Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finishing off this year - the seed for the years to come:-)

It has been a while since my last post and quite a few things have happened, besides the fact that I have moved back to Dresden, the city of my forefathers (at least when you see that people are writing your last name correctly in general!) and my wildest dreams. Dresden has been on the far eastern part of Germany and during the GDR times  they depended just on the GDR media as the antennas couldn't get West-German television. Scarcity is always a source for creativity (as Toyota has shown us in the beginning of their success story some decades ago - and now in all this turmoil in the economic world again).

What else has happened:

- end of November a 3rd  edition of LTT (used to stand for Lean Thinkers Treffen; now: Lea(r)n Through Teams would be more appropriate) took place where 20 people learned in openspace format about how they could bring even more value to their organizations

- Otto Scharmer's Presencing Institute has started a community group on the use of Theory U in large scale and substancial change

- the term at WPI and my studies in System Dynamics are over for a while, not without connecting theory with reality. Real projects is where we learn most, especially when we are part of it. The group "System Dynamics - practical usage for businesses" is slowly taking action in the real world and still it is a challenge to engage key stakeholders.

- a week ago I started off into entrepreneurship (working on building that single entrepreneurship into team entrepreneurship through the establishment of TEAM ACADEMY in Dresden)

- Twitter followers are stepping into my footsteps daily in increasing numbers (I wonder why? What makes my person or posts interesting?)

- and best of all Pamela Paquin-Hall (who asked me, "Aren't you coming to Oman to the 3rd SoL Global Forum?"), Charles van der Haegen (who told me about the "Visit to the Penguins in Finland in August", which I actually followed:-)), SoL, Team Academy in Jyväskylä (Finland) with their yellow folks of Monkey Business, Peter Senge's workshop on "Foundation for Leadership" last March, my dear friend, thought challenger and invitor to Twitter Marigo Raftoupulos and the terrific 3rd SoL Global Forum in Oman in April 2008 with Alfred Hanner have done the real difference:-)

- not to forget a personal short conversation with our plant manager, Peter Claussen, during the week of starting production of the BMW Series 3 back in May 2005 at the new BMW Plant Leipzig. During that conversation he told me, "If you ever have a question on things you don't get an answer, don't hesitate to ask me!" (I still remember that quite well, as I have heard too often quite the contrary from my direct bosses:-(). This has been the real start into a journey that is ever since ongoing - with some ditches and some highs already and I guess that is the way life is going (in all aspects;-)).

- .....the real inspiration for taking the action in  my own hands (even though people around me always whisper, "Don't dare that! Stick to a large company! Play it save! Let your boss decide!") was and is still Jay W. Forrester, whom I admire for his thoughfulness and constant learning mode (unbelieavable at the age of 90!). I talked to him in person last year at John Sterman's workshop "Business Dynamics" and during the 25th International System Dynamics Conference in Boston and he is still of power most people in my age are already lacking (at least that is what I sense).

Taking action (small size) in all of these above initiated other interesting things that have evolved already (and will in the future):

- Genius Hellerau, worldcafés on the question "How can we initiate and foster the change in the region around Dresden?"

- personal connection with Jens Voigt (member of Genius Hellerau) and the ideas on how to make patents and intellectual property valuable to society and community (as well as profitable for organizations)

- Iiro Kohleimanen, Head of International Affairs at Team Academy, with whom I visited a conference on logistics innovations (and how the Team Academy approach could be useful - it would and will be exceptionally useful for innovations and yet the present structure of the system has to change, or we are the change;-)) and who visited the September Worldcafé at Genius Hellerau (really great stuff:-)) with me together (wearing T-shirts that say, "Innovate or Die").

- presentation of Team Academy (almost a surprise elevator pitch, and thanks to some training provided by James Parsons, CEO of ICC Language School in Leipzig not really a problem, rather a chance for additional learning;-)) at a meeting of International Friends of Dresden and inviting (Heikki Toivanan, coach at Team Academy) , Marjaliisa Hentila, Head of the Finland Institute Germany, to Team Academy 

- Fruitful and interesting conversations with Jens Bemme, who has initiated that the SLUB (the university library in Dresden) has and will open on Sundays in the future - a terrific action (initiated by only 3 people in 2002 who took the first step of the change!)

Best of all: small interventions and actions that reach my conscious mind and eye ever intrigue me to new action towards the larger whole:-)

@GuyKawasaki (that's his Twitter name) has some great thoughts on how to do revolutions in today's world and I guess some of us are already taken the lead.

All the best for the New Year and the times to come (well beyond just that year)


PS.: I have to thank my parents wholeheartly, as they enabled all the things in the past, fostering my curiousity and inquiry in unresolved things that have led to the present journey. Even though one sometimes think that parents are opposing your desires - this is quite not so. The contrary is true because just by that tense conversations you get a sense what it is like in the real world and what your true aspirations in life are:-))

PPS.: I should not forget to thank all the other contributors like Kai, Paul H., Paul B., Dirk, Laura, Don, Sandra, Claudia, Antje (my sister), Maria (a friend and former colleague who asked me one day "Why don't you do a PhD? You really have the assets for that!"), Ville, Tatu, Henna (from the Monkey Business Guys, whith whom I spoke during the Oman trip and learned more about the crazy Team Academy;-)), ..... and all the others:-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

CO2 reduction - it is all about saving resources.

When do You start? How is your company doing it?
Have you heard of the Toyota Way?

