:53brands from96:55um china um which96:59can leapfrog in the if they didn’t have97:02um an internal combustion plant and97:06could go straight into electric vehicle97:08production97:10and uh yeah essentially what tesla has97:13done97:13it obviously tesla being a united states97:16company97:17um well that minded city tesla97:20tesla inherited a toyota plant i think97:22they they repurposed a uh toyota factory97:25conventional factory uh for for electric97:28vehicles97:29um i guess a tesla could be a nice97:32example to97:33to touch on in the they they have rolled97:36out their own infrastructure their own97:38charging infrastructure97:40to to go with their vehicles um97:44do you see that type of approach as97:47being97:48sustainable for the future or should be97:51should there be more97:52collaboration such that with a petrol97:54car or a diesel car97:56i can drive it into any fuel station97:59operated by98:00bp shell or whoever and um98:04there is full compatibility between98:07all the vehicles can go to any filling98:09station98:11um but at least with tesla we seem to be98:14creating tesla only filling stations98:16for tesla cars i mean how can we98:20should we be doing that or if not should98:22we how can we break out of that98:25well i don’t think at this point98:30that question could be clearly98:33answered because it’s business98:35development98:37is a matter of of experimentation and98:41different companies try different98:43approaches98:44and of course from the perspective of of98:47the98:47general public98:51and the perspective of nations98:54we all want as few charging posts as98:58possible98:58and we need we would like each charging99:01post99:02to be possible to use for by every99:06every um car owner99:09we in principle we wouldn’t like99:12that to be 10 different charging posts99:15beside each other99:16and and you had to to choose99:21only one of them for for the charging of99:23your car and there are nine different99:25others99:26that you couldn’t use and that would be99:29a terrible waste99:30waste of resources but99:33on the other hand if it is difficult99:37to finance the expansion of99:40of charging infrastructure it’s99:44also uh it’s also a challenge to to99:47develop the business models for99:50for making a profit99:54from uh charging infrastructure so99:57if it if you can’t if you can’t make it100:00via100:00make the business viable then you need100:03to find some other way of doing it and100:05and tesla’s way of selling a premium car100:08and offering a premium100:12charging alternative as a bonus100:16with buying that premium car is100:21a possible way uh that there is no way100:23to100:24to to to just100:28like an architect draw up the100:31future landscape of of electro100:35mobility and and dictate what types of100:38of business models are going to be used100:41in100:42in different areas and and how uh100:45charging infrastructure is supposed to100:47be built in order to100:51to to100:54create the best structure for for all of100:57us100:57it it will be a matter of100:59experimentation and101:01if governments don’t create the the101:05um the rules and the um101:09the um geography101:12for the development of this um101:16of electric mobility it is likely to101:21companies will have will need to to101:24develop101:24viable business models as best they can101:28and no one can say exactly how101:31this is going to turn out in the end101:36yeah i guess the the key point there101:38what you’re saying is101:39experimentation will be how we can101:43discover what business models work101:46i guess ties into where in your book101:48title101:49you’re saying a handbook for change101:52leaders101:53a place anyone can101:56participate in this is to run some of101:59those experiments102:00to uh either join a company102:04trying some kind of experiment or102:07found your own which is is going to to102:10try it out and then from that102:13competitive landscape102:16certain ones will start to stick and102:17start to be102:19productive for society yes102:23um and and i think it’s102:26important to emphasize that this102:30lack of of knowledge and the lack of102:33ability to foresee102:35how development will pan out and on our102:38part102:39is not um does not mean that nobody102:43could102:43could foresee how a development could102:46could be driven uh when102:50governments started to invest in102:52railways and when102:54when uh the american government started102:57to102:57uh started the apollo program103:00they started by analyzing the103:03uh the different aspects of103:06of say space travel and what types of103:10what systems needed to be built and so103:12on and103:14in in the case of the apollo program um103:17it only in a few months time they103:20they they made the103:24um they drew up the map103:27of of the program and and identified the103:30key103:31uh key aspects of it like get the103:33control103:34center and and the the launching ramp103:36and the the the rocket103:38and the moon lander uh etc uh103:41and they they they found analyzed103:44the ways that they needed to finance uh103:47development and and103:49how they could pay for the different uh103:50parts of