Saturday, December 31, 2011

..... on the edge to 2012

The last couple of years - moving back to Dresden, due to the pull off hidden entrepreneurial power - have been quite a roller coaster for me, and personal life.

While starting to write these lines, as a reflection on the happenings in 2011, and an outlook into 2012, I think, "Should I really write in English? What about my German friends, especially here in Dresden, who are not as exposed as me to English speaking folks?". Doubts come up only for a split second, as 90% of my personal network is based outside the city where I live. The Web has enabled the connections, and so will the tools for people to translate into their own language - so it will be English in the first place.

I'd like to start off with a question by my dear friend, mentor, inspirator (out of the blue at a Scottish campfire in summer 2008 to be quite honest) Ville from MonkeyBusiness.

"What do you want to achieve?"

The answer is quite spontaneous, and on a slip of paper that I keep since the leadership workshop IGNITION 2009 at TeamAcademy. It says, "Provide a learning place for people to play to their strengths." (currently "sitting" in Edgar Schein's "HELPING - HOW TO OFFER, GIVE, AND RECEIVE HELP - Understanding Effective Dynamics in One-to-One, Group, and Organizational Relationships"

On 14th of January, 2009 I wrote down these words, and confirmed them via a phone call from Finland to a dear friend, and former colleague at BMW - ever since I am working on the vision, even though it is not always easy to stay on track getting feedback in the most diminishing form from friends, potential employers, or institutions like my former university HTW Dresden, to which I own a great deal of my bold stepping forward into unknown, unconquered territory of learning, and working collaboratively.

I'd like to use the five questions from the new "MonkeyBook" created by MonkeyBusiness to frame the past, and the look out to the future:

Where have I been?

Early in 2011 I learned that Semperoper Ballett resonated in many ways of what my dreams are made of, interaction of people from a multi-diverse cultural background, working on a shared vision, in a given place, to bring up new forms of expressing current reality (society, research, human dynamics, leadership, craftsmanship, interplay, collective learning, open education, ..). After "losing" Dresden's 1st CoWorking space to a web agency late in 2010, I learned that using existing models of practice, and observing, writing about it can create a quite different "Power of Pull". Going to ballet and opera performances (mostly at last-minute) is for me like a workshop investment - I never know what I take from it. I let myself always get surprised what emerges, and how my emotions, memories, and connections in real-life come up.

In spring I had to quite my journey as an entrepreneur, offering process consultation, and lean thinking for all kinds of organizationally troubled processes (where one doesn't want or have extra financial, manpower, or time resources). For me, that was like a shock that I -at first- couldn't get really over. Only after many (non-helpful) tries to involve people with marketing, and selling capabilities I decided to "quit" this form of earning money, looking for a paid job.

A sunny morning in June brought a phone call in, which I thought would be from somewhere around Darmstadt, only to learn after seconds into the conversation that it was Annalie, AKA maverickwoman, from Sydney, which turned out to be a one-week trip to Australia (Sydney & Melbourne). This week was one of the most intense times ever in my life - 60 hours of flight, 2 conferences, 2 cities, 7 days in Australia, uncountable learning experiences - especially the two days in Melbourne have shaken my life since then.

Coming back from Australia friends in my network told me over and over, "You have to move to the Valley! You are too fast for Dresden!". So one day I took Alex Lightman's ideas to heart, phoned the German-Californian Chamber of Commerce, and asked about what to do in order to get a work permit for the Valley. Only turned out that I was rerouted to Germany to discuss matters in detail. Oh, that was not what I intended to hear. The idea popped up of doing a three-week promotion tour for Saxony and Dresden on my own, visiting all my contacts in the Valley, and write about it. Only write? No pictures, video, would be better! A friend, Daniel Scholz, just online on Facebook - a photographer. So I asked him, whether he would be interested in joining. Yes! In minutes the idea was laid out, some further ideas, and advice by Alex, and off it went the adventure: InnoBay.

August in Dresden, hot, lots of tourists - and having no internet at home. Where to go? Starbucks, where free WiFi and a decent cup of coffee makes it an enjoyable place to be. What I learned there: the WORLD is pouring through the doors, as the day goes by. Many cultures, languages, known foreign faces from the Semperoper, friends to meet - sometimes by serendipity. Should that be the time to reboot something that had a legacy already? The OpenCoffeeClubDresden, now also

Where am I now?

To be quite frank - deaccelerated a bit, focusing on OpenCoffeeClubDresden, and what emerges from it. It seems to create the place where people are drawn into -even though there is no agenda. The PresencingStatus with its four short questions (1. Good? 2. Tricky? 3. Learned? 4. Next action?) after each gathering seems to work to understand more about each other's thinking during the two-hour meetings.

Another eight hours to go until 2012 - looking forward relaxed, and open minded on what will happen in the days to come.

Where would I like to go?

