Schlagwort-Archive: Context

What border crossings are about

There was a time when Berlin was surrounded by a wall that made the city an island. At some point, you hit in West Berlin in all directions the wall, with only a few loopholes. Even today, the nocturnal journey through the former Checkpoint Charlie is still a noticeable border crossing, even without control and the wall. One dives from the white light of the West Berlin mercury vapor lamps and fluorescent tubes into the warm light of the East Berlin sodium vapor lamps. Even the attentive pedestrian notices that the traffic light man suddenly wears a hat. That’s what border crossings are about.

All kinds of systems live from the fact that something belongs to them and a lot of others do not. Often these boundaries are not so clearly marked. For this reason, it is important to be attentive to notice a passage from one system to another. The following aspects provide a simple grid to facilitate border crossings in a way that nobody takes any harm.

  • Context
    The space offers many recognizable boundaries – rivers, mountains, roads, walls, etc. Not every limitation automatically leads to an area with new regulations. However, it is very likely that something is changing, when you are exchanging the environment. Anyone who lives close to a river, on the left or right bank, knows these differences. Time also divides incessantly. Be it the past from the present or the present from the future or the before from the after. A border crossing also takes place when you enter a country after a long-haul flight by crossing the passenger boarding bridge – many passengers return home and others become aliens.
    You become aware of the context through these questions: Where am I? At what time?
  • Activity
    Especially diverse systems set up fields of activities or professions. Each type of employment creates a closed system with determined conditions, where those who belong to it understand each other. The others are excluded. This can be recognized by the clothing, the tools or the technical jargon – kick-off, throw-in, penalty, header, off-side (who might this be?). For outsiders, it is a kind of foreign language that must be learned.
    Quick access to the meaning could be achieved by asking: What is being done? What’s it called?
  • Abilities
    Over time, the abilities have become more and more specialized. However, it is possible to define areas of knowledge that together form a closed subject area, which in turn consists of specialized subsystems, which in turn … etc. This leads to different abilities between electro and thermos dynamicists or quantum physicists as well as to barriers of understanding between branches. The associated languages form further boundaries that demarcate or ostracize. Access to a different culture is made possible above all by the corresponding language competence – if Europeans speak of thinking, they point to the head, while Japanese tend to point to the heart.
    Overcoming this border is made possible by questions like – How do you do it? What do you have to learn?
  • Convictions
    The mental models of the members of a system are difficult to explore, because they only have an effect in the minds of the people. They become visible in the context, the actions and the demonstrated skills. The convictions form the mortar that connects groups of all kind. The crossing of the border is recognizable by the reactions of the people. If one violates their beliefs, like certain rituals or behavioral norms, then one is sanctioned without delay. At the same time, one is trapped in one’s own mental buildings – if, for example, justice is determined unilaterally. For some, a prison sentence is the worst, for others a flogging – although the need for punishment is common to both..
    The edge of convictions can be determined by cautious enquiries: How do you say that? What do you have to do?
  • Role
    A special form of border exists between roles. These are exceeded daily again and again – once you are an employee, then a boss, then a colleague, then a spouse, then a father, then a friend, then a member of the association, etc. In business life, roles are sometimes described in writing with task, authority and responsibility. The previous aspects (see above) are also different for each role – e.g. the different languages of the boss, the spouse and the association member.
    That’s why all the questions that were mentioned so far are raised here, as well as: What role is this? Which AKVs are included?
  • Affiliation
    The affiliation is the most difficult border because it hides fundamental aspects. Here the superordinate context of meaning and basic questions of life find deeply anchored answers. Fundamental borders, which are difficult to move, are formed by religions as well as economic and political systems. They are based on the personal belief and the bonds with one’s own roots.
    In order to cross these borders, respectful questions are necessary: What does that mean? What do I have to pay attention to?

Bottom line: We are constantly crossing borders unreflectively. Any border crossing can lead to a conflict. For this reason, it is important to be continuously aware of the limits. For this purpose one observes the context in which one finds oneself, the actions that happen, the abilities that become visible, the convictions that become recognizable, the roles that exist and the affiliation that characterizes the other side of the border. Borders lead to demarcation and ostracism, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. Crossing borders is unavoidable, but can happen with the respective awareness in a way that nobody gets harmed. These are some aspects that border crossings are about.

