Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S... in the City? Or is it U..?

Following OttoScharmer a professor of MIT Sloan School of Management for some two years now. The initial spark to get interested was buying the book Presence during the System Dynamics Conference 2007 in Boston. Form the first page it hit me like a striking bold - it resembled my own life. A year earlier I attended a workshop, sponsored by BMW, to grow my personality (quite a still thinker not as outgoing and furiously fighting for my points - so my boss back then thought), and had come back from the year earlier SD Conference. This caused me to tell my life story (which was done by every participant of the workshop) in causal loops - which I must admit looked messy, or at least not linear!

Isn't it that new things often emerge out of chaos? Where nothing is the same as yesterday and surprises interchange?

2002 the sheer chaos overcame Dresden when the waters of the River Elbe spread across it. New connections, friendships, ways of seeing the things emerged. The physical help back then was the main driver for change, the use of Web 2.0 was not yet really up, only rough databases run over a web interface enabled the helpers and help seekers to communicate.

Eight years have passed now. It was 2008 when I sensed that something profound was boiling under the surface of this area of Germany. Some events, like the closing of the Henkel plant in Genthin, some German car manufactures got in trouble (and with them their suppliers), in a way were the first signs of something bigger emerging.

Again it became quite obvious that everything is coupled with everything and the people, US, are just entrenched in the middle. Because of the pressure and urge to earn a living we often don't have a chance to see the larger picture. The result was that the old and formerly successful strategies for the organizations to get out of trouble re-surfaced in 2009. Cutting personal, close their channels to the public and customers to a minimum, only to work on what their leaders on the C-levels perceived perhaps as the one and only cure.

However in eight years quite a lot has happened and the social net, also embedded in the Web 2.0, plays a more relevant role than ever in the growing interconnectivity. Today it is no problem to chat with somebody from South Africa, and in the meantime get Facebook messages from friends in Italy or Australia.

Whilst the business organizations are still struggling to keep their problem solving knowledge to themselves initiatives like CoWorking, DesignThinking, PresencingInstitute, TeamAcademy, or LockSchuppen, CoOrpheum, NeonWorx (the three latter ones from Dresden), and more are springing up all across the globe. Their aim is to make the ground fertile to enable the large-scale shift of how we will live and work tomorrow.

Something however is different here in the city, which has a rich heritage of culture and industry alike. Bombed and burned to the bone in the last days of the war 1945, they city's collective memory is still focusing on the days that most of us haven't seen and experienced personally. Could it be that this is has a major impact on keeping just in a more or less "closed circle" and seeing inwards?

I guess not, even though the change is small and during my study time of economics you would call this "weak signs".

Looking deeper there happen things that no one would have seen a year ago. The director of the University of Leipzig for example will be for the first time a woman and here in Dresden the first intendant of the Saxonian Opera Semperoper is for the first time, after several hundred years of male dominance on the top, also a woman, Dr. UlrikeHessler.

Not only the outfit on the website has changed for Semperoper but their various ensembles are moving into a space where lots of other organizations don't dare to step in. On Facebook the SemperBallett and the JungeSzene are moving into the sphere that is not common for artists. It is great to see the flourishing conversations, and upcoming dialogue on their fanpages.

Congratulations to the whole team and a courageous leader on top who was willing to step into new areas of doing - Dr. UlrikeHessler !!!

May it be the starting point for something bigger that is piling up in the beautiful city of Dresden? I am quite positive especially as I get some surprising events concerning my own vision about the place where I now live again :-)

So long and just think next time when you get a tweet or Facebook invite from somebody you may have not even seen or talked to, take the present of surprise for granted and be happy :-)

Cheers, and so thankful for my "Australian Sparks" (Marigo, whom I know already through meeting twice by syncronicity in Boston, and Valda whose tweet on the OpenDay at Semperoper after enjoying the ballet team in the training room for quite some while has initiated my own action)

Ralf

PS.: It all started with a furious discussion about the new website design of the Semperoper - and as always this kind of action and energy driven into it made me curious to understand the underlying currents and mental models.
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