Thursday, September 22, 2016

U.Lab - a self-learning orientated vehicle to shape the future together

#ULab has begun, and the social field is in the process of being cultivated. Now already by two u.lab hubs in Saxony: Leipzig & Dresden. Activities within Saxony check #ulabsaxony

Interested to learn about projects, and get to know change makers, and passionate people in Saxony, and from around the globe?

Join in the current MOOC "u.lab - Leading From the Emerging Future"

To have a quick overview, whether this could be something for you (personally), the organization you are part of or the community you are living in, here are some links (including some in German) or have a look at the Presencing Institute

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Seeds From 2008 are Emerging into #CitizenScienceLab

#CitizenScienceLab - A System Dynamics Think Tank for a Smart Zero Net Carbon City h/t @ClimateCoLab giving the opportunity through the Smart Zero Carbon Cities Challenge


Exponentially towards a future with net zero carbon output by engaging individuals & organizations, providing scalable learning & prosperity. (2016-05-23)

For more?

Read through the proposal to the very end (where the whole story is told in short)


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Singularity and Exponential Change - April 20-21, 2016 Where is More to Learn

In "The Singularity Is Near" futurist and now Google's Chief Engineer Ray Kurzweil predicts a not so distant time in the future when computers have more computing power than humans, and will actually bring it on the road.

The metaphor "The Singularity" is taken from physics where it is used to describe the unpredictable chaos that is following the development of a "black hole".

What seems to most of us as a purely Sci-Fi dreamlike utopia or even dystopia can be felt already some forms that things are changing around us so fast that we as individuals and especially organizations often haven't learnt extensively how to cope with it.

Whole industries and their key players are threatened by digital competitors like the film industry with Kodak once being the "poster child". Despite the fact that an engineer at Kodak developed the first digital camera, which of course back in the day showed the concept, and the starting point of an exponential process that started at such a low level that the company denied any substantial progress on its development only to see itself filing bankruptcy for Chapter 11 in early 2012 (in 2013 Kodak rose again, though with a much smaller workforce, as a technology company).

What does it tell us?

Exponential technologies enable new-comers in the traditional business and industry fields to take advantage of digital technologies outpacing the business models of the traditional players, as Instagram, Pinterest and others did with Kodak.

Should your industry, and organization fear the same fate? Why, if you are open to see what is happening now already and where the exponential trajectory may lead impacting your own business models.

What till now was possible to learn at on a super-fast learning trip to Silicon Valley's unique think and do tank Singularity University either on a 10-week summer course or various shorter workshop offers at executive level now is coming to Germany with #SUGermanySummit (hashtag) in Berlin from April 20-21, 2016.

Most often we are stuck in our disciplinary boundaries. As a cartographer might not reach into #Industrie40 space and yet layout digitization might be a huge improvement factor in future production scenarios. So why not cross-learn what exiting technologies are around that might have positive impacts on our industry and work field. Engineered serendipity as described in article stemming from the Aspen Ideas Festivals 2014 might be exactly what participants (especially newcomers to the Singularity University community, as it is their first official appearance in Germany organized by SU Ambassador for Germany Stephan Balzer) will get.

Be open. Get overwhelmed. Take the relevant knowledge out of the conversation.

Even if you can't be in Berlin in person connecting via digital technology, namely in the communication such as Twitter, Facebook or else and check out the speaker line-up, and program on the SingularityUniversityGermanySummit website.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Vibrant University Engagement - Exponential Knowledge Flows