The brand stamp – the ideal metaphor for cultural imprint

Common sense is influenced, when you daily take in fictional images of the media that are internalized by the mind like all other experiences – the self-healing powers of righteousness, the role models that achieve everything and the prescribed Hollywood happy ending. At the same time, you are shaped by the practical actions and behaviors, which take place around you. All this burns in permanently. In the end, you will not get rid of it. This makes the brand stamp an ideal metaphor for cultural imprint.

The cultural stamp becomes apparent in the things of everyday life: the context, the actions, the typical skills, the shared beliefs, the established roles and the perceived affiliation.

  • Affiliation
    The sense of belonging is the most sustainable pattern that anchors one in a particular culture. In the own team one is identified by the same shirt and the shared attitudes. This excludes all others who do not belong – especially those who emphasize their own identity. The attachment with one’s own group creates security and is maintained, for example, by a common symbol or shared rituals. This most primitive coinage is the hardest to change, if at all.
  • Role
    Actually, there are similar roles in all cultures – family, religious, social, economic or technical roles. Fearful little minds overlook these similarities and pour oil into the fire of the differences again and again. Although roles provide a good basis for a better understanding of the various cultural imprints. How is the Imam different from the priest or rabbi? How is the little sister (小妹妹) different from the Arab sister (شقيقة) and the sister in Mexico? The roles provide a good starting point for change.
  • Conviction
    The beliefs are the mental guiding principles fir everybody. They include values, mission, vision, strengths / weaknesses / opportunities / threads, goals and anything else that influences opinion- or decision-making. However, we never share all beliefs with other people. The individual properties lead to ever new, unique character traits. It is not enough to limit yourself to the stereotypes of the roles. The actual variety creates a large number of options, of which only a small number become reality. That’s why you have to watch closely and look for creative solutions. Change becomes possible, when the convictions start to shake and new mental conclusions emerge.
  • Capabilities
    While not all capabilities (I.e. skills, knowledge, experience) result from a formal education, these talents are always the basis for the desired outcomes. Skills include elementary sensory-motor (e.g., movements), cognitive (e.g., arithmetic, reading), cognitive-motor (e.g., writing, music-making), social (e.g., dealing with others), and perceptual (e.g., pattern recognition, kinesthetic differences). The knowledge consists of a variety of technical and general knowledge, the experience and the insights that are acquired in the course of practice. The key to new skills is persistent learning. Change can be prepared relatively easily with appropriate training.
  • Actions
    To better understand the cultural imprint, the actions are observed. This can be done by direct or hidden observation. The actions carried out can be interpreted based on the activities (e.g. planning, discussion, production or reporting), the linguistic expression (e.g. the expression of beliefs, desires, intentions, states), and the choice of words (e.g. key, stigma, abstract words and synonyms) as well as the style (e.g. gesture, facial expression, posture, volume, and tone). Through clever task distribution and a conscious corporate wording as well as a special code of conduct changes can be introduced easier
  • Context
    The context describes the environment in which one acts. This includes people (e.g., professionals, character heads), places (e.g., cities, architectural styles, and infrastructure) and things (e.g., vehicles, IT, gadgets). To which extent actions, abilities and values ​​are appropriate, can be determined through the context. Sometimes you have to adjust it, so that the desired changes take effect.

Bottom line: The cultural imprint has a great influence on the activities that are carried out. Roles bundle the individuals into a manageable number of groups, who feel connected to each other. The beliefs mainly include the values that have an effect in the role. Capabilities are the prerequisite for the actions that take place in a particular context. The responsible person for the change needs to take all these aspects into account to actually make a difference. Just as a branding can only be removed with a lot of effort, it is difficult to get rid of its original coinage. This makes the brand stamp to an ideal metaphor for cultural imprint.

Seeing is believing

For good reason have religions the tendency of demonizing pictures. The faith is threatened by information. Figurative representations have the strength to convince people that what they see is the reality. It began with symbols and drawings, which were painted on the wall in the darkest corners of caves, probably by torchlight. It continued with depictions of gods and holy stories, which could only be seen at magic locations. Then the painting entered the private households. Since each picture was an original piece of art, only a few people could afford this luxury. With the printer press and the photography all people could benefit from this new look at the world. Eventually picture and tone became easily receivable for many people with the film and television. In parallel the conviction evolved that what you see actually is – “Seeing is believing”.

The picture is however determined by conditions, which prevent that you really get a look at the reality. The three following aspects play thereby a large role.