It is easier than you think and value is still higher than
presently delivered:-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Celebrate Your Amateurness

Sounds stupid, as we are driven by perfection and 0-defects, or? 

And yet learning comes from making mistakes, just remember 
when YOU as a kid flew on your knees or off the bike. Have you 
given up?

"I am best at what I can't do.
It has become my ability to feel strong and confident in these sit-
uations. I feel free to move, to listen to my heart, to learn, to act even
if that means I will make mistakes.
If you want a creative life, do what you can't and experience the 
beauty of the mistakes you make."

Quoted in A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink and originally by Marcel Wanders (

We definitely have to allow doing mistakes in order to learn for that world that will ever
be increasing complex in the future.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CESAR leading the customer needs

Background: A great -actually awesome and lean orientated- container tracking-tracing program, funded by the EU, ready to go and ??? No customers who use it presently, because used to the phone it is so much easier, don't you think
Problem: Program will "die" and EU funds will be lost (sunk costs) if it can't be run on a profitable business case

Idea: We would like to make the program profitable as an additional service to customers. How to get them hooked? They just won't get it!

Solution (first part): There is a guy in the company who is spanning and connecting people from different departments, he has managed the set up of an IT system at a rail-road-terminal earlier, why not ask him whether he would like be the boundary-spanner between the IT-guys, the customers, the programming company? Yeah, he is on:-)) He says, he loves the idea:-)

Solution (second part): He communicates with the programmers (inside his own company and the partner companies), gets an idea what is working and what is not (actually the program rejects any non-correct process step that has not been told to it earlier - so the quick fix is firing back right away!), figuring out the biggest systemic issues, time to involve first lead-customers that have lots of traffic. Working step by step, getting direct feedback by customers

Improving the program (together with the computer specialist consultant, finding the easiest and timeless/priceless solutions), so it is showing correct data and people on the customer side (not just the specialists, such as CEOs) can use it right away

Vision: after 6 years of operation almost all customers involved (around 500 with several accounts) the project has been a full success inside the European rail-road traffic and combined transport, even revenues are flowing in and make it sustainable (improvements can be paid by that)

Future vision: The installed and working solution could be also used in other areas, such as car transportation and any other field of logistics (even on small parts!) and with use of RFID this could reach higher levels of value

What was good? free hand to get the thing running, playing to connecting-people strenghts
What was bad? goals of different departments interfered with the general goal of quality
What have I learned? Listen, reframe customer's voice, trust the process, try small
What was next action? Looking actively for opportunities where idea suits and fits, innovate

Actually there is a project going on where Siemens, SAP and some universities are involved and get government funds, they were not yet interested in the already working solution to be combined with new ones. We could really wonder why and why this is a case of waste.

Ralf Lippold has been the guy and he is still a legacy in the CESAR age 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Team Action Lea(r)ning - A Journey into the Future


sparked by Google Project 10^100 & Monkey Business
by the end of the year 2015, it has emerged into System Dynamics in Dresden
#GreenTechAccelerator (2014) via #StartupAccelerator (2012) via InnoBay (2011)

[Text below is the originally handed in concept to the Google Project 10^100 announcement]

What one sentence best describes your idea? (maximum of 150 characters)

Leading the region around Dresden and Saxony back to former economic strength: the people are the most precious asset in an economy.

Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)

Giving Saxony back the former power of creativity and innovation (Odol, Melitta, Audi, BMW, all have started from that precious soil) the system has to change - most preferably at the grass-root level and this means in education. The current business world in the region has to be changed from inside. How to do that? We have to connect actively education to the local businesses, organizations, and communities in Saxony despite the (present) lower income level as in other areas of Germany.

Starting a process consulting entrepreneurship and through personal networks at the local universities of Dresden and companies establish the groundwork for setting up an education institute. This will involve education institutions and the work world through the steady establishment of team entrepreneurship companies (very much like Team Academy in Finland. The members of the team companies will undertake real-world projects in areas (establish new ways of working together to create a higher and sustainable life level in the local communities) where at present no consultants are present (due to money constraints of clients).

Through active cooperation with universities, private and public businesses this will generate growth, profit (the team companies will be paid by hourly consulting and %-part of the future expected additional profits) and value for the region, driven with a vision towards a sustainable society and economy (also in the business context, as closing and reopening of companies is not sustainable in the sense of using resources, people, machinery, financials, etc.).

As Saxony is not the only region in the world with creative and innovative people the concept will be spread through various already established social network communities (SoL network, Lean Thinking Network, System Dynamics Network, Presencing Community) crossing present boundaries.

The ultimate vision is to grow people inside their area of living towards their strengths so they can build up an economy that is sustainable and much more resistant to the crisis that we face right now.

What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)

The recent and seen problem in Saxony is that jobs have been cut in the past (GDR cooperations closed and very little manpower has been needed to run newly established ones funded in great parts of the state). After the time bound for subsidies has run out and economic turmoil is all around companies close their plants in Eastern Germany moving back “home” to West. This leads to the further drain of highly educated people (either in the working world or the universities, as jobs are much easier to be found in Western Germany).

Intervening into the system in order to change the dynamics that -always- ends in a vicious cycle (money infusions into the region will be necessary to keep up normal life - even with closing companies) will be the mission.

