Author Archives: olerygg

About olerygg

Social anthropologist turned OD consultant. Born in Norway and has lived/worked/studied in Europe, Asia and the US, but now lives in Minnesota. President and founder of Corporate Elements (

It’s time to lead

We are changing how we work, lead and serve.

Our job as strategic advisors is to help organizations radically improve their cultures, leadership, productivity and results. Over the last few weeks, we have all experienced what disruption really means and feels like. This has also affected the work we do at Corporate Elements, with public and client workshops – our lifeblood – being postponed indefinitely.

So we have a choice to make: Do we go into crisis mode, hunker down and work harder to make the current business model work? Or do we assess the new reality and find new ways to think, work and lead?

As for most small business, cash flow becomes an immediate concern. And with the prospect of the current situation becoming the new normal, we have to pivot. Quickly. Our mission has not changed, but you will see immediate changes in how we work with you and support your organization in driving productivity and success.

Now is the time for all of us to lean in and provide active leadership and support. It is a time for us all to evaluate the health and effectiveness of our cultures, how we work together and get results. It is a time for being, to quote Patrick Lencioni, “exceedingly human” and focus on effectiveness over efficiency.

We recognize that this is a difficult time for many. We celebrate a cheer for healthcare workers and others who are on the front line. And we are here to help. Over the next few weeks we will be launching several new solutions and free or discounted offerings. You will see several changes in how we work, lead and serve you and your organization:

Corporate Elements – Supporting your leadership and productivity

  • Executive and leadership coaching, assessments, change management and business consulting.

We are building a new website and a new online sales platform for assessments, learning plans, coaching support and facilitation services. All solutions will be delivered remotely and virtually, while ensuring effective implementation and execution in a safe and confidential setting.

SkildU – Building true learning organizations

  • Experience-driven online learning programs for leaders, teams and sales professionals, peer learning groups, virtual workshops and retreats, learner-as-teacher skill building.

We are launching a new online learning portal in April, using the proven benefit of short, experience-driven online courses combined with virtually facilitated peer learning groups and workshops. If you have ever thought of providing ongoing learning and skill building for your employees and leaders, we provide a turnkey solution for you to have it up and running within days. We make customized learning easy!

Trive – Building thriving teams and cultures

  • Organizational planning, strategy and design, human process and systems alignment, productivity and engagement, employer branding and employee retention.

We are experts on organizational culture, change and development. All organizations have a culture, but few are ready to define and manage it for improved results. We provide an effective roadmap and provide a strategic playbook to share with all employees at every level for optimal alignment and results. Now, more than ever before, do we have to work together to bring purpose, creativity and healthy collaboration to how we work and lead.

Our job as strategic advisors is to help you (and everyone who depend on you) during this time. Together, we can manage fear and bring a new drive and purpose. We find ourselves in a period that, whether we want it or not, will define us, our organizations, and our relationship with customers for the foreseeable future. Some will not make it, others will prosper.

Change is hard, but you don’t have to go it alone. We will help.

Over the next few weeks we will offer a series of free and discounted workshops and learning opportunities. We are also offering support and guidance in the areas of organizational strategy, culture, team collaboration, learning and performance.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can support you in any way. Or if you simply could use someone who is ready to listen.

Corporate Elements LLC opens new office in Fargo

Founded in 2012, Corporate Elements LLC is opening a new office location at 2605 42nd St S in Fargo, in the Preference Employment Solutions building. There will be a celebration and ribbon cutting by FMWF Chamber ambassadors at 9am, November 20, 2019. A light breakfast with bagels and coffee will be served.

Read the press release here.

Organizations in our area are working hard to be productive and stay competitive domestically and abroad. The need for innovation, collaboration and alignment across functional areas is constant and unrelenting. Technology is changing and everything is moving faster. The quest to find qualified workers and decision makers is ongoing.

Many businesses are left in a state of ongoing change management. Over the past several years no stone has been left unturned: digitizing analog systems and processes; implementing leadership development programs; improving employee benefits; launching new HR systems, CRMs and ERPs; hiring an army of project managers and green belts to coordinate projects and create efficiencies; recurring employee engagement surveys to better understand employee needs and wants.

While progress has been made and much has been accomplished, overall employee engagement remains low and most organizations find themselves fighting every day to stay competitive and fulfill their potential for growth and profitability. And they know the pressure is not going away, with a looming recession and the greatest technological upheaval since the Industrial Revolution on our doorsteps.

