Schlagwort-Archive: Rules

The button – the ideal metaphor for an interface

One of the greatest discoveries of mankind, beside the hand axe and the fire, was the needle. Sewing individual pieces of pelts to fitting clothing not only protected against the cold, but also made the personal status visible. This stable seam permanently held the separated fabric edges together – which was not always desired. For this reason, the seam became more flexible by tying the parts temporarily. Today there are different connections: Hooks connected with an eyelet and push buttons as well as the most common, the hole buttons, flat discs that are inserted through corresponding holes. Not only clothing requires flexible junctions, but also relationships between systems of all kinds – people, artifacts and software.

All connections are based on similar building blocks as the buttoning.

  • Established joint
    If you intend to join two open ends or parts of fabrics or skins, you can glue, weld, sew, staple together, weave, knot, connect, tie, plug, hook, zip, plug, entangle or, for our example, button them up. The button is a reliable approach that can be easily applied. In business, processes and IT interfaces are implemented through set transfer points, coordination rituals and contracts that can be resolved and terminated at any time. This is possible, when there are fixed handover points – places or connectors.
  • Agreed rules
    Interfaces only work when the individual components, the button and the hole, fit together. The oversized button that does not fit the buttonhole cannot create a connection. The buttonhole that is too large will not hold the button reliably. In business, the interfaces are even more sensitive. The coordination is the pre-requisite, in order to let an interface fulfill its purpose in the IT or in the processes. This is possible, when there are common rules at the interface – a particular IT protocol or a common language.
  • Common goal
    All connections have in common that two or more parts combine to form a unit in order to pursue shared goals. The clothing should protect you, the charging station should charge the electromobile, a joint venture wants to capture a market or two parties want to govern together. The units connected in this way share a common destiny with rights and duties that are only valid as long as they are associated. This is possible when everyone fulfils his or her purpose – in an economic community or in a partnership.
  • Foreseeable timeframe
    Despite the naturally inherent transience of relationships, parts can be more firmly or loosely connected with each other. If the parts are to remain together for a longer period of time, durable solutions such as gluing, welding, joining and sewing are recommended. If only temporary cohesion is desired, all types of flexible connections such as hooks, zippers and buttons are the right choice. The interfaces in the business are always connected with expenditure, which have to pay off. Pursued irrevocable mergers are to eliminate such interfaces from the outset by repositioning themselves, breaking up redundant elements and subsequently undoing the union only with a lot of disadvantages. Temporary alliances build on form-free agreements that provide the temporary working basis. This is possible, when the groups in advance become aware of the duration of the relationship – a merger can always be retransferred or a temporary relationship can exist for a very long time.

Bottom line: There are more and more opportunities to connect individual groups with each other. While in the past the interplay was designed for a long time, today we have to deal with more and more short-lived associations. The current trend of platforms is a good example of the relationship dynamics – global networks, knowledge sharing between competitors, temporary memberships. At the same time, they can dissolve at any time and merge again as needed. On the one hand, the necessary mechanisms must function reliably and, on the other hand, can be resolved at any time. A good example of such a connection point is the button that connects safely and can be released again at any time. This makes the button an ideal metaphor for an interface.

 

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.

Agility does not tolerate a bonsai style

Bonsai is the art of influencing the growth of trees in such a way that the trees have a beautiful growth habit through artistic designing, but kept small in pots by regular cuts. The result is a large variety of original, apparently wild trees. In nature these trees would grow into the sky. A similar approach has evolved within enterprises. Bonsai style is the art of keeping employees small. This micro management affects the employee activities, like the scissors on the growth of trees. Agility that depends on pro-activity, initiative and flexibility of the people, cannot tolerate bonsai style.

What defines the bonsai style that undermines agility?

