Innovation or decay?

Blame Management (Part 2)
Undocumented, but practised processes of project management

While in Part 1 we introduced ourselves to the significance of this falsely demonised topic in society and companies, it is time now to become more concrete.

This requires a common understanding of what it is all about.

Definition of terms

The English term “blame” has also been very common in the German-speaking world for some time, but there it is increasingly used in its progressive form of “blaming”, i.e. accusing someone of something. In my opinion, we should expand the definition in the corporate environment in such a way that it better fits actual practices:

“Assigning responsibility for negative events or circumstances to the lowest still plausible, but politically most defenceless hierarchical level.”

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Autumn is here

… or: Halloween in day-to-day leadership
(Part 1)

And with falling leaves, persistent rain and colder nights dread falls upon us… When I went to my car yesterday in a good mood, it was already there! She was waiting for me, unmissable, right in the middle of the door to the underground car park! That’s my door, it wanted to tell me. I would have liked to have agreed with it and run back up the stairs immediately. My breathing became shallow and my body began to make movements the mind considers nonsense, but my mind had absented itself anyway. You guessed it. On the door sat a cobweb spider, aka a house spider, altogether about 6 cms across.

Why am I telling you about my fears?

Because I think it’s time to make fear socially acceptable. Fear is a deeply human emotion that unfortunately sometimes makes us do things that don’t make sense. I often experience this in companies. But first things first.

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Innovation or decay?

Undocumented but practised processes of project management: Blame Management

Du …

Many, perhaps even countless approaches and best practices can be found for projects and for dealing with projects. Often they differ only insignificantly, which stems from the nature of things, or better said, from the nature of project management. After all, there is a certain consensus about the most important aspects and topics in this environment. Only in the weighting of the topics and then possibly in the details do the different approaches differ. However, one thing strikes you: not all the important procedures commonly used in practice are included in these descriptions. And these tried and tested approaches often make the difference between personal success and personal failure. We need to bridge this gap.

The following is a detailed and process-oriented description of one of the most important aspects of successful project work: the process of blame assignment and administration (blame management).

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Multicultural teamwork

“What you don’t want people to do to you…”

When we talk broadly about international company takeovers, joint ventures and corporate co-operations, there is an interpersonal aspect behind these economic headlines: teams that previously were often active only in their own language and cultural area need to initiate international cooperation. I have already experienced this situation in two companies (one formerly German and one formerly Dutch) and am aware of the uncertainties that the initial phase of an international team structure brings with it. The time is not always there to prevent all potential gaffes with hazard warnings. I can assure you that under the pressure of day-to-day business, people very often blunder, even with the very best intentions!

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Take one, pay one, make two from that? No way…

In my last post I wrote something about crypto currencies and blockchain, but only hinted at what blockchains can be used for and what the fundamental innovations of blockchain technology are. For me, it’s the fact that the double-spend problem is finally solved – transparently and without having to trust a central authority.

But what does that mean in detail? The easiest way to explain double spending is as follows: If you buy a book in the real analogue world [1], you pay for a book once and get a book once [2]. And only you own the book physically. If your neighbours want to read it too because you raved on about how great the book is… Well, then you have to “lend” it, i.e. give it away – then your neighbour will have it. Thus there’s only one “instance” of the book, unless you copy it yourself and then distribute it (but let’s forget that now before we do overdo it 😊).

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Can you hear me? I can’t hear you!

International Conference Calls

In international companies, the Conference Call is the easiest way to hold meetings with participants from different countries. Depending on the company’s policy, this is done as a video call (with web cams) or audio only. Both have pros and cons.

The advantage of the video call is that it becomes easier to follow what is happening, because you can see the participants talking and can recognize and interpret any emerging anger, impatience or lack of understanding earlier.

The advantage of “audio only” calls, on the other hand, is that you can take part in meetings that take place in the middle of the night or in the early morning due to the time difference, even in your pyjamas, without anyone noticing it. In addition, you can wander around the house during the meeting – equipped with a headset.  However, it makes sense to know the range of your headset, otherwise you might miss crucial dramatic moments.

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Big Brother is alive and living in Canada

…or how I learned to stop worrying and love Big Data.

For the last couple of years I have been dabbling with genealogy. My family in England has always been convinced we were related to Jack Cornwell, a 16-year-old Naval recruit who died a heroic death at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War. My mother was German so I was curious about that side of me too. Most of my relatives are dead, so I had just a few recollections of family anecdotes and a handful of old photographs to start with.

Internet to the rescue! Mormons in Salt Lake City, whose mission in life is to find salvation for their forefathers by genealogical research and ordinances performed by proxy for them, run several online sites to help you “discover your family’s story.”  The story goes that before and after the Second World War dozens of Mormon researchers photographed and transcribed huge numbers of church and public records in Europe long before anyone had thoughts about data security. There are now millions of records on their databases.

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Are we failing or learning?

Wow, 2018 was an eventful year. On the last day of the year I saw the news from OceanCleanup, a great project that first had to fight huge resistance and is now experiencing a setback. But actually this article is about Bitcoin and Blockchain. By the end of 2017, Bitcoin and many other crypto currencies had reached heights that made many dream (and some are converting all their belongings into cash (1) to invest in Bitcoin and benefit from the hype). You could also say: greed had gripped people and in 2018 the situation returned to normal. But what comes next?

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Cramping your style …

Mind the gap when entering your car

Italy, the land of lemons, bitter orange and automobilisti. Well, I confess I don’t know the names of the different Italian lemon varieties, but Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini and Ferrari have been engraved in my memory since the 60s – trained in countless breaks in the school playground, with the then absolutely hip car version of “Happy Families”. “12 cylinder Ferrari” would have been the certain game winner, if only the number of seats hadn’t been the deciding factor.

However, hardly anyone had then seen one of these sports cars in real life anyway. Even the anointed ones who drove to the Adriatic with their parents in the VW Beetle (at the back) during the “big holidays”, hardly ever saw a Ferrari, Lamborghini etc. on Italian roads. How could they? Italian roads were even narrower than German country roads and full of racing bikes, three-wheeled vans and Fiat 500s. Italian sports cars were the dream of my youth – perhaps a fiction, but technologically leading edge. What is Italy like automobilistically today?

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The fairy tale of predictability

Once upon a time there was a great king who had ruled his country for many years. He also had a beautiful daughter, who grew up with frogs and dwarves, but that is completely irrelevant to this story.

The king had learned to protect his kingdom successfully against invaders and raids and had fought many a battle. He had a big, strong army, so nobody dared to attack; there was peace in his country for a long time. 

But more and more travellers reported incredible changes in other parts of the world.  Previously unknown kingdoms rose rapidly, while others disappeared into insignificance at the same speed.

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