In the beginning was the word…

in the end the cliché (Stanislav Jerzy Lec)

Note from the translator: The more astute reader will swiftly recognize the absurdity of the translation into English of a lament about the use of the German language. Such abuses exist in a modern world where presentation is more important than content. The Top Ten English  words for 2020 include, apart from the inevitable phrases relating to Covid-19 and video-conferencing, such memorable terms as “BLM” (Black Lives Matter), “Karen” (a prejudiced, privileged middle-aged person criticizing condescendingly), Megxit (referring to ex?-Prince Harry and Meghan). A clear indication of the applicability of VUCA everywhere. My apologies too if the text is hard to decipher due to terms beyond the vocabulary of even an American president. Nevertheless, I ask you to give Harlekin RGE a chance in English, since his appeal for a more critical examination of the words we use is hardly restricted to the German-speaking world.

If I claimed just a short while ago that ‘resilience’ had become the new jack-of-all-trades and thus joined the Olympian vocabulary of every project management expert, I must correct myself.

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Runners, tankers, balance beam and much, much more

On metaphors in politics

On a metaphorical level, television viewers in the Netherlands have had a lot to digest in recent months, especially during the regular press conferences on Corona. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and “Corona Minister” Hugo de Jonge go to great lengths to convince the citizens of their country of the urgency of the situation. In doing so, the end is laudable, but the means are somewhat confusing.

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Happiness is not a gift from the gods…

… but the fruit of inner attitudes.1

I have been working as a leadership coach for many years. Every few weeks, I go in this role to a monastery with managers who have lost their jobs. In the workshop we work on the themes of inner images, the future, failure, fear, hope and so forth.

They have been dismissed because of a personal conflict, have fallen victim to restructuring or have themselves decided to leave the company. What the participants have in common is that they previously had power over others and now have lost it. Until now, they had been used to developing visions, strategies and concepts and making decisions for others. Now, others have often decided over them.

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A bit cracked… (Part 2)

Nutmeg then developed into the gold rush of East India in the 16th century, the first significant case of drug procurement-related crime. The Portuguese, British, Spanish and Dutch waged war over nutmeg and killed not only each other but also tens of thousands of locals on the side. Anyone who has so far thought drug cartels were exclusively in Latin America may now consider themselves first-degree know-it-alls. For they now know that Pablo Escobar, cocaine trafficking and the Medellin cartel are just cheap imitations of a 500 year-old “business model”.

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A bit cracked … (Part 1)

After my contribution on Corona, hoarding toilet paper and a resulting anal-ysis of symptom-associated know-it-alls, I was asked several times to expand on this topic. I confess, it was more fun than work. Enjoy the new squad of know-it-alls and smart alecks.

Candlelight, mulled wine and cracking nuts: all these remind me of childhood, are an integral part of winter and yes, it’s Christmas time. To ensure that feel-good factor, White Christmas is a permanent feature in the department stores and on the radio Chris Rea sings his way back into the hearts of truck drivers (and their wives, of course) every year with Coming Home for Christmas.

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The turkey’s resilience on Thanksgiving

There is another magic word in the enchanted world of project management: resilience. At least that’s my impression, based on the frequency of mentions in blogs like this one, specialist portals, articles and so on. Whether IPMA or PMI, the term appears everywhere as a key ability for leading projects, but also as a characteristic of projects. Wikipedia defines resilience as ” ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis.” Brief internet research shows that no cliché is omitted here and that there is no fun in buzzword bingo because someone can always call bingo too quickly.

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Tree Art

I have been a passionate museum visitor for many years and hardly any exhibition is bizarre enough to put me off. Friends with so-called “niche interests” appreciate it very much if they don’t want to go alone, because I enthusiastically agree to go even when the rest of their social environment shake their heads in disgust. “Video installations from the 70s? – But of course!” “The special exhibition at the Microbe Museum? – Of course I’ll come!” “The development of weaving in the socio-political context of the industrial revolution? – Great! When do we go?“

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International Relations – from a private perspective

(Episode 2, part 2)

You could say my wife, whom I met while working in Germany and abducted to Dutch Friesland, and I have been surrounded by cultural differences for so long they have become second nature. In our relationship we rarely think about the fact that she grew up in one country and I did in another. We think – maybe others don’t – that we do not fit the stereotypes.

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International Relations – from a private perspective

(Episode 2, part 1)

After Harlekin Beate’s article on “International Relations” was published she asked those other Harlekins who are married to “foreigners” to write on their personal international relations. But then, I thought, I’ve never been married to someone from my original home, so how can I compare? I’ve spent much more of my life outside my “home” than in it, living in 4 countries other than Britain, so much that I wonder how British I really am now. The “home” I left is not the same now nearly 50 years later.

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