Schlagwort-Archive: Learning

Learning from the elders

Before we start denigrating those who have demonstrated the most consistency over the past 2500 years, let’s take an unbiased look at them since they have lived by more or less similar values for so long – the Chinese. The five constants of (1) humaneness, (2) righteousness, (3) morality, (4) integrity, and (5) knowledge serve as a guide for the Renmin (the Chinese people):

  • In their relations with other people
  • With a corresponding sense of duty
  • Friendliness
  • Honesty and
  • Precise expression.

The behavior is built on these Wuchang’s – a strong sense of ­belonging, the political system, and the social credits. Full centralization and independence from electoral promises enable the leaders to set and realize ambitious goals – even if dealing with human rights falls by the wayside.

If you let go of the general polemics toward the Chinese dragon regarding the political system and how they deal with resistance, there is a lot to learn from the two and a half thousand-year-old Confucian mindset.

  • If you do not have perseverance with small things, the big plan will fail
    China’s connection to international markets bundles various projects. It aligns efforts in the long run under One Belt, One Road, or The New Silk Road (on land and water) towards economic expansion. In the West, the focus on long time horizons has been lost. At the same time, large-scale projects are made impossible by excessive bureaucracy and private resistance. As a result, decision-makers are rewarded for short-term good behavior towards the loudest rather than the majority’s needs.
    In the West, we should remember that the majority’s welfare, decisiveness, and perseverance are prerequisites for our progress. This requires a masterplan that promotes, for example, education and ensures an operational infrastructure and the preservation of competitive advantages.
  • A sounding drum needs no heavy beating
    The ongoing criticism of the conditions in China shows a lack of understanding of Asian cultural peculiarities. When the social credit system is discredited as Big Brother is watching, many oversee the corresponding measures of observation in the West – e.g., surveillance cameras in England, extensive monitoring of communications and road traffic in Germany, or the U.S. overbearing NSA. In contrast, the Chinese system counts on ancient values (see the five constants), which make it easier to introduce, for example, the social credit system, mainly when it is linked to the targeted doubling of per capita income by 2035.
    We should move away from the basic idea of subordinating anything to companies’ economic success and a few super-rich people. We will only remain viable when we preserve future generations’ future opportunities by focusing more on securing the long-term performance of all, creating a joint (for example, a European) identity, and preventing the societal division into haves and have-nots. A fruitful community spirit enables benefits for everybody when all stakeholders pull together one rope.
  • Do one thing and not letting the other
    In contrast to the culturally neighboring 27 European countries, China comprises 90 ethnic groups or 56 official nationalities. While it spans five time zones, it has only one time, that of Beijing. If we consider the more than 1.4 million people, then the internal difficulties become understandable. If you think about the Asian mentality of Yin and Yang, the results of One Country, Two Systems, or the new measure of Dual Circulations, the results are impressive – in other words, the mode of doing one thing and not letting the other.
    We could benefit a lot from such inherently contradictory approaches instead of dogmatically following the everybody for oneself. The E.U. is less struggling with different mentalities. Trouble arises from national egoisms. For example, Europe has made itself incapable of acting due to its distribution of authority or veto power. Only if the nation stating is dissolved in favor of the United States of Europe will there be a future for all – the European market has the right size, is based on a common culture, and has an established economy.
  • Utilize all opportunities
    With its Made in China 2025 (MIC), China aims to dominate in key areas – determined digitalization (e.g., network infrastructure, semiconductors); introduction of cryptocurrency; further development of transport systems (e.g., high-speed trains, electromobility, space travel); expansion of I.T. capabilities (e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Robots, and Automation); performance improvements in agriculture.
    Although we have comparable needs for action, we cannot go beyond lip service due to a lack of decisiveness and pursuit of personal gains. We are left with projects that are repeatedly delayed into the future. We skim off the accumulated cream of the economy and redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top. This leads inevitably to an economic infarction – at the latest when previous advances have been eaten up. In modifying a burnt motto, we need a Europe First that is carried and supported by ALL – free from national and personal concerns.
  • Cross the river by feeling for stones
    The future lies hidden in the mist of possibilities. However, the following touchdown points are recognizable. Accordingly, Deng Xiaoping had issued the motto Cross the river by feeling for stones. With its current student population of more than 40 million and the millions of graduates in recent years, China has an overwhelming knowledge worker reservoir. With this flood of knowledge, they are building the future foundations as part of the China Standards 2035 The most patent activity takes place in China with over 1.4 million according to WIPO (followed by the USA with over 600k, Japan with over 300k, South Korea with almost 220k, and Germany with over 67k patents).
    We can see from the numbers who is determining future matters. To secure our opportunities, the Europeans would have to set and pursue the priorities just like China. If we fail to do this, we will continue to lose substance. This applies to people’s performance and the economy, the communications networks coverage, the exploitation of the Western mentality, and the inherited understanding of quality.

Bottom line: In essence, this post is about moving away from the polarizing view on China. It would be better to recognize that China has increased its GDP by RMB five hundredfold in the past sixty years. Within the same time, Germany’s GDP has increased twenty-onefold. Even though China started at a shallow level, we will have to deal in this decade with China taking the lead in the economy. It is mainly because of its persistently implemented initiatives: One Belt, One Road; Social Credit System; Dual Circulation; Made in China 2025 (MIC). To remain economically significant, it is necessary to develop and consequently implement a masterplan in Europe. Therefore, bureaucratic and social resistances do not have to continue to be sat out but must be solved. The core issues are the support of qualification for all, the consistent elimination of the preferential treatment of capital and industry, seamless digitization, and future technologies’ development and use. To achieve this, we can learn from those who have been on the road the longest and are doing it currently at best.