  • Image composition
    A photo squeezes the motives from its multisensual world into a two-dimensional frame. Outside of the image margin, on the right or the left, above or below, is no component of the picture and thus invisible. The use of a wide-angle lens tears relationships apart. The telephoto compresses distributed objects and produces the impression of proximity. The film type (black-and-white or color) produces additional tendencies. The appropriate orange hue creates the impression of the seventies. In the end the picture maker does not show the reality, but he produces it with its formal possibilities.
  • Context
    The environment, where the picture is presented, creates additional meaning. The image of a driving tank in an article about the invasion in a country or in a report on liberating a region elicits a corresponding impression. Although it is the same photo, it is evaluated differently. Similar motives are likewise differently interpreted. A group of people, who walk a dirt road with suit-cases and children by the hand, can awaken different feelings – depending on whether they are refugees from Syria or the former GDR.
  • Censorship
    At the end the control bodies of a country or a newspaper determine, what you van see – or not. As soon as a decision is required for a publication, the monitoring begins. The criteria does not matter thereby, since the decision gets removed from the potential viewers – for reasons of picture quality (e.g. awkward perspective or blurring), missing importance of the photo, assumed lack of interest, or to hide undesired facts, like critical points of view, messages, or truths. The censorship is already accepted practice. It starts with the rules for good journalism and certainly does not end with embedded journalists, who report on a military action – nobody is irritated by the influence of the military on the publication.

The changeability of pictures is not an achievement of today’s Photoshop age. Pictures were always falsified. The illustration shows for example, how Stalin dealt with comrades, who were fallen in disgrace. He simply let them retouch from the pictures. The media suggests neutrality, if it speaks of the filter bubble and populist reporting. If you look and listen closer, then you hear the tendentious tone in each newscast. So-called neutral fact checking does not help any more.

Bottom line: What you see in a photo is always the result of filtering one or several aspects. This happens consciously or unconsciously, with the best hidden agenda or bad-willingly, supporting or obstructing the viewer. In any case filters are impacting, which falsify the reality. In changing a well-known saying: One cannot not falsify pictures. An indicator, which can only be checked with difficulty, is the origin of pictures – if you can find it. Thus, there is no reason to believe something, as soon as you see it.

The overall context determines the understanding

The language does not offer an adequate base, in order to interpret a phrase.  Let’s pull one of world literature out of its context “The husband asked, would she allow him to smoke, obviously not with a view to smoking, but to getting into conversation with her.” You can better understand what is happening, if you know that this is a sentence out of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj. The internal images adapt immediately. If you realize that you are in a train compartment you get even close to the circumstances. The following illustration creates on the left a frame condition and offers on the right goods for smokers. Which one fits best? That depends on the mental framework in your mind, because the overall context determines the understanding.


If you prepare a lecture, you have to take care of the circumstances. There are three aspects that affect this total context.

  • The presentation
    Since you can only understand the things that you can express with words and pictures, the designing of the presentation is a pre-requisite for the transmission of meaning. Most of the times people limit themselves to the determination by facts that are worth it to convey. Unfortunately, many stop there. The information should always be translated attentively into the appropriate words, metaphors, and visualizations that can be understood by the target audience. The dissemination of the own ideas is the real purpose. Eventually the worm has to taste good to the fish, not to the fisherman.
  • The event
    The interpretation framework that is created by the event, determines the exegesis of the messages. The title of the event, the various subject areas and the participating presenters with their program items give the attention of the audience a certain direction. Presentations that do not fit within the framework will have difficulties to attract sufficient attention. For this reason you should always consider, how you can shape your contributions to the event. At least titles, examples and presentation style should fit into the program. Eventually the messages need the loosened soil in the consciousness of the audience, in order to strike roots.
  • The target group
    The total context is determined by the background and the technical field of the listeners. The cultural background can be derived from the place of the meeting. If the addressees come from the western hemisphere, they are for example coined by values, as good and bad, right and wrong. The eastern heritage is based on the balance of Yin and Yang. Accordingly, the desire for acknowledgment is more pronounced in the west and less in the east. The attitudes of the expected participants can also be derived from the event. It is mainly a matter of distinction, whether it concerns technique, sales or leadership oriented listeners. In any case the presentation should be adapted to the respective cause. Eventually there is no general sequence of the lecture that fits for all imaginable opportunities.

Each spectator and all speakers bring in their total context. The effect of the exchange of information is a result of the overlap that you achieve between the total contexts. How far you create this, can be recognized by the reaction of the public.

