A few years back one of the multiple Belgium agile community organisations invited Bjarte to talk about his book Beyond Budgeting. Unfortunately Yves could not go. As a kind of consolation Yves bought the book. Bjarte is not working in IT and you could say that he is not an agilist. But remember that agile is about the mindset and Bjarte clearly has an agile mindset.
With Beyond Budgeting, Bjarte and his friends from BBRT have done the same to accounting as we are doing to IT and project management. When our friends at ALE2011 were looking for outsiders to invite to the conference, Yves was really happy Bjarte was among the names proposed. And when the conference organisers approached Bjarte, he did not hesitate to accept the invitation and fit a flight to Berlin into his tight schedule to share his message and experience with a bunch of enthusiast.
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
Although I am a finance guy with some HR experience, I actually have a short “IT career”. In the late eighties I headed up Statoil’s implementation of a new accounting system (Horisonten, a great Swedish system which lasted almost ten years before it was SAPs turn…). We spent half a year fighting IT on how to run the project. We had a few words for what we didn’t want, one being “waterfall”. But we had no name for what we wanted to do instead. But we “won”, and we delivered, our way. Today, what we did has a name and is about to become the new way… It is fantastic to see all the great stuff bubbling in the agile movement. There are so many similarities with Beyond Budgeting, both on what we are rebelling against and what we aspire to become.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I would probably have ended up in teaching, where my entire family was/is. In this respect I am the black sheep, but I was forgiven by marrying a teacher! I actually feel my job is a lot about teaching, although the biggest part is fortunately still about learning.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
Complacency. We get so much positive feedback on what we have done at Statoil that we might think we have “done it”. Very, very dangerous. And not very good for anything, I guess.
What drives you?
Making a difference, and a positive difference, as my Irish neighbour always reminds me about. There is always a better way (and so many stupid ways – so no fear of running dry!)
What is your biggest achievement?
Not mine, but our, and still ahead of us, the day when Statoil has taken full advantage of all the great stuff we have decided and are implementing. Beyond that; being a happy and still relatively healthy guy with a great job. What more can you ask for?
What is the last book you have read?
Let me rather go for the first one instead, the first one relevant for my agile journey. Maverick by Ricardo Semler, many, many years ago. I was blown away!
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Why vinyl is king and digital sucks. The list is too long!
Who do you think I should ask next?
If you like these answers you might want to check out our book: who is agile