An empathic, energetic, open minded, networked, student-life interested staff member needs a way to effectively to engage relevant university stakeholders, et. al. on one goal because otherwise energies of engaged staff members are wasted and engagement goes to zero.
Here is what emerged of different ideas, and got resurfaced while doing a MOOC together with an energized international team #CitizenScienceLab:
  1. weekly online meeting (30min) of heads of staff/ departments about ongoing things (minutes shared publicly within the university)
  2. public online forum (within university net)
  3. free WiFi access in all campus premises (including cafeteria) for students, staff, and alumni
  4. gamification of interdepartmental communication
  5. Facebook page with interactive elements (providing credit points to students who involve, and staff, professors) 
  6. Systems Thinking/ System Dynamics as new curriculum (touching all other departments
  7. real-world (within the university) use cases on improvements
  8. a startup accelerator within the university (without public funding, in order to enable students to learn to run a business earn money for the rent, and learn for future work)
  9. publish all (!) thesis 
  10. only allow thesis with companies that are fully published to public (so knowledge is spreading across disciplines, and time)
  11. OLED-flat screen at university cafeteria
  12. WikiWall at very places within the university campus where different disciplines meet
  13. publishing the regulations of certain university-related funding projects
  14. entrepreneur boot camps as part of the general curriculum for all departments (including distance learning teams)
  15. providing funding for conference attendees at other universities around the globe to learn what their approaches are
  16. create ambassador teams of alumni (physical)
  17. create ambassador teams of alumni (virtual, e.g. just on Twitter/ Facebook)
  18. making it for new professorships a must to have a Twitter account
  19. alumni days
  20. summer school
  21. entrepreneurial incubator (funded)
  22. eliminate paper work across the staff
  23. deliver laptops/ mobile devices to all staff (with usage tracking)
  24. person tracking so one can find relevant discussion partners across campus (either professors, students)
  25. creating an alumni network with added value (what?) for them
  26. allow alumni to use university web services/ free of charge WiFi around campus
  27. mentor-mentee groups (with alumni)
  28. organize tours to companies that are run by alumni
  29. create multidisciplinary teams to solve city-based challenges (becoming part of the curriculum)
  30. establish an Ultimate Frisbee league (leadership, tracking of body movements, mobile computing application, interdisciplinary, competition)
  31. encourage staircase using (instead of the elevator) by providing incentives (to be used via swipecards) for staff, and students
  32. Install seating opportunities in prominent areas of the campus where large, diverse mass of people flow by
  33. engage special interest groups for improvement of processes e.g.. Lean Thinking, System Dynamics
  34. engage politicians to do empathy walks for a day through the campus, telling in realtime what is good/ tricky / learned / action (#PresencingStatus)
  35. Doing a #PresencingStatus (What is good? What is tricky? What have I learned? Next minimal viable action?) as a standard process for incoming students (after four weeks, bachelor students in their 2nd year, master students in their 1st year, professors, staff members) and publish those findings
  36. engage as a university (with the non-obvious challenges around the transition from university to work) during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, and Lean Startup Workshops in Dresden, that I plan to organize)
  37. open-door policy
  38. student counseling 15 min with #PresencingStatus - on a PostIt® for all, see
  39. establishing standard processes to bring university news across floors, departments, and stakeholders (e.g. web-based standardized documents)
  40. bringing the needs, and challenges of the different departments within the university to the public (#PresencingStatus)
  41. lowered workload
  42. single-entry-point where news from all faculties streams in in real-time
  43. drawing together public websites of faculties where news come up
  44. make sure that once published work is reachable even when servers, URL are changed in the future
  45. automatic streaming of information about departments, university, student work, events
  46. include the relevance of serendipity into the curriculum, and on the website of the university (with given examples where it turned to amazing results)
  47. bringing together technical departments with non-technical departments on student projects
  48. GoogleHangouts with alumni interviews (standard questions, #PresencingStatus; once a week, public, inviting up to 8 students
  49. Workshops on specific topics led by alumni at the university (live streamed) to give students the work experience 
  50. lowering workload of staff members (what is really necessary? what is helping the student? what is going wrong over and over again (systemic failure)?
  51. Interactive both like @SenseableCity's bus stop in the university entrance hall where bypassers can leave a message
  52. RSS feed connecting hub bringing news of different departments up in realtime 