  • More criticism than praise
    Representatives of the bonsai style have the tendency to nip the however small commitment of employees in the bud by caviling incessantly. It makes no difference, whether the objections are justified or not. The whole is intensified by the absence of praise. In an agile world such leader could not take a stand, since nobody would follow them.
  • Devalue results with formalities
    The agile employees are driven people of their own aspiration. The attention is limited to the resolution. This leads to the fact that aspects that do not have much to do with the solution are faded out as of minor importance. Does the tie fit? Did you use the official forms? Is the Font correct? The result consists of eighty-percent problem solution. The bad evaluation of the formalities completely misses the goal and tramples all over the tender seedling of the employee commitment.
  • Consistently pulling the superior joker
    After many years of the development, the learning organization, the employee participation, and the teambuilding with their standards, evaluations and decisions from above, the power structures are still in place. Now those, who came to their limits, expect a debureaucratization and the utilization of the inherent employee energy of wanting to create something. However, if no one comes forward voluntarily, the volunteers are determined. If nobody delivers what the superiors expect, the employees get their result adapted by micro management. For safeguarding the business, the hierarchical structures are kept besides the agile ones.
  • Disparaged in the plenum
    A very effective approach, in order to keep the employees small, are offending comments in the public. Devaluing remarks on the personal work style, on small mistakes in the argumentation or on the editing, guarantee that the employees lose their face. The anticipatory commitment of the agile employee is then no longer probable.
  • Micro management
    The always not available, but obsessed with details 24/7 micro managers are actually their best agile employees. Their commitment always is at maximum. They worry about everything and they are decisive. Unfortunately they don’t have the time to consider, because they have incessantly tasks, which they obviously have to worry about. Since everything excites their attention, they cannot manage to get used to the work and contribute thereby nothing. Understandably, they cannot accomplish their actual function. Micro management is one of the largest hurdles on the way to the agility.
  • Missing covering
    The attitude to correct at any time each detail at discretion leads to the fact that the employees are quickly alone without covering, exposed to the problem in case of crisis. In order to be able to act agilely, they need however the trust from above that their actions always take place in the interest of the larger whole. Where a lot of things happen, there happen also many errors. Error tolerance is an approach, to provide good covering. In the context of agility a remaining leadership task is the boundless support and employee shielding, when they process the topics self-organized.
  • Rule one and two

Apart from the micro management the largest agility killers are the rules of power. Rule 1: The boss is always right. Rule 2: If he is not right, then automatically rule 1 is valid. Thereby the budding initiative has no chance to prove itself on a long-term basis and to develop an effective solution.

Bottom line: As long as the old approaches for the company design remain unchanged, like the hierarchical structure, the chain of command, or the superior joker, the associated disadvantages also remain. The generous authorization of the employees with sufficient resources, powers and support is crucial for exhausting the advantages of agile approaches. Bonsai style prevents thereby the desired effects since an employee initiative nipped in the bud cannot flourish.

What remains for most of us?

A gate agent of an US airline recently denied boarding to passengers for improper clothing (leggings). The Paris Opera expelled a Muslim woman from the hall due to her niqab. In Mallorca it is forbidden to walk in bath clothes through the city. The so to speak public areas are more and more limited and regulated. When do we start regulating buying in the supermarket, going by bus, visiting the cinema and all the other profane things of everyday life, with an order that extensively limits the individual rights and privacy? What remains for most of us?

The whole thing is intensified by the fact that less and less areas are common property that you can use at will. The desired behavior in these areas, like buildings, roads, parks, forests, and places, is regulated by private or governmental bodies. With the increasing provision of generally accessible places by businesses and the retreat of public areas, the free spaces are narrowed, where the general public can fulfill itself – sometimes free of charge and sometimes with an entrance fee.

All these places are subject to different regulations. The green may not be entered. On public streets are less and less parking lots. This leads to the fact that on one airline you may not fly with leggings and in the other one you may; you may enjoy a performance veiled in one opera hall and in the other not; you may enter one building with a dog and the other one only without; you may be under video surveillance in one road, without knowing, what they do with the images and in the other one you may not; you may spend the night in one park and in the other one not;  you are not allowed to mountain-biking in one forest and in the other one you may.

