As in previous years, the Gothenburg conference will be organized around an opportunity for participants to be immersed in a unique live teamwork experience recently renamed, Open Assist. This important centrepiece, which runs throughout our conference, provides an exciting opportunity for teams of participants to engage directly with senior management representing a real organization (client).  The objective for the teams is to respond to the organization’s (client’s) Request For Proposals (RFP) to outline an approach for resolving a current problem the organization is facing and/or to identify and take advantage of opportunities to perform and produce “even better” results.

Through the Open Assist process the client organization receives real value for their participation, as measured by their immediate feedback at the end of the process and also, importantly, one year later.  Participant teams gain valuable knowledge and actual experience, working on a diverse multinational team, as they interact directly with, present to and get feedback from a senior management team, all in a “safe”, supportive, constructive environment of learning, sharing and enriching each participant’s experience and ability to grow their professional network.


open“: looking outside of the organization’s boundaries to get something (innovation, solutions, ideas, etc.) from external individuals or organizations in a crowdsourcing environment.
assist“: putting the client in the best conditions to achieve its objectives. In basketball, an assist (the proposal)  happens when a player (team at the conference) passes the ball to a teammate (the client) in a way that leads to a score by field goal (achieve the objectives illustrated in the RFP). It reminds the magic chemistry of Karl Malone (the second scoring leaders of NBA ever: 36,928 points, more than the legend Michael Jordan) and John Stockton (holding the NBA records for most career assists: 15,806): in the NBA, there is no other combination of passer and scorer that even comes close to Malone and Stockton.
At the conference, client is the scorer (the champion) and teams are the passer (who sets up the best conditions for the champion to make a field goal).



The process begins by inviting professionals, who are already registered to participate in the upcoming conference, to volunteer for the important role of Open Assist Team Leader, in advance of the conference. In order to properly introduce them, we ask them to provide us with a brief bio and a short statement about why they were willing to take on the Team Leader role.


The Request for Proposals (RFP) made by the Client is delivered to each participant at the registration desks. Team Leaders are provided with a package of Open Assist Overview Materials before the conference. The Client explains the key elements of the RFP during the opening session of the Conference.


Each Team Leader has 60 seconds to introduce herself during the opening session and invite participants to join her team. Participants that want to try the Open Assist exprerience can join the preferred team. At the end of the “recruiting” session, team members of a bigger team are invited to join a smaller team on a voluntary basis, to balance the number of members of each team.


In order to develop an effective proposal, teams often need more information than what is detailed in the request. Information about the request itself, the business of the client, the context in which it operates, its organization, structure and culture. A 2 hours session of questions and answers with the client held on Friday morning should help to clarify each additional detail.


The time to work on the proposal is never enough. An hour and a half on Thursday after the opening session, two hours on Friday afternoon, an hour and a half Saturday morning. These are the slots for team working. In a very short time you need to contribute in creating a collaborative team, exploring the request and making a winner proposal. This is the challenge.


On Saturday afternoon, all the proposals are presented to the Client. Each team has 10 to 15 minutes to deliver its presententation,  answer questions, and convince the Client that its proposal is absolutely perfect for them. The advice is to use few Powerpoint slides, and make them very effective.


After the presentation of proposals made by teams, the Client  people move in another room, take some time to closely evaluate each proposal and choose the one that most suits their request and needs. Then they come back to the plenary room and announce who is the winner. No prize, just glory.

The 2019 Open Assist Client will be announced soon! Stay tuned!

2018 Open Assist Client

Introducing ISPI EMEA 2018 Open Assist Client
Culture Administration of City of Gothenburg, Sweden

An international, Multicultural Port City, Trading with the World

The City of Gothenburg, Sweden is the second-largest city in Sweden after capital Stockholm, and the fifth-largest city in the Nordic countries.  Gothenburg is located on the west coast, in southwestern Sweden, about halfway between the capitals of Copenhagen, Denmark and Oslo, Norway.  Due to its strategic location, where Scandinavia’s largest drainage basin enters the sea, the Port of Gothenburg is now the largest port in the Nordic countries.

Even in 1621, when current-day Gothenburg was founded by King Gustavus Asolphus, as a primarily Dutch trading colony, which had already attracted a number of German and Scottish allies of the King, Gothenburg was an international, multicultural port city.  In fact, the city council of 1641 consisted of four Swedish, three Dutch, three German, and two Scottish members.

For almost 400 years Gothenburg has looked outwards toward the sea and the world beyond. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch, Germans, and Scots.  Dutch planners and engineers were contracted to construct the city, as they had the skills needed to drain and build in the marshy areas chosen for the city. As a maritime city of trade and industry Gothenburg has fostered close relationships and been able to exchange skills with many other countries. International contacts, outside influences and people from different cultures have always been an asset to Gothenburg, and still are today.

Gothenburg Today

Today, Gothenburg has a population of approximately 580,000 in the urban area and about 1 million in the greater metropolitan area.  Gothenburg is home to the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology.  Volvo was founded in Gothenburg in 1927.  The original parent Volvo Group and the now separate Volvo Car Corporation are still headquartered on the island of Hisingen in the city.  Other key companies are SKF and Astra Zeneca.

Looking to the Future

Gothenburg is a city with a rich heritage, but also committed to looking forward.  It is a city committed to being Green, and, in that respect, it strives to be a leader in environmental and urban development.  Gothenburg is one of the most progressive cities when it comes to addressing climate and environmental problems. Gothenburg now faces its greatest development in modern history. The city will grow close to a third by 2035. It will accommodate 150,000 new Gothenburgers, and it will build 80,000 new homes and as many workplaces. If you would like to see how Gothenburg plans to transform itself, click HERE to view before and after pictures and brief descriptions of how the city will be transformed in the next few years.