We think it is time to go on the offensive.

Corporate Elements provides a complete solution for leaders and organizations that want to take charge of their future and build a thriving, productive and positive culture. Our suite of offerings builds on 20 years of research and work to improve organizational performance and culture domestically and abroad.

We hope to see you at our ribbon-cutting event!

How effective are your meetings?

Most of us spend a lot of time in various meetings. If we add up the time and cost of having every participant in every meeting, it is substantial.

With the ever increasing complexity of business, projects, roles and individual expertise in our organizations, meetings have become the preferred way to drive collaboration and projects. But meetings often have a tendency to focus more on communication and information sharing than melding individual expertise, working as a team and making good decisions.

Information sharing is better done in other ways, and not at meetings. Spending time making sure everyone is up to date on all relevant information during a meeting is a waste of time and money. This is better done in preparation to or following up after a meeting and can be done more effectively via email or in other ways.

So are your meetings valuable and effective?

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, you probably have a good meeting culture:

  • There is a clear reason and purpose for each person attending the meeting
  • Minimal time is used for recap of previous meetings and what was decided at that time
  • All attendees actively participate in discussion and making decisions
  • Meetings are lively and people are not afraid to challenge process owners
  • Important decisions are being made
  • Meetings are not focused on reporting on items without discussion, or checking off a list of agenda items
  • There is open and direct discussion on issues and decisions
  • Consensus may not always be reached, but everyone commits when decisions are final
  • Participants hold each other accountable, allowing the senior leader to engage in the discussion
  • Meetings end with a clear call to action or summary of action items, responsibilities and timelines
  • After the meeting, leaders inform their teams of decisions and the way forward.

What else would you add to this list?

Insanity, Leadership and Running

As I was mentally preparing to run the Fargo Marathon this weekend, I came across one of my most favorite quotes: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results” (often attributed to Albert Einstein).

Training for a marathon takes both time and commitment. It also takes a solid training plan and being able to stick to it. I’m not very good at that last thing, sticking to it. I like to run hard, fast and long, even if the plan says I should run short and take it easy at times.

This year I joined a running group. These runners are just as passionate, driven and dedicated as me, but most follow a plan. Joining the group has made a world of difference to me. Even when I’m not physically running with the group, I compare and align my training and performance to theirs. We’re doing this together and we’re sticking to the plan.

I work with leaders and teams, helping them to become more effective, focused and aligned. Most leaders and teams have a plan and they know what to do. But they often get busy, distracted, focused on performing individual tasks and completing projects on time rather than following the plan. They focus on their individual areas and goals and lose sight of organizational results.

Following the plan and achieving results takes discipline and commitment on every level. It takes clarity of vision, healthy conflict skills, commitment to goals across functional areas, and everyone holding each other accountable to their commitments. Only then can the team or company successfully execute on their strategy. Only then can the team build true magic and achieve the most important organizational goals.

The forecast for the marathon this weekend is for rain and 20-30 mph wind. Wish me luck!

Corporate Elements announces new learning partner Vado

For Immediate Release

Fargo, ND (November 10, 2018) – Corporate Elements, a premier provider of comprehensive Talent Management Solutions for business, announces new workplace learning partner, Vado.Vado logoVado offers 380+ micro-learning, handheld and laptop compatible courses in the topics:

  1. Management development
  2. Leadership development
  3. Employee business skills
  4. HR compliance

Vado’s award winning courses will be delivered via client organizations’ own learning platforms, or by Corporate Elements at no additional charge.

“We are pleased to partner with Corporate Elements to provide our unique learning content that is changing the face of learning”, comments Cindy Pascale, Vado’s CEO. “Research shows that 70% of development happens on the job, and Vado is the only commercial e-learning courseware provider that helps the learner apply the contents of the course on the job. Our mobile responsive, micro-learning courses are exactly what employees are looking for.”

“Short, targeted content is very popular with our clients and their employees. With Vado’s content, learners are not only gaining new knowledge, but clear action to apply what they learned on the job,” commented Corporate Elements owner, Ole Rygg.

Rygg states: “Research shows that effective workplace learning is short, relevant to the learner, targeted and can be immediately applied on the job. In today’s talent economy, managers and employees understand the need to continuously work towards improving their skills and building new ones. Yet most training is event-driven and transactional, unable to provide effective learning. Moreover, a lot of training does not provide measurable improvement to the bottom line. In short, it can be a waste of time and resources.”