In the US some companies drain the water reservoirs of communities for a small fee. Afterwards, they sell the water filled in bottles for a lot of money to customers – also to the residents of the communities, who got in the meantime water problems. The remaining common properties, like air, streets and education, will become administered on a trust basis and likewise chargeable – for each breath.

The regulation of the everyday life is progressing continuously. The consequences are already visible, although deterring futures were already extensively depicted in literature and in movies.

  • The big brother is watching you in 1984 by George Orwell – nowadays also during Internet usage (more here).
  • The prohibition to read books in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – nobody knows, which filters are already restricting the access to certain information.
  • The consequences of the virtualization in Matrix by the Wachowski brothers – it is worthwhile to look into the near future with Ray Kurzweil (Transcendent one).
  • The assisted suicide in Soylent Green by Harry Harrison – so far only the multi-media attractions are missing.
  • The preventive pursuit of future perpetrators in Minority report of Philip K. Dick – for the time being potential suicide bombers get already electronic tags before the first criminal act, in order to prevent that they blow themselves up.

In extreme cases you can only live your personal style in the context of certain rules. The related convictions will limit the variety and colorfulness of the world. Do we really want this?

Bottom line: Since more and more examples arise frequently that mean restrictions for the majority of the population, the time has come to observe these trends. The community gets more and more limited. Everywhere evolve regulated zones. At the same time other cultures are pointed at and their local rules are stigmatized as unfree. The question that arises is what remains, if we get in the so to speak public areas more and more rules imposed. Which dress-code is valid for the evening walk or shopping? When do individuals make money with common goods like fresh air, good streets or education? And what is the cost of using it? What remains for most of us?
Obedience?

Beyond the informational bubble

If Socrates would have already known the term, one of his famous sayings would have been going like this – “I know that I know nothing outside of my informational bubble.” The fact that we cannot know what we do not know, is an uncomfortable situation. Since Gutenberg the availability of information has grown immeasurably by the mass media. Today we arrived in the Internet, where everybody can reach everybody, as long as they are found. In this complex world it is natural that the web pages are linked with like-minded ones – creationists link to creationists; supporters of the theory of evolution link to supporters of the theory of evolution. What constitutes these spheres? How can you get beyond the informational bubble?

The informational bubble is for example defined by the following aspects.

  • Consistency
    The cohesion in an informational bubble results from a consistent correlation. The individual components repeat and complement each other or even built on each other. In any case they never contradict themselves. For this purpose the necessary logic must be as simple and understandable as possible.
  • Language
    The consistency is guaranteed by a common language. The contributions always repeat a similar pattern. This leads over time to a High Context culture, which is only understandable from the outside and/or is interpreted in the wrong way. Informational bubbles subsist on their technical jargon.
  • Dogmatism
    Informational bubbles have to resist the tendency of influencing their consistency and their jargon. Different world views are as early as possible nipped by all means in the bud and are actively ignored. Repeating the contents through re-use is rewarded. Failure is defamed immediately, mostly as lack of knowledge or as lie or as fake news.
  • Internal linking
    An important function is the use of cross references within the own informational bubble. In the interest of consistency the link to opposite or other opinions is forbidden. Thus, a closed explanation system evolves that lacks openness and a discourse with other topics.
  • Filter
    The Internet insinuates complete accessibility. Therefore the net providers and the social platforms have the possibility to insert and in the meantime even the obligation to filter at any time. These filters prevent the visibility of certain web pages. Particularly countries and enterprises, which believe that they have to exercise control, can fade out undesired contents with simple measures and without being recognized immediately.