Here the space for my next goals of 2012 (and the updates by 2013-01-01; updates by 2016-12-26)

  1. Becoming a respected tech scout and blogger in residence for forthcoming conferences around the globe, connecting Saxony/ Dresden with the world + got invited as keynote speaker end of November at the Symposium Change to Kaizen with the talk "Sächsische Staatsoper Semperoper - Lean at Its Finest Art"; not much progress as potential clients and with it a viable business model (based on digital communication) could not be scaled or encountered as originally expected
  2. Develop OpenCoffeeClubDresden as an international incubator for social change in Dresden, self-sustained by sponsors, and having a place of its own (Café DUESENBERG up on Königsbrücker Straße would be very suitable for the start; pictures were from a presentation back in 2010 when café was still in operation; presently abandoned) now currently once a month with rising attendance, and new members from Mannheim; OpenCoffeeClubDresden has been abandoned in 2013 due to low attendance rates
  3. Attend the 5th Dresden Future Forum with a session, and seeing my friends from Monkey Business as facilitators for change, as well + Angela and myself managed to attend, and connected wonderfully via Twitter, and other networks into the world as you can see here (THANK YOU Jennifer !!!); T-Systems MMS did not pursue the concept of the Dresden Future Forum due to (to my knowledge) financial constraints
  4. Flying out to Abu Dhabi on building the ties between Saxony and Abu Dhabi around technology, arts, and education on the emerging future (supporting Semperoper Ballett on their spring tour to Abu Dhabi) this did not quite work out as intended, learning from that: even if the idea is clear, and the outcome beneficial on a sustainable long-term basis finding the suitable wording is more than difficult to reach the understanding of the other parties; nothing new here except the fact that interest in combining arts and technology still a matter of my heart, and a lasting passion
  5. Attending GSP-12 in the summer at Singularity University no seat this time, reapplied for the third time in a row for #GSP13; applied for #GSP14 and #GSP15 (with no direct success, yet with again lots of learnings), most recently I proposed the #GSP17 to a fellow participant of the MOOC #ulab (around a startup idea around a digitally supported narration platform)
  6. Starting off with Dresden Innovation Nights to accelerate startup eco-system in the region to spread across the globe. This still has to built momentum, as social media not yet is in use in the German (especially the East with very different cultures at play, and public funding a major driving force (till 2019/2020)), we are patient on that; at the moment a phase of "letting go & letting come" (it is not clear in which direction the future of the region is leading, and which players will move fast into the future proactively), however still open to take action, attempts to establish XPRIZE Think Tank Dresden, support (Dresden International Business Group) and nurture (DresdenULabHub
  7. Co-create Mobile Camp Dresden 2012 (and connect with international tech startup community) + this event went very well in summer at my alma mater HTW Dresden (Hashtag #mcdd12); still following the activities of MobileCamp that have now switched over to be run by a formal group (most members working for supporting companies), not actively taking part as in the past years since 2010, this may change when time and interest raise
  8. Show Transcendent Man at Technical University's Audimax - despite the fact that TU Dresden now has the status of an Excellence University there turned out to be no person with responsibility to make that happen at the highest ranks despite months of negotiating (perhaps 2013 is the year for showing the movie from 2011); still on the agenda and at LichtjahrDD (the Dresden-based activities as part of the International Year of Light 2015) which Angela Incampo and myself supported as their social media outreach with HTxA - HighTech x Agency) it looked quite promising to get a screening to either the Filmnächte Dresden (2015) or Filmnächte Chemnitz (2016)
  9. Creating the HighTech(x)Agency (working title), attracting, supporting and building up the international tech startup, and research community in Dresden with strong ties into the world (Twitter: @HTxA); after participating in the futureSAX Idea Show Case 2016 in 2016 we realized that neither tested business models, nor personal resources and acceptance of potential clients (organizations, institutions and companies in the region connected with technology) made the efforts to scale in a positive way soon, activities largely abandoned and downsized to a hands-on action research project "learning to understand the hidden forces of technology adoption or rejection"
  10. LockSchuppenOpening - the official kickstart of LockSchuppen this moment has still to wait to come; current the complete project as originally intended to become a 2nd Kendall-Square - like accelerator in the heart of Dresden (and Silicon Saxony) has put on hold, in 2014 I pitched at Deutsche Bahn AG in Leipzig for purchasing the building together with 17,000 sqm (appr. 150,000 square feet), here the pitch deck
  11. Doing a SiliconValley - SiliconSaxony Promotion tour as proto - not this year; did not happen until 2016
  12. Working on bringing TEDxDresden into being in summer 2012 (!) - in the midst of Dresden's special year 2012 - Arts and Science in collaboration with stARTcamp Dresden + seems like new drive has arrived since the Global Entrepreneurship Week where LeanStartupMachineDresden (message on the HTW Dresden alumni group at XING) LeanStartupMachineDresden (on the LeanStartupMachine website with the other Lead Evangelists); TEDxDresden took place on September 11, 2016, organized by a team around Christoph Sträter mainly from the science community, we had the pleasure to attend the event 
  13. Writing an article at Sinnwirtschaft (on invite by Marc Flint) - interest on both sides moved into different directions, mainly focusing on #abundance
  14. Bringing out my blog articles about Semperoper as a small booklet in print (already in talk with publisher and Semperoper) - yet one question crosses my mind, "Does the world need a printed version of such?" [Answering for my own, I'd say, "Yes!"] - still on looking for an easy to use tool to bring the blog posts about opera, and ballet performances here on this blog neatly in a booklet (as book on demand); Do you have any suggestions?; found the right tool/website - and 61 (!) articles transferred, now ready to be put online again (after some editing), expect it early January 2017 
  15. Workshop(s) for entrepreneurs/startups emerging into the global community via social tools, scaling at ease the quality of their products (doing more with less) at my former university, HTW Dresden. oI got asked by members of staff to hand over my Alumni group on XING (with roughly 600 members) in order to accelerate the alumni network activities of the university, in due course of this negotiations I gave the proposal to become the university's "Technology Boundary Spanner and Lean Startup Advisor" (this has probably to be fine tuned in 2013, or even beyond when certain conditions have changed that currently are an obstacle); no activities in this direction since 2013
  16. Hosting the Dresden screening of "Connected the Film" in close cooperation with director Tiffany Shlain, having translated it with the help of the crowd with German subtitles o this has still to, as interest in showing such a movie has to grow first, this could be the driver for TEDxDresden (see point 12) to get sped up
  17. ...... on the sideline, there are much smaller projects in the making
  18. ... and a few bold life-long ones!
How do I get there?