If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)

Benefit will the students and people actively working in the team company(ies) as they will learn team entrepreneurship, which will enable them to actively take business opportunities (which actually lie all around - we just have to grab them) in the future not being dependant on large employers. The local business will grow into stable business networks that weave a solid ground for the future growth of the region making people proud of what they have achieved on their own. Establishing to extend networks outside the region and connect with other regions in the world will generate wealth in knowledge, problem-solving capabilities and the ability to generate a future one really wants to become true in exchanging stories. In the end, striving businesses will pull future prosperity in the region.

What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)

Starting as a single entrepreneur by the end of 2008 getting first projects going, that will give real sustainable benefit to the partners and clients involved. In the meanwhile grounding the already in place networks to act as a fertile ground for founding the “Saxony Team Entrepreneurship”. Scanning the area of Dresden for an appropriate building that would suit the needs of a team learning organization that will be evolving through the future team entrepreneur company(ies).

Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)

The optimal outcome will be that “Team Academy“-projects like the one described will spread slowly around the world and will be the seeds for future sustainable economic wealth and growth especially in regions that are in economic struggle - there are many around the world.

In times where oil and logistics will become more expensive as it is at present stated through prices the idea of web-based knowledge communities will become more important especially as we face more complex issues in our communities and societies as ever before.

The described education-work model will enable communities (of every size and remoteness) to grow on their people’s personal strengths – and what you don’t know somebody around the globe knows already, you just have to find and connect with him/her.

A timeline since 10/2008 (newest on top)

[UPDATE 2018-11-12] all updates since 2016 can now be found on MEDIUM


[STEP TWENTYFOUR] [2016-08-15] Participating in "U.Lab - Awareness Based Systems Change with u.lab - How to Sense and Actualize the Future" (introductory course, 1 week, 90 min) & "U.Lab - Leading from the Emerging Future" (8 weeks, full program)

Anybody based in Dresden or Saxoy please feel free to join our public Twitter account @DresdenULabHub or our private Facebook-group DresdenULabHub

For more general background check on Presencing Institute, Otto Scharmer's blog, Otto's profile at Huffington Post, oder für deutsche Leser dieser Artikel "Entdecke die Möglichkeiten" in brandeins wissen (2007), der das Konzept von U.Lab bzw. Theorie U anschaulich und knapp verdeutlicht.

The prototype we are working on (since the last U.Lab last September) will be CitizenScienceLab

[STEP TWENTYTHREE] [2016-06-06] taking part with HTxA - HighTech x Agency in the Idea Showcase (p.33) at the futureSAX Innovation Conference 2016

[STEP TWENTYTWO] 3rd participation in one of the MIT ClimateCoLab competitions (look for Ralf Lippold, and you'll find the proposals)

[STEP TWENTYONE] After 2014 now the 2nd time taking part in the MOOC #ScalingUp by Stanford professors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton where I was able to form an awesome international team around the scaling of CitizenScienceLab to produce the final team project CSL Team Project (please excuse the sometimes rough sound)

[STEP TWENTY] Twice attended the MOOC #ULab in February (2016) and September (2015), from which the prototype CitizenScienceLab has evolved, for the time being, pulling together civil society, research community through system dynamics and presencing.

[STEP NINETEEN] Being official Vanguard for the recent XPRIZE Global Learning Prize #LearningPrize, helping to grow awareness about the competition in Germany, and global networks, as well as supporting the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $500k (2014-09-28 $156k raised so far)

[STEP NINETEEN] Getting invited to become Ambassador of the Networked Society Project for Germany - I can't say how honoured, and humbled I am!

[STEP EIGHTEEN] Social media partner of Dresdner Lichtjahr #LichtjahrDD in order to grow the awareness about the technology advancements, and activities in the light-based technologies as an active part of the International Year of Light 2015, #IYL2015

[STEP SEVENTEEN] A Mission to Bring World Changing Ideas from Singularity University to the World by & via Eventifier

[STEP SIXTEEN] Entering MIT Climate CoLab Global Competition with a proposal on a Green Tech Accelerator in Dresden, From Railway Hub to Tech Hub - your ideas are welcomed here

[STEP FIFTEEN] Crowdfunding of [STEP FOURTEEN] has been successfully achieved, Tweets from Singularity University GSP14 now captured (with blogs, pictures) at

[STEP FOURTEEN] #GSP14Eventifier - an ad-hoc nano-scale crowdfunding campaign to capture the Twitter conversations from Singularity University (June 14 - August 24, 2014). If you are INTERESTED feel free to check and support the project. We have been kindly supported by Eventifier who allowed us to combine the crowdfunding with their social media content aggregator

[STEP THIRTEEN] #AppliedResearchAccelerator - after Prof. Gianaurelio Cuniberti's panel discussion at #TechForum14 organized by The European House Ambrosetti together with Singularity University's VP of Innovation, Vivek Wadhwa, and his short interview "Linking fundamental and applied research"

[STEP TWELVE] #FoundersAccelerating as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013 & Gründerwoche 2013 with Boston-based entrepreneur & author Halley Suitt Tucker & Athens-based, entrepreneur and founder of Stathis Kassios (see his crowdfunding campaign to make the trip to Dresden one of the most underrated entrepreneurial hotspots (currently) in Germany, possible)

[STEP ELEVEN] Supporting Prof. Manfred Buchroithner and the Institute for Cartography of the Technical University Dresden, bringing the 26th International Cartographic Conference (Angela Incampo & myself created the official hashtag #iccDD2013, also on the conference website) into the global community via digital real-time communication. See here the tweets that came in only during the conference between August 25-30, 2013 on Eventifier. On the sideline a crowdfunded scholarship could be put to action as part of a Stanford Design Thinking MOOC - @mapmakerin has been of the most active participants on Twitter during the conference.