There is actually no way out of the bubble, except you have a look beyond your own nose. Additionally it needs:

  • Neutral search engines
    As long as there are overarching search engines, which can look into all informational bubbles, there is a large probability that you can look out of your own informational bubble. The problem is that one does not have any objective way of recognizing filtered contents except you get hints from other media or by word of mouth. You never know, what you don’t know.
  • General rules for filters
    In the best interest of maximum openness, rules for an open Internet should be defined. They should regulate technical blocking, the elimination of search results, the deactivation of web pages and self-censorship. In principle there are cases, in which filters are justified – pedophilia, terrorism, or the like. Unfortunately there is still no generally accepted interpretation, which web pages are to be filtered and which not.
  • Mutual tolerance
    The acceptance and connivance of other opinions is an approach, which is available for everybody, but for understandable reasons is not applied. The discussion of contrary positions would guarantee that the own approach gets more stable. Only with the appropriate tolerance, discourses become possible.

Bottom line: The informational bubble is a natural phenomenon. The common language, the necessity of consistent contents, the inherent convictions, consistent cross references and filters create an integrated approach. With neutral search engines, general rules for filters and common tolerance you can get beyond the informational bubble.

Rules rule rules that rule rules

In times of increasing bureaucratization it becomes more difficult to oversee the innumerable rules that must be followed. Since the employees act autonomously and each detail cannot be regulated from the top, they need a clear set of rules. In order to provide the best possible directions, the enterprises use for example COSO and COBIT as a guideline, i.e. standards for implementing the Governance. The trend to a constantly growing number at standards is foreseeable. Let’s remember the different standards in Project Management. Do we have to adjust ourselves to the fact that in the future rules rule rules that rule rules?

Schlangebeisstschwanz

A common denominator in the rules is the fact that they follow certain rules. The following aspects define the quality of the Governance.

  • Transparency
    In this case the decisions, the decision path and the principles of leadership should be made accessible to the employees. They should always be able to understand, for what reasons the top management deploys certain rules. At the same time they should understand the point of control for their own influence.
  • Economy
    In order to create a reasonable handling of scarce means, the procedures should be designed accordingly. These definitions prevent an uncontrolled growth of rules and procedures. Beyond that, they reduce the expenditure for the introduction of guidelines and enable over time an improved use.
  • Participation
    The employees are motivated by personal sharing and participation in the designing of the enterprise. They receive with the regulations the right and the obligation to participate in the decision making and the implementations. For this reason clear points of control for the participation of the employees are inserted in the procedures.
  • Competencies
    Through clear assignments of authority and responsibility defined tasks prevent Muda and friction losses. All areas are considered as well as the overlap of authorities and mutual obstructions are prevented. The employees know through the transferred rights and obligations, what they have to do – and what not.
  • Rule of law
    Through the bindingness to the rules for all, without exception, the individual is reinforced. In order to get a functioning interaction, it must be guaranteed that that all are equally treated. For this purpose it needs in case of conflicts a clear procedure as well as an independent board of arbitration that can be called by everybody.
  • Justice
    Through an adequate and demandable reconciliation of interests, the justice offers a general framework that goes beyond the detailed rules. The values of the enterprise need a common, fundamental understanding about what is right and what not. A respective understanding avoids a variety of detailed regulations.

In order to guarantee that the Governance is adapted to the respective conditions, a clear control model is required for the enterprises. Thus, COSO offers a framework for the financial reporting and Cobit for the IT. The Governance can be introduced correctly at the right place with these frameworks.

Bottom line: The build-up of a control system, the Governance, is an effective means, for steering enterprises or departments. Standards facilitate reliably the implementation. It is however important to resist the regulation craze. More is not necessarily better. Rules rule rules that rule the rules is the end of effective rule sets.

A picture is worth a thousand (sometimes wrong) words

Over time we developed the conviction ‘Seeing is believing’. This means that one believes in the existence or truth of something, which one saw with the own eyes. Some are already convinced, when they learn about the seeing through second-hand. Images are an effective way to convey a message. There are rock paintings that already used the figurative representation thirty thousand years ago. As time went by the representations became more and more realistic. Today, we can participate in current developments even through moving pictures with original soundtrack and in real time. The picture is taken as proof. Many forget that the two-dimensional medium of a picture distorts reality with its perspective, frame and the moment of the taking. The consequence is that a picture says more than thousand words – sometimes even wrong ones.