One step (or minor project at a time)

How do I know I am there?

When reality hits my shaped over time vision in mind, and the two match.

As a final comment, I'd like to add my PresencingStatus for 2011 with the four short questions

1. Good
Got to know the most amazing woman (also an opera, and ballet lover); quit my consultancy, to start all over from scratch; took the opportunity, and accepted the invitation to Sydney in June; restarted the OpenCoffeeClubDresden which opened new connections in town; showed twice TranscendentMan in small friends circle; two pretty filled-up sessions around TranscendentMan issues at MobileCamp 2011; became Semperoper most active blogger, and almost only social media active guy

2. Tricky
To not find clients to run my beloved business consulting (around lean thinking, and organizational design, which I am both very passionate about); to live from Hartz IV (social welfare one would call it elsewhere); being too fast paced thinking in an environment (currently) dependent on government funding in large part; not bringing InnoBay, Dresden Innovation Nights, and conference blogging/ tweeting into life as I imagine to happen; tweeting/ Facebooking around a lot of different topics which irritates often people

3. Learned
Hold back with ideas (their time will come, and you will be pulled into it); be fast in groups that are not directly connected to local friends, colleagues, potential clients, slow down the communication speed when necessary; OpenCoffeeClubDresden has emerged as a learning opportunity around group communication dynamics (actually to all participants I believe); be mindful and listen, and see what is going on around you, the right people will connect with you sooner, or later

4. Action
Let the new year come up, and work on the points above, as I have been doing before! And focus even stronger on the process of dialogue as learned from my dear friends from Monkey Business.

What are your personal answers to the Four Short Questions (on 2011, or let's say New Year's Day 2012)?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cultures Accelerate their Uniqueness at Semperoper

Most of the readers of this blog by now have probably noticed that I love to write about the local opera house, Semperoper. Traditionally orchestra performances, operas, and ballets are the repertoire of the house - yet this one is certainly different.

Since the new intendant, Dr. Ulrike Hessler, and certainly already under its former intendant Prof. Gerd Ueker a new wind of change (in German) is weighing through the building that looks older than it truly is (only last year it had its 25th anniversary - bombed in large part in the nights of the 13th and 14th, February, 1945 it took several decades until 1977 to restart the rebuild).

Is it really so different to other opera houses? Not just a opera house in the sense we all would expect? Attracting the "silver locks" and "black suits" night after night?

It certainly is, yet most of it has to be explored personally. Even when you have no clue what the concrete outcome of visiting a performance of "Young Choreographers" (premiering tomorrow, three performances already completely sold out - only chance to get tickets being at the box office of Semper 2 30 min prior to performance start) - I love the challenge to try out new staff, that could eventually lead to further personal learning experience. Dresden is the heart of Europe's most dense multi-disciplinary hotspot of emerging technology fields, with cutting edge research, and a rising entrepreneurship eco-system (even though still in a pre-mature phase compared to other tech centers around the world, taken the acceleration, and open cooptition into account).