it uh103:52and the same has been been the case in103:55in103:55all the other cases all the other103:58situations where103:59governments have have taken the leading104:02role104:02in in development of railways or or104:06telephone assist systems or104:08or sewage and the fresh water systems104:11that’s and so on104:12so uh so the only player104:16in the economy that can actually104:20not foresee how development will104:23will go but but104:27actually uh drive development104:30in a certain direction and make the104:32decisions that are necessary104:34in order to create viable systems and104:37make it possible104:39for companies to contribute in a104:41productive way104:42to build the various parts of the new104:45systems104:46those are governments104:50and it sounds like you’re suggesting104:53governments104:54can lay out an architecture104:58which we believe will be105:02productive and work well and105:06others can then plug into that105:08architecture or105:09well essentially flesh it out and and105:12get it to105:13be from what was a blueprint into105:14something that’s reality105:16but that architecture systems105:19architecture105:20where those key decision points are105:22identified and the key105:25um infrastructure is identified105:29um is is necessary such that you105:33you don’t end up um boxing yourself into105:36a corner that is105:37uh not going to be very productive105:40yes in the case of of the apollo105:44pro program nasa uh105:47defined in very much detail105:50uh each and every part of the systems105:53that were105:55going to be built before they were105:57developed and procured105:59in other cases i assume i i have don’t106:02don’t know those in detail um but106:05i assume that the specifications106:08of for example railway locomotives106:12were not at all to the same detail you106:16the government’s decided which or106:18british rail106:20and the similar government106:23owned companies or government agencies106:26specified perhaps the the gauge of of106:29the tracks and106:31and other key parts and uh of the106:34systems but106:35the exact design of the locomotives and106:39the cars106:40were down to to um106:44to to the the different uh uh106:48companies that would offer these uh cars106:51in the market and they they then sold in106:54a competitive106:55environment they sold um locomotives and106:59and the railway cars and and uh107:02signal systems and and other things107:04based on107:06the specifications that were available107:09to um the operators107:10uh that were in those those days uh107:13nationalized107:15railway companies so so107:18uh that the fact that that107:22governments have taken a role in in107:26organizing uh interaction and organizing107:29and taking becoming the architects of of107:33the107:34uh the systems doesn’t mean that they107:36need to107:37um control and determine every detail107:41of the the systems they they can107:44they have uh in the past in all these107:49examples facilitated competition and the107:52growth of competition and the growth of107:54of very competent and resourceful107:57companies107:58in these various industries108:03yeah it really is fascinating and108:06i guess we we’ve mentioned transport a108:08lot during this conversation108:10as i think it’s a very concrete example108:14that108:15humans have been using for um108:18[Music]108:19almost all our history and108:23makes it very tangible the ideas ideas108:26you’re talking about because108:27whereas you talking about sort of growth108:30models and things can be108:32a little abstract i guess108:35what what is that what are the key108:36points you would like a reader to take108:39away108:39from from reading your book108:43um well108:47i think well obviously the key point108:50one of the key points is it goes it108:53comes back to the title of the book108:55the blind guardians of ignorance um109:00makers and leaders uh in countries and109:03and uh in the world109:07need to shed their blindfolds and take109:10in109:10the reality of the change109:13that lies ahead of us um109:17and and people in general who read this109:21book109:22who are not uh high-level decision109:25makers or managers109:27and can facilitate this in the same way109:30that109:31greta thundberg and other activists have109:34have made decision makers aware109:38of the sustainability challenges109:42in the past um109:46so so politicians109:49and companies are not likely to109:53discover these things unless voters and109:56customers109:58make them aware so so that’s110:01so and what i also would like110:05people to take away is110:08an understanding of that these things110:12are fairly straightforward110:16it there is a complexity and there is110:19there are a lot of of of details110:23to take in and you need to understand um110:28a lot of aspects of of the change and so110:30on110:31but more people need to110:34come to grips with this these challenges110:38and and understand the uh the size and110:42the complexity of of the investments and110:44the uh110:45the efforts that need to be undertaken110:48because the present110:50uh random um110:53situation a random approach where110:56different small-scale