Bildsagtmehralstausendworte

In the course of the Ukraine crisis the above photographs were taken in a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama. Different photographs of the meeting appeared subsequently in several newspapers. We still trust the journalists as the last bastion of objectivity. The ethos of journalists, to always spread objective truths, should actually lead to reliable news. Let’s forget the special cases of the controlled, non-military war correspondents (so called embedded journalists) and the quasi-state-run press, since they are obviously propaganda. The associated attempt of the historical manipulation already began with Caesar, continued with Charlemagne and the dictatorships of the twentieth century, until today.

Let’s focus on respectable journalism that spreads news to the best knowledge and belief. In order to define a limit, there are some non-binding rules.

  • On the one hand news should be confirmed by at least two independent sources
  • On the other hand balance should be ensured by the fact that both sides of a conflict should be reported.

You find further aspects here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards.

A picture cannot fulfill the two rules.

  • On the one hand a picture is naturally from one source, the camera.
  • On the other hand the picture represents just ONE cutout of the reality that represents only the fraction of a second.

For these reasons a picture is always one-sided and unbalanced.

If we now look at the scribbles, we see four pictures of the same meeting, which were taken within a few minutes. Each picture creates another impression. What are the reasons to select a picture for publication? By looking at the procedure, from taking a picture to publishing, we encounter many filters.

  1. Taking the picture
    Photographers are the first filter. They decide the point of view, the cutout and the moment of the capture. Usually they photograph several photos within a short period. Subsequently, they select the photographs that fulfill the technical requirements – the requested sharpness and brightness of the picture. Additionally, they select images with regular gestures and facial expressions. Eventually the picture shown above end up in the agencies or media,.
  2. Distribution
    An agency is a broker for pictures and news, e.g. Reuters, DPA, ITAR TASS. They buy photos and offer them together with the agency message. The agency is acknowledged as an official source for the media. If two agencies provide the same message, the first rule is fulfilled. This makes the news item to reliable news. The selection criteria for the images are thereby hard to comprehend. In any case the picture selection reduces the message to one defined point of view.
  3. Publication
    The media editors (print, on-line, TV) had their own reporters in former times. That way, they could distinguish themselves from other media providers. Nowadays you hardly find salaried photo reporters. The photos are mostly bought directly from the freelance photographer or an agency. The advantage of an agency is the bundling of the picture with the press release. For cost reasons only the pictures are bought that are eventually published. The editor determines the ‘proof’ for the article by selecting the images.

Eventually the observer decides on its impression. Now look at the sketches above and consider, which picture you would buy!

About the mentioned meeting, on February 9th 2015, different pictures were used in different publications. What impression do the individual pictures create? On the left above? On the bottom left? On the top right? On the bottom right? And what was the real atmosphere of the meeting? Who might know.
In any case, people decided with the selection of the image which impression should generated among the viewers. A picture is worth a thousand words that do not necessarily correspond to the truth.

Bottom line: The times of ‘seeing is believing’ are probably over. Each event has any number of pictures that do not clearly express the real happening. Even blurred mobile phone photographs are used today, in order to convey a message to the public that cannot be guaranteed by the two rules. There is no other choice than dealing critically with these ‘proofs’ and to always consider the possibility that the message is wrong – whether we are deliberately manipulated or not.

P.S.: Do you remember the posed politician photo of the Charlie Hebdo demonstration?

The future of leadership

Guidance is one of the oldest roles in societies. And nevertheless executives are continuously looking for the right style of their role. Apart from the tasks and tools of leadership managers are concerned with the following questions.

  1. How much involvement is possible?
  2. How many rules are needed?
  3. How do I distribute tasks, authorities and responsibilities?
  4. How much loyalty do I need? How does it emerge?
  5. How do I promote cooperation?
  6. How to select executives?
  7. How much leadership do we need at all?

Do new systemic concepts like holistic, autonomous units, interconnectedness, participation, and self-organization, pave the way for new, yet not recognizable styles of leadership? How does the future of leadership looks like?