[STEP TEN] .... creating a digital communication agency, HTxA [High Tech x Agency], to enable companies, institutions, and conference organizers to spread the word about their work, services, and research facilitating digital information technology. The origin of it goes back to 2011 while sitting in an interview with the head of Semperoper, Dr. Ulrike Hessler (she died July 30, 2012),

[STEP NINE] Running workshops on Lean Startup and Opernnachmittagkaffee with Soprano Jessica Muirhead within the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 (Gründerwoche 2012)

[STEP EIGHT] [2012-10-28] Bringing Lean Startup Machine to Dresden (500 people needed leaving  their email address by 1st of December, HALF OF IT we already have)

[STEP SEVEN] Applying for the Graduate Studies Program 2012 at Singularity University; more about it on BlueFuture2012 and on TED.

[STEP SIX] Connecting [STEP TWO] with local stakeholders, and putting it to operate in a LeanStartup approach (small steps a time, using resources at hand, getting quick feedback on what works, and what doesn't, improving the MVP (minimal viable product) or MVA (minimal viable action).

[STEP FIVE] Further action research prototypes (done and in the making): #InnoBay (2011), Dresden Innovation Nights (in cooperation with Bobbie CarltonMassInno) (2010), HTxA at ideaswatch (since 2011), blogging about Semperoper performances (connecting with my personal past work, and group dynamics experience; since 2010), keynote speaker at forthcoming Symposium Change To Kaizen (2012), tech blogger at various technology conferences in Dresden, Brussels, Sydney, and Melbourne

[STEP FOURDresdenOpenCoffeeClub, (a formerly weekly, now monthly meetup on creating the future of Dresden, also on Twitter #occDD)

[STEP THREE] Prototyping of CoOrpheum, Dresden's first official coworking space (revitalization of a for 10 years practically unused ballroom in Dresden's creative hot spot Neustadt, and building ground to its use by move:elevator with 5-year contract) together with Marco Dziallas who provided the business plan

[STEP TWOLockSchuppen - FutureLab2056 - SingularAcademy - CollabSpace (also mentioned in BRANDEINS 12/2011 - "Der Mann ohne Geheimnisse" ("The Man without Secrets", page 108-112)

[STEP ONETeam Lea(r)ning Experience Dresden (as sent into Google-Projects in October 2008 and for FutureSAX Business Plan Competition in January 2009) all sparked by two visits to my friends at Team Academy 2008/2009 .... already evolved into the project and two visits to Dresden in September 2008 and June 2012

[IGNITION] Surprise visit to Team Academy in August 2008 after an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Amsterdam, straight from Amsterdam-Schiphol to Helsinki. The greatest experience was the start of the new semester and learning that the students of Team Academy are teamed into so-called team companies at the first day, and on the second day, they have registered their company. 

20 Year-old Thoughts more valid than ever

Wandering around in different and quite heterogeneous fields (e.g. system dynamics, SoL Network, lean thinking, team learning, knowledge workers 2.0) thoughts are racing through my mind (pretty much like the underwood in a forest).

Nothing seems to happen for quite some time - and then: BANG!

Jay W. Forrester's Banquet Talk (actually the picture of Jay W. Forrester was taken at the 2007 ISDC in Boston, where he, aged 89 by this time, held a speech) at the international meeting of the System Dynamics Society, in Stuttgart, Germany, July 13, 1989, has caught my eye (while laying on top of a pile of books about lean thinking).

Finishing his talk he says,
"...It means that learning in one field becomes applicable to other fields. There is now a promise of reversing the trend of the last century that has been moving away from the "Renaissance man" toward fragmented specialization. We can work towards an integrated, systemic, educational process that is more efficient, more appropriate to a world of increasing complexity, and more compatible with a unity in life." (Talk transcript: D-Memo 4165-1
Even after almost 20 years, this is true today. What is your feeling about it? How do we know that we have reached the next level of well-being?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Col, a dear friend from Melbourne just has posted a sounding post about leadership on his blog which resonates pretty much with what I am feeling about leadership.

Leadership, often connected in our minds with the named leader in an organization (as comes quickly to our minds) and yet that's not the whole story.

Leadership can be truely seen when people lead by their own choice as they see another future that is significantly different from current reality.

Like the future US president, Barak Obama, is walking on grey canvas into the future -some is unknown to the rest of us- and yet he has a clear vision of what is going to be different in the future.

Where are the leaders of future? How do we recognize them when they stand in front of us?

Monday, November 3, 2008

CO2 Reduction through Virtual Teams

Virtual Teams, a speciality of todays global economy;-)

Have you been part of such already? What was your feeling?
What should be different, so you feel really relaxed and can
work in a flow manner?

Even though everybody is talking about the global economy,
this is mostly done in terms of producing something at the far
opposite side of the globe for a cheaper price, then redistribute
this back with logistics costs (currenty going towards zero, despite
the price and scarceness of fossil fuel supplies).

Wouldn't it be a choice idea (actually we can make the choice happen;-)) to work in a different
style? How about switching the unions' demand for higher wages into something like providing
means to earn some money besides your standards 9-5-job? Could be even worth while for the production worker - they are pretty smart, just ask them and you will realize that pretty fast;-))

Just a few new ideas around the Knowledge Worker 2.0.