Bottom line: The overall context determines the probability that a message reaches the target audiences. Here it is not a matter of your own preferences, but above all the adapted presentation, the general framework of the event and the respective target audience. Since the context always changes from one to the other event, the appropriate conceptions should always be adapted to the respective case, because the total context determines the understanding.

Simply attentive

The urge of further improving the economics brings the staff members, above all, more tasks, which have less available time for execution. This results in pressure that produces physical and mental damages. Subsequently the ability gets lost to be simply attentive at any time.


The current situation is determined by the own mental state and the mood of the partners. In order to use the various perspectives, one has to take time to make oneself aware of the different points of view. This is valid for the own convictions, opinions and experiences, but also for trying to understand the mental world of other people and groups.

Experienced reflections that will be ever easier over time become possible through a set of smart questions. The following aspects enable the dispute with yourself and putting oneself in the position of others.

  • Context
    A situation always happens in a certain environment. At which times (when), in which environment (where), with whom (who), by using (by what), with which emphasis (why) and for which purpose (what for), happens something (what)? Only the procedures that take place in the context should be considered. All others should be excluded.
  • Influence
    In a situation various interests collide. For this reason you should limit yourself to the circumstances that you can influence. Which components of the context are important (which) and can be affected by yourself or by others (who)? Only the facts that can be influenced make a difference.
  • Procedure
    The event is defined by the acts that proceed in a certain order. What triggers the situation (Cause), which steps take place in which order (Sequence) and what results from the situation (Outcome)? The procedure provides the individual causes and effects that result eventually in the outcomes.
  • Perception
    Our perception is limited by the own horizon. One way to overcome this restriction is the consideration of all senses. What can be seen (visually)? What can be heard (auditory)? How does it feel like (kinesthetic)? What can be smelled (olfactory)? What can be tasted (gustatory)? Through the consideration of the different sensory stimuli you receive a comprehensive impression of the circumstances.
  • Core
    The insights that one connects with the circumstances, make the core of the conditions more concrete. What does one learn from the situation (Insights) that is useful (Advantages) or harms (Disadvantages) oneself? The point of view is extended by the consciously made pros and cons and minimizes unintentional effects.
  • Concernment
    The unconscious influences become visible by looking at the own convictions. Which values will become injured and which negative attitudes are confirmed by the situation? The recognition of the intuitive influences de-emotionalizes the evaluation of the situation.

If you look at the six aspects from the own perspective or with the eyes of others, you can receive a comprehensive overview of a situation at any time.

Bottom line: In order to be simply attentive, it is important to recognize and to examine with the above questions the involved points of view. Thus one gets away from the naturally subjective perception of the conditions and gets a clearer basis for effective discourses.

Who am I?

The consistent self-image is the sum of the opportunities that are altogether at one’s disposal. This is particularly valid for individuals. Nevertheless, there is also a self-image of groups of any size. Accordingly cultural areas, nations, enterprises and specialists have additionally an understanding of their group. Employees have to co-operate nowadays more and more in temporary work forms, in teams, Joint ventures and the like. It requires that one has to integrate again and to find out the commonalities. Everything starts with the question: Who am I?


The model of the Logical levels by Robert Dilts for describing the self-image is a practical approach. The following questions are derived from it and should be answered by individuals, but also by groups.

  • What roles do I live?
    The self-image is certainly determined by the roles that one covers in everyday life – professionally and privately. The superior is a boss, colleague, father, association chairman etc. The aspects of the self-image are molded differently depending upon the roles – sometimes even contrarily. We cannot avoid in everyday life to harmonize different roles. A consistent big picture of all roles reduces tensions.
  • Where am I?
    The context, in which one acts, is crucial. It is specified by the stakeholders, the geographical scope and the timeframe. Even if the technical networks are widening this range, the context, where one personally is, remains the most important one.
  • What do I do?
    The actions become visible in the factual activities, in the recognizable patterns of behavior and in the planned measures. They show, what one does (contrary to what one thinks to do). Tensions result, if one misses to dissolve these differences.
  • What do I know?
    The technical, methodical, social and systemic abilities set the limits for the personal opportunities. Based on an overview of the existing and the required capabilities, the learning needs can be derived.
  • What do I believe?
    The convictions have a strong effect on the perception, the thinking, the communication and the actions. They consist of values, intentions and evaluations. Since these are contents that are difficult to grasp, it is favorable to clarify the corner stones of the personal convictions explicitly and to convey them continuously.
  • Where do I belong to?
    Not only the cultural area defines a person, but also the individual specialist areas. Based on them personal, collective and public order and orientation framework arise. They affect all roles (see above). Serious contradictions between the different areas produce conflicts that can be solved by a constant adjustment. For example, religious rules forbid to practice certain roles. Also a pronounced environmental awareness contradicts occupations that are known for extreme environmental damages.