  53. microblogging / chat program for all staff members (indicating online status, so questions/proposals/meetings can be done online/offline at no constraint
  54. glass doors at offices
  55. 3D-model of university campus with appropriate origin of information from RSS-info (point 52.) so deeper inquiry can be done directly
  56. smartphone app for university microblogging, and location-based  - with gamification incentive (such as most direct contact with professors, response-time evaluation)
  57. online, visualization of room occupance in the buildings around campus (who, what, when) - so interesting thesis presentations or such can be visited
  58. creating an ideation environment (dschool-like) within easy reach within campus main building, inviting also outsiders (for fresh ideas)
  59. University speed-dating evenings on challenging questions that students and stuff bring up over and over again
  60. PlasticLogic (electronic paper) in the main hall visualizing all courses and their rooms currently so one gets an overview
  61. WikiWall-net within campus (8x8 matrix for each department that is fed by automatic RSS-feeds + individual input), with daily capturing
  62. MIT Sloan CONDOR solution to track the information flow across the floors, and departments (without tracking exact names), so information constraints or overload can be examined
  63. semantic-web solution to capture information flow 
  64. put the formal curriculum out of work and create an entrepreneurial university - learning by doing only (like Team Academy, including the given faculties as the grounding)
  65. open office building like BMW Plant Leipzig,
  66. bilingual website to attract foreign students to include other cultures
  67. sponsoring of books to the library (with mention of the giver in the book and electronic catalog including how to be reached via social web)
  68. Yearbook of all students (current) and electronic (printed on-demand basis) supplement with all alumni (with current base, work position)
  69. Upon entering university short one-page pitch (person, background, interests, hobbies, social media presence, past work, picture, etc.)
  70. Staff yearbook (and one-pager or three tags # on each person)
  71. University BarCamp (during the week; free for all - practical design thinking workshops with practical relevance - get all stakeholders into dialogue
  72. Twitter account for each department just like MIT Cambridge (e.g.
  73. Professors on Twitter (have a single entry point to find their accounts; e.g.
  74. Short cafeteria-based 5-10 min workshops about what to write on Twitter or share in general (e.g. )
  75. Creating a "creative communication office" (e.g. Orbiting the Giant Hairball, The Creative Paradox), one person as knowledge flow catalysator
  76. Chartering a train (for roughly 700 persons), and run a week-long boot camp train tour (having flip charts, WiFi, and other facilities onboard)
  77. sponsor a university world tour to learn who other universities tackle the challenge of communicating across campus
  78. Initiate "viral campaigns" about news about the university that have to be spread into the public, and across campus
  79. run ideation workshops (public to anybody) with oversized electronic boards for visualization
  80. Surface table and touch-sensitive whiteboards in hallway 
  81. visualize flow of moving information across different departments (especially on where waiting time appears) - these are the points where intervention and inquiry into root causes are most effective
  82. no data closure on information flow
  83. put a system dynamics department into place to act as internal flow improvement accelerator
  84. writing a book by alumni "What was really really good, and should be replicated from the old days"?
  85. inviting alumni and professor emeritus, as well as staff who have left the university 20 years ago - engage in dialogue to learn from them
  86. on entering the building send via your smartphone on what was hindering good information flow yesterday
  87. Café outside at the entrance where all meet
  88. encourage staff and students to take tram and bus (gamification, such as meeting at least two people of the university to talk with on the bus and so get into conversation)
  89. regular fire alarms (every quarter) - that is when people meet
  90. make a day when every staff member wears a name badge with name, department, and three hobbies/ interests
  91. create an open day in departments (one by one) and enable that others learn about your work and challenges
  92. Job rotation (and only for a few days) so to see what the others do 
  93. internships for university students (of all faculties) by university at fields that students feel could be improved
  94. cross-faculty projects that have the intend to generate revenue in a lean startup approach
  95. mentor firechats (live covered by students on Twitter)
  96. students mentor staff on new media usage in business context
  97. open office with laptop use, and only electronic documents (paper scanned directly)
  98. smartphone app where small incremental improvements indivuals have achieved within university information & knowledge flow (e.g. establishing an alumni group, or a Twitter account)
  99. Innovation Nights where students pitch 5 min (5 pages) improvement ideas on things that bother them, sponsored catering/ drinking
(taken from my first assignment of #DTActionLab MOOC 2013 offered by Stanford University)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Disruption - Social AND Technological Paired