projects are run110:59in different areas with no111:03overall map of the entire change111:07uh that that is going to be uh driven111:11will not work and it can’t succeed um111:15there is a need in all these111:19in such a situation to111:24to have a plan to have a strategy for111:26the change111:27in the same way that governments in the111:31past111:32have had a strategy for the expansion of111:35telephony or expansion of railways or111:39space travel governments need to to111:43develop a strategy for the for the111:46transformation111:46and they need to make resources111:49available111:50to cover up for for the um111:54areas and to to to111:57drive development in the areas that112:00cannot be driven by the market forces112:04and at the early points of uh112:07development most areas most112:10investments cannot be driven by the112:14market forces112:16because there are not enough customers112:18to pay112:19for for um the services112:23like the the the large-scale expansion112:26of of112:28charging infrastructure and112:31the expansion of112:34power grids in order to facilitate the112:37charging of112:38millions of of electric uh112:41vehicles or the the um112:46build-up of um of112:49connectivity and communication solutions112:53to create the smart grids that will be112:56necessary in order to112:58control charging and and manage uh113:01various parts of of the113:05of the power grids and and the113:09electric mobility systems113:13great great thanks for that and i think113:15that point or with regard to113:18how the enormity of the transition113:22how we perhaps to easily113:26think oh we’ll just flip a switch and113:28then suddenly we’re a sustainable113:31society global society113:34where the good point you said about how113:37at the current rate it will take 500113:39years to replace113:41all of the conventional vehicles with113:43electric vehicles113:45and actually if you just drive down the113:47road drive down a113:48busy road you know and yourself sort of113:52just map113:53the percentage of electric vehicles113:57to to none um suddenly you know where i114:00drive around it’s uh114:02it feels like less than one percent um114:05yes114:06may i interrupt 500 years114:10that’s the current rate of the114:11transformation of cars114:14to electric cars uh in in the114:17the case of heavy transport114:20transportation and and um114:22vans and and so on um the pace is much114:26slower than that so we’re looking and it114:28it114:29has barely begun so we’re looking at a114:32rate of transformation114:34of maybe a thousand years or or more114:37than that114:38for for the heavy parts of the trans114:40transportation sector114:42yeah i mean we we don’t have the114:44technology right now my understanding114:46for114:46for long distance heavy trucking114:50over australia raw united states or114:52canada no114:53not even long distance uh heavy trucking114:57in uh114:58within europe i mean uh uh115:02there are initiatives and companies that115:06develop115:07electric road systems and and115:10there’s actually one in in close to115:13where i live115:14that does it but um115:18but those are at the much earlier state115:21stage of development uh than the uh115:26development of electric cars and car115:28charging115:29so so we’re looking at a115:32time perspective of of a number of years115:35until we have115:37the first examples of115:40electric road systems that can115:43facilitate continuous charging of of115:46trucks115:47uh and reduced the the need for115:49batteries and115:50the first um115:53the first trucks by uh tesla115:56and the the company uh nikola for115:59example116:00that are developing116:04heavier trucks are going116:07to be launched in on the market um116:11in the next few years but but so far116:13there are only116:15in the from from the transport116:17perspective there are vans and smaller116:19transport vehicles116:21available but but it will take quite a116:24long time until116:25the we have really competitive116:30transport uh vehicles116:33uh that can be implemented on a large116:36scale116:38and um that is that is116:42not not to say that that the electric116:44cars have116:45become competitive in116:49in in the broad from a broad perspective116:51yet um116:52they are still 10 000 euro more116:55expensive116:56compared to petrol and diesel cars and116:58they are116:59not so much more expensive117:03in in some countries due to subsidies117:06but117:08the fact that there are subsidies117:09doesn’t detract uh from the fact that it117:12is117:12actually uh an increased cost to society117:16uh for every um every new electric car117:20that uh hits the road so it’s um117:24there is a very high investment need117:28uh on the part of society and on the117:30part of117:31of households and on the part of117:33companies in order to117:36to drive this this development forward117:40yes that’s very interesting and that117:42electric road is that one of those ones117:43where117:44they run like a high voltage117:48cable over the road like like a train117:51line117:52and then the truck has some kind of um117:55connector that they raise and then they117:57uh touch onto that cable and then