“Vado’s courses are short, interactive, targeted, and mobile compatible. They involve both the learner, their manager and peers in the on-the-job learning process. The courses are exactly what your managers and employees have been looking for. No more boring online learning!”

Organizations are invited to review and test the new courses by going to Corporate Elements website at There is also a free in-person demo available. 


Based in Fargo, ND, Corporate Elements is a premier provider of comprehensive talent management solutions to improve culture, productivity, leadership and results in client organizations. With broad experience from 20 years of serving organizations in the US and Europe, Corporate Elements uses proven research in the areas of learning, anthropology, business and culture to improve employee selection, onboarding, learning, development, conflict resolution, engagement and productivity. Corporate Elements LLC was founded in 2012 and is owned and operated by Ole Rygg. Rygg has a Masters degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Oslo, Norway. He is a certified executive coach, talent consultant, mediator and facilitator. With his extensive experience in the field of workplace learning, Rygg works with select vendors with proven scientific methodology and results, including Hogan Assessments, Korn Ferry/Lominger, Wiley/Everything DiSC, Human Capital Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, SHL Assessments, and Vado. For more information visit 


Vado is an award-winning courseware developer based in Minneapolis, MN. Vado is changing the face of learning with micro-learning courses followed by step by step instructions on how to apply the course on the job where 70% of development happens.  To learn more about Vado’s award winning Leadership Development Learning Track, Management Development Learning Track and HR Compliance Toolkit visit 



Vogel Business Solutions’ operations and services to be assumed by Corporate Elements, effective immediately

Vogel Law Firm will no longer be offering consulting services under its umbrella and has therefore decided to discontinue Vogel Business Solutions. Services previously offered through Vogel Business Solutions will, effective immediately, now be provided through Corporate Elements LLC. There will be no interruption in operations or services. Corporate Elements is and has been fully owned and operated by Ole Rygg since 2012.

Vogel Law Firm has graciously offered to let us continue to hold the Breakfast Buzz events at their Fargo location as before. There will be good coffee and great discussions as normal, guaranteed! You may continue to register for and attend future Breakfast Buzz events as you have before. If there in the future is a change in venue, you will be notified well in advance.

Over the next few days, VBS social media pages will be retired and/or merged with Corporate Elements pages. The VBS web page has been replaced with the Corporate Elements webpage ( The LinkedIn group has been rebranded and is now “Corporate Elements: Leadership, Strategy and Organization Effectiveness.”

As the founder and president of Corporate Elements, I’m very excited to continue to serve you and your organization under the mission of Corporate Elements!

Have concerns, comments or perspectives (or if you would like to grab a cup of coffee)? Please contact me one of the following ways:

Office/Mobile: (218) 329-0836

Stay in touch!


Lead 2013 – Part 2: It’s what you know, not what you do

I have had the opportunity to work with leaders from very different backgrounds, cultures and professions. Whether I work with a client one-on-one or facilitating a workshop, I have learned to take the time to ask simple questions. Before charging ahead into the unknown territory of “what can be,” it is critical to understand “what is.”  

I have come to appreciate the value of establishing a shared foundation of knowledge, understanding and terminology.  “What do you do?” “What does a normal work day look like for you?” “Who do you talk to on a regular basis, and who comes to talk to you?” “What do they ask for?” And, perhaps the most effective question – “and then?”

These are questions that ask for specific and objective information, meant to allow for minimum bias or judgment. Slowly but surely we arrive at a shared understanding of what leadership is, what it represents, how it functions, how it is effective and where the potential may lay.

This type of informal assessment can be supplemented with information from a formal leadership assessment, which provides additional insight on leadership strengths, preferences and development areas.

This assessment phase of any coaching or development process is critical. We are sketching a map of the surrounding landscape, and building rapport and understanding along the way. The resulting map is used to plot a destination we agree upon and the road we’ll have to travel to get there.

Whys is this so important?

Imagine yourself left in a forest, without a map or compass. Which direction would you travel? Without a map of the terrain, does it matter which direction you go? How will you know if you are making headway, without knowing where you are in relation to your destination? How would you determine what your goal or destination should be?

And, if you were responsible for a group of people who trusted and depended on you, how would you make the right decisions and be able to convey them with credibility and confidence?