Three events that don't see connected too much, and yet they perhaps are showing one of the great "opportunity windows" of our time.

(1) Quite recently "U.Lab - Transforming Business, Society, and Self" a MOOC with about 40k registered participants led by M.I.T. Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer has come to an end. (2) At the same time Singularity University (an institution founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil and based on the impact of exponential technologies on bold challenges that humanity faces these times) is getting unexpected awareness. (3) In Paris are meeting the heads of state of 195 (!) countries to discuss, debate and come to a joint agreement on how to tackle what we get aware on a global scale across all possible boundaries: climate change

(1) When during a book stand stroll I stumbled across a book with a peculiar name "Presence" I wasn't really aware until the Financial Crisis hit Germany about a year later. Disruptive economic impact could be almost felt and seen over night, Qimonda a chip manufacturer closed in Dresden in mid 2009, a washing powder production plant in Genthin was about to be shut down in late 2008.

The question that came up in 2008 in my mind, "Isn't that a waste of human capital in the purest sense? Shutting down a plant. Resettling all the high-paid experts to other regions. Getting social work relations to regrow. ... can this be transformed in a positive way by bringing digital technology to create economic, and social value alike?"

Around that time the news about a newly set up institution in Silicon Valley and the name Ray Kurzweil reached the city of Dresden (2), and so the idea to pair social and technological impact found its way into a working prototype in the city over some months. Dozens of interested people joined in, and were eager to find solutions to the severe economic conditions. An old ballroom was quickly found, things began moving in even more exponential manner, and digital communication combined with "Theory U" (the follow-up book and approach for large-scale social change) was meant to be the "magic sauce" to make the "impossible reality".

The vision of pairing technology and social innovation (Theory U) took hold, and emerged over the years into several smaller prototypes, and experiments (to be found on this post on another blog).

The concept that emerged in summer 2014, largely after a professor in nano-technology had given a short interview on the essence of applied research and the current lack of academics, business and society to make positive wide-spread use through new products, and services made it into the Global Plan 2014 of the MIT Climate CoLab. It stayed there as a handed in proposal waiting to be grown at the appropriate opportunity.

(3) Lastly a few days ago on Monday, November 30, 2015 the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) started and the world is looking what the leaders of the world we come up with to tackle climate change, or in other words "to aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C"

Three disconnected seeming events that when you get yourself on your "mental helicopter" and rise some hundred meters above ground level, or even well into Space ("Overview Effect") there is a glimpse to do together as a global society what Kelvy Bird has captured during an event last year in the little town of Nauen close to Berlin.

We are all connected on this small planet called EARTH and eco-awareness at large through technology is possible, if we choose together to do so!

Why not? What is holding us individually and collectively (across all possible boundaries) back? What would set us loose to achieve?

In this sense welcoming your thoughts - Ralf


Friday, October 2, 2015

Problems are a Window for Future Opportunities - See and Catch

Dresden-based chip manufacturer GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab1 in Dresden just has​ announced an employee reduction of around 800 (currently 3,700 people from all across the globe, and disciplines are employed).

The news have hit local ground via various media outlets e.g. MDR Sachsen (German)

Manufacturing in the semiconductor field is always accompanied by rather short production cycles (cars for example are still 'running' on a 5-7 year 'refreshment' cycle), capital intensive investment, long-lead planning, and highest level of quality (Zero-Defect the ultimate production goal).

Watch (before you continue to read) the passionate Welcome Speech by Ibrahim Ajami, former CEO of ATIC (Advanced Technology Investment Company), at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Media Summit - with a strong vision as that everything is possible.

As global demand shifts constantly, an rapidly increasing from formerly chips for PCs, then smartphones and tables (decreasing in size, and raising in complexity) the Internet of Things (#IoT) is the upcoming pulling-force. The Internet of Things or as the German version is called Industrie 4.0 (focusing on the production side of society) however is still in its infant days, many people and companies around are not yet fully aware of the positive or general implications that it will bring (besides of course questions around security, privacy and other issues) to their lives and businesses.

However as the City of Dresden, is currently part of a network of 52 cities around Germany as part of the Science Year 2015 - City of the Future, and working on creating the visions for the Future of the City of Dresden #DDzu2030 (common hashtag on Facebook and Twitter) this announcement from today should be taken as an opportunity to create the future for the city and the region (ranging as wide as Saxony, and beyond) bringing the creative potential into a (new) reality.

Why not engage passionate and well-educated employees not in full-time positions, rather reduce the working hours (of course also the income will decrease some), and on the other hand be able to co-create a future that is build on and around semiconductors and equipment/ applications that will be crucial for use in the IoT context, such as the CCS Telehealth-Ostsachsen (currently only in German) project?

Quite on the edge, and some distance from Dresden away, The Things Network, an initiative from Amsterdam that has the vision to enable cities with open-source IoT solutions not only managed to bring this to Amsterdam in an outstanding