The more harmonious the aspects of the self-image are, the more a role can be performed and the more authentically one is perceived by others.

Same series:

What do I do?

Where do I want to go?

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.


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.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

The mirror on the wall does not bring the substantial characteristics to light, because the self-image only becomes incompletely visible in a mirror. There are the soft factors that describe the nature of a person or a group of people. These can only be grasped or observed with difficulties. In addition, they are mostly processed unconsciously – if you meet someone for the first time, or look at the person intuitively or spend time with its publications. The explicit format of the self-image is the today’s form of the mirror on the wall. Thus, you describe your own traits and those of other persons and groups.


These soft aspects of the Corporate Identity determine the social interaction with a target group and the co-operation within your own team.

Look at the target group in its environment. This provides indications of the convictions, the actual distribution of tasks and the affinity with a cultural system. The attributes can be determined in more detail by looking at publications and meetings.

The self-image is the basis for approaching the target group. By preparing the exchange of information, you avoid statements that contradict the attitudes of the audience. The detected traits and habits facilitate a more accurate formulation of your messages.

The mirror on the wall that is extended by the elements of the self-image provides the framework for a common self-understanding that fosters the social cohesion and co-operation.

Bottom line:Interaction within the own area and with others requires good expressions in words and pictures of your own character as well as the personality of counterparts.The self-image facilitates the description of the profiles.


The self-image in a nutshell:

Potential application areas:

When in Rome, do as the Romans

The easiest way to approach people is via their culture – language, life style and experiences. Who would start in Italy a lecture in such a way: „Bonsoir Mesdames et Messieurs. Je suis enchanté que… “. Of course except, it is a Frenchman, who is giving a French lesson. Even then, it would be smart to start the course at least in Italian.


It will be clear to most people that it is proficient to consider the local conditions in a presentation. Nevertheless, many miss the opportunity to be better understood and eventually accepted by the audience.

This means that you have to recognize the traits of the audience besides the actual contents. With the self-image, these characteristics are well documented comprehensively. They are derived from looking at the visible elements of the target group. This includes the context, the actions and the capabilities. Based on the invisible elements, you can induce through personal observation or the look at the publications. The convictions, the recognizable roles and the fundamental solidarity with certain cultural systems are the result.

Imagine you would like to show a new product to your production area. You present the desired customers, the sales concept and the competitors. You explain the innovative technology and the successful design. However, you say nothing about the new requirements for the production, the manufacturing cells, the organization and the desired numbers of items. All information is important. In this context, it is more important to put the emphasis on the manufacturing aspects.

With this simple example, you can see that presentations should always be accomplished by bearing the target group in mind. If you are in manufacturing, do as the manufacturers. Otherwise, it can be expected that the actual message will not reach the target group and, in the worst case, will end up in resistance.

Bottom line: Specify before any informing the characteristics of the target group, with more or less details depending on the importance. Accordingly, the messages have to be aligned to the target group. An appropriate structure is provided by the self-image.


The self-image in a nutshell:

Potential application areas:

I sense an idea

An idea evolves subconsciously. For this reason, it is important to provide enough room for the idea, so that it can emerge (see also: “I need an idea – now!”. You provided room for your idea, in order to let it grow. The first idea wafts float already through your mind. The one or the other veil evaporates or conjoins with others. You sense the idea.


Over time you notice that you are interested in something. In this bundle of clouds you find the idea that you should look at a little bit closer. Words are still missing and the idea is not yet tangible. Trust in your fantasy that brought you that far. Do not compel. Give yourself some more time, in order to be able to consolidate the idea. With simple questions, you can observe the idea in relaxed way. Note them on a small paper and keep it with you all the times.

  1. Do you recognize the idea?
  2. Which sensuous qualities come to your mind?
  3. What do you recognize around the idea?
  4. How does the idea look from different perspectives?
  5. How does the idea feel?
  6. How do you call the idea?

Your mental picture is more and more taking shape. Still the description is missing, in order to communicate it to others.

Further information:

To be continued …

Same series:

I need an idea – Now

I have an idea!

I spread an idea!