Peter Drucker famously stated that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Doing the right thing, traveling in the right direction, requires requires a good map. It requires knowing “what is” so that you can determine the proper “to be.”

Strong leaders are often celebrated for their accomplishments, for what they are or were able to accomplish or achieve. It’s therefore natural for  leaders to focus significant time and energy on determining how to reach organizational goals related to budget, growth, development, and sustainability. In the absence of a good map, this journey can be arduous and a heavy burden to carry.

Do you have a map? How do you define your leadership?

The truth is that no one can define your leadership. Nobody but you.

Lead 2013 – Part 1: Good leadership, common sense and purple cows

An organization requires good leaders to grow, develop and be successful. But what is the definition of a “good leader”?

Answering this question has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry, brandishing competing definitions, concepts and formulas. At some point in time, we have probably all purchased a self-help book or bought into a concept that purportedly had “all the answers.” They all come with some good perspectives and help us reconsider our existing approaches to leadership. Which is great, and always a well-worth exercise. But I think it’s safe to say that any book, concept, or article that argues to have all the answers never does.

Try to google “leadership fads” and you will end up with a long line of articles, including this one written by Steve Tobak @Inc. I found the article quite entertaining and interesting. In it, Tobak reviews some of the recent “fads” and argues that good leadership is the result of a combination of using common sense while embracing individual strengths that may provide a level of competitive advantage. This pragmatic and utilitarian approach definitely has a nice feel to it, although it doesn’t provide an answer to the question of what really defines “good leadership.”

If we all focus on our own individual strengths as leaders, combined with our individual interpretation of what constitutes “common sense” – wouldn’t we run the risk of turning into “purple cows” as described by Seth Godin in his book by the same name? Would we end up in a race where the end goal would always be to be a “remarkable” purple cow amidst all the regular brown ones? In a tough and challenging marketplace, where corporate ownership, brands, priorities and strategies have to be as effective and cost-efficient as they are flexible and in adaptable, won’t leaders and organizational leadership get caught up in the never-ending race toward one-up competitiveness?

I think they already have.

Over the last several years, faith in leadership appears to have slowly eroded in many organizations, both public and private. In important aspects, the financial crisis may have contributed to this, although the big financial institutions’ fall from grace may also be interpreted as a symptom of a broader problem of a growing leadership deficit in private enterprise. The more recent “fiscal cliff crisis” certainly provided a level of justification to the growing number of people who lack faith in our political leaders and the overall political process. In organizations across the nation, employee satisfaction and engagement is at a historical low. Numerous studies have found that more and more people are looking for alternate employment, or that they are unhappy with their current employers. The leadership deficit is growing by the minute.

So what do we do about it?

I believe that we have to make a concerted effort to turning things around, starting by taking a fresh look at our goals and priorities when it comes to the role and what we expect of our leaders in private enterprise, government, and non-profit organizations.

Because we need good leaders, better leaders. I believe anyone will agree. I would also argue that we need for people, for everyone, to have faith in their leaders. Yet for either of these to be realistic, we need our leaders to have faith in themselves and their ability and effectiveness in leading others.  Without first establishing a foundation of competence and confidence, within our group of leaders and beyond, nothing else that we do will matter.

Do you agree?

If you do, the first priority should be to find new and better ways and tools to develop and guide our leaders. Our goal should be to develop good leaders who have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to have sufficient confidence in their own abilities, who fully understand and accept the importance and value of their role and responsibilities, and who are effective in building the authority needed to leading and developing individuals, teams and organizations to enable them to accomplish extraordinary things.

Because this is what leadership is all about! It’s what makes leadership fun and so worth it.

We will return to this topic in the weeks to come, discussing what the essence and practical implications of good leadership really is. Please feel free provide your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. I welcome thoughts of disagreement even more than those who agree.

What is your organization doing to develop better leaders? What is your plan for developing your own leadership skills?

2013 is here. Now. It’s your turn to lead.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. How did you do with New Year’s resolutions in the past? Were you able to make real changes? Or did things return to normal too quickly?

Some among us spent a lot of time talking about how the world would end. It didn’t. We’re still here. Congratulations!

Now it’s time for action. No more excuses.

It’s time to fulfil your promise. It’s time to reignite your passion and your purpose.

It’s your turn to lead.

You have it in you to make extraordinary things happen. In your life, in your family, in your work.