Gothenburg’s RiverCity initiative is the biggest urban development project in the Nordic region. Central Gothenburg will double in size as RiverCity grows and becomes denser on both sides of the river. By bringing the city together, creating an interface with the river and reinforcing the regional core, Gothenburg intends to build an inclusive, green and dynamic city that is open to the world.


Gothenburg Organization and Management

Gothenburg City is an organization of both administrations and wholly owned as well as partly owned companies. Total City of Gothenburg has a turnover of SEK 34 billion and employs approximately

55,000 people.  Dedicated specialized administrations (departments) are responsible for various areas relating to the whole city, such as urban planning, environment and culture. The Open Assist Client for the ISPI EMEA 2018 conference will be the Kulturförvaltningen (Culture Administration).  The Culture Administration of the City of Gothenburg is surely facing important challenges and valuable opportunities, when looking to the future of providing service support to the dynamic and growing City of Gothenburg.

Culture Administration, City of Gothenburg

The Culture Administration (Department) works to provide, support, encourage and coordinate a wide range of art and culture, available for all. City of Gothenburg businesses and institutions take an active role in the city’s development and the culture of the city of Gothenburg. These businesses and institutions are important venues for national and international visitors.  The Culture Administration’s operations are divided into three sectors: Libraries, Museums, and Free Arts and Culture. The Culture Administration’s operations are divided into three sectors: Libraries, Museums, and Free Arts and Culture. (Note that the mission of the Free Arts and Culture sector is defined as follows, “…to build and nurture networks, investigate, assess and allocate support for arts and cultural organizations, give advice, organize and market events, and provide arts education activities and supervision….”)  Within the administration, there is also a culture Strategic department, charged with the development of strategies and working methods that will lead to a long-term culture of strategic planning throughout Gothenburg, along with operational (business) support from four departments – Communications, HR, Finance and IT. Culture Administration Management has approximately 400 employees.

The leadership team for the Cultural Administration (Department), consists of the Managing Director, (3) Sector heads, (4) heads of Business Support departments, and the Head of the Cultural Strategy Department.

John B. Lazar

John B. Lazar

CEO - John B. Lazar & Associates

John is CEO, John B. Lazar & Associates, Inc. John has been an NSPI/ISPI member since 1981 and a consultant and coach since 1983. He is a current member of the ISPI Board of Directors. He consults to companies about performance improvement, leadership and management practices, communications, and organizational change. As an executive coach certified as a Master Coach by ICF since 1999, he works with leaders and their teams, shifting their mindsets, improving their practices and enhancing their performance. He received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from University of Illinois at Chicago. John lives in the Chicago area and is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.

Send an email to John:

Nancy Crain Burns, CPT, PhD, PMP

Nancy Crain Burns, CPT, PhD, PMP

President, Crain Burns Associates LLC

As a Certified Performance Technologist, she leads individuals, teams and organizations through strategies, identifying opportunities that achieve effective solutions.

Dr. Burns became a certified Project Management Professional certification while working for General Motors. She taught project management at the university level, served as a registered education provider representative and applied concepts that will be presented. She has presented at several ISPI conferences.

Send an email to Nancy:

Koen Lagae

Koen Lagae

Lean Organization Consultant

Lean Organization Consultant, freelance and in cooperation with Lenovys.  20 years of experience as manager in a Japanese company and Lean consultant – Padova, Italy.  “My mission as a management consultant in Lean Organization and Performance Improvement, is to help organizations to fulfill their potential and to take care of people’s growth and wellness. I focus on the managerial and strategic aspects of Lean.”

Send email to Koen:

Sharne Van der Burgh

Sharne Van der Burgh

Business Coach

I love facilitation and have been a business coach now for 16 years, working independently and as an Associate within businesses in different industry sectors – mostly with top teams and Boards but also with mid-level managers.  I have experience developing mentoring programmes and supporting businesses to design and implement their own mentoring programmes.  I have designed many learning events and programmes for a wide range of businesses.  I am British – but I have lived and worked in the US and now live and work in Poland.

Send email to Sharne:

The Simulation Case Study (now Open Assist) was a great, interactive way to meet people, try out new ideas, and get practice making a pitch to a potential client. I met great people and thoroughly enjoyed the valuable experience. I hope I am able to return again in the future.Lisa A. Giacumo - Boise State University

Open Assist Team Leader - First time participant, Bonn, 2016


Bologna – 2017

City and Municipality of Arezzo, Italy

Never Again Ruanda – 2016 Bonn experience feedback

NAR - Never Again Rwanda

Once again, it has been a pleasure working with you.  We look forward to gaining more skills regarding Performance Improvement from your side. … I hope that we will be able to share with you the outcomes of the entire exercise at the ISPI EMEA conference next year

Bonn, 2016

IETT - Istanbul Electric Tram and Tünel Company

From the beginning to the end of the program, we both learned and enjoyed at every step.  … We witnessed how performance oriented your program is.   You and your team’s enthusiasm and also the professional quality of the participants, all made the event a real learning experience. … Of course, the case proposals will be of great help for us to check-up our performance initiatives from a fresh outlook.
It was an absolutely unique and very valuable event for us!

Istanbul, 2015

Al Majmoua - The Lebanese Association For Development

Thank you very much for the opportunity and for the case study.  We are so excited to review the groups’ proposals and start working on an action plan.

Warsaw, 2014

EQE - National Center for Educational Quality Enhacement

Thank you and the whole team that was working with us!  Patrick, special thanks to you, as your primary interest in the NCEQE has moved this interesting project forward!  This endeavor was quite timely for the Center, as it will help us in our plans to move the organization forward and develop its capacity.

Tbilisi, 2013