Saturday, March 29, 2014

All is Possible - Sometimes we Have to Look Back to Really See

First of all, it may sound odd, but most often you step across the most amazing things, paths or learning while searching intensively for something else. That is called SERENDIPITY (I personally didn't know about it until coming back from a conference on organizational learning in Muscat, Oman, in April 2008).

Around the time of the making of the video below (actually, it is more something like a full version movie, which carries lots of learning along the two hours) I was studying economics at the University of Bamberg. The "Iron Curtain" had fallen just some years earlier and as Bamberg is only 50 km away from the closed former East German border quite a few visits pulled me "over the border".

What I could see in the villages, and towns as well as talk to locals there was a social and economic system almost on the edge of collapse (quite what is topic of the conversation in the movie with the makers of "Limits to Growth" (published in 1972, the link is to the original version) Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jørgen Randers). 

Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future: Economics and Ecology (1992)

20 years later living now in Eastern Germany, to be more exact in Dresden, now one of Europe's major hotspots for semiconductors (two major chip factories are found within city limits) and other emerging technologies such plastic electronics, nanotechnology, life sciences, the mind flashed back to the days back in 1992 sitting in lectures, and hearing on how the economy of former East Germany could be sustainably transformed. Lots of effort was put into place, money flowed, and companies pushed out their products which the people eagerly bought as they lacked to have them over decades. All seemed possible.

Where do we stand now over 20 years later?

A question everybody of us has to ask her-/himself.

For me the flow of action was as follows: while still in Bamberg I caught a copy of "The Machine that Changed the World" by Womack/Jones and somehow combined with what I had learned in my economics studies was hooked on what is called "Lean Thinking". The essence in short is to create more value with the given resources in a sustainable way, and at the same time enable all members of the workforce (from C-level to shopfloor) to cross-collaboratively learn to achieve the goal (more value with given resources) together.

Over the years I found myself in Dresden, where I moved right in the midst of the Economic Crisis 2008/2009 with a dream my Finnish friends (whom I had met earlier in 2008 in Muscat, Oman) sort of whispered over via their blog. Google just had started a global competition, and people were asked to hand in their visions of the vision. I handed in what in version 1.0  was called Team Lea(r)ning Experience (something similar to what I had seen in Finland at Team Academy, a "management school without teachers" (as Peter Senge uses to call it). Just a few months later in spring 2009 this vision became a name that sticks since then:

Vision: bringing together citizens, students, businessmen, researchers to give their special skills/ knowledge/ networks to enable something similar what Singularity University has established in 2008 and to make a difference. This could be to create a startup with the help of others, bring new knowledge back to their companies, share the challenges that they face in their organizations and get new innovative solutions from the teams at LockSchuppen

Mission: create a place where the emerging future can be seen, touched, and used (through prototypes of new technologies and applications) - moving the learning from reading to "tactile learning" across all genders, ages and disciplines

How can it be achieved?

It probably needs more than just a group of dedicated people eager to work on the vision, some tools, and structure. A framework on how to achieve such bold goals is what is useful to set the course. An example of such an approach called gives Otto Scharmer who started in a similar direction also in 2008 first on his blog, and then with Presencing Institute.

Currently running is a MOOC called "Leadership MOOC" which is co-organized by the Presencing Institute and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), is free of charge and has the title:

"Leadership for Global Responsibility"

Feel free to attend (it started just this week, and we are already three attendees from Dresden - maybe you are the next). In case you are more orientated to learn for yourself new ways to tackle really complex challenges have a look at "The Systems Thinking Playbook on Climate Change" that can be downloaded free of charge from the website of the GIZ.

Have a relaxing Sunday, and enjoy with your friends, look out for a bright future, and appreciate the diversity around you. We will meet Egypt tomorrow here in Dresden, quite by another serendipity encounter, a call from Cairo yesterday. 

Everything is connected, and everybody makes it valuable together.