Do you know what Usain Bolt and Germany have in common?

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Do you know what Usain Bolt and Germany have in common?

They are better in certain disciplines than others.
Would anybody try to force Usain Bold to run slower in favour of his competitors? – Probably not!
They rather would think the others have to train more or differently.

So why should Germany stop working hard to design, manufacture and deliver better products and services?
Instead of blaming Germany I suggest

  •  To review the global framework in place to manage “the free market’”. Adaptions are needed to re-open the market for innovators and to restrict the financial and political influence of single private players.
  •  To invest in education and high quality, understandable learning materials and information platforms accessible for anybody. Re-open information access, avoid early specialization, and carefully think what should be taught as basics and what should be learned case by case.
  • Transfer the insights gained in the last century not only in technology but in particular in the human sciences and social systems into practice. The result is “co-operation of equals” as the model for successful adaptations to the changing requirements.

Why? Here is my perspective.
I can imagine how the feeling is, if oneself, who promoted the free market and set the frameworks as they are today, belongs actually to the underperformers in some disciplines. Maybe it would be worth looking at the superior student and “benchmark” what he did differently to be better for the moment instead of blaming him?

If we consider European imbalances a look in the younger history helps. EU pushed for accelerated economic development in southern Europe and for the new entrants from MEA. This resulted in a short-sighted tax and investment competition, companies moving from one to the other country, without long-term benefits for the respective nations.  Unemployment rates in Germany steeply increased forcing change finally resulting in the Agenda 2010.  In combination with the German way of managing the economic crisis through social partnerships and the resistance to trust in pure service based industry let to a faster recovery. What could be the lessons to learn?

  • Co-operation is superior to competition especially in critical situations.
  • Reflect the hypes carefully. (This could be a good advice right now as well looking at “digitalization and AI”)
  • Frameworks need to fit the goals

The free market is an economic model based on assumptions (as any model) – fair, equal conditions for all players. These were never given but the situation has impaired further. The rules in place have even shifted the power from national governments to global giants. As a result Denmark named an ambassador for Google. Recently a report was published that even in the US the founding of new companies is as low as in the early 1970th. One reason given is the overwhelming power of google and friends. The role of Goldman Sachs in the financial sector is comparable.

If we want to keep the market open for innovators, if we want to limit political and financial risk we have to restrict the influence of certain single private players. We might even actively recreate, at least initiate competition. Creating further funds for start-ups is insufficient. As long as they need to enter a “closed market” it is a waste of tax money.

 “Change is the only constant”. At the moment this seems to be more obvious for many people and creates a feeling of insecurity in many of them. The demand for adaptation is high. But how?

We have made not only major technological progress; we have today a much deeper understanding of the human being, its drivers, behaviour and motivation. We gained insights in the “mechanism of evolution” as well as in systems theory, chaos theory… What conclusions to draw?

Hierarchies and “elites” are out, co-operations and the shaping influence by knowledgeable, responsible individuals are the future. (The German success might give a hint, even if it is still extremely patriarchal and needs a new design). For countries who want take a lead the answer is clear.

 Invest in education and high quality, understandable learning materials and information platforms accessible for anybody. Re-open information access, as it is not acceptable that knowledge created by tax money needs to be paid for a second time. Over the years the access to quality information has impaired dramatically due to quality, language and costAvoid early specialization, rather train the people how to learn, how specialize later.

Especially for the age of digitalization other capabilities and competencies are more important than pure IT knowledge. We have to train our leaders, CEOs and any citizen to ask questions to understand

  • what algorithms can and what the limits are,
  • which algorithm is appropriate when
  • what does intelligence in relation to algorithm really means and
  • how does and will it differ from human intelligence.

For me the most important question is:
“Which direction to go in further developments. Do we want to make us obsolete just to show how clever we are?
We determine the direction, it does not just happen.  Each of us contributes to shape of the future. So  it is up to us, to decide where to head to.

A further step to adapt successfully is to review existing governance structures and leadership models in combination with the development of more foresight.

No one can predict the future, but you can prepare for it. You can learn to recognize the essentials and to oversee details which only distract you – even KPIs.  “Agility” understood as best possible action in time will be achieved only, if the individual employee is enabled, encouraged and rewarded to take decisions of his/her companies future.

On the social and political level it is critical to balance individual and common interests, to reconnect the results of a decision or behaviour with the consequences – to reconnect rights and obligations.

The future model of cooperation demands new governance structures where citizen overtake an additional role for good governance. We need to develop well thought participation roles which enable and oblige citizens to shape, decide and take joint- responsibility more directly. Neither the “civil society” (good lobbyists?)of today nor plebiscites are democratic by nature because they are open for manipulation e.g. Brexit. In recent years different countries have made first trials with new democratic processes e.g. island by developing their new constitution, Australia in Health Care and others.

Social systems are especially vulnerable for the change in progress. Social systems e.g. in Germany are not designed to individualization. We need to review and adapt them, so that they can create social cohesion in the future according to the new needs. Critical are the financing model and the decision processes for long-term sustainability. In the age of algorithm and data, funding based on individual employment will fail. In Germany health care the self-administration is obsolete in the way it is constructed. The payer is not included at all in the decision process neither in the offerings nor in the rewarding systems. Joint- responsibility is actively avoided.

In summary, if we want to adapt successfully to the changing environment, if we prefer to live and work healthy in an open society  we need to design new models of responsible co- decision making and joint –responsibility, invest in education and re-open information access .
Companies and governments need to develop better foresight to differentiate essentials from noise to take the best actions in time.
Most urgently we need to change our wording and content of communication as it is of major influence of our unconscious – creating the “self-fulfilling” prophecies. I might ask you: “What is valuable news you like to know about?

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