run118:00the118:01motors off of that well uh there are118:04um examples of118:07of pantographs and cables118:11in the air um118:14that are uh contemplated but118:17there are also uh the company close to118:20where i live they they develop118:22tracks in the road charging tracks um118:25high voltage uh charging tracks that are118:29going to be entirely safe and for people118:34uh despite the high the high voltage uh118:36because it it’s uh118:37only going to be possible for for um118:41vehicles to take electricity off118:44of the tracks but it’s um118:48this these electric118:51tracks may be um there for a couple of118:54kilometers charging a small a battery118:58in a truck or in a car and119:01and and then the car can drive using119:04their batteries and then119:06uh a distance further away119:09uh there is a track again which119:12recharges119:13the back batteries once more with and119:16this119:16would reduce the the need to have large119:19batteries119:20in the vehicles because um119:24so far at least batteries are both119:28quite expensive and there’s also um119:32a risk that119:36lithium will become119:41will become two scars to support the119:44entire119:45growth of of electric mobility so119:49electric tracks may be necessary or it119:52may be119:53a way or way to facilitate um119:57the the the possibility of of um120:01driving trucks over large distances120:03without having to stop120:05every 100 kilometers to recharge the120:08batteries120:09which would be um uneconomical uh in120:12from a business perspective yes120:16yes uh having your driver just sat120:19around waiting for the the truck to120:20recharge is120:22gonna quickly cost a lot of money120:25so matt’s the book um the blind120:28guardians of ignorance120:30covert 19 sustainability and120:33our vulnerable future a handbroke for120:36change leaders young and old when does120:38it come out120:41on the 8th of december great this year120:44april december 2020 so yes if you are120:47listening to this120:48um before then you’ve got to wait till120:50then until you can buy it but you can120:52pre-order it and if you’re listening to120:56after then you should just go and out120:58and buy it120:59from wherever you buy books um and you121:02should um if you haven’t already take a121:04look at the cover121:05i think the cover is very interesting um121:07i’ll put it on the um121:09the show notes with the um121:13this audio uh but uh yeah the cover is121:16uh you’ve got your um121:17world leaders all with their blindfolds121:20on121:22uh looking at the world the map of the121:24world and then uh121:26the uh the city behind has a um very121:29um polluted air like i guess is that121:33supposed to be like pollution mats121:35in the background well um i121:39i asked the um the designer121:42to create a type of ominous121:46feel to the to the cover um121:49i think it symbolizes um121:55a challenging situation building up122:00in various ways it may be pollution it122:03may be122:04just challenges of other types122:08yes and that that’s what we need to122:10remember from this conversation that122:12it isn’t simply pollution air pollution122:15there’s122:16plenty of other challenges on the122:18horizon122:19and uh we we hopefully we can avoid them122:23all if you you read the book122:25and do what it says so uh matt is there122:27anything else you would like122:29to to say uh regarding your book or122:31anything else122:33yes um i’d like to122:38to finish off with by saying that it’s122:42those these are difficult um122:46aspects of of the future that we need to122:48deal with but there’s no122:50alternative we can’t we can’t go back122:54to to the 1950s and and122:58live our lives like people did at that123:00point123:01we need to move forward and we need to123:03develop a123:04new society and a better society and a123:07society where we123:08and our children can can live um123:13good and fulfilling lives uh using uh123:16less resources123:17than we do today and that is a challenge123:21and and the123:22few people have so far seen123:26the entire complexity of the challenges123:28but um123:29um i’m sorry uh and it’s it’s my task to123:33uh123:34uh it seems to uh convey this message123:37and it’s uh it123:40it will be difficult in certain respects123:44but uh we need to move forward123:47yes absolutely and there’s no point um123:50having a blindfold on and123:51pretending that we can’t see it see123:54what’s on the horizon123:56um cool so 8th of december 2020123:59get your copy of the blind guardians of124:01ignorance124:03um matt if people would like to contact124:05you124:06um how should they go about that well124:09they can send an email to my email124:13address124:14maths get124:17institute dot com and that’s the easiest124:21way to get in touch with me or or124:24try to find me on linkedin or124:27some other social network but the email124:30address will take their messages124:31directly to me124:33great great well unless you’ve got124:35anything else to say mats124:38it’s great to speak to you ah thank you124:41no i have nothing to add uh thank you124:44very much for124:45for having me joshua and124:49it’s been a pleasure to participate