Cheers, Ralf

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dream of a Better World - We have the Choice:-)

Donella (Dana) Meadows, co-author of "The Limits to Growth", has been a visionary thinker:



This is ever true today and all of us can take the choice to follow in.

What could hold us back?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Daily Drucker, May 23rd

Peter F. Drucker has written a remarkable book called "The Daily Drucker". You can open any page (of almost 400), read the message of the day and you surely get into thinking mode.

Decades ago he has written about the KNOWLEDGE WORKER (now this kind is even changing into KW 2.0 with all the web tools around like Twitter, DIGG, Facebook, XING, Skype, DimDim, ...).

Are you a Knowledge Worker?

Then probably know about the daily question, "How productive are you in your job?". Can you or your boss answer the question?

Knowledge-worker productivity requires that the knowledge worker be both seen and treated as an asset rather than a cost. (that is what Drucker writes).

There are six crucial points that determine productivity:

1. "What is the task?"
2. Knowledge workers manage themselves
3. Continuing innovation
4. Continuous learning
5. It's not in the first place about quantity, but quality
6. Treated as an "asset" rather than a "cost"

ACTION POINT: Apply steps one through five to your knowledge work.

All the best to all Knowledge Workers around:-)



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Funky Business Workshop

A couple of weeks ago -in preparation for a Lean Learning Conference- I asked members of the group on "Lean Thinking" (in German I have to admit;-) the following question:

What has been your most awesome workshop experience?

Guess what? No answer (almost).

Aren't people having fun at workshops at all and even don't think about having such in order to learn something useful?

Monkey Business could make a difference and so do we.

Working on the change around us - as we have it in our hands to change it:-)

Cheers and welcome to Leipzig


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Changing Knowledge Worker Attitudes

Michele Martin talks about that in her blog Workliteracy and comes to the conclusion that organizations have to provide the ground for employees to constantly adapt to changing work environment and personal strengths, knowledge, visions, etc.

How have your work surroundings changed and influenced your daily work?


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Problemsolving - does it solve the REAL PROBLEM?

All too often we talk about problemsolving in areas where something doesn't work out as it is supposed to, it could be your kids, your relationship with your spouse, your business you are responsible for, your peers, ....

Is problemsolving getting to the real causes of the uneasiness or is it just the quick prescription to stress relieve?

Looking into the future to what really could be possible is much more adorable and focusing your action along that vision - taking action today!



PS.: This has been the tipping point in writing this shortliner.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Contribution Revolution

Intuit's cofounder, Scott Cook, challenges traditional ways of innovations and talks about it in HBR's newest edition.

Besides that Scott is writing about Entrepreneurs and why they learn and teach with such a passion.

Do you feel connected? Are you an Intrepreneur or Entrepreneur already or still searching for the tipping point to become your dreams become true?

Please, tell us more.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

...let's surprise and humble around the website

A really great link -given by Sherry Immediato, founding member of SoL and present chairman- that gives insights in the systems and their behavior over time:



Monday, September 29, 2008

Tipping point - from nothing to exponential growth

Reflecting on how to initiate large scale change, whether in a large organization spread over continents or a region in a country, I sense that change is happening all the time. Sometimes (especially in the very beginning) you won't think anything is changing at all.

Yet the process itself is getting to grow over time (like everything in nature), as the connections grow, stories evolve (how things are being done here and there), diversity increases as new people get involved with their very own personal experience (and neither of us has the same one!).

"When you have better knowledge about the system and whole region work, and you get to know a lot of people, you end up having a different access to making things work. Before all this, for instance, I used to postpone awkward conversations forever. Now I simply do it. We're in a different situation today because we're seeing the whole more clearly, and the whole net of personal communications and relationships is more in flow."
(quote from Presence, p. 157)

Reaching the tipping point (or you could also call it the threshold) is necessary to let change move into the growth mode.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has said, "Not because things are difficult we don't dare to do them, but because we don't dare to do them they become difficult" -about 200 years ago- and this is still valid today and even more in ever changing times.

What has been your most surprisingly experience about change in organization or society where you have played a vital role?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

....leaving the fishbowl

Marigo, a dear friend from Melbourne, has with her last blog entry intrigued me to take "Presence" and stroll around the pages (as I often do, while reading 2-5 books in parallel).

Two copies (one bought at the System Dynamics Conference in Boston in summer 2007, another one  given at the "Foundations for Leadership" workshop last March) are lying for quite some time. So I picked the older one, where I had already have made some notes. As soon as I have dived right into reading and scanning, it occured to me that this book is worth having around in your bag as "Orbiting the Giant Hairball".

The stories that are told are so true and if your are already in the moving mode (such as searching for the true sense of what is YOUR purpose in life, seeking a new job or relationship) you pretty soon amazed about the truth that lies right in front in you. Somehow the book is like a magnifier, making the obvious just cristal clear.

"There's no question that one of greatest needs is how to make it safe enough for people in positions of authority to move down the U, " said Otto. "It's no wonder that without achieving real depth in sensing, the opening to our higher Self and the movementinto truly innovative action simply doesn't occur. Everyone stays trapped in their mental models and acts - or really reacts - to circumstances based on their programming." (Presence, p. 122)

So "reprogramming" your inner harddisk is most essential to true change!

