Archiv der Kategorie: English

What can be different, is actually different

The countless parallel worlds made possible by digitalization and networking construe for themselves their own realities, which are readily accepted by the target audience. When observing, the different groups look at the same situation from different, often opposing perspectives. A photo provides a factual reflection of the reality and we believe that what we see is just like it seems. Even as it is obvious that each shot is the result of the selection of the intended image detail. Who would suspect that this woman standing alone in the portrait format is a protester? If the image detail becomes slightly expanded, a new situation unveils. The same happens when we exchange contents. What is said contains above all a plethora of unsaid. That makes everything that can be different, actually different – for every observer.

Since today everybody can access the Internet, either with a post in a discussion forum or a blog article or in the own website, all points of view find their way into the public. And the following applies: Nothing works anymore, without someone finding something negative in the acts or in the statements of others and reinterprets them accordingly.

  • Right does not exist anymore
    As soon as a national monument is in flames, it creates countless options for action that are neither necessary nor impossible. This contingency is taken up by individuals and exploited for all imaginable reasons. If you immediately take care of repairing the damage caused by the fire, the questions arise as to why you don’t take care of other burning issues. If people remain inactive, their inactivity is lamented. This particular form of double bind that leads to the fact that you are always wrong engaging in something, will eliminate the willingness to do something in the long run.
    We have to get out of these opportunistic accusations and once again learn to value the achievements of others as what they are, an impacting act.
  • Being against something always works
    In every right action there are nowadays a lot of arguments against it. If you do something, then the question comes up, why not something different or more different. If the fire damages are repaired with tax money, urgently needed tax money is wasted. If people donate their money voluntarily, then somebody gets up and makes them feel guilty, because they don’t get involved in other social projects – although we don’t necessarily know. Always insinuating the bad to others oversees the fact that we are judged according to the same rules. No matter which side we take, there will quickly be contemporaries who criticize you for this standpoint.
    The way out of this vicious circle requires independent personalities, who feel more attached to their ethical values than to any line whip.
  • Conceal insubstantiality with opposition
    Populists are specialized in making themselves heard by always criticizing the activities of their opponents. To simulate strength through import duties and to insult Europe, which is then doing the same, which leads to endangering national jobs at Harley-Davidson. There is no indication for own ideas. And it doesn’t need to be, because the pro-active supply the stuff that the freeloaders exploit for their interests.
    Somehow we have to be able to free ourselves again from the manipulations of opportunistic movements before everything gets worse and the mental walls become dangerous.
  • Attack is the best defense
    The connectivity of the expressions leads to a longer back and forth of the arguments. If you are accused of behaving undemocratically, then the best defense is to point out that you yourself are being treated undemocratically. As you can see in the fact that certain parties, who are not elected in Bundestag committees call it as undemocratic. The political discourse is degenerating. Politicians unwind their memorized messages, regardless the course of the conversation. And journalists can obviously no longer moderate a conversation.
    Whilst every public discussion is only an election campaign speech for the own target group, we should refrain from these discussions. The protagonists must again speak to each other, instead to their voters.
  • All only see, what they can see
    It is very difficult to look for reality in the news, because they are always a construction of the observer, which cannot be objectified. You can think what you like about Trump, but his press secretary Kellyanne Conway has found the right formulation – Alternative Facts. The radical constructivists have already put it in a nutshell: „The world, as we perceive it, is our own invention.“
    The task now is to find a way to put the different views back into the position to exchange ideas.

Bottom line: The general availability of data creates a new universe of possibilities, all of which are worth living for themselves or not – depending on the angle of view. What gets more and more lost is to meet on a common denominator in order to be able to persist together. If nothing can be the way it is, but is always a target for complaints, then self-reinforcing conflicts arise which become difficult to resolve. When right no longer exists, someone is always against it, insubstantiality is concealed with opposition, attack is the best defense and the last resort is doubting the truth, then all efforts for something lose their momentum. Then conversations become monologues with third parties, instead of dialogues with the counterpart. We must get out of this vicious circle that leads to an increasingly aggressive confrontation with dissenters. Active listening and an anticipatory appreciation relax the exchange of thoughts and improve the understanding of the other opinion. And the following applies: What can be different, is actually different.

The Talisman – the ideal metaphor for a metaphor

Before personal talismans and amulets evolved, like the Nazar in Turkey or the Christopher in the western world, many particularities of the physical reality were connected with a deeper meaning that went beyond and had a strong influence on the mental states of people. Even though we have no written evidence from prehistory, oral traditions point to meaningful landmarks in nature – the Uluru in Australia, the Nazca lines in Peru, or the legendary Irminsul in Germany. Over time, cult objects been created, which groups always carried with them, such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Mikoshi in Japan or the Holy Lance. The effects of these cult objects are different for each user. The same applies to metaphors which, beyond the obvious story, generate additional meanings in the minds of people. This makes the talisman the ideal metaphor for the metaphor.

Faith can move mountains. Talismans also have this power and transfer meaning and content to their carriers that go far beyond the obvious form of the artifact – just like a metaphor. To make this possible, things or metaphors must be loaded with meaning and the following conditions be there.

  • Expectation
    Amulets are connected with meaning by a place or person. As a result, users expect a certain effect – for example be it traffic safety or health or fertility or motivation. The effect is mediated by the person, who provides the artifact or story. One should not forget that the effect can be destructive or beneficial – a voodoo doll fitted with needles can lead to the death; the belief in the success of a medical measure makes the placebo work in exactly the same way as the drug being replaced.
  • Conditioning
    Expectations do arise out of nowhere. It is often not sufficient to get the explanation of the effect. But the constantly updated awareness of the consequences anchors faith deeper and deeper in the subconscious. If we touch our talisman and establish the conscious connection to the desired effect, we internalize the effect even deeper -e.g. the St. Christopher’s before starting the commute to the office. Accordingly, a metaphor works, which is used again and again as an example, if you explain a certain contexts, such as the story with the axe.
  • Examples
    Especially supportive for confidence in a particular outcome are examples, in which the effect has been clearly demonstrated. The shamans that exist in all cultures have proven countless times that they can help, what makes them better and better. The mobile representative is the amulet that you get handed from shamans – or at least can trace back to them. In the metaphor, the reference to reality happens through stories with everyday examples that charge the metaphor.
  • Origin
    Any object can act as a talisman – a stone, a piece of wood, a bottle of water, an artifact made by someone or was owned by someone. Brands transfer emotional meaning to objects – e.g. when the latest Montblanc fountain pen is called Le Petit Prince. It is in the eye of the user how this meaning comes into effect. A metaphor wins, when it was created or told by a role model – such as Aristotle’s thesis „The whole is more than the sum of its parts“.
  • Comprehensive description
    The more sophisticated and differentiated the description of mechanism of a fetish is, the more credible it becomes. Gemology, for example, explains the effect of gemstones – the ruby, which promotes passion; the tourmaline, which protects against negative energy; the tiger’s eye, which gives courage. The better a metaphor is explained, the more comprehensible it becomes – just think of the Chinese 成语 (chengyu) „塞翁失马 – Old man loses horse„.

Bottom line: Through the expectation, the repeated anchoring of the meaning, the practical examples, the origin and a comprehensive description charge amulets, talismans and metaphors with effective meaning, which makes amazing things with their followers. It should always be considered that the effect should be beneficial at all costs, otherwise damage will be caused. The belief in efficacy is the common denominator of these lucky mojos and the stimulating, meaningful stories. This makes the talisman the ideal metaphor for a metaphor.

The one thought before any strategizing

All activities need a compass to align with. The first thought of many strategists is to win. However, that does not always mean that you are the first, the fastest, the greatest, or that you have to grow constantly. The desired impact direction might be a fitter company or better utilization of existing means or happier employees. The selected alignments can be undermined by different simultaneous directions. The impact direction is therefore an important basis for the design of the future.

The common direction can be found between growth and contraction (horizontal axis) and gradual first order change and radical second order change (vertical axis). The following options arise.

  • Consolidate
    Making the current business more robust doesn’t sound very exciting. Securing viability on the basis of available means is a good preparation for the future. For this purpose, the offers can be enhanced, better placed and advertised. Or the chosen value discipline (customer, product or flow orientation) persistently pursued. As long as the turnover has good prospects, this is a reasonable approach.
  • Activating
    If the existing core aspects, the offers, flows and skills, are expanded, it favors the business. For this purpose, the corporate image is revamped, the culture is described and the entrepreneurial awareness of the employees is refreshed. It is a matter of better utilizing the current palette on the bogged down paths.
  • Expand
    If neighboring areas are identified and expanded, new work contents, forms and market areas emerge. This is made possible by continuous design, a wide variety of cross-enterprise teamwork and the shifting of the boundaries of end-to-end procedures. On closer look, additional sources of income can be found in customer touchpoints.
  • Reinvent
    When you leave the comfort zone, different options open up. New trades can be revealed and thereby common tasks shared. In the end, the building blocks of the business model change. The whole thing starts with radical redesign of the flows, the development of new product lines and the disclosure of completely new customer groups. Such developments are driven by individuals, who have a clear idea of what else is imaginable.
  • Concentrate
    If the enterprise body suffers from overweight and the incomes do not cover any longer the current expenses, a thoughtful compression of the activities is inevitable, if the whole does not want to be dragged into the deep. This is made possible by the sacrifice of certain tasks, the bundling of the core business e.g. in which regular handlings are outsourced. Needless business and routines arise, if you are not prepared to take care of them at an early stage.
  • Close
    When all fitness measures have been exhausted, sooner or later economic collapse will occur. In the interest of all involved people, the orderly surrender or separation of individual areas or locations is the last resort, if it enables employees to make a secure transition to new tasks. Early dissolution may allow external enterpriser to find ways to continue the business under different premises.

Bottom line: It may sound strange that the common alignment can be condensed for all cases into six possible directions. Once you have performed the clarification of the direction beforehand, you will quickly notice that debates on principles are replaced by joint plans. The unambiguous intention should be clear and all areas should be aligned to one direction. Before any strategizing it requires the one thought.

Mind map 2.0 multiplies your efficacy

In the past, we were prepared for our professional life by learning reading and writing, basic arithmetic and geometry, music, art and sport in ex-cathedra teaching. Group work and business exercises or computers and visualizations were rarely used. An example of an approach is the Mind map. All kinds of ideas, structures and sketches can be created: e.g. brainstorming’s, strategies, goal hierarchies, business developments, project plans, minutes, problem solutions, speeches, time management, etc. The efficacy of Mind mapping can be multiplied by using IT-based tools such as Mindmanager, XMind, iMindMap, iThoughts and others.

In addition to the tips and tricks, the internet also provides rules for mind mapping. The following suggestions are primarily intended to enable the use of IT tools.

  • Anything goes
    Actually when you create your mind map with an IT program, all the common rules are
    no longer necessary. The now realizable size exceeds the limits of a sheet of paper by far. This also applies to the number of branches and the number of detail levels as well as to the labels and other media (see below). The development of a mind map can be done on your own or in a team by using a beamer or large video screen, or even in virtual videoconferences with worldwide distributed participants. Depending on the number of participants, the effort for the coordination of the branches of the resulting map increases.
  • Use the media
    Whereas one is conventionally limited to writing, drawing and gluing images in paper-based mind maps, one can use a wide variety of multimedia objects to integrate them in a tool-based way – texts, images, videos, links, office files, etc.
  • Any contribution counts
    If one works on paper, then the rework, i.e. above all the simplification, is somewhat complicated. In an IT-based mind map, the branches can be reassigned as required, including all sub-branches attached to them. This supports the usual brainstorming approach of simply capturing each post without discussion. That way maps can be developed in separate working groups. The final incorporation creates an aligned, joined result.
  • Be aware of your gut feeling
    A practical feature is the subsequent arrangement of the branches. The graphical presentation supports thereby the intuitive editing of the content. You can move branches into others and get inspired by the new formation. Visual thinking does not simply follow conscious logic. Through the graphical structure, the subconscious mind assists in the alignment. In the interest of a skillful result you should always listen to your gut feeling, even if you cannot always understand the reasoning behind.
  • Keep on going
    Software tools live on their juncture to the world. The Mindmanager offers connectivity to Microsoft products, for example: MS-Excel, MS-Word, MS-PowerPoint and even MS-Project. This means that the captured content can continue to be used in the sequence. Thus, the activities of a project, including dates and dependencies, can be planned with the Mindmanager and then transferred to the MS-Project format.

Bottom line: Tool-supported mind mapping, like Mind map 2.0, expands the use of this approach. This allows the multi-medial creation of mind maps of any size. At the same time, open approaches for the development can be used and sub sequentially integrated to a coherent overall picture. With the graphic representation the subconscious areas of thinking are also used. Eventually, all the results can be reused in classic office tools. Thus, Mind map 2.0, i.e. the use of software-supported mind mapping, multiplies the efficacy of the mind mapping.

Agility could actually be used since a long time

When the workforce has access to all necessary data regardless of rank and reputation, anytime, anywhere, and can immediately decide on the spot, then at the latest legacy approaches will become obsolete. The enthroned decision-makers who have lost contact with the business, the chains of command, where the actual decisions are diluted and taken too late, as well as the applications for applying an application that generate unnecessary tasks and no longer fulfill their original purpose no longer fit the time. This explains the yearning for new forms of collaboration. The implementation is difficult, because the desired state is characterized by self-organization that must be allowed – which makes a large part of the tasks of the decision makers futile. This autonomy does not need new structures, but a new mindset. And as soon as these basic attitudes would be given to the managers and employees, they could also flourish in a traditional environment. Agility could actually be used since a long time.

The mindset, however, is a personal trait that is shaped primarily during the development in the direction of an opportunistically submissive command scheme. What have always prevented agility are people, the managers and the employees alike, who lacked the corresponding mindset, e.g.

  • the trust that all pull together;
  • team learning that expands the common skills;
  • the feedback that provides appreciative suggestions for improvement;
  • the culture that is based on ethical values, not on paragraphs;
  • the intrinsic commitment that keeps obligatorily the momentum of every team member.

The following traits have always undermined agility.

  • Micromanagement
    This is not a formal requirement of leadership, but the intrinsic pressure of individuals to interfere in every detail. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about wanting the best or whether the involvement in the subtleties is due to a lack of self-confidence.
  • Fault intolerance
    Everyone should be aware that everything can always be done better. For this reason, all results should be celebrated. When one can speak of a mistake, depends on the observer. Particularly disturbing for the team are those people, who deal generously with their own mistakes and who pursue perfectionism to the point of aggression with mistakes of others.
  • Blame- instead of solution-seeking
    At work, the emphasis on shortcomings and persistent reproaches indicates whether it is a question of playing the blame game or searching for a solution. Agility has an impact when solutions are achieved. In the end, the feedback from the customer determines the quality.
  • Indecisiveness
    A prerequisite for agility is the decisive setting of clear goals. The best possible clarity is achieved through the appropriate smartification of the objectives. It becomes difficult when the decision-makers cannot decide and oscillate back and forth between different goals.
  • Double Binding
    The world is not black or white, but infinite shades of grey. It is always possible to do one thing and not let the other in these grey areas. Dangerous are the double-binders, people, who wish for two variants and in the end criticize, when one solution is not as perfect as they expected, regardless of the perfection of the other variant – and of course vice versa.
  • Energy hijackers
    Agility lives from its own momentum and the acquired abilities. Energy hijackers have learned to exploit others for their own interests. That way they burden others with their own tasks by demanding support and keep getting others out of their rhythm.

In the future agility is a must, since reaction times are getting close to zero. It is no longer possible to call for guidance and help with each step. The employee wins the business at the touchpoint with the customer exactly at the moment when he is there.

Bottom line: New wine in old tubes is often regarded as something bad. In the case of agility, however, it is rather an expression of decades of inability to use the skills of the employees in a way employees would favor. The hurdles on the way are individual employees, who have reached leading positions due to the corresponding upswing. They disrupt through their micromanagement, fault intolerance, blame- instead of solution seeking, indecisiveness, double binding and limitless energy appetite. Before any structural changes happen, it is necessary to develop the required agile mindset, e.g. trust, team learning, feedback, culture and intrinsic commitment. Then agility produces its effect – even though it actually could be used since a long time.

The American Frontier – the ideal metaphor for the Internet

Freedom has always been a central topic of discourses – personal, social, political, ethical, economic, artistic, etc. Don’t we all want to casually pursue our interests without being prevented by laws, regulations, guidelines or the like. The new possibilities of the Internet to get in touch with anyone, anywhere and at any time have led overnight the meaning of publication, the possessions of creative people and the established media ad absurdum. Let’s look at the responsibility and ask yourself, why the platform providers, i.e. the operators of websites, who provide users with nothing more than public storage space for data and navigation, are held liable for the stored content. In fact, it is as if a telephone company is responsible for the phone calls that criminals use to commit fraud, or as if they are accused of having terrorists coordinate their assaults by phone. The new EU Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market has highlighted a wealth of problems and interests. The whole thing recalls strongly the days of the American Frontier, when, during the settlement, a legal vacuum created the situation that the stronger simply did whatever they wanted.

In the end, it has always been about access to valuable assets – fertile land in the American Frontier and precious data nowadays, such as texts, images, videos, formulas, etc. The difficulties arise from similar hopes of the protagonists in the American Frontier and on the Internet.

  • Economic interests
    The run to the west was driven by the prospect of a new life – initially the hunters and gatherers, the so-called trappers, then the settlers in their covered wagons, the squatters and ranchers, and finally the farmers who acquired documented property. The money was practically growing on the prairie.
    The Internet also began in 1989 with a simple idea – peer-to-peer networking on the World Wide Web, hyperlinks and standardized protocols. Parallel to the computers in each household, many software vendors conquered for the markets of browsers, email and application programs. Who remembers the time before FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google)?
    Common to the American Frontier and the Internet is the prospect of a lucrative business. The economic intentions exploit unregulated conditions of the new economic sector.
  • Assumed boundlessness
    The hope of the American settlers was fueled by the sheer boundlessness of the country. With three kilometers per hour, the treks were heading west. In the absence of deeds of ownership, the settlers occupied the land that supposedly belonged to nobody, putted up their fences and thus postulated a claim of ownership. The actual inhabitants, the Native Americans, for whom the term land tenure was unknown, were de facto expropriated and penned in reservations.
    At the beginning, the Internet was also boundless. With the possibility to store and retrieve multimedia content, new business ideas slowly evolved. The first file-sharing platforms putted the fear of God into the content providers of the film and music industry. With the viable B2C approaches (e.g. Freemium, Long Tail, Pay per Use), the corporations recaptured the market. Today, users commit themselves to providers such as Netflix and Spotify with regular, monthly payments.
    In over twenty years of the World Wide Web, the authors were completely forgotten. The creators come away empty-handed, although they create the content that the platform providers turn into money through advertising and the like.
  • Missing rules
    Our image of the American Frontier is coined by armed outlaws, who raid banks and stagecoaches and terrorize peaceful citizens. At the same time, judges speak local law and sheriffs ensure compliance as they think best. The latent lawlessness rose from the distance to the official jurisdiction. The law of the fittest was applied.
    A similar lack of rules formed in the beginning of the Internet, which is due to the new medium and greenness. This goes from free access and reuse of content to anonymous bullying on social networks. But the Internet would not have globally spread so quickly without the openness, even though with good and bad consequences for certain persons.
    Different cultures and legal systems have hindered the introduction of binding rights and obligations. Especially for the generations Y and Z, the need of rewarding content creators is hard to understand, as they obviously access content for free.
  • Ruthless exploitation
    Before the colonization of the West, millions of buffalos roamed the prairie. The bison provided the American Natives with food, clothing and the basis for making tools and tents. The hunters of that time only killed as many bison’s, as they needed per day. The buffalos were eventually almost completely exterminated for the mass production of boots and for the supply of the railway workers.
    In the dawn of the Internet, computer nerds were everywhere romping around and trying out possible applications. With networking, the geographical distances dissolve and each connected region of the world is part of the whole with just a mouse click. The digitization of books, music and films makes it possible to copy products protected by copyright without the opportunity that the authors control the use. Beneficiaries are not only the usual distributors, but also platforms that benefit from the use of data and broker commissions.
    Today, Internet providers bypass the requirements of the cultural, logistics and tourism industries – Amazon is replacing local book and record stores not as a book store but as a logistics company; Uber offers passenger transport outside the legal regulations; Airbnb arranges private overnight stays without the liability of the hotel industry.

Bottom line: The economic interests, the assumed boundlessness, the lack of rules and the ruthless exploitation of resources are similar in the development of the American Frontier and the World Wide Web. This makes the American Frontier the ideal metaphor for the Internet.

P.S.: It is important for content providers to receive their economic share and at the same time for users to retain access to information – without over-bureaucratization, i.e. without the regulatory mania that hampers actual work. The remuneration of intellectual property must be ensured, otherwise there will be no new content.

The flagpole – the ideal metaphor for the limitedness of possibilities

With an increasingly digital world of services, it is becoming ever harder to identify the limitations of the activities. These new features of our work world have no dimensions, no surfaces, no weight, and no temperature – in short; they cannot be measured with the usual instruments. What remains are properties such as duration, speed, friendliness, availability of service – e.g. the preparation of one meal incl. drink 2-3 minutes; delivery of a pizza 30 minutes; friendliness of telephone advice (number of stars); 24/7 ordering service. And how to measure the performance of the employees? Do we count the keystrokes of an engineer when he develops a new product – when thinking is a major part of the work? Or the number of slides per hour created by an employee – when often only copied? Or the number of pizzas delivered – when some travel quite far? There is a lack of general key figures which support the distribution of the tasks. With this dissolution of the material features in the virtual world, we lose our reference points and our intuition for the limitedness of possibilities.

The virtual world is also limited. We don’t have unlimited time or budget or ideas. In order to make these boundaries more tangible, the features of a flagpole make an apt metaphor for the aspects of a service.

  • The pole
    The size of the leeway is symbolized by the length of the flagpole. Here you can already find special cases – for example when it is a telescopic rod that can be extended for different lengths. Or modular rods, which can be extended with screw-on extensions.
    Similarly, services are able to set their capabilities through built-in buffers or artificial building blocks – the size of the budget or the extra time of a service.
  • The outrigger
    The purpose of the mast is to set a widely visible sign. If there is no wind, the flag could collapse. In this case, an outrigger is available to keep the flag continuously visible. A good example was placed on the moon – albeit if in the meantime the flags should be bleached white by the UV radiation.
    The use of IT allows the offer of the services even at unusual times – when the use of employees is uneconomical, because of a small number of customers, websites provide a virtual counter.
  • The cord
    To set the flag to any flight height you use a cord. Normally the flag is pulled up to the top or otherwise retracted – except: in special cases half mast is flying.
    An important advantage of the virtual world is scalability, which simply adjusts the service to the agreed SLAs – as soon as a certain response time is no longer available, the computer power is extended until the desired response times are reached.
  • The clamp
    The cord must be tied up for keeping the flag height. Rope systems have always used clamps for this purpose. These are special hooks, where the cord is knotted. The clamp often marks the lowest point of the flag.
    In the virtual world there are no physical hooks to follow. For this reason, guidelines are assigned which are determined by a set of rules or a governance.
  • The top
    The end of the rope is reached at the tip of the flagpole. Without a suitable extension piece, it does not go on. The power of the facts determines that the flag cannot be raised higher.
    If one is in the non-material world, these natural boundaries have disappeared. At the very least, the limitations are difficult to identify – when does the employees work at their limits or when can a service be done even better (whatever that means). This more-is-not-possible the employees themselves can not determine.
  • The base
    The foundation that holds the mast upright remains ignored. This is the lowest point where the clamp could be attached. The end of the flagpole has also been reached.
    The „lower“ end of the virtual world is difficult to determine due to the absence of spatial expansion – if expectations are not met, this can lead to bottomless loss of reputation, which is difficult to remedy. Therefore, the boundaries of a service must be described in a way that does not raise false hopes.

Bottom line: In contrast to the virtual world of services, the physical world provides clear limits with its materiality. The flagpole is an artifact that illustrates this – the pole as the possibility space, the outrigger as stabilizer, the cord as adjusting means, the clamp as an additional limitation, the tip as upper and the pedestal as lower limit. The services lack such reference points. They must be determined artificially and made measurable. Since the mast provides the relevant aspects, one can orient oneself by this example. This makes the flagpole an ideal metaphor for the limitedness of possibilities.

The Crux of the right time

Today’s entrepreneurs are at the mercy of a much more volatile world. Perhaps that is the reason why they are looking for the right time. In the past, the development of novelties was well advanced when marketing was put into place. Today, startups begin their PR as soon as an idea as a one page and a business plan describe the enterprise and the first three fiscal years. This enables investors to provide funds for the development of the idea at an early stage. The crux is that at this moment the future proposition is still in a vague state. Everyone has to ask the question: when is the right time to become visible in the market with what level of detail?

In retrospect, with the de facto outcomes in mind, everyone is smarter and knows why something did (not) work. For founders, however, it is helpful to have some indications of the degree of maturity of their novelties beforehand. Additionally to a realistic business plan, the product and/or service should be described in a way that the application context, the deliverable, the design and any extras are clearly outlined.

  • Application context
    Each offer has to be prepared for one or more application fields. This goes from the thematic areas of application, to the geographical locations, to the corresponding target groups, to the respective use cases. A hammer drill is rather not used in a surgery room. Software with a Chinese interface will certainly not be a big seller in Europe. Mountaineers equipment is of no use to the athlete. And only in an emergency, when there is no scalpel at hand, a surgeon will make the tracheotomy with a kitchen knife. What conditions need to be taken into account? Which target group is targeted? What are the typical use cases?
    Therefore: Clarify at least one application context with its conditions.
  • Deliverable
    A deliverable can be a product or a service, or a mix of both. Describe the features or use as well as the required inputs and generated outputs. The service consists of practical, symbolic and economic advantages. Without a sufficient description of the deliverable, you should get out of this meaningless PR loop. There is no point in talking about the best and simplest product or the friendliest and fastest service. What are the technical features of a product? What is the task of a service? How do shape, color and haptic support the application? What makes the application easier for the users? What extras are provided – advice, customer support, financing? What requirements must be met? What are exemplary results?
    Therefore: Describe the product and the customer support as if it had been on the market for a long time.
  • Design
    The design of the deliverable is decisive for the acceptance by the customer. There is no deliverable without having to be designed, since they are all part of the real world. An ugly device will not prevail. An alien user interface repels. The lack of a classified style provides a unique selling proposition, but customers initially have to get used to it. How do you want to be perceived (e.g. best product, customer-driven solution or the most economical deliverable)? Which remembrance can be linked to the customer support? Which categorizations (e.g. style, content) are possible? How clearly do you want to position yourself?
    Therefore: Design the deliverable in such a way that the desired target group is reached and convinced.
  • Packaging
    The packaging has to fulfil certain tasks – which you can see in the many unboxing clips on YouTube. The packaging should be considered from the beginning. It is used for protection, storage and transport. With the appropriate design, it serves as advertising space and also promotes sales. In the case of customer support, packaging covers the shop layout, the staff clothing and the ergonomics of the website. What packaging does the product need? In what context is the customer support presented?
    Therefore: Create appropriate packaging for the product and the customer support.
  • Extras
    Today, all offers include supplementing components such as accessories and extras that provide further incentives to buy. More and more complex deliverables require more and more professional advice and customer support. Sustained customer loyalty is promoted through informative newsletters and a lively online community. An added guarantee and favorable financing round off the proposal. Which extras can you offer additionally? How can you skillfully advice your customers? What other gadgets can be proposed?
    Therefore: The completed assortment should plan appropriate extras right from the start.

Even if this effort may seem very high, you should be aware that it is very difficult to develop marketing for something that yet cannot be explained in detail. The crux of the matter is when are you sufficiently prepared. In any case, there is a lot to be said against starting marketing early, with the first idea, or very late, when everything is finished. If people want to know more details, it’s probably not enough. If they’re waving off due to too much information, it’s probably too much.

Bottom line: The tendency of start-ups to develop their websites early on and to plan the corresponding marketing measures is clumsy, as a lot is still changing and must be adapted subsequently. The first step, in any case, is the preparation of the product and/or service: description of the application context, the deliverable, the design and the packaging as well as the extras. The crux of the right time is left over. The main thing is that you do not become active too early or too late.

Finding your own rhythm

How much change requires respect from somebody is different for everyone. It begins with the small fluctuations which deflect the internalized routine. The desk that somebody cleaned up. The daily way to work that is blocked by a construction site. It is the modifications that make accustomed habits impossible. The introduction of a new IT system or the reallocation of tasks that require another approach, because the old ones are no longer valid. And then there are the fundamental upheavals which affect all aspects of life. The withdrawal from the current life, when one emigrates or leaves a previous career path. Notwithstanding of how strong the upheavals are, everyone has to react to the flux with a personal rhythm.

Since you get constantly challenged with different intensity, it is helpful to develop a routine that maintains the momentum of change until you get used to the new routine. You can use the following approaches and celebrate each with something special.

  • The first step
    Change only begins when you actually set yourself in motion. The first step towards the new is crucial in order to start the change. Even if this first step seems small and insignificant, this quantum leap is the beginning, no matter how long the path is.
  • The first day
    It is worthwhile to celebrate the first day you have got through after the first step. Not having given up the ghost makes the first day an important step towards change. When you then recognize the first results, the continuation on the following day is guaranteed.
  • The first week
    After a week the first signs of the new routine arise. The new one has already been applied several times, even though it has not yet become second nature. The devil is often in the detail that is subsequently recognized and mastered.
  • The first month
    Depending on the scope, many aspects of the change are already known after one month. The road blocks of the first day are forgotten. A lot has been practiced, which can be recognized by the fact that the acquired abilities are no longer consciously perceived.
  • The first quarter
    After three months one is already in the everyday flow. The tasks are carried out routinely. The consistency of earlier procedures is replaced by the new skills and conclusions that now are available.
  • The first half-year
    After half a year one is completely acquainted. The own values and beliefs have been adjusted. The surprises that now appear out of nowhere, take place in any case, no matter how well prepared somebody is. Prior approaches become difficult to handle, because you can no longer get into the old shoes.
  • The first year
    After a year, the memories of the old have faded away. Old processes are difficult to reconstruct. The memories create an unpleasant feeling, because the new has proven itself. The next change is already apparent on the horizon.

Everyone has its own personal approach to transformation. This goes from just doing nothing differently, to any change is welcome. The rituals that you come up with to cope with change determine the difficulties you have to deal with. Since change takes primarily place in the mind, it is sufficient just to change your perspective. If one does not manage this, then the transition costs more energy than if one openly accepts the new.

Bottom line: The implementation of changes creates resistance by nature. Especially when those affected do not have the opportunity to engage mentally. It is helpful for individual patients to celebrate the metamorphosis. And not just once, but over and over again. In order to anchor the innovations in your mind in an appealing way, it is best to find you’re your rhythm: the first step; the first day; the first week; the first month; the first quarter; the first half-year; the first year. Over time, deviations become normal.


Why should I?

In the egotope of one’s own small apartment, everything is determined by the interests of the one resident. He doesn’t have to coordinate with anyone, doesn’t have to permanently consider other people and only cares when he is in the mooed for it. Different lifestyles, attitudes and tastes encounter in the sociotope of a flat-sharing community. The perceived obligation to take care of the common living space can be very different from one to the other. In the bathroom and the kitchen the different sensitivities collide. One remedy is nowadays the labelling of food and drinks with the name of the owner, in the hope of rediscovering the personal purchases when needed. Fate hits when it comes to dishes. As soon as the first dirty plate remains, other used plates, glasses, knives, forks and spoons accumulate at the speed of light. Why would anyone care about it?

Familial and cultural differences result in dissimilar thresholds of irritation, which, as soon as they are exceeded, lead to someone caring, because the personal emotional burden becomes too big.

  • Assignment
    The official trigger is a temporary assignment of the task. As soon as someone is obliged to fulfil an affair, for example in business in the form of a job description or a direct order, when the authorities are sufficient to deliver the required results in a determined quality, the person in charge has little room to leeway to avoid it.
    The formalized assignment with the clear description of the task is the common way.
  • Career reasons
    The assumption of unpopular tasks can result from career advantages for the responsible persons, which are sufficient to devote them courageously to the activity.
    The calculated assignment uses ambition and creates a win-win situation.
  • Interest
    The intrinsic stimulus of dedicating oneself to a task arises naturally, when the content satisfies a particular interest. And every task can be interesting – even generally unpopular routine tasks. The
    intrinsic assumption of a task based on passion boosts the well-being of the contractor.
  • Public spirit
    A special interest comes from the altruistic drive to take on tasks in order to make the world a better place.
    The altruistic drive to do a job for humanity’s benefit strengthens the fulfiller’s self-esteem.
  • Boredom
    As soon as the inner clock runs slower and slower, time doesn’t want to pass, you get cabin fever and you can’t find anything better to do, than boredom is worse than any unpopular task.
    The distracting performance of otherwise unattractive tasks shall expel the time of the executer.
  • Psychological strain
    If the current situation is so awkward that the level of suffering rises above the personally acceptable degree, this leads quickly to the removal of the disturbing problem.
    The curative takeover of a task takes place autonomously in order to eliminate the acute „pain“ by completing the task.

Bottom line: There are tasks that require the active treatment. The reasons to take care of it are manifold. They range from a temporary assignment, are based on interest, calculated career reasons and altruistic public spirit, to avoiding boredom and solving personal suffering. The diversity of the characters leads in most cases to the handling of the task. The first is in extreme cases the last possibility – the assignment. By answering the question „Why should I?“ the implementation starts – sooner or later.

The simple formula for a text

You have decided to put your „Hello world“ in writing on the way. The finalized text already floats in front of your inner eye. However, the path from your imagination to paper or into the computer requires guard rails which keep you on track. In contrast to the content of a text, the formal composition follows a surprisingly simple formula.

The following outline provides simple hints for blog posts, articles or book chapters – also for you.

Organize your content!

You know what you want to write. You have your own personal style. You keep exchanging ideas with others. These are perfect conditions to develop your text. Now the task is to organize your train of thought. Know what you want to achieve, what messages you have, and in what order you develop your argument by making a sketch.

Track down your target group!

The focus on a specific target group is crucial for the impact of your text. Do you already have a notion of your readers? You have any idea what they are interested in? You know their jargon? With these ideas you will find suitable words, choose a text tone and encourage the readers to persevere ‘til the end of the text and eventually consider your text consciously. With PERYOU a kind of dialogue with the reader is possible that provokes new insights.

Use the signal effect of the title!

Most readers decide based on titles within one to two seconds whether to continue reading or not. This no longer applies only to the web, but also to printed matter. The headline sticks out of the flowing text and shows at a glance, what the reader can hope for. This is especially true for the headline of an article. In addition, paragraph/chapter headings provide quick access to the flow of thought. In a few words, you phrase solutions, advantages and incentives that bring new points of view to the target group.

Start with a glimpse!

Take advantage of an entry that further increases the stimulated interest. With this pretension, the introduction, you can create a frame for the reader that makes the later main part catchier. You place a comprehensible context, prepare for the main messages and provide each individual with reasons to continue to read. Anticipate the essential questions of your target group and provoke the readership with skeptical statements.

Convey the points of view!

Your actual messages and explanations unfold in the main section. This part is the most extensive and requires a suspense curve that captivates the reader. This is achieved with section titles (see above), which give the reader an overview and spurs on curiosity continuously. In addition, you should make sure that the content provides readers with explanations, options and value as well as clarifies the overall message.

End with an outlook for more!

Be careful not to abruptly leave the reader behind after your argument has been conclusively concluded. Make sure that your message still has an impact by creating a reverberation with an outlook. After the text is before the text. Summarize the new insights for the readers and create a bridge to further topics – it is advantageous if you already have the next text in mind and can refer to it.

Bottom line: You will already be dealing with the above topics. And somehow the points mentioned are clear to everyone. Nevertheless, it helps to refresh them from time to time. Of course you have your contents in front of your eyes. And you know who you’re writing for. You know the signal effect of a title. And you’ll probably use an introduction to effectively frame your messages and to look outside the box. Yet, it is always helpful to be aware of the above variables, which make up the simple formula. Not to forget the additional design elements that can further enhance the expediency of a text, such as the page layout, font sizes and formats, as well as visualizations of all kinds.

Unintended consequences

Most of our working time, we take care of routine tasks that need to be done and are not a challenge or a fun factor. Since they are neither difficult nor particularly complex, they are decided and processed on the side without eagerness. Somebody purchases USB sticks for the employees, who quadruple the memory and only cost a fraction. Due to the cheaper Chinese manufacturer, you can save a few Euros based on the required quantity. That afterwards employees regularly lose their data or are not able to connect the stick, that because of that customer conversations fail, that as a result important contracts do not materialize and therefore eventually the company’s turnover slumps dramatically, is incommensurate with the 1250 Euros saved. It’s the old story that short-sighted savings can destroy the basis for business success – just like the supervisor, who shoots a staff member, although the employee is the reason for his own position.

Decisions usually do not only produce the desired results, but you also pay for it with unintended consequences. The reasons for this are manifold.

  • Blindness
    In extreme cases one cannot imagine consequences at all – neither the wanted nor the unwanted. This results from a context-free consideration of a decision: Do I choose solution A or solution B? Since there is an interest behind a decision, it is easy to forget that there can also be consequences which subsequently burden the result.
    For this reason, when a decision is taken you should not only ask what you enable with one alternative or the other, but also whether there are unwanted consequences that you do not want to suffer from under no circumstances.
  • Simplification
    The trivialization of a decision-making is the unintended creation of the aforementioned blindness of the unwanted effects. This happens by oversimplifying the influencing variables through generalizations, stereotypes and ambiguities so that the findings become arbitrary. Although this popularization makes the decisions more comprehensible, it does not improve the decision.
    For this reason, decisions should not be trivialized. There is no guarantee that the forecasts made will come true. However, predictions improve when the decision parameters are adequately considered.
  • Ignorance
    A further variant that leads to a form of blindness is the lack of understanding caused by too little or too much information. How is one supposed to make a reasonable decision, if one does not sufficiently know the circumstances? The butterfly effect has taught us that you can never know enough to make a reliable prediction. However, that does not mean that you should forego more clarity to be able to make better decisions.
    For this reason one should always question the own view. Is the important information available? Is my view consistent? Do I understand everything? Since you can never understand everything, there always remains a residual risk that decreases with more clarity.
  • Acceleration
    Unpleasant decisions are often rushed. You act with the attitude: If you don’t know what the outcomes are going to be, you should at least make the decision quickly. And this, although this form of hurry results in more unintended consequences.
    For this reason, ANY decision should have an appropriate timeframe. In business, there are rarely matters of life and death that should be decided in seconds. Common sense suggests that you should sleep on every decision – in order to come to a better conclusion during the nightly batch processing.
  • Bias
    Opportunities that require a decision are burdened with unconscious distortions of perception, remembrance, thinking, and judgment. These filters are called cognitive distortion or bias. An example is groupthink, in which an individual is influenced by the opinion of the group that leads to making worse decisions than one would make without the group. Another example is the control illusion that tells you that you can control random influences.
    For this reason, a decision should be objectified, for example by taking the neutral positions or those of other people and by creating a Pro-Con list from their different points of view.

Bottom line: Decisions do not only contain desired outcomes, but also consequences, which may have little to do with the result, but can be very harmful. One should ensure that shehe sees the (un)wanted consequences, does not draw conclusions by exaggerated simplification, knows more through adequate information, thinks everything through with sufficient time and avoids distortions of perception, remembering, thinking and judging, in order to not suffer from unintended consequences.

Secret crimes?

That crimes are kept secret is part of the offence. Revealing and punishing it is in the interest of most people – except the perpetrators. In everyday life, however, things look different. This can be seen in the legal situation, whether a crime must be reported or not. Society actually has an interest in persecuting crimes. However, the so-called whistleblowers would need a clear legal situation. Although we are talking in Germany about the duty of disclosure, according to which confidants make themselves liable to prosecution. At the same time, many employees of companies and governmental authorities are contractually bound to secrecy. However, the existing laws only seem to apply in advance (see in German Criminal Code (StGB) § 138 Non-notification of planned criminal offences, Law against Unfair Competition (UWG) § 17 Betrayal of Business and Trade Secrets). How are we supposed to behave?

Since this is a legal issue, the legislator should provide clarity so that the informants who detect such offenses do not get stuck in the dilemma of exposing a crime and at the same time being prosecuted for secret treason.