Fuehrung

Executives provide goals, organize, decide, evaluate and foster employees by using various tools (e.g. role descriptions, regular communication, performance reviews). They control with it their area, create orientation and take responsibility for the results (You find more about tasks and tools of leadership here: http://www.malik-management.com/en/malik-approach/malik-basic-models).
Without leadership, these aspects have to be developed in the team and consent has to be agreed. Positive examples of self-organizing groups are the agile teams in software development and other creative professions.

Nevertheless, new approaches imply also new answers to the questions of executives.

  1. Involvement results from democratic forms of cooperation, like having a say and participation. These can also be established in connection with hierarchical structures. For a long time, autonomous, self-organizing teams are common practice in the context of bureaucratic structures, like projects, Centers of Competence or Production islands.
  2. Regulations range from chaos to orderliness and from voluntary to mandatory. They are important tools, in order to clarify the desired behavior of the employees. These rules become meaningful with the appropriate level of detail that covers the tension between patronizing and autonomy. The joint agreement of basic guidelines in the governance minimizes the number of regulations.
  3. Task, authority and responsibility (TAR) of a role should be consolidated under one roof. The best example of the distribution of TAR is the subsidiarity principle of the Vatican. It bundles decisions at the point of action. Only if this is no longer possible, the role is established on the next higher level.
  4. The loyalty is an important element of leadership that cannot be directly created. On the one hand, it results from the authoritarian or charismatic attitudes of a leader. On the other hand, it evolves from the indirect stimulation of the commitment with personal, content-wise and formal commitment amplifiers.
  5. Cooperation can be designed in various ways by using the new possibilities of networking and self-organization. The exchange of information can be realized with common intranet sites, discussion groups and blogs. The employees access via mobile PCs or smartphones their necessary data wherever and whenever. The employees meet independently of their whereabout within phone and video conferences.
  6. The selection of executives has an influence on their acceptance. However, democratic approaches like the direct selection or recruiting of leaders by the employees, does not guarantee their effectiveness. Independently of the selection procedure, there will always be some employees, who accept the boss – or not. As you can also see in politics, democratic elections result in a distribution of 51% to 49% – i.e. half of the population does not want the winner.
  7. At the latest, when the number of members of an organization exceeds the magic Dunbar number of 150, we need leadership and an adequate hierarchy. Small organizations, like start-ups, can survive for a certain time without formal structures. We should not to forget that these are also often driven autocratically by a founder.

Bottom line: Like an orchestra will never like to forgo the conductor, we cannot let go the integrating role of leadership in the future. Each undertaking needs the strategic alignment and concluding decisions by executives. The guidance becomes state-of-the-art by using the new possibilities for cooperation.

Distributed leadership shares knowledge

The right decision needs the right understanding of the situation at the right time. Executives secured their claim to power for a long time based on the maxim „Knowledge is power “. Since in the past twenty years the Business processes, the IT and the organization were effectively streamlined, further progress can only be carried out by each individual. For this purpose, the employees receive in their role defined tasks, with the necessary authority and, in addition, the responsibility for the results. The prerequisite for this form of distributed leadership is openness through sharing the existing knowledge.

Wissen

In order to facilitate the decision making for the employees and in the interest of the joint goals, the access to the following information has to be guaranteed.

  • The context of the enterprise needs the overview of the corporate sites (incl. contact partners and local information of all kinds), the description of the market (incl. understandable market indicators and news) as well as the important internal and external stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, partners, and customers).
  • The products and services, competencies and processes that define essentially the business build together the strategic core. Thus, the employees can align their doing more easily to the value-adding functions.
  • The strategic and operational goals as well as key figures (incl. historical revenue and sales data, successes and difficulties, HR evaluation criterions) are the pre-requisites for a coordinated, successful goal achievement.
  • The description of the values, the rules and the escalation procedures shape the corporate culture.
  • The barrier-free access to all other databases (e.g. projects, products, procedures) avoids disturbing delays and reduces wasteful friction losses.

Bottom line: Enterprises cannot afford any longer to concede individuals any kind of knowledge lead. All have to be in the position to decide at any time that it is favorable for the enterprise as a whole. One of the most important pre-requisites is the equal access to ALL information. The only exception is information that is classified as secret.

Sharing with others – is this actually allowed?

Sharing means to give or lend something that belongs to you, completely or partly to others. Perishables that could not be consumed will be used (e.g., goods with expiration date). Thereby, consumer durables are better utilized (e.g. Car sharing). Immaterial goods, like knowledge, increase the value and the spreading through additional use. Important conditions for sharing are owners, who are ready to put their property at somebodies disposal. Sharing with others – is this actually allowed?

sharing

In principle, the owners of goods should have the right to dispose freely their belongings. Nevertheless, there are also always obligations attached to the possession.

  • Food may not be shared in Germany, if it has a consumption date „Use by … “ as well as e.g. raw fish, minced meat, raw egg dishes for which a constant cooling chain is not provable (in German only: http://foodsharing.de/lebensmittelrecht). Food with the label „Best used before …“ on it can also be shared after expiration of the best-before date..
  • Consumer durables are e.g. cars, bicycles, apartments and devices of all kind. For some goods, however, there are legal aspects that exclude sharing. The car has an insurance that is tied to specific drivers or excludes commercial usage. This is also valid, if one shares his/her rented flat with others, without permission to sublease. For all goods, it remains also the question of liability, if, for example, the brakes of the vehicle do not work.
  • Since there is knowledge, it is shared, e.g. the newspaper or the book, that are passed from one to the other or the newest hit of lady Gaga. As long as it is a physical object, sharing should be without any problem. As soon as, however‚ contents are ‘only’ shared by being copied, we are already confronted with copyright questions. Not to forget the secret documents, which are shared with the public by Whistleblowers. Additionally, this includes business documents that are shared with acquaintance.
  • A popular form is to share work. Immediately the question of moonlighting as well as the liability and/or compensation of damages comes up. If somebody is injured, or somebody is dying, or there is a material damage in the course of such a sharing, these incidents are normally not covered by private insurances.

Nothing is more blessed, than giving. Some questions are valid for all forms of sharing.

  • Can sharing have a price?
  • May shared food or the use of a car or lending books or concreting the cellar cost money?
  • How to look at this cash flow from fiscal point of view (keyword: financial advantage)?
  • Does a new niche emerges, in which new business models go around existing bureaucratic rules as well as the rights and obligations of the established businesses?

If we go again toward market and bartering, the legal framework should protect givers and takers equally.

Bottom line: At all times existed the social sharing. This is where the positive look at this optimized use of resources comes from. We need an appropriate legal framework, in order not to criminalize the sharers, the givers and the takers, with this new form of social exchange.

Legal sphere

Globalization does not only mobilize goods and people, but also values and laws. This brings up the question of the scope and the validity of a legal sphere.

 Rechtsraum

As soon as somebody (x) makes business outside of the native legal sphere, the common sense tells us that local laws are valid. Exceptions are defined by the term extraterritoriality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraterritoriality).

However, international companies and retail chains export with their business model often their moral concepts and rules. It can happen that the employee cannot recognize the imported rules. In this case, this can result in unintentional misbehavior of the employees that will be sanctioned. The company is responsible for appropriate regulations. Therefore, the following questions should be answered.

  • Which laws are valid where?
  • Are laws valid for citizens outside their homeland?
  • Is it possible that a foreign law can be above local law in a foreign legal sphere?
  • Which law is valid for trans-national enterprises?
  • Do outdated laws become an injustice?
  • What makes right binding?

At first sight, these questions seem to be abstract and not very useful. As soon as corporations are active in different legal spheres, it is necessary that they answer these questions. Through governance, the company can create legal certainty.

Bottom line: Create legal clarity for yourself and your staff.