“My dream is that the Dandelion approach will be the management model of the 21st century.”
This is how Thorkil Sonne expressed his dream at the first global conference of the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) in May. The conference was held in May in Copenhagen, Denmark, hosted by Nokia Danmark and with participants from a total of 25 different countries, united in a common goal to create career opportunities to improve the life for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The conference was another step in reaching theSpecialisterne Foundation’s (former Specialist People Foundation) goal to create 1 million jobs globally for people with ASD and similar challenges.
The time is ripe for global change
We had a couple of fantastic days with inspiring presentations, knowledge sharing and cross-border collaboration, with an atmosphere clearly reflecting that the time is ripe for global change in attitude and approach with regard to employment of people with ASD. It was inspiring to see so many like-minded people gathered, dedicated to realizing the vision of creating respect and understanding for people with ASD, with a goal to get more such ‘specialist people’ into the global workforce.
A sustainable business model and strong partnerships
The first day of the conference focused on an introduction to the concept of ‘dandelion management’ and the conceptual framework behind Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation). With a very strong and sustainable business model based on numerous successful case studies, Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) introduced some key partners, such as Ashoka, Lions Club and World Autism organization. We also heard several examples of companies who have successfully worked with specialist people from through their partnering with Specialisterne, including companies such as Nokia, Deloitte, the largest Danish telecoms company TDC, and innovative IH Food from the food-technology sector.
Getting operational – replicating “Specialisterne” around the world
On day two the focus was on operationalization matters with a deep dive on the operational framework of Specialisterne and the different key elements of the sustainable business model. We reviewed cases from countries that have already started up Specialisterne operations, or are about to. We then had three break-out sessions where discussions of “how” continued. We also shared current plans to start up Specialisterne operations in more countries including Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland, and the U.S. The ambition is that many more countries – not just the Western world – will become part of the vision.
The dream of leadership in the 21st century
We’ve had a huge amount of positive feedback in the wake of the conference, proving that there is both support and confidence that it is time to change attitudes, and work towards helping people with ASD become valuable and worthy members of the global workforce. Robert Austin, professor at CBS expressed his view of leadership and innovation in the 21st century:
“Innovation needs variation…placing value on differences creates innovation. That’s the key for 21st century management.
Specialist People Conference was the first of its kind, but it is certainly not the last! Since the end of the conference, planning for starting up Specialisterne around the world has truly accelerated. Teams are now progressing the planning in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, USA, Turkey, Singapore, Dubai and many other countries.
See pictures from the conference here: