Archiv der Kategorie: English

Preparing the stage for the customer contact

More than thousands of years, customers were met where they lived. Customer contacts took place on the market. The first mail-order catalogue was printed in the middle of the 19th century. Since then, new touchpoints for customers evolved. With the Internet we are today able to get in touch globally with everyone, as long as an Internet connection is available. As a result, one business model after the other is invented. In order to be able to convert every customer meeting into a business, good preparation is needed. The basis for this is a framework for the development of the Customer Journey: the stage for the customer contact.

The following cycle creates the framework to synchronize the required paths of customers and affair. In the illustration, the sequence begins in the lower part.

  • The Latency
    Hidden in the latency are proposals that companies develop in advance in order to win the required number of buyership. Providers have to make efforts early on to show these quotations. The unintentional wandering of the senses perceives these things, but they are often not connected with meaning. The frequency of attention-seeking stimuli results in a kind of subconscious habituation of a deliverable. With the beginning of the next phase, the entry, this preload is released.
  • The Entry
    The assortment develops an external effect that, at some point, attracts the attention of the customers. From now on, the deliverables will be noticed, but without any demand yet. At this moment possible uses, pros and cons, or the associated prestige should stimulate the longing. The desire grows subconsciously until one becomes aware of the need and comparisons are made with similar proposals. As soon as the decision has been made, the purchase is put into action and the next phase begins.
  • The Execution
    Depending on the procured deliverable, it may involve the possession of an object or the use of a service. The first step is the setup – be it the installation or the consent on how the service will be provided. Then the usage starts – the pleasure of the service, the use of the new thing or simply the fun of looking at an object as one’s own satisfaction. The deliverables can be adapted within the term of the contract – other services are used; accessories are added; the thing is placed somewhere else. This occurs until the end of the contract term.
  • The Exit
    Services are usually agreed for a certain period of time. If the perceived value continues to exist at the end of the useful life, it is highly probable that it will be extended before the end of the service time. If the opportunity to place alternative services has been missed, the business relation tends to come to an end. The exit is accelerated, if towards the end something does not function in the same way as it did initially. Things are often constructed in a way that it has a certain lifespan. If used properly, defects will only arise later. Now you have a good opportunity to sell your latest proposition. Satisfied customers will continue to build on the same brand. If a prestige object no longer provides the desired recognition, it ends up on the garbage or at best with the junk dealer. With the Exit the cycle ends and the original wishes and experiences disappear again in the subconscious – the latency.

The circle closes here. The proposals stay in the latency, until they’re revived. Thus, trends, tendencies and fashions are repeated with unpredictable intervals. With the arrow, leaving the latency left of the latency, the circular flow restarts.

Bottom line: This cycle is the framework that covers all life cycles of customers, users and suppliers. Whatever happens in the entry, the execution, the exit and the latency, is described in the respective Journey. The service framework provides the stage for all customer contacts.

Color – the third gateway into the mind of the audience

Hint! This text only unfolds its full effect in color.

Colors are an indirect, personal world of experience. Depending on the light source and its wavelength, the surfaces reflects in unexpected colors. Blue light lets blue, red light red and yellow light lets yellow disappear. The unconscious processing of colors sometimes leads to surprising effects.

Experience the difference.

  • Read section 1 of the illustration aloud!
    The text can usually be read fluently.
  • Make a second attempt with section 2!
    Although the lyrics have the same length, something is different. If you have not noticed the difference, read the two sentences again and pay attention to the required time.
  • Finally read the words in section 3 aloud!

Since we process the perceived colors unconsciously in another area than the conscious thoughts, you may have noticed some irritations – e.g. a faltering reading flow.

The influence of color takes place constantly – in every reading, in every picture, in every film, so in every artifact. For this reason it makes sense to be aware of these effects. The following colors are basic colors, which do not result from mixing colors, as for example green results from mixing blue and yellow 😉
(Attention! The following counts for many, but not for all.)

  • Red
    Red is a high-energy color – in a positive and a negative sense. It attracts attention and stimulates. For many it is attractive, arouses desire and passion and is usually attributed to love. At the same time it stands for aggression, danger and the forbidden.
    Red is suitable, wherever interest should be awoken – as a hint or warning.
  • Yellow
    Yellow is a disturbing color – with positive and negative symbolic effects. On the one hand it strengthens an optimistic mood, promotes creativity and prepares pleasure. On the other hand it represents jealousy and envy, poison and gall. Traditionally, pariahs were marked with yellow signs, such as the Jewish star.
    Yellow is useful in a pleasant, life-affirming environment. In a not-so-positive context, it seems obtrusive.
  • Blue
    Blue is the most popular color in Germany, although it does not affect quite emotionally. Its objectivity creates trust, reliability and strength – business images are predominantly bluish. At the same time, blue creates distance through its cool insensibility.
    Blue is appropriate, when competence, reliability and calmness are to be conveyed.

Bottom line: The color enters the audience’s mind through the back door. The individuals do not notice that they are receiving additional messages via the sense of color. The effects described will not happen in everyone to the same extent or sometimes even quite differently – especially in other regions of the world. With the above examples, you could experience the normally unconscious effects. The three primary colors seldom appear in their pure form and our color perception may vary. Therefore, it is not possible to define a reliable programming guideline for the design of content. However, you should avoid certain gaffes (e.g. red for a Call to Act) in order not to undermine your message. Eventually, colors are the third gateway into the mind of the audience.

Nagile clues

The fitness of a company’s contributors is a prerequisite to adapt more easily to the market requirements and to take advantage of the new technical possibilities. At any age there are these, who are agile, and those, who are not. The result is that not everyone can bend in the same way. At the same time, everybody should be entrepreneur in the enterprise, what needs preparation. This depends on the one hand on the readiness and ability of the employees and on the other hand on the leadership styles. As long as everyone has intrinsic motivation and insight into the necessity, the needed fitness could be acquired. However, this is only possible, if the management team is prepared to let go. Entrepreneurship needs sufficient freedom to develop. With the right conditions you can start to agilize. The obstacles along the way are easier to recognize in the observable business areas than the attitudes and capabilities hidden in individuals. For this reason we take a closer look at nagil (n-ot agile).

Nagile companies impede themselves with a culture that does not allow agile approaches. The following hurdles can be identified – and removed, if one takes it seriously.

  • Tight information filters
    The facts and figures that are available everywhere as statistics, reports and white papers are no longer in keeping with the times of the old saying „Knowledge is power“. If management prevents transparency by filtering facts and figures, agility is made impossible through power games. In an agile environment, employees as a whole know more than their bosses. Knowledge processing is time-consuming, costly and becomes more powerful, when it is spread across several shoulders. That doesn’t apply to competition-critical content, of course – what Steve Jobs experienced firsthand, when Bill Gates took up his idea of a graphical user interface and brought it earlier to the public.
    The prerequisite for agility is the open, mutual discourse.
  • Disproportionate hierarchy levels
    The number of levels has always burdened the flexible interaction – regardless of the size of the company. The Dunbar number has shown that groups with more than 150 – 250 members tend to be bureaucratic and are only indirectly controllable. At the same time, the rule of thumb arose that the ideal Span of control is four to ten. For future, agile organizations this discussion should no longer be conducted, since many interconnected, small units (with up to nine members) generate added value for the customer in a self-organized way.
    The prerequisite for agility is the transformation of the pyramid into a podular structure – the business in the business.
  • Remote-controlled decisions
    In the line organization, decisions take place at the top and the implementation at the base of the pyramid. If task, authority and responsibility (TAR) are not in one hand, then the employees act without sufficient right and duteousness, the management team cannot bring its powers to bear and the team leaders suffer the fate of being liable without the ability to act or having any authority. The effects on self-esteem are clear – from the hubris of the leaders to the fatalism of the team leaders to the thwarted doers.
    A prerequisite for agility is the bundling of TAR under one roof at the place of action.
  • Delayed action
    Additionally, distributed TAR leads to a too long delay due to the remote-controlled decisions. As soon as an action is required, the employees have to obtain permission across several levels in order to be allowed to act. And this even though they know best what is needed, yet they are not allowed to decide. Especially disturbing is the demotivating effect of postponed decisions. Not enough to make them aware their powerlessness, the customers also unload their displeasure on them.
    The prerequisite for agility is the comprehensive empowerment of employees for entrepreneurship – including budget and result responsibility as well as decision freedom.
  • Extrinsic distress
    Despite many training courses, managers are often unable to get out of their micro-management. The situation is aggravated by a lack of social competency, which appears in personal criticism and a lack of appreciation. This creates negative stress for the employees, the so-called distress. It is difficult to fight this harmful burden on its own. This leads to today’s disease symptoms, such as high blood pressure, tachycardia and burn-out. In Japan there is even a special term for drastic consequences: Karoshi (Japanese: 過労死, Overwork death).
    The prerequisite for agility are empathic, supportive and assisting mentors (AKA: Bosses).
  • Individual high performers
    Finding individual top performers in the company, who are presented as examples to spur on the rest, shows that the focus is not on the team, but on competition between the employees. This leads to a battle situation and ultimately to a loss of friction. However, the complexity of today’s tasks requires so many skills that it is very unlikely to be found in one person. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. The (agile) team is the unit that masters complexity and creates viable solutions.
    The prerequisite for agility is consistent team orientation and promotion.

Bottom line: Looking at nagile aspects of your business with the help of the previous aspects is a quick way to determine your readiness for agility. Nagile companies cannot remove the active information filters, the many hierarchical levels, the remote decision making, the delayed action, the executive-induced extrinsic distress and the lonely heroes of work. The path to more agility is only possible, when these nagile factors are resolved. The employees win in this process. The leaders are shaken in their self-esteem and need a new Raison d’être. Everything begins with the search for nagile clues.

There is no meaning per se

Meaning is always arising through the conscious processing of words that someone disseminates. The scope used to be limited to people in the immediate vicinity. As a result, content was always surrounded by comprehensible cultural, linguistic and social context that made understanding easier. For centuries, the mass media have provided words from expert publicist to an ever-growing audience – via press, radio and TV. This led to a unified language and a press code that is committed to truth, reliability, and human dignity. At the same time, the art of interpreting content in a twisted way evolved, in order to manipulate the audience’s formation of opinion.
Through the Internet it is now again possible to exchange thoughts directly from one to the other without expert brokers – however, limited to the words used, which are internalized without additional context information as well as without hints on purposeful influence. As recipients of vast amounts of news, we assume that these messages mean exactly what we understand.

It is based on the fallacy of thinking that sentences and words mean something unambiguous. Perhaps we should be aware of the features of statements. This article deals only with written and spoken language – not pictorial representations. For the sake of simplicity, we speak of speakers and listeners, which also include writers and readers.

  • A collection of words
    Language delivers a series of words, which, more or less, follow grammatical rules. The speaker chooses the expressions from its vocabulary, with a little luck oriented towards its target group – the appropriate national language and an appropriate jargon. The audience receives the words and understands the meaning through their own language skills. The general assumption is that this leads to a far-reaching overlapping of meanings, which is very unlikely.
  • A variety of intentions
    Each statement always contains several intentions: 1) Say what is; 2) Urge to (or not to) do something; 3) Disclose, to (or not to) do something; 4) Share, how you are feeling; 5) Announce, what applies. All this is in one sentence and is noticed according to the interest of the listeners. The following statement is drawn arbitrarily from the stream of news: A denies that B has two things: Experience and charisma. What does this include: 1) B lacks experience and charisma. 2) B is not acceptable. 3) A does not accept B. 4) A does not feel well with B. 5) B will not get it. Scan any sentence for the included messages.
  • Infelicity of the expression
    A statement can be made with different words. And sometimes you get carried away with an awkward wording. Example is the statement „Reconcile the social with the national“. Despite the changed word order you become aware of the double sense. With the amount of other words one could have used, the question arises, to what extent this happened intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Who knows, what it actually meant
    The message behind the words is not always clear, even with a conscious word choice. A statement can be meant as it is said. However, something can also be expressed without meaning it. Quickly, something is expressed that is meant differently. It is particularly frustrating, when you say something and nobody understands what was in your mind. For these reasons, an open, reciprocal discourse, with questions and answers, is always preferable to a one-sided proclamation.

Bottom line: There is reason to fear that there is no longer a common basis for expressing universally accepted facts. The real meaning lies in the eye of the beholder and its own opportunistic interpretation. Although the speaker thinks that it can control this, it is the listener, who processes the content and intention of an utterance. Today, all those, who have access to the Internet, can easily publish. This exacerbates the situation that opinions come into the world that deserves to be called alternative facts. The background is unknown and the contents are adopted uncritically. The fact checkers don’t help here. Direct exchange on the Internet is a new form of conversation, in which opinions are exchanged. In the interest of the freedom of expression, this must be allowed, even if the content is available worldwide without delay and reaches directly immediately vast numbers of people. We must learn to distinguish between personal statements and expert publications, as in everyday street conversations – even, if the differences are difficult to perceive. It is worth taking a look at the imprint of the publicists. There, a part of the context becomes visible or obscured and one recognizes who you are dealing with or not. If the imprint, the names of the authors, the address and the telephone number are missing, or if the contact address is a Freemail, or if the responsibilities are located abroad, the contents are questionable. In any case, there is simply no meaning per se.

The fractal – the archetype of agile teams

The digital transformation is actually the level of a networked, decentralized IT that used to be characterized by client-server architectures and that is nowadays on the way towards an open, fully globalized networked IT landscape. Industry 4.0 is accompanied by the next generation of digitization – more automation of production and business processes and, above all, artificial decision-making in all areas. However, application only works, if companies adapt to it. At the time of digitization 1.0, people talked about CIM, the fractal factory and Lean Management. Today, it is forgotten that the answers to some current questions were already described at that time – end-to-end processes, customer centricity, vital structures and, above all, the increased involvement of affected people. The fractal has already provided the aspects that are still crucial for an agile team.

The look at the fractal lives from forgetting earlier ideas of remits (see: The Fractal Company: A Revolution in Corporate Culture). The new units, the PODs, holons and platforms, behave like an enterprise within the enterprise and follow the same criteria on each level of detail.

  • Self-similarity
    The focus on a unit is made with a certain scaling. The self-similarity expresses the fact that the basic pattern remains the same on the different levels. For example, units, no matter whether divisions, departments or teams, process inputs into outputs based on described processes.
  • Self-organization
    The fractal itself takes care of its structure and the distribution of tasks. The processes depend on the working style of each employee and can vary from one unit to another. Decision paths follow natural conditions and not general guidelines. Influence from outside is taboo, if not forbidden.
  • Viability
    Each fractal must be viable in itself, i.e. it can produce the desired result, whether it is a product or a service. The Minimal Viable Products (MVP) are made possible by the complete coverage of related features. The purpose of the fractal is not growth, but survival – viability. This results in an over time changing purpose of a fractal due to new requirements.
  • Self-optimization
    The interaction with the environment, suppliers and customers, requires the continuous amelioration of the fractal. This further development is an important task of the agile team. Since the fractal is not reduced to a single purpose in the long run, the revision of existing processes creates the freedom to find and establish new activities.
  • Target consistency
    Decisive for the fractal organization is the consistency of the individual targets across the different levels. The ultimate goal is the fit overall fractal. Inconsistent targets would burden the overall amelioration. This means that a fractal cannot be simply detached from the overall context, but that, in addition to its own survival, it also takes into account the survival of the whole. Nonetheless, should a split-off occur, then it is a matter of creating a new whole – remember 3M, who have created a previously non-existent offer and a new business area – Post-It.

One should not be irritated by the angular structure of the fractals although today’s agile teams tend to be portrayed in a more rounded way. This does not alter the aforementioned characteristics. It’s about understanding the units that are nested within themselves.

Bottom line: While in the nineties of the last century the emphasis was on the use of new technical possibilities, today the need for action arises from the unimaginable acceleration of the business and the dissolution of geographical distances by the Internet. Standard processes are performed by computers at the speed of light. Everything else people have to do as timely as possible. This requires agile teams that are similar to each other, organize themselves, and are viable, continuously ameliorate and follow common goals. In addition, cross-sectional fractals are needed to provide standard services such as IT, accounting, human resources, etc. This allows the value-adding fractals to concentrate on their business. It makes work easier to remember and reuse the insights of the past, such as the idea of the fractal – the archetype of agile teams.

Who actually owns a fact?

As soon as the virtual word of mouth reaches everyone immediately, the contribution of a messenger, the conveyor of the fact or briefly the performance of the traditional media, gets lost. Agencies can’t deploy reporters everywhere at the place of the news. At the same time, there are witnesses everywhere, who can unveil and publish a message with the simplest means – with their mobile phone via Facebook or Instagram. In addition, journalists work according to a certain working standard that requires more time for research. If then the case of a local newspaper becomes known that researched an article extensively that appeared then without indication of source in a nationwide newspaper, one starts thinking. Assuming that the news was not copied word by word and that it was only the message of the actual facts, the question arises, who actually owns the message. The sources that report the circumstances? The journalist, who does the extensive research? The publication medium that publishes the news? The witnesses, who obtain, prepare and publish the content?

Facts are not personal, intellectual creations and therefore per se not worth protecting. However, one could find arguments that suggest the intellectual creation and above all the compensation for the news. For example, the following roles are affected.

  • The reporters
    There are many perspectives from which a news can be generated. This includes the effort of finding, collecting and evaluating sources in order to eventually condense and prepare the circumstances into a news. Once the message is published, it can be reused as a fact by anyone – unless you simply copy it. The costs accrued for the journalists and their investigations stick to the writer or the agency, while the copy-cats exploit the fact. Does that make reporters creators?
  • The correspondents
    A special type of reporter is the rapporteur, who is located all around the world and represents the editors. The quality of a fact is determined by its completeness, accuracy, up-to-dateness, relevance and traceability (e.g. through several independent sources). Today’s information bubbles and echo chambers amplify opinions. The correspondents integrate with a lot of effort the different reports of reporters in order to work out their own point of view. These expenditures should also be covered by appropriate revenues. Does that make the correspondents creators?
  • The editors
    Due to the flood of hard-to-verify details about a particular event, news have to go through a selection process to separate content from non-content, i.e. filter-out the details that are not reliable enough to reach the status of a fact. The content and political orientation is just as significant for the editors as the need to use the most eventful data. This can lead in the absence of reliable material to quickly using unconfirmed smartphone videos of witnesses – with the corresponding indication that no more reliable material is available. Does the editorial work turn the editors into creators?
  • The copywriters
    A news is first of all a fact that has to be prepared. This begins with the selection of the original sequences and images and continues with the formulation of the message text. The use of flag or stigma words gives EVERY message a tone that rates unnoticed the event – for example, when an assassin of a certain origin is called terrorist, while another is called mentally confused. Even if nowadays the role of the writer is usually part of one of the above roles, texts have to be written. Does that make the copywriter the creator?
  • The perpetrators
    Let’s not forget those that trigger an event. These include politicians, celebrities, organizers, judges, those responsible for accidents, lifesavers and all the others who are worth the news. In a certain sense they are the creators of the news. Without these protagonists, there wouldn’t be any news. Does that make the perpetrators the creators?

The sources, the journalists and the respective medium should on the one hand be appreciated for their contribution and on the other hand the expenses accrued should pay off. The original text is protected by copyright and may not be reused free of charge. To what extent this also applies to the actual fact, their interplay and the resulting insight is difficult to answer. For the news medium, it’s all about survival.

Bottom line: The discussion of copyright has not yet reached the so-called facts. Since the credibility of facts gets frequently questioned, the general understanding is gradually emerging that every fact also contains creative achievement – which could then also become worth protecting. If then more and more individuals open their own channels and even rally an interested fellowship, then the end of the Fourth Power, the Press, arises on the horizon. If facts are treated like goods, they also follow the rules of supply and demand. Then, at the latest, the question will arise: Who actually owns a fact?

Order blur

Whenever someone is not satisfied with the results of a measure, the abyss of order blur opens. Clients actually strive to formulate their wishes as comprehensibly as possible. Often the goals are even smartified with the participants or OKRs are worked out. The fulfillers are also ready for the job – actually, this is their business. The tasks are construed in the team and, if necessary, questions are asked in order to sharpen the request. Nevertheless, there are misunderstandings that lead to discord between the two parties.

The difficulties begin with the unspeakability of certain task elements and go to the impossibility to understand what has been said. As a result, the interpretations of an assignment do not match what was requested. If all participants were aware of the following difficulties and would stay in talk, there would be less frustration.

  • When not everything can be expressed
    In the beginning, there is the client with its ideas and feelings, which cannot be completely translated into words and certainly not into a one-hundred percent requirement. Thus, the descriptions of the task disappear behind vague terms – e.g. as always, good result, usual quality, according to the standards. Additional explanations increase the likelihood of being understood.
  • When further expectations hide behind the objectives
    Even if the objectives are increasingly smartified, i.e. results are specifically determined, measurable, adequately achievable with the available resources and relevant to the business, and progress can be tested, expectations remain in the dark – What should be done? What should be the results? What are the expected consequences? The expectations should be explicitly exchanged.
  • When the wrong language is used
    Many clients speak only in their own language and are surprised, when they are not understood. In the first step, of course, you should list your wishes in your own language. In the second step, however, the content must then be translated into the language of the project team; otherwise they CANNOT understand the assignment. It should become clear, what a mission means for the individual – for example, when globalizing, it does not affect the locals for the time being: Unless you take into account their fear of losing their jobs to foreign countries’. As soon as the effects become clear to the individual, the fears and worries and thus the resistance diminish.
  • When the order goes unheard
    The assignment is often placed through the narrow channel of the project order, when it is handed over to the project manager and the core team. As a result, the remaining participants often lack the original wording and the actual tasks go unheard. What remains is the Chinese whisper, when the project manager paraphrases, what he has heard and understood. Ensure that you can be heard personally.
  • When interest is missing
    The management style has a great influence on how motivating an assignment is formulated. More directive managers do not expect questions or objections, but immediate fulfilment of the duties. Cooperative bosses not only deliver the assignment, but also take the time to explain the task and address the team’s concerns. The order blur increases, if you ignore the employees‘ point of view. It is not only a question of the fact that the day-to-day business is already fully utilizing their capacities and therefore there is no time for additional tasks. It is about taking into account knowledge, experiences and objections, but also about personal interests, such as family, friends or the upcoming holiday, which nip any commitment in the bud. Mostly, the requirements can be adapted to the needs of the employees.
  • When everything is understood differently
    In the best case, everything is heard and the project team assumes that everything has been understood. Even then, the goals striven for by the client and the contractor can differ dramatically. Since not the actual meaning is exchanged, but words and perhaps numbers, the recipients decide on the contents of the request. According to the Sender-Receiver model and the Meta-model of Language, each job passes through a variety of filters that result in a changing task. If you talk about it regularly, both parties gradually adapt to each other and the result suits at the end both.

Without a regular exchange between the client and the contractor, the previous points lead to the fact that the deviations are only noticed at the end. For this reason, the agile approaches, which enable regular coordination at short intervals along the sprints as well as short distances for inquiries, are ideal.

Bottom line: Order blur lies in the nature of the thing – the communications. For this reason, special attention should be paid to the various stages, in which contracts are distorted and blurred. On the one hand, contracting authorities should assume that they cannot express all aspects of their project in such an exact way that they will be clearly understood and should therefore patiently take into account the inquiry of the contractors. On the other hand, contractors should not humbly accept the requirements and interpret them as they see fit, but rather ask questions and raise concerns. This mutual exchange ultimately leads to a common understanding that the order blur gets as low as possible.

Stable with rituals

Heraclitus had already explained two and a half thousand years ago that one cannot step into the same river twice. His Panta rhei (πάντα ῥεῖ) made us aware of the fact that the only constant is change. Our day is permeated by rituals. In addition to the morning coffee and evenly spread smoking breaks, there are business rituals that get you through the day, week, month and year – the morning meeting (nowadays Daily Stand-up), planning, budget, project and report meetings, as well as annual performance assessment, fireside chat, team development and so on. These rituals create stability in the hyper-accelerated VUCA world and prevent you from being torn away by the flood of data.

The following building blocks help looking at and developing rituals.

  • Easy Structure
    By the simple course of a ritual, the particular group of participants, who get together at a determined place, at repeating times and for a specific duration knows what they have to do according to their roles. Clear symbols, rules and decision paths underline the purpose and the deeper meaning – whether to steer, develop and change the area or to strengthen the sense of community.
  • Purpose and meaning
    A ritual has an official purpose that has different significances for the individual roles. On the one hand, the organizers pursue with their agenda business and political interests – primarily to convince the participants of their intentions. On the other hand, the participants have complex needs – they want to be informed, prepared, presented or state their own ideas. The ritual relaxes the dilemma between these different requests by ensuring regular exchange through its simple structure.
  • Sense of community
    A central building block is cohesion, which is strengthened by a ritual. The simple structure, the common purpose and meaning for the participants as well as the routine of the ritual will be accepted over time and provides benefits for all participants. The danger of an exclusionary self-conception can be counteracted by appropriately built-in openings – e.g. by a practiced public sphere, established tolerance and equal treatment or by a decisive condemnation of whatever-prejudice. The solidarity between the participants is underpinned by this set of values. Above all, symbols promote a sense of togetherness: logos, emblems and other trademarks.
  • Well-being
    The volatility and ambiguity of the reference points on which the members direct their actions often create uncertainty and fear. Fear is one of the greatest impediments for today’s tasks – when everyone has to adapt because they want to do less for more, or have to work with unknown people, or become harassed by pathological leaders. Contrary to fear, fun is one of the greatest accelerators. We are all charged with confidence and encouraged to perform at our best. Fun brings us into the flow that produces maximum performance. For these reasons rituals always need parts that promote well-being – e.g. meeting at eye level, respectful social interaction, demonstrated appreciation and above all the creation of opportunities to participate.

Bottom line: The group members of all kinds are constantly looking for security in nowadays VUCA world. Countless rituals offer this through a simple process, for and at definite times, and allow an individual group of participants to exchange ideas at a precise location. Clear symbols and rules create the basis for a sense of community and make it easier for those involved to have orientation and to contribute effectively. The official purpose is linked to the interests of each participant. The ritual creates well-being for the individual by overcoming fears and stimulating fun factors at work. Rituals are an integral part of our everyday life and foster stability in the flow of change.

PAM – What’s in it for me?

During evolution, our body has adapted to handle a continuous stream of sensory stimuli. The flood of information that everybody talks about seems to increase the amount of external signals. This man-made noise to which we are exposed, visually and auditorily and sometimes even olfactorily, seems to be much louder, more dazzling and stronger than the natural signals of the past. The extent to which today’s flood of data is more significant for us than the reflections of light on the water that showed the fisherman the swarm, or the rustling of the leaves that announced a storm, or the smell that warned one of wild animals, could be discussed. However, it is unlikely that in the short time since modern signals are flooding us, our sensory abilities have changed significantly. Just as the cracking of a branch directed the attention of early humans in the appropriate direction and was decisive for survival, so the news seems to be a signal for some people to pay attention to something. When selling your goods and services, you need the meaningful digestion of your messages by your target group. Customers should be encouraged to ask: What‘s in it for me?

The way in this direction requires all the following steps.

  • Perception
    The basic prerequisite for capturing a message is the sensory receipt and the passing on of corresponding stimuli – an image, a sound or noise, a special surface, a smell or a taste. Without the transmission of signals, potential customers have no way of receiving anything at all.
    This means that you have to deal with today’s channels. This applies to the Internet, but also to traditional media such as newspapers, radio, television and especially books. Reuse reduces the effort and increases the likelihood of being noticed.
  • Attention
    After you send your messages as regularly as possible, it is important to increase the stimulus in such a way that it surpasses the absolute perception threshold and thereby attracts the attention of your target group. A good example of this threshold is a room full of people, whose buzz produces a uniform noise in which nevertheless one’s own name immediately stands out. Only when the messages attract attention, the audience can deal with them.
    In the flood of Internet contents, it is not enough to spend a lavish design or a large budget, but you should offer added value, through freemium offers, valuable checklists or multimedia explanations. The difficulty lies in managing the balancing act between novelty and old-fashioned – a new buzzword is not searched for by the users and an established one is lost in the flood of search results. For this reason, it is beneficial to avoid everything that leads to habituation and thus to suppressing your messages. Stand out from the crowd with extraordinary size of your title, use unusual colors and color contrasts (e.g. purple with yellow), irritate with bizarre to senseless slogans (e.g. you pay for nothing!) or surprise outside the expectations of customers (e.g. field advertising besides airports). As a result, you get from enticing contents an organic boost in google results and you will be shared by satisfied users.
  • Meaning
    The attention is not beneficial, if the viewers cannot link the identified content with their existing mindset. The value of the message is always determined by the recipient, not by the sender. For this reason it is necessary to take care of your target groups in order to get as close as possible to their reality. This starts, for example, with the choice of language – you should certainly not speak to French people in Japanese; additionally, target groups often have a special jargon that you have to meet.
    For this reason clarify what you actually want to convey – e.g. what do we offer? Who are our competitors? Which language should we use? Which words are conducive? Which are harmful? The better you anticipate your target group, the more likely your messages will make sense to the audience and they will accept your offers.

Bottom line: Flood of information or not, you will not get around participating in the storm. The possibilities of the Internet have contributed substantially to the fact that everybody provides ever more and more noticeable contents. The efforts are of little benefit, if everyone struggles the same way, as they all improve to the same extent. This makes it all the more important to deal with the steps of perception to deliver the extra that puts you ahead of the pack.
PAM offers a simple sequence that can be used for orientation when conveying messages.
1) In order to be perceived, you must send your messages through one or more sensory channels. 2) The messages should stand out noticeably from the crowd. 3) The audience should be given a chance to connect the content with their mental models. From then on, potential customers can deal with what’s in it for them.

Digital transformation – the end of technocrats

In business, decision-makers feel free of the small influencing factors. And yet the flapping of tiny undertakings can create a huge storm. More and more computer power enables increasingly complex calculations of these micro influences, which are used as the basis for decisions. Especially indecisive top managers, who have a hard time making decisions, like to hide behind such calculations. The basis for a decision is for them not the convincing forecast or the feeling for a good business, but the result of a calculation that is based on assumptions, which results in the resulting variables. What the technocratic decision-makers oversee is the fact that this kind of decision in the context of the digital transformation will be taken over by the computers and thus announces the end of the technocrats.

The following reasons result from their world view, which, far from vision and gut feeling, lose sight of the decisive part of success.

  • Factual constraints as basic conditions
    The compelling necessities are reasons for a decision, which cannot be influenced by decision-makers. This forces them to make decisions that they do not actually want to make, but have to. The basis for this is the reporting system that uses key figures to make weak points visible. This form of externalization is typical for someone, who does not feel responsible for his actions.
  • Technical progress as a goal
    The effects of the reign of experts have so far been particularly evident in totalitarian states. The planned economy relied on strict guidelines and the allocation of resources by experts, who develop and decide the solutions on a drawing board without consulting the people concerned or to use their abilities. The selective perception and the Semmelweis reflex prevent these nerds from making a holistically justifiable selection.
  • Fairness as a blind spot
    The logic of the measurable facts overlays the view at the interaction of quantitative AND qualitative variables, which influence each other with a time delay in complex effect networks. Above all, subjective aspects, such as righteousness, are difficult to grasp and are ignored by experts, because they can hardly be incorporated into a formula. Digital transformation makes it possible to calculate more, but then the machine no longer needs technocratic decision-makers, because the algorithm can do that by itself – better, faster and more reliable.
  • Rationalization as a Reason
    Since the digital transformation began in the seventies, the image of a company has changed. While Henry Ford has done everything he could to vertically integrate the whole aspects of the value creation, today’s activities are not only distributed among different companies, but even worldwide, with the aim of achieving the lowest possible depth of production. People as actors are successively replaced by machines. The remaining tasks will be outsourced to third parties as cheap as possible. Technocrats act like sport addicts, who cannot stop becoming more powerful and fitter at the same time until breakdown. And that in spite of the fact that they are sawing off the branch, on which they are sitting
  • The human being as a statistical-technical function
    Even though the perceptions of the employees and leaders are hard to transfer into numbers, statistics provide a remedy – for example, to describe personal motivation at work: In Switzerland, in 2016 three aspects were most important to employees: a good relationship with their colleagues , an exciting job and cheap working hours. It is more convenient to deduce the measures from such calculated results than to talk to the own staff, what they think is right. Decision makers who use formulas to calculate their decisions are as anachronistic as the horse-drawn coachman more than a hundred years ago.

Bottom line: Today’s deciders are stuck in a corset of compliance, general data availability and unmanageable VUCA. They forget thereby the decisive part of success – the people. Everything happens so quickly everywhere that the well thought-out reaction is no longer possible. The comprehensive breakdown and investigation of a fact into its components cannot be accomplished with an extra effort. Digital transformation automates most routine activities – and caution! Also the technocratic decision-makers will soon no longer be needed, because in the future the employees are making the decisions, since they are closer to the customer and on site. What remains is the overall management of the company, which can no longer be delegated to a formula that makes a prepared decision. The intuitive entrepreneur, who relies on his gut feeling and is committed to ethical values, replaces that way the technocrats, who become incapable of making decisions because of their corset. The digital transformation, which is seen as the last resort for avoiding personnel costs, replaces its promoters with corresponding software and initiates the end of the technocrats.

The ONE intention behind every strategy

Business ventures should never be set up without a clear and comprehensible intention. This purpose gives all activities one direction. The most profane is to win. However, the intention does not always have to be the first, the fastest, the greatest, or the pressure to grow steadily. The direction could also be a fitter company, or better utilization of existing resources, or more satisfied employees. If people do not agree on one direction, any success can be undermined by concurrent disparate efforts by the various parties. That is why the intention considered by all parties is an important prerequisite on the way into the future.

The intention is somewhere between growth and contraction (horizontal axis) and between the gradual change of first order and the radical change of second order (vertical axis). Put simply, the following intentions arise.

  • Consolidate
    Making the current business more robust doesn’t sound very exciting. The protection of viability on the basis of the available means is a good measure to experience the future. For this purpose, existing offers can be developed, better placed or advertised. Additionally, the chosen value discipline (customer, product or process orientation) can be further applied.
    As long as the revenue has good prospects, this is a reasonable approach.
  • Activating
    Business can be made fit for the future by leveraging existing core aspects, offerings, sequences and capabilities and by mobilizing existing skills. For this purpose, the image of the company is polished up, the culture is described or the entrepreneurial awareness of the employees is refreshed.
    It is a question of making greater use of established paths with the current range of offers.
  • Expanding
    When adjacent fields of business are identified and decisively developed, new work contents, forms and fields of activity emerge. This is made possible by continuous creation, cross-functional cooperation and shifting the boundaries of end-to-end operations.
    The closer surroundings of the own field of activities are easily accessible and offer direct contacts for the add-on of the own assortment.
  • Reinventing
    When you leave the comfort zone of the previous market, completely new possibilities open up. New business can be exploited and previously unnoticed partners can be found. In the end, this changes the building blocks of the business. Everything starts with radical BPR, the invention of new portfolios and the opening of completely new customer groups.
    Such developments are driven by personalities, who have a clear idea of what they can additionally do for their customers.
  • Concentrating
    If the entrepreneurial body suffers from overweight and the incomes do no longer cover the current enterprise, a thought-out compaction of the activities is inevitable. The whole thing should not be torn into the abyss – e.g. closure of plants, losses or bankruptcy. This is made possible by abandoning tasks that no longer contribute, because they are obsolete or simply no longer in demand. Tasks that are not part of the core business are outsourced.
    Superfluous business and routines are proliferating, if you don’t notice the need for action and don’t take early care to shift capacities.
  • Closing
    When all measures have been exhausted, economic collapse will occur sooner or later. In the interest of all those involved, the orderly task or separation of individual areas or locations is the last resort, if it enables employees to make a secure transition to new tasks.
    Due to the early dissolution, external entrepreneurs may find ways to continue the business under different premises.

Bottom line: It may seem strange that the intentions can always be condensed into the six directions described. As soon as you start selecting the direction, you will quickly notice that nerve-wracking discussions are being replaced by joint plans. The distinct intention should be clear to every manager and every employee and the areas should be aligned in a common direction. It is the ONE intention behind any effectual strategy.

Mirror neurons – Auto start for change

Opposed to storing data in a computer, our learning is the accumulation of experience, which increasingly anchors through the linking of neurons in the brain in consequence of similar insights. The more we know, the easier it becomes to learn something new. The thrilling question is how the activation of the first neurons starts, as long as there are no connection points yet. Perhaps these are the mirror neurons that make the first storing possible, even if there is no activation so far.

The mirror neurons provide the reflexes that a baby has shortly after birth. If you take a baby into your arms minutes after birth and stick your tongue out, something amazing happens: the baby also sticks its tongue out. This capability could be the genetic prerequisite for our learning. What does that mean for us?

  • We can learn something completely new
    Whoever has learned a completely different language knows the effect. For people accustomed to letters, the learning of character-based calligraphy, such as Chinese or Japanese, becomes an additional hurdle – the „illegible“ signs, whose pronunciation cannot be derived from the writing, but must be learned. However, after the foundation has been created in the interconnection of the neurons through regular imitation and practice, it becomes steadily easier to expand the network of neurons with additional signs.
    The same applies to all other areas of life. As soon as we are to adopt a new way of working, it is difficult that we break away from the old patterns and accept and understand the new. Those affected have to reconnect their existing networks. In these cases, you need examples that learners can imitate. Stories or role-plays that are told that are presented help – or articles, books, podcasts, or videos. These start impulses make it easier to learn for those affected.
  • Joint learning is more productive
    The food for the mirror neurons is found in the personal environment. It needs a source to which one can orientate oneself and which one can imitate. In primary school, students used to learn how to paint by standing around the teacher and watching him paint a tree full of white flowers with opaque white. That way the mirror neurons were supplied with behavior patterns which were then further strengthened during painting yourself. In addition one had the possibility to look at further tricks from the neighbors.
    In business such learning situations are created through exercises in which the participants solve tasks in a team. This kind of dynamic learning in Business Exercises builds on the pre-existing experience of the participants and exploits the opportunity to learn from each other.
  • Prohibition on thinking is counterproductive.
    Since it is a largely subconscious activity to learn, all kinds of thought restrictions are detrimental to progress. There must be no prohibitions on thinking, criticism, evaluations or the like while learning. Quite the contrary. The participants should be encouraged to follow their intuitions, to toy around thoughts of others and to be able to contribute the unthinkable, the impossible and the absurd, because this uses the existing linkages in the brain of the participants, which are to be broadened. In this way the attendees create something bigger than they would have achieved on their own.
    All it takes are rules that allow knowledge, experience and opinions – e.g. like the rules in brainstorming or design thinking.
  • Allow spontaneity
    If the baby sticks out its tongue after birth when it sees someone sticking out its tongue, it is not a conscious activity of the baby but the appearance of a congenital reflex. As adults, we’ve gotten used to living with restrictions. This means that we are no longer spontaneous – because we have learned to avoid criticism and reprimands. If you wish to make great progress, you should allow the natural impulses of those present, which are produced by the mirror neurons.
    In everyday life, teams limit themselves by slowing down or confirming each other, by following the opinion of the majority and by holding back their ideas for fear of bad feedback. For this reason, the participants of an event should be encouraged to communicate openly. In addition, anonymous techniques, such as written statements on meta plan cards that are collected and then discussed, can lower the hurdle for participants.
  • But … watch out for cognitive biases
    Working mirror neurons are not only an advantage. They also cause automatisms to creep into our daily decisions – the so-called biases. For example, groups tend to make worse decisions, because they adapt to opinions of the group although they know better. Or the halo effect, where you derive your expectations from familiar characteristics of a person, although these inferences can be misleading. Mirror neurons work, even if it is not always advantageous.
    In practice, this requires sensitive listening into the situation. With targeted disturbances, for example by throwing an antithesis into the room, it is possible to reduce such group effects.

