Recently I was asked for a holiday recommendation, to which I unhesitatingly responded: Asia. ”Ooh, nah, it’s hot and dirty there” was the reaction.
Our recent experiences in Japan proved the exact opposite. The first thing that strikes you as you speed into Tokyo on the high-speed train is how clean the place is. Crowded, yes, what do you expect if you cram 38 million into a city? But the houses are spotless and well-tended, no graffiti is to be seen, and the streets free of litter, chewing gum and dog souvenirs. They say they had to remove all the litter-bins after the sarin attack on the underground, but that alone cannot explain such cleanliness.
noticed those stickers? They are proudly displayed on cars – mostly on the back
and often on vehicles like the KIA Carens and the Peugeot 807. Very rarely or
not at all on a Mercedes Benz SLK or an Audi TT. You may think: “Oha! The
latter vehicles are well-endowed with horsepower, while the former are in need
of it.” With this I counter with the Opel Tigra Twin Top, which even with
the largest engine produces a modest 125 bhp. Now you might think:
“Eureka, I‘ve got it. The latter are made by German carmakers and the
former are from countries less skilled in car making.” I counter such a
foolish assessment with a dry “Citroën C3 Pluriel”, a convertible
like SLK and TT, which is built in a country that stands for French bread and overpriced
red wine, and in terms of power potential still lags behind the above-mentioned
often sport small screens at the back fastened to the headrests, which is never
the case for the latter. To all those who now think: “The latter can only
accommodate two people, while the former can accommodate six to seven”, we
can only shout “Brilliant!”
When I was in Canada one guide gave us an important piece of advice about bears: “Black bite, brown down”. In other words, black bears can be intimidated (unless they’re with their young or cornered), so make lots of noise to repulse them. All you can do with brown – or grizzly – bears is make yourself as small as possible on the ground and pray they may lose interest. Good advice for the workplace? Not all of us are bear whisperers.
Blame Management (Part 2) Undocumented, but practised processes of project management
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.
requires a common understanding of what it is all about.
Definition of terms
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:
responsibility for negative events or circumstances to the lowest still
plausible, but politically most defenceless hierarchical level.”
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?
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.
Undocumented but practised processes of project management: Blame Management
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.
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).
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
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.
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 , you pay for a book once
and get a book once . 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 😊).
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.
…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.