Semperoper, as a microcosmos of the world as such in a nutshell (pretty much what August the Strong created back in his ruling days) where arts, science, technology, and foreign cultures "clash" in serendipity constantly. Doing business as everybody in the opera world, playing the "old" operas in traditional style and costumes, would certainly enable the box office to sell ticket for premieres for several thousand EUROS per person. Yet the human mind only would see, hear, and feel what it would naturally expect - where is the NEW then coming from?

In a world of changing priorities, shrinking monetary funds, and reshifting the kind of work the Semperoper is reinventing itself every day - from my past experience in the lean management world, which I had also the privilege to lead as an "early mover" at BMW back in 2003, the house is an amazing role model to see what "lean" is about. Changing daily productions on stage, and starting every night sharply at the preset hour is more than amazing.

Last Sunday another outstanding evening of the almost 20 year-long history of "Jazz in der Semperoper" had been announced in the papers and the website. A jazz trio from Palestine bringing not only unheard sounds to the house, and the city - rather setting another mosaic stone in the multi-cultural tribe of house. Having had a rich past of Jewish artists that had to leave Semperoper when the Nazi-government took power in 1933, inviting the group - in my view - gave room for setting closer emotional bounds across diverse cultures.

"Die Welt des Trio Joubran feat. Yousef Hbeisch" pulled the audience completely in its ban, and created a emotional band, that only music, and ballet can create - as individual language, and words plays no role, only the world universal language that is understood across cultural boundaries and enables the creation of trust. Trust is the essential essence of dialogue, that when nurtured for long enough a time enables unimaginable collaborative action that would not be thinkable.

Dresden is rich of such places where the "unexpected culture clashes" can happen in a relaxing, and most fruitful way - lets await the next "Jazz in der Semperoper" and meet together (even though we have no clue what is the concrete outcome - it may be new friends you'd never have met, learning about a style of music that until yesterday did not even bother your thought, or may it be the emotions that pull your tears out thinking about getting along with friends from Serbia, Croatia, Switzerland, England, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Turkey, Hong Kong, Japan back in 1991).

Everybody will draw something different from attending a performance at Semperoper, and it will be different from the kind of performance, and her or his personal past experience. Looking forward to a fruitful future of "Jazz in der Semperoper" that got very positive feedback by Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (in German).

As always, a short PresencingStatus on the event:

Good: amazing cultural spanning performance, emotional connection with the audience
Tricky: some sounds my ears are not yet used to
Learned: holding the tension, not knowing what to come - always good for personal learning
Action: finding out what is about the rumors that "Jazz in der Semperoper" will finish

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Der Nussknacker kommt nach Dresden!

Last Saturday evening I finally saw The Nutcracker. I have never seen it before and having the chance to see it in the magic city of Dresden was like a dream coming true.
The Semperoper was completely full, no free seats available (the same happened to the Premiere one week ago)...everybody waiting for the exhibition to start.
After a few minutes the orchestra plays the first notes of Tchaikovsky music and the show starts. A lot of young children-dancers fill the stage (they are the young students of the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz). Being The Nutcracker a Christmas fairy-tale it is a pleasant surprise to see children expressing on stage their joy for Christmas.
I suppose that everybody knows the
story of the little Maria and the Nutcracker, therefore I avoid to summer it up here. For those who do not know it yet, I suggest to give a look at the trailer on the Semperoper website.

Copyright: Costin Radu
This Nutcracker takes place in Dresden (such an elegant city and an excellent place to give life to a Christmas fairy-tale). From the scenografy one can easily recognize one of the Zwinger’s doors with its beautiful crown and the Striezelmarkt (the traditional Christmas market). I have deeply appreciated the Dresden location. Making Dresden the ideal set for a fairy-tale it is like extending to our daily life the emotions performed on stage.
The light-games give even more emphasis to what on scene and the costumers, all so colorful provide brightness to the scenes. No one word can be heard during the show, everybody is completely fascinated by the dream performed on stage. The Christmas atmosphere has enchanted all!
Every single scene is made unforgettable by the great professionalism of the Semperoper’s soloists (Anna Merkulova, Istvan Simon, Yumiko Takeshima, Jiri Bubenicek) and of the whole Corps de Ballet. They give always great pleasure to eyes and mind and, most important, the joy they feel performing their ART is clearly felt by the audience!

We easily forget that most of the pleasure comes by the emotional tension the dances give to the audience…. the music, the costumes, the lights together with the choreographies and the scenographies are part of the huge work the dancers and all the staff make to give and share emotions with the audience. From the co-operation and the hard work of many people (most of the time unknown) we all receive those emotions and ideas that spread in our mind even many days after the performance.
A huge thanks to Aaron S. Watkin, to Jason Beechey and the young dancers of the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, to all the Semperoper’s dancers and to all those people who made my evening unforgettable (the best start I could dream for the coming Christmas!).

Dreaming is important even when we are not children anymore!