Bottom line: We learn best in a group. Mirror neurons help us to adapt subconsciously to people, who are in a similar situation around us. This happens in meetings, workshops and other events. It allows us to overcome the initial difficulties that arise when you are exposed to something new that you cannot relate to your experience yet. Our mirror neurons turn team learning into a highway of change. There must be no restrictions on thinking and spontaneous ideas that are not yet common property should be encouraged and valued and not suppressed with killer phrases. However, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the unwanted biases that occur. Our mirror neurons should be used for far-reaching innovations, because they enable an auto start for change.

Time of radical change

In everyday life we benefit from the facts we know and for which we have developed a repertoire of behaviors. Depending on our disposition, changes unsettle us more or less. In order not to be too surprised by upcoming events, we try to foresee the future and prepare ourselves for it. For this purpose, we consider correcting variables that we otherwise perceive rather randomly. This foresight establishes connections that consist of smallest influences. These ideas suggest accuracy due to their fine granularity. However, there are times when the changes are not only visible in the subtleties, but in the major upheavals. If then many far-reaching transformations happen at the same time, we are in a time of radical change.

We now seem to have arrived in such a time. Therefore we take a brief look at the PEST effects, wherein simultaneous changes become visible.

  • Political effects
    The virtualization of the world has made political borders disappear. The delimitation is no longer between left and right, but between extremes and normals or between different religions or between cultures. The old motto is simple: We are right, the others are wrong. From any point in the world, it takes one click into a region, where completely different rules and laws apply. The view through the window of the screen feels actually harmless, since you still seem to be in your own legal sphere. So you can order something abroad, but as soon as the delivery crosses the border, your national laws apply. As a result, certain goods are no longer allowed or additional customs duties are incurred. In addition, between countries and within regulated economic zones, other regulations are applied which can only be understood by experts. Although such rules affect everyone, they are negotiated and adopted behind closed doors, as TTIP has shown (thanks to Trump, negotiations should pause at the moment). Besides the economy, politics has far-reaching authorities, which are justified by nothing more than an election. As long as the power blocks of the world are in competition with each other, autocrats can question and terminate the agreements at any time. What is needed is a recognized, contemporary, global coordination center.
  • Economic effects
    Since the photo Earthrise that was taken by William Anders on December 24, 1968, we should be aware that we live in a finite system. Such a closed system cannot grow without supplying energy from its environment or another system. And yet today, decision-makers are still trying to exploit other countries by levying taxes, influencing exchange rates or playing all kinds of restrictions as trumps. The national pride that is abused for it, which drives the population into competition with the rest of the world, endangers peace and revives old conflicts. If economic success is based on the loss of others, decision-makers should be aware that there are no others in ONE world. This means that the monetary system gets unified, the distribution of labor and income ensures the survival of all, and that the reasons for making business are rearranged. Growth is not a real goal for a closed system, but viability.
  • Socio-cultural effects
    The world has become more comprehensible and accessible. At the same time, this proximity creates a new diversity with often contradictory perspectives. The forces that dominated world affairs for a long time have gradually shifted towards the emerging regions of Asia and Africa. A simple example is the new Silk Road, which is in the process of replacing the established routes of the economy. It enables China to globally position its well-educated people, who are held together by a value system that has been proven over thousands of years and who are equipped with a historically founded self-confidence. This upheaval, which has been visible for years, is shifting the focus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, replacing the fabric of the last seventy years. The societies that have been exploited for centuries for the benefit of the old world are breaking away from old habits and swinging the pendulum towards the south and east. We are experiencing the first socio-cultural effects with the increasing revival of the nation and the hysterical measures to seal oneself off with trade barriers to the outside. The existing rules no longer apply and the new ones will be made elsewhere. Companies, NPOs and NGOs as well as global institutions have to reorient themselves.
  • Technological effects
    Forty years after the introduction of the PC, information technology (IT) has permeated all areas. Simultaneously, a network was created that allows us to be connected to any point on earth with a single click – as long as the required electricity and access to the network are available. The current wave of digital transformation is nothing more than an additional attempt to increase the importance of IT – Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Intelligence, Automation, Robotics, 3D Printing, etc. Whereas in the past it was lamented that the workforce was forced to work under inhumane conditions, today the same groups complain that automation in the production of goods and services robs them of their livelihoods. The new designs are too concerned with the tools, instead of creating holistic solutions, which continue to provide people with opportunities to make a living. Virtualization, i.e. the representation of the material world in the computer, creates completely new possibilities for doing business. Above all, easy access to markets for everyone, wherever they are, needs a new understanding of work. Old skills are replaced by previously little-known ones – from executing an activity to monitoring; from processing knowledge to generating it; from evaluating data to interpreting it. This upheaval affects everybody. The skills and abilities need to be re-educated so that everyone can be involved in this upheaval.

Bottom line: We don’t need fine-tuned measuring points to recognize that we are in a time of upheaval that is turning everything upside down. The large upheavals are visible to the naked eye. The new division of the world no longer suits the given societies. The computer and networking make the foundations of the old economic activity obsolete. This changes the way the economy operates and the masses of workers are worried about how they will earn their money tomorrow. At the same time, politicians get stuck in the dilemma of global or national politics, which makes the right wings to lure out from behind the stove. The Every-man-for-himself will evoke the danger of international conflicts, which can even destroy the idyll of the Western world. The First World War brought weapons of mass destruction. The Second World War brought nukes. The Third World War is probably happening for a while in virtuality – who would believe that only Russia uses computers to destabilize? What else does it take to notice the upheaval? This means for ALL participants that they have to deal with these changes. Companies that currently have no answers to these radical changes and do not actively prepare for them, act irresponsibly. New approaches are needed for politics, economics, society, and the use of technology.
Now  I S  the time of radical change.

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.

 

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.