How have you done that?


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Web 2.0 and no way to produce HTML?

Thinking over the possibilities to write a newsletter in an pretty large and professional internet business network with links to certain threads or websites as one is forced to write in HTML.

I don't have a clue on how to program in HTML and moderate a group on how to make processes and tasks easier (the name is "Lean Thinking") - how do I get the thrill on track?

It needed a few days and a not yet -after three days- responded to request to the support of the provider of the mentioned network that has given my brain a kick this morning.

Use BLOGGER (where you blog on good and innovative thinking), write your newsletter text in the posting tool, switch to HTML once I have completed the text (including links!), copy that to the other website's input tool, and off you go:-))

Doesn't that sound crazy, innovative and low-cost (in every means!)?

Thanks to BLOGGER and refusing of the support to answer my request this has led to this flawless solution:-)



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Methodos - school without teachers;-)

You wonder, how this could be true?

Yes it is like Team Academy in Jyväskylä, Finland, has students and yet no professors or classes a similar thing has happened in a beautiful city in southern Germany: Freiburg im Breisgau.

Methodos e.V. the initiative was called and the scholars made their very own learning contract (with the final goal of getting through the examens with good grades!).

You don't need teaches the traditional way, other ways are also possible!

Why not offer them on a broader range?

Are there other such initiatives?

Best regards and always seeking for exceptional learning environments


PS.: Thanks to Gerold Keefer, member of the group Lean Thinking at XING, who gave me the tip while sitting in Leipzig in early summer and I was telling him about the 3rd SoL Global Forum where I met some TA folks (Monkey Business) earlier in April this year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do you feel valued as customer?


It is a world, where everywhere in each magazine, on house walls, or in newspaper you can read -actually around the globe-: 
"We do whatever the CUSTOMER wishes! Customer comes first!".
  • What is meant by that?
  • How many times have you been asked on how the service or a product should be delivered to you?
  • When you deal with service hotlines - how welcomed do you feel?
Today, while having had a small but nevertheless nagging service issue to be dealt with a service hotline, I felt like just a "number" not a valuable customer.
Of course there had been a service hotline, actually two as my two issues couldn't be handle by phone call throughput (should be possible nowadays).
Makes me wonder why companies are not ASKING their CUSTOMERS for advice to deliver better or even wished services?

What has been your most positive experience as a customer and your personal involvement in solving a problematic (small or large) matter?

Best regards,


Friday, September 19, 2008

The Knowledge Worker 2.0

Peter Drucker, the famous management guru has defined what a knowledge worker is back in '59 and time has set a changed profile nowadays:

Stephen Collins' great presentation and talk (you will find him on Twitter as trib).

How do see yourself in the business world?
Cheers, Ralf

PS.: After over a decade still amongst the best presentations I have seen on what a knowledge worker is in the digital age. Thanks a lot, Stephen! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reflection Time


(.... story best read in the original)

If we don't let go, we make prisoners of ourselves.

To be fully free to create, we must first find the courage and willingness to let go;

Let go of the strategies that have worked for us in the past ...
Let go of our biases, the foundations of our illusions ...
Let go of our grievances, the root source of our victimhood ...
Let go of our so-often-denied fear of being found unlovable.

You will find it is not a one-shot deal, this letting go. You must do it again and again and again. It's kind of like breathing. You can't breathe just once. Try it: Breathe just once. You'll pass out.

If you stop letting go, your creative spirit will pass out.

Now when I say let go, I do not mean reject. Because when you let go of something, it will still be there for you when you need it. But because you have stopped clinging, you will have freed yourself up to tap into other possibilities - possibilities that can help you deal with this world of accelerating change."

(Taken from "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie, p. 216)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bigger than Best Practices

...just found that on Insidework

Wouldn't that be excellent?


Innovate OR Die - what's your choice?

The last three days were packed of new experiences around organizational learning. How it works, what different settings foster or not foster the change towards learning, what pressures from outside it needs (How do you learn something new when there is no need?), how do different cultures learn or perceive learning?

I met with Iiro from Finland on Thursday to fine-tune a presentation about Team Academy and the ways they learn over there in teams (we had earlier exchanged thoughts and had talked about it via Skype - a flawless collaboration tool for making communication easier). The presentation was scheduled for Friday and so we could also sense how the participants who were also part of the conference (which was about innovations in logistics) were living the "learning".

How do you think the setting of the conference was?

Agenda, presentations, panel discussions (about 10-15 min after the presentations), social networking during the breaks

...of course that is not what Team Academy is like and so our presentation was a Shock (at least in a way, as the offices at Team Academy are open space, there are dialog rooms with armchairs, not learning what you are normally told by your professor but what you sense is necessary for you to learn).

After our presentation everybody was immediately leaving the room - except one quy who seemed to be really inspired of what we had talked about earlier.

A good feeling that new ways of learning are appreciated (even though by a small minority right now - how to step out of the regular learning mode?)

In the afternoon the same day we moved further -not so much for a second presentation- but for taking part in a World Café at Genius-Hellerau to find out with a group of around 20 interested other people (CEOs, consultants, students, former employees, ...) how organizations learn compared to individuals.

To be honest the answer could not be given and even further questions aroused out of the dialog amongst us. --- the new learning cycle had started off and we will meet again in December for a follow meeting in Dresden.

Do we learn from answers or questions? I wonder what really drives new learning.

