Co-creative leadership – from MBO to principles – a Discovery at Burning Man

Leadership is about getting things done. It used to be about maximizing proftis, but the winds are changing: sustainability “the Greta movement”, social entrepeneurship, quality of life and ways to make the world a better & smarter place though digitalization. To make this happen faster we need a new form of leadership principles and practice´s.

Young leaders expect the people they work with to take on accountability and provide passion. When their organisations are growing at a double digit growth these expectations may lead to failure if not guided by leadership practices. 

The principles for leadership should reflect the society, expectiations and undercurrents of our society. At this point the intentions of “a good life” are changing rapidly from purly financial motives to others, such as living a life in a sustainable and responsible way. Add an integrated social media and a young generation that is brought up by having it all “now” – leaders, both in public institutions and business are facing a paradigm shift of what good leadership is. Leadership styles that are built upon “management by objectives” will be less effective as it circles around one goal: maximizing profits. A good read on these are “Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Google”*.

I am returning to Burning Man with the intention to explore leadership principles and practicies. 

For many Burning Man is unknown or a tale heard about. So let me give a short description. For more information, visit Burning Man is in a way a movement, a playground for creative exploration. It started out in San Franscico in the mid -80ties. Now 80.000 people join for a week in september every year to build a town, Black Rock City, in a sand desert outside Reno, US. The town consists of a huge number of camps, has its own infra structure and even a small airport. All the activities are gudied by 10 principles, amongst them “leave no trace” is one of them. In the city there are no cellphone Connection, so all planing and logistics must be done before heading out in the desert, a huge challenge.

Working with leaders as an author, trainer and consultant for almost 30 years has led my hunger for new ways of leading organisations to new places where I can learn and share. 

Burning Man, with its sprawling playground of creativity at one side and the need for hard core planning on the other, has provided me with a new source of knowledge. After my first Burning Man experience (2016) I wrote the book “Co-creative Selling“** and after my second, the year after, our Company created a learning experience method called e-trainings. This, my third visit to Burning Man, my ambition is to explore and document new ways for leaders to create viable principles for their leadership and practices for execution.

If you are comming to Burning Man I´d like to meet with you

My intentions are to discover the driving forces behind the leadership of burningman participants, leaders and founders, to boildown a as simple as possible framework of principles for leadership, ways to communicate, to set goals/ambitions and engage the Community of participants.


Based on the philosofies of Burning man, the 10 principles, “7 habits”of Steven Covey and “reinventing organisations” by Laloux – I will form a thesis of “co-creative leadership”. I will interview camp leaders, participants and have in depth conversations during the BM and compare with the thesis.

The results will be published in various ways: Articles in social media with “how to” guides and a book, working title “Co-creative leadership, Foundations for leaders in the post generation z economy”

My intention is conduct 20 interviews and interview 2 of the founders of burning man, to connect with business leaders who have been to burning man Before and learn how thy have implemented the Learnings of burning man in their leadership. 

To be honest, i am not sure what will come out from the projects, my previous experiences of Burning man has led to things i could not imagine. I expect this to do so aswell. Setting an intention for the next step in my research and sharing it with others will serve as a platform.

See you at the playa!

Yours Jens Edgren, +46707998800



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