  • Crime
    Serious violations of the legal system are called crime that are normally prohibited in all jurisdictions – but only if you get caught.
  • Duty of disclosure
    An obligation to report would exist, if someone had knowledge of a criminal fact. However, as already indicated, in Germany this duty of disclosure seems to exist only before the offence is committed (see Criminal Code (StGB) § 138 Non-notification of planned criminal offences). This is to prevent the crime. But, what if the crime has already been committed? Does that mean you don’t have to report crimes afterwards? This would be bad news for the whistleblowers, as they usually become active after the event.
  • Secret
    A secret is a fact that is kept hidden from the public. The larger the circle of confidants, the more difficult it becomes to prevent the information leakage. Therefore enterprises and state institutions secure themselves with appropriate secret agreements (see also Law against Unfair Competition (UWG) § 17 Betrayal of Business and Trade Secrets). In the end, employees who disclose internal information, regardless of whether it is about legal or illegal aspects, are liable to prosecution – think about the Diesel affair, tax CDs or corruption.
  • Whistleblowers
    In the eye of the public, these unveilers of secret information are ethical role models who are committed to the common good when they uncover criminal activity. They operate without safety-net at their own risk.

To what extent illegal secrets are entitled to protection is in the eye of the beholder. The tax authority that receives as a result back payments, will welcome the hints. The international community that can prove against a state that it has violated human rights is well served by internal information. The uncovered perceives it quite differently and will do everything to punish the whistleblowers. The double standard that goes along with this becomes visible when only war criminals from weak states are called to account – The little ones are hanged and the big ones are left to run. If any information is beneficial for me, the whistleblower is welcome. If a data leakage exposes me, I guess not. For the common sense of justice, this is an untenable condition.

Bottom line: Whistleblowers are walking on thin ice. Although society proclaims that there is a moral duty to reveal misconduct, the laws do not protect the revealers. There is neither an obligation to report, nor is one protected from a charge of treason. For an information society it is dubious, if the secrecy of illegal activity is promoted and protected by lack of laws.

P.S.: No good prospects for Julian Assange, who made it possible to take a look behind the perpetrators‘ facade.

Retro – the fanciless reuse

Cultural artifacts have now become economic products and services that follow the rules of the market – literature, music as well as the performing and visual arts. Artists thus become designers of new offers. A wide variety of channels have to be continuously supplied with content – television and radio stations, concert stages, theatres and museums. A quick way to expand your own palette is the fanciless reuse of existing offers. In the absence of subject matters, interesting outgrowths occur. Television stations live from reruns; cinema blockbusters become serials and remakes; pop music lives from cover songs and cover bands; theater plays are completely alienated under well-known titles. Do the artists lack ideas or is the market forcing them to reuse work without imagination?

Previously, the rule was: form follows function. Creatives came up with content and put it into a form. Do the markets demand the endless continuation of the form and fill it always with the same content? Are there rarely enough contents? The following elements are reused thereby.

  • The plot
    The red thread that runs through a story follows a certain rhythm that ensures that the attention of the audience is continuously refreshed once in a short while. The associated actions follow a conceivable sequence that is interspersed with suspense – in a thriller, the perpetrator is uncovered at the end, during the course or at the beginning of the story; through deliberately interspersed effects such as unknown cultures, unusual role models or elements from other genres (e.g. esotericism in an adventure). Depending on the culture the actual action is always the same – in the USA the investigation team and in Germany the commissioner with his assistant.
    Retro provides target groups fanciless repeated plots.
  • The format
    Depending on the target media, e,g, print, radio, film or Internet, the plots are differently offered. A new novel is planned like the rollout of a product – after publication, the book is discussed on the radio and the television, and reviews are launched in the relevant magazines and eventually sold to the highest bidder for further exploitation. What counts is the signal effect of the original title. Good examples of this kind of marketing are Perfume by Patrick Süskind or The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupéry, which have already completed their rounds in various formats. The actual story doesn’t change – just the format.
    Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated formats.
  • The theme
    The Zeitgeist brings different subjects to the fore, which, if successful, will be repeated by many – the psyche at the beginning of the twentieth century, totalitarianism after the Second World War or the GDR after German reunification. Today, scientific findings in psychology are used in television series such as Lie to me or Leverage to attract viewers with insights into non-verbal communication. The attraction lies in new insights that could be used in everyday life.
    Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated topics.
  • The protagonists
    The introduced actors are the supporting pillars of a work – e.g. religious characters in the visual arts; mythology in music; contemporary people in stories. Honoré de Balzac with his human comedy showed the French society of the 19th century. Jules Verne had his courageous researchers who broke the boundaries of the world. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrapped the South American reality in magic. Heinrich Boell provided a picture of the FRG during the economic upswing. Today’s protagonists are the same again and again: the crazy scientist; the spiritualized commissioner; the punk investigator. Seldom new personalities emerge, as in the book The reader by Bernhard Schlink.
    Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated protagonists.
  • The Songs
    With the spread of records, the twentieth century became the age of popularized music. Whereas in the past music required musicians, music can be reproduced and enjoyed at any time of the day or night through the canning of records and today’s Internet. In addition, the countless radio broadcasts and films require a continuous flow of new compositions. Certain styles are reused. The fate of the new musicians is to sound like Led Zeppelin or Adele. And at the same time old pieces are re-staged as covers, at best interpreted in a new way. It is possible that music has reached its limits and new harmonies are no longer possible without repeating existing melodies.
    Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated compositions.
  • The design
    Designed packaging is in the economy an important element of marketing. The customers accept an offer, if the packaging appeals to them – the performing arts use for this purpose a special stage; the visual arts the spectacular exhibition space; music and books the book cover. Part of the design is the attractive title that triggers the first buying impulse – The secret; What everyone needs to know; Passive income for everybody. The advertising poster, the flap text and the trailer are further components of the packaging that suggest certain quality criteria with their design and sometimes promise more than they can keep. The actual content takes a back seat – the design determines the business.
    Retro often provides the target group fanciless repeated designs.

Bottom line: The countless remakes in cinema and TV, the endless repetitions of quiz formats, the new cover bands and the adoption of classical themes in computer games enable the industrial exploitation of cultural brands. The fanciless reuse of old plots, formats, themes, protagonists, pieces of music and designs flood the sales areas with a look backwards. The approach of packing old things into new vessels and selling them shifts creativity from content to form and prevents that way that new things appear. Therefore retro stands for fanciless reuse.

Actually, the house always wins

Compulsive players are not discouraged from playing by the sentence „The house always wins“. They are addicted to the anticipation of a gain and accept the risk of losing. In the beginning the bet is only occasional and generates good feelings. Then, the obsession starts and more and more often one loses larger sums. The whole thing culminates in complete despair and hopelessness.
The same happens with stock exchange transactions and other investment opportunities. The game with larger amounts of money triggers the limbic intoxication of a gambler. However, safety nets are currently under construction to cushion these players by allowing them to claim their losses – either through the legal code or through the new court of arbitration that operate outside the national jurisdiction. This allows the players to recover their losses through legal action. By the way – of course, the house wins here too.

In the end, this is a systemic mistake. The risk of the transactions is transferred to the society and the profits remain with the players. What are the interests that heat up the financial transactions and give the participants their fruitful source of income?

  • Companies need capital
    Companies need in advance capital to finance their business, for example to pay
    the personnel and material costs required to develop and prepare products and services.
    In the event of failure, companies go bankrupt or rebrand and leave collateral damage to the society – like environmental damage, unemployment and asset losses.
  • Investors are looking for profits
    The wealthy have more money than they can spend. In order to counteract a loss of value such as above or inflation, they sedulously look for ways to let the money work.
    Investors privatize their profits regardless of collateral damage and socialize their losses to the society.
  • The state is looking for investors
    In principle, it is up to the state to ensure that the population lacks nothing. For this reason, politicians make attractive offers to investors, when they invest in their country – tax advantages and business-friendly laws. And if a business fails, politicians secure the capital invested, borrow money from one bank to relieve another – and vice versa.
    The costs for wrong decisions of the political „economic leaders“, who are interested in nothing else than their mandate, are borne by their voters – which actually is strange.
  • Products need consumers
    Due to the advanced automation of established companies and the globalization, more and more cheap products are developed, which urgently need a customer.
    In the end, these short-lived products pollute the environment. All people bear the consequences.
  • The society needs work
    In contrast to the wealthy; the majority of the population is depending on full-time employment in order to pay for their monthly expenses. Job competition is taking place globally. At the same time, simple tasks are competing with machines, which now perform routine tasks more reliably.
    Overall, traditional employment opportunities are disappearing. Society is impoverishing.
  • The economy has a need for turnover
    In order to prosper, the society must consume the products and services of the companies. The loss of traditional work as well as precarious jobs create a consumer class that needs affordable alternatives to mainstream consumption – like repair cafés, barter sites, sharing, pay-per-use.
    Contrary to the previous standpoints, when it was assumed that the tides would move everyone up and down, the gap is widening regardless of the economic situation – the poor are becoming poorer and the rich richer.

Bottom line: Since many optimize themselves and indemnify based on the society, distortions occur, which go above all at the expense of the powerless. Companies rely on external financing and thus shift the risk to the lenders. Investors maximize their profits by investing their capital in risky transactions and by socializing losses. The state (or its decision-makers) foregoes revenue in order to attract investors. The flood of bad products damages the environment at the end of the ever shorter life cycle. The population can no longer make a living from their work and saves itself in social networks. The economy is overheating in the hope of being able to restart in a coming crash. And all financial transactions, no matter in which direction, are processed by the house – that always win.

The scope determines the level of detail

With increasing performance consolidation, managers and employees have to cover an ever larger range of tasks. The activities become thereby more and more concentrated on a subject, which requires more time-consuming preparations. The increasing digitalization does not offer any relief, but creates additional sensory overload, which has to be mastered. These trends lead to more stress and at the same time to more questions than we can coordinate in our minds. Although we know the limit of our processing capacity of 7plusminus2 chunks determined by G. A. Miller  (see also), we do not take care of this knowledge at work. We could, for example, use it to deal with only as many issues as we can handle without collateral damage, depending on the extent of our scope.

Thegroupingofsomethingintounderstandablepartsmakesprocessingeasierforus. Since we only overlook a certain number of characters at a time, we break a too large element down into manageable components. The grouping of something into understandable parts makes processing easier for us. In German we would improve the understanding further by using upper and lower case. The Grouping of Something into understandable parts makes Processing easier for us. As in this example, the right breakdown facilitates the mastering of the tasks in our daily work. The desired complexity should be based on the 7plusminus2 regularity and thus ensure the ability to act of those persons responsible, for example:

  • Number of strategical aspects
    Let’s imagine employees, who are given a forty-page outlook on tomorrow – clear announcements for the 15 product areas, the 12 customer segments and the 15 markets. 12 goals define the direction and each contains ten clear expectations. That seems unrealistic? A look into your own corporate agenda answers this question.
    The participants cannot memorize more than 7plusminus2 core statements. Only with the internalized statements the integrating purpose of the publication is achieved.
  • Size of the assigned scope
    The flattening of the organization has led to large manager-to-staff ratio. 7plusminus2 directly assigned employees are manageable. Lean management has not only increased the manager-to-staff ratio, but also brought managers closer to the operational units. This leads to increased involvement in operational decisions.
    A manager-to-staff ratio of five combined with rigorous delegation of tasks, authority and responsibility (TAR) to the place of action provides relief for the responsible person.
  • Size of organizational units
    In the course of agility, the ideal size of a team is once again discussed. The answer of Scrum is clear – a maximum of nine members. This is only possible, if the scope of the work packages (see below) is realizable, taking into account the time frame and the required resources. The assumption of responsibility by the employees requires from the bosses the consequent letting loose of operative decisions – in a sprint the team has the full control.
    The use of new management styles that is based on self-organization relieves the respective superordinate level through the increased commitment of the employees and their knowledge advantage at the place of the action.
  • Amount of initiatives
    Many people argue that the increasing number of projects and actions is not a matter of wanting to implement more and more initiatives, but results from the needs of the business – the customer, the technology, the staff, the suppliers, the market situation, etc. This is not the reality. The pressure to lead forces the leaders to create ever more tasks. It is forgotten that more projects mean less available time for the individual project that keeps on running besides the day-to-day business. The rule of thumb is:
    5 days a week divided by the number of initiatives = available attention per initiative.
    The number of initiatives should be based on available capacity. Neither the employees nor the management master more than 7plusminus2 projects – which means that one only has half a day per week for an initiative. The ignorance of this fact is certainly one reason why two thirds of projects fail to meet their targets.
  • Scope of the work packages
    Also the size of the work packages is determined by the availability of resources. An employee, who takes care of ten construction sites at the same time, will at least perform worse – if he will achieve this at all. Half a day to complete certain tasks does not only has to cover the task, but also the setup times for changing from one to the other. Like a juggler, the participants are overwhelmed by too many balls in the air.
    The size of the work packages overloads not only the employees, but also their managers. The scope of the work packages should adhere to the 7plusminus2 rule in order to deliver results reliably.
  • Number of indicators
    The management of projects is carried out with sophisticated key performance indicator systems designed by specialists, who do nothing else – and therefore too much. This results in structures that supply many parameters at the top level across several layers. Not only the choice of the right indicators is important, but also the number of parameters that have to be kept up to date. As soon as more than 7plusminus2 KPIs are used, the control becomes difficult, since even the interpretation of the numbers leads to different, often mutually interfering measures.
    The key performance indicator system should follow the 7plusminus2 rule and provide exactly those figures that are needed at the various levels for the respective units.

Bottom line: Even this brief look at the business, with 7minus1 aspects, conveys a feeling for the complexity at stake. Less is more! The first step is the question of the extent of the scope of responsibility. Based on this, the 7plusminus2 priorities have to be designed, which cover the field 100%. This then leads to the level of detail that the responsible persons still master. The challenges will still remain difficult, even with the corresponding limitation to manageable aspects, mainly due to the complex interactions – however, without the current overload. With the conscious design of your own scope at the appropriate level of detail, which does not consist of more than 7plusminus2 topics, it not only relieves the burden, but also promotes success. It is the scope that determines the level of detail.