Cheers and if you feel like sharing your own thoughts on that topic please feel free to comment.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas, .........

What happens if you put 100 logistics people into a conference room for two days somewhere in the southern outskirts of Berlin?

Many presentations, more connections than old connections, new ideas, action for your presentations, .......

Something else?

Hm, if it happens to be that someone of TEAM ACADEMY is around things are surely shaking up. In the beginning slowly, as the early grumbling of an earthquake, the word-of-mouth is spreading around (everybody gets a glimpse of the guy's t-shirt which says in large letters "INNOVATE OR DIE" - there will be another one tomorrow (a t-shirt I mean;-))). 

Not sure what connections he -the Finish guy- is making during dinner, what I do know is that an exeptional exiting day is breaking in about 10 minutes.

More shake-up of ordinary innovation management ways, the team entrepreneur type of innovation is coming into the open.

What it will be to be - we don't know yet and yet we know it will be different!

Looking forward to a great day.

Ralf & Innovate or die (the Finnish Guy) 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Innovation networks - can they grow across boundaries?

Today something interesting happened: a long held back idea got a chance to get back into the water of thinking!

Years ago while working on a container-tracking-solution and bringing it to potential customers (of course they didn't quite know what to with it as they had used their phones normally for getting the necessary information) I was inspired what benefit such information could bring to the whole system (faster information, resource saving, quality enhancement, transparency, connecting people (solving issues on the underlying processes - as the tracking-tool was used as an commonly understood artefact).

Then a few years past, changed the company, and again the topic with information came up: couldn't be certain interior parts of a product (such as a car) marked with RFID, barcode or similar to be traceable?

Sounds like a great idea - but as you may suspect there is always something in the way: the money:-((

So the thought long-term and lean orientated solution (no looking up in a microfiche, easy traceability for customer service of parts built time, quality management (checking the exact charge of a specific part at the supplier), etc.) sounded great and yet no start to do.

....quite some time passed, the innovation is waiting on hold.

Then at a rainy day south of Brussels, the surprise journey starts off which lead back into the innovation of logistics.

To make the story short, while at a job interview in Belgium (currently I am seeking a new job - innovation in the "broader sense" logistics would be just perfect!) I got an invitation to join the "Arrival of the Penguins" (=new students) at TEAM ACADEMY (for me at least - and I guess quite a few other folks) the most famous university for Team Entrepreneurship up in Finland (by the way, Finland finished best at the PISA Study a few years back - guess why?), became part of the TEAM WIEN at TEAM ACADEMY and I got even invited to co-do a presentation with them in Germany at a conference on innovations in logistics.

Sometime in your lifetime your dreams become true (even after years and various drawbacks) and so while in Finland about two weeks ago I learned about an innovation project SEMPROM, which focuses also on the idea (not yet an innovation;-)) I had a few years ago.

What have I learned and you could perhaps take away:

1. If you have a great idea and everybody tells you that is not doable and crazy you know you are on the right track

2. Keep the idea in your head (present unconsciously!) and find the more general use

3.  Tell the story of your idea when you sense that people get the idea around i

4. Talk to diverse parties in different countries, connect to other innovators or creative people with lots of ideas in their minds - two sparks can ignite a real sustainable fire:-))

5. If it hasn't worked by now get back to No. 2 (in the meanwhile you will get feedback, new insight, new learning, having done a lot of mistakes, reframing the idea in your mind)

6. Innovate! (or die) - that is the slogan of one of the Team Entrepreneur Companies at Team Academy

Good luck in your own journey:-))

What is your story?



Saturday, September 6, 2008

A surprise visit to Finland

One week ago, while on the way to a job interview in Brussels (the world is going global;-)) my interview partner mentioned that he would be going to Finland to see the "Arrival of the Penguins".

Probably you frown your forehead as I did and ask, "What do you mean? Penguins in Finland around that time of the year? What are you talking about?".

Pretty soon it became clear what he meant: "Penguins" are the new students at Team Academy who were due to arrive in Jyväskylä on Monday, 25th of August 2008.

A phone being held to me with a peeping sound - the number of a Team Academy guy had been dialed already- made it all too clear: I was invited to come up north joining in the Team Academy Experience.

What to do? No ticket, no stuff for the cold north, no idea what was coming.......questions over questions.

The only thing that was clear was: THAT IS A CHANCE OF A LIFE TIME!

Sitting in a small restaurant south of Brussels with my interview partner, Charles van der Haegen, I decided: Check it out, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is not too far away and on my way to Amsterdam.

...and so it became true: landing on Finish soil on Sunday night around 11pm, arriving at the hotel downtown (where already some other folks heading to the same destination had taken their rooms earlier that night), and getting up the next morning around 5:30am in order to meet the others and catch a train up to Jyväskylä at 6:30am.

A mere three hours later the felt dream became reality: welcome to TEAM ACADEMY!

....and it has been taken on new hights, connections, friendships, learning, reflecting ever since:-))

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dresden - UNESCO World Heritage exchanged for bridge

Good morning,

in a few hours at the UNESCO World Heritage Meeting in Quebec it will be decided whether Dresden will hold on to its world heritage title (given in 2004) or not.

The reason for being put on the "red list" is the planned -and already well under way- construction of the so-called "Waldschlößchenbrücke" over the river Elbe right in the middle of the phantastic river landscape.

Despite constant discussion -over the last ten years- whether the new bridge really is suitable for the sensible area due to its large dimensions and concrete, bold and rather modernistic construction.