It starts with clarifying your core values.

Align those values with your actions and the values of those around you. Small steps, every day.

We call this to Model the Way.

Next step: When are you at your best, both as a leader and as a person?

Most people describe their personal-best experiences as times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for themselves, their families or organizations. They believe in their dreams and visions of what could be. They are able to live what they believe.

Do you remember the feeling? It’s like a drug. And still it’s real. And powerful.

Some people are able to maintain this optimism and state of mind on a continuous basis. Like the people who walk in the door and instantly make an impression of credibility and respect.

That is you.

You can Inspire a Shared Vision.

This is just the beginning of The Leadership Challenge. Small, deliberate steps with big real-world consequences.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. It’s you turn to lead. The Future is Ours.

Thank you, Kayla, for inspiring this post.

Building a successful leadership pipeline – 7 things I learned the hard way

In 2010, I was hired by a European multinational company. My initial task: to engineer a program to develop their top 100 leaders and give rise to a more pronounced performance culture within the company.

It was a personal and professional challenge, and I grabbed it enthusiastically.

The company was growing and expanding both organically and through M&As, and the European economy was still doing fairly well. We had firm support from the board and senior leadership team. The leadership development program quickly took form, building on a framework of existing initiatives and programs and using both internal and external resources.

I was expecting that it could become difficult to implement a truly universal leadership program for the entire company, which employed staff and leaders in about a dozen European countries. Operating a program for leaders from such diverse countries, with different histories, cultures and languages – I knew there would be things that I would have to figure out under ways. And I was prepared for having to adapt parts of the program as it progressed and as we learned more about the effectiveness of the individual learning segments.

I was not prepared for having to completely rethink important elements that I, until then, had held to be more or less universally true and effective.

In retrospect, this was of course a good thing to have happen. I learned quite a bit over the following months. And I was reminded of several things that I already knew about leadership development, but that I at the time had come to neglect:

  1. It’s vital to have good support and buy-in from senior management, but it’s not enough.  In order to create a successful program, it is equally or more important to get the support and buy-in from local leaders at an early stage.
  2. A top-down concept and approach can work well, but can never be unilateral. An ideal leadership development program can (and arguably should) be centrally run and funded, but needs to be locally owned and operated in key aspects to be fully effective.
  3. It’s important to have accurate maps of the landscape before launching the program. It’s great to have a well-designed, well-funded and logistically sound program, but you will likely fail if you don’t include the understanding and perspectives of people on the ground regarding the learning topic. Take the time to observe and learn from the people who actually do the job and who know your processes, products, people and customers. In the case of leadership development, make sure you have a firm understanding of what leaders on the ground understand with key terms such as “leader”, “leadership”, “delegation” and “accountability”, and of what a leader “can and cannot do” as part of their corporate role and function.
  4. Make sure that all important stakeholders have the same understanding of program goals, benchmarks and timelines. You will need this whether the program is successful or not, and you will likely not be able to renegotiate this once the program is operational.
  5. Make sure you have a firm value base for the program, its benchmarks and operational goals. The likelihood of success (and program sustainability) increases significantly if your program is firmly grounded in a highly visible and operationally meaningful mission, vision, and set corporate values. This will answer the important questions that will be voiced from all levels and parts of the organization as the program unfolds – notably why, how, when and who. You need to be able to answer these question well and with legitimate conviction.
  6. It’s personal. Make it part of your schedule to visit and network with your stakeholders and constituents locally and centrally throughout the organization. Spend as much time as you can doing this, and it will always be worth it. But you should always do more. It is not the program in and by itself, but the relationships you build that will determine whether the program will be effective and successful.

Recent key indicators show the economy starting to exhibit new signs of life. That’s good news. The bad news is research shows many organizations in the US and across the globe cite bolstering leadership bench strength as a major workforce challenge.  As business begins to accelerate and companies rapidly expand their product and service strategies into neighboring countries and emerging economies, they often falter when it comes to constructing a solid leadership pipeline.

At Corporate Elements, we have considerable experience developing internal and external leadership development programs – locally, regionally, and globally. We partner with you and your organization to strengthen your existing leadership pipeline.

The Leadership Challenge® is our flagship leadership development program. It is based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® discovered through intensive research into the leadership competencies essential to getting extraordinary things done in organizations.

Contact us at (218) 329-0836 or by email at to schedule a free initial consultation.