Learning from our own experience

We learn through observation, from teachers or others, and from the experiences we make ourselves. In this case, everything happens in our minds – in each individual. The lessons are conveyed through oral transmission and appropriate carrier media – e.g., tools, instruments, sculptures, visualizations, and multimedia. When you lack contemporary witnesses, past experiences only become visible through objects. From historical findings, we derive the insights of earlier people. Oral traditions, such as those of the Aborigines, who have passed on past events and experiences from generation to generation since time immemorial, are not regarded by traditional media as confirmed evidence. Therefore, for instance, Wikipedia rules do not accept posts handed down by mouth to mouth. Thus, much of our knowledge lies in the darkness of the undocumented. The presentable know-how is limited to the artifacts that have been found – hand axes from 1.75 million years ago; over 40,000 years old flutes; cave paintings and sculptures that are over 30,000 years old. For all the objects’ physicality, the meaning and associated thoughts and skills remain out of reach.

Through appropriate interpretation, insights, such as knowledge about forgotten medical agents, can be brought back to life. A decisive role in reuse is played by the language, the transmission medium, and the context. These aspects are also valid of the flood of peer-reviewed, scientific publications (more than 2.5 million articles in 2018). What should we consider when we want to learn from past experiences?

  • Language reveals – though not everything
    We live with the illusion that convictions can be comprehensibly put into a linguistic form. This way, we oversee the fact that the expression formats cannot fully convey the actual meaning (see meta-model of language).
    This is especially true for the signs and words used and the varying vocabulary of languages (jargons and translations) – for example, when the understanding of short, medium, and long term is shortened from one to ten years to one month to three years, it results in different effects. In the first case, the future can be jointly designed. In the second case, the workforce is always running after new directions without having any chance to participate.
    Historical statements can only be used by making assumptions. Although we can read the word’s string, we do not know what was initially meant. Ancient Greeks distinguished project-like business activity for earning a living and financing leisure from physical slave labor. This no longer corresponds to our current view, which focuses on work-life balance. Today, the incentive to work (the work) arises intrinsically from the urge for recognition and self-affirmation and extrinsically from pecuniary and other monetary benefits. The longing for work-life balance is the attempt to replace the labor stresses with leisure activities (the life), not ease of mind. The inconveniences of work, the dependencies, external regulations, and incapacitations are supposed to compensate for these disadvantages of work with an exuberant calendar of spare time activities.
    The concepts of work and non-work have shifted repeatedly over the centuries – even in recent years with the agilization. Despite this, companies continue to adhere to the vertical and horizontal division of labor. With their outdated approaches, companies fail to introduce new leadership styles for the agile VUCA world.
  • The medium conveys – though not forever
    The longevity and availability of a medium determine whether conceptions stay visible. Inaccessible and protected from light, dry cave walls have preserved signs and images over forty thousand years – ceramic tablets last 5,000 years; books and manuscripts experience several centuries; films dissolve after 40 to 150 years. Just as most artifacts from the past have disappeared, our current media will disintegrate – optical storage media last five, 100, and in professional cases, 1000 years; hard drives and flash memory survive up to ten years. The lack of oral history means that most of the experiences disappeared due to the media’s short shelf life. Even if they survive a long time, they must first be found and readable. Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered after almost two thousand years.
    Additionally, the undocumented pieces of the puzzle are missing for a better understanding – the experiences that were not recorded and the lack of understanding of their creation context.
    Handbooks provide general principles, but it would go beyond their scope to describe the related environment. Thus, the application with changing tasks is a mental transfer performance that is only possible with a lot of overhead. One example is the elaborate BPM of the eighties, which no longer fits today’s rapidly changing activities.
  • The context supports – although not everywhere
    Experiences always arise in a specific environment. The authors always presuppose the understanding of the accompanying circumstances. Subsequently, they forget essential explanations of the context. As a result, the elaborated impressions remain misleading. Let us consider the rule of the people, the democracy, i.e., the population’s participation in political resolutions. In ancient Greece, only so-called full citizens were involved in decisions – 10-20% of the inhabitants (i.e., Athenians who could fight, but no women, slaves, or foreigners). Today we understand democracy as the participation of the whole population, equal rights, majority decisions, etc. – at least in principle.
    The context is composed of different scopes (local, regional, continental, and global). The resulting mix is challenging to grasp – the New Yorker Manhattanite differs from the Californian San Franciscan, and at the same time, they share the American dream.
    The corresponding contexts are not provided and get lost over time. Today we try to establish this context with cultural studies, which is difficult because these contents are rarely described, and contemporaries can no longer be asked. Let us think about the design of processes according to the principles of Taylorism: there is one, best way; place and time are fixed; detailed structured tasks are pursued; one-way communication; small-scale targets without reference to corporate goals; third-party quality assurance. In the fast-moving world of VUCA, these demands can no longer be realized due to the zero-latency reaction time.

Bottom line: Due to the language limitations, the rarely available and problematic to understand evidence, and the lack of context, the prior experience can only be reused with great effort. Previous experiences are often used to get the target group to agree through the authority bias (i.e., the tendency to accept an authority’s statement, regardless of its content, although one has a different opinion). Even Goethe proclaimed in Faust, “For what one has in black and white. One can carry home in comfort.” With the flood of sources, experiences, and fake news, there are too many approaches that an objective choice of the “right” approach becomes impossible. For this reason, we have to make our own experiences – err, bearing mistakes, and try again until it works.