Actually there are pretty diverse parties arguing whether the bridge is necessary or not or which other way of crossing the river could be appropriate to hold on to the World Heritage Title as well as keeping the landscape as exceptional as it is now.

The pressure to build the bridge comes from the fact that the most southern bridge of Dresden, the "Blaues Wunder" ("Blue Wonder") (a steel construction perfectly fitting into the landscape) is reaching its end of use time (no trucks allowed any longer, busses are crossing with a mere 30 km/h). There has to be a new river crossing - that can't be denied!

What is not clear what will the future impacts of the "Waldschlößchenbrücke" for Dresden and the tourism. Especially intangible effects have not yet be taken into account especially in comparison with the benefits for the car owners (that would have easier river crossings available).

Let's hope for the best and that holding onto the World Heritage Title will make a major shift in the bridge planning inevitable. If holding on to the "Waldschlößchenbrücke" should be preferred than the World Heritage Title should be taken away - in order for the UNESCO to stay to its word !

Let's create the future we would like to see


PS.: By the way, how can the effects of the World Heritage Title on a region be measured? Isn't this what Richard Florida says about "Who's My City" and what makes regions special?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Caux Round Table - wonder what this is?


a few weeks ago while getting an email from a dear friend from Australia he mentioned that he is giving a talk at the Caux Round Table after finishing his holidays of about three weeks in Europe.

Somehow the name "CAUX ROUND TABLE" struck my head and I remembered that I must have heard and read about earlier this year, not quite sure in which context. Some short searching in my recently bought books (Real Lean by Bob Emiliani) and the postings at the Lean Thinking group brought positive outcome.

I had read about the Caux Round Table earlier!

What has struck me is the fact that someone from Australia is coming up to Europe to give a talk there and on the other hand this initiative is pretty unknown (to my personal experience) and not spoken about in Europe or Germany.

The interesting main point of the Caux Round Table Principles for Business (1994):


The Caux Round Table believes that the world business community should play an important role in improving economic and social conditions. As a statement of aspirations, this document aims to express a world standard against which business behavior can e measured. We seek to begin a process that identifies shared values, reconciles differing values, and thereby develops a shared perspective on business behavior acceptable and honored by all.

These principles are rooted in two basic ethical ideals: kyosei and human dignity. The Japanese concept of kyosei means living and working together for the common good enabling cooperation and mutual prosperity to coexist with healthy and fair competition. "Human dignity" refers to the sacredness or value of each person as an end, not simply as a mean to the fulfillment of others' purposes or even majority prescription..."

The focus definitely lies on the people side that business leaders so often underestimate in their local turfs.

How can we get started to achieve what we truly want? (and that is definitely not more money in the pocket alone - either for organizations or people in general).

If it doesn't make sense to you yet please state so while commenting on it.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lean Thinking - what is the connection with sustainability?

Talking to a friend in Denmark earlier tonight we ended up on the question, "Lean Thinking - what is the connection with sustainability?"

To be honest this question is spinning in my head for about four months when I was driving home from an interview in Lichtenstein and while talking to my interview partner in the car back to the railway station to catch my train back home on the day of the interview. 

What does "LEAN" really mean? Doesn't it mean reducing the in processes inherent existing waste (also called MUDA -to use a technical lean term;-)) in order to fulfill customer needs (reasonable priced product delivering all customer needs) and also to save money for the company in order to improve the competitiveness of other companies on the market?

Is that all there is? Really?

Does the company live on its own and has all the necessary resources to turn them into customer demanded products/ services? I guess that not the way it is in this world. Through a chain of suppliers, the materials come naturally from somewhere on our world (mostly originating from natural places, like ore for the making of steel, forests for the making of paper). 

My question: Reducing the use of raw material (such as ore or wood) doesn't have an impact on the overall world resources balance, does it?

(Most companies act on that assumption, as they are not "thinking lean" and waste a lot of material forcing the customer to pay for their short sightedness).

Wouldn't it be possible to embed this resource saving into present day accounting even going into the public necessity?

Just a little out-of -the-box thinking about current ways of making money by organizations and how they could be changed in the future;-))



PS.: The above applies of course to any organizational structure around the world!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Team Academy - management school without teachers

Hi everybody,

today I have stepped across a totally different topic: new ways of management training.

A couple of weeks ago while participating in the 3rd SoL Global Forum in Mucscat, Oman, I met some folks from a -generally seen- pretty crazy management school in Finland. Just a few minutes ago I got an invitation to the starting event of Teamfactory in Paris.

What Team Academy is basically about is: 

When you enter Team Academy on your first day there everything we think goes on in a management school turns out to be upside-down. Right from the start you are "thrown" into the business wilderness (what some of us experience only after some years of studying, visiting lectures, writing examens - not really knowing what it is to be in the "real business world") and start off as "entrepreneurs" on their own. They start their own business -of course with some help in the background (there are several thousand business angles, coaches, experts they can call during their "business journey" on things to solve) and learn in this way the lessons for the coming business world.

Recently the concept is expanded to France where Teamfactory is being on the start and there are already (how could it be different in these times;-)) connections to the Team Academy folks and some mentors who see the strong benefits for either the people engaged in the program as well as for society.

For the 15th anniversary Peter Senge has given a video speech.

Looks like this concept has some inherent beauty and I wonder which other programs are around on the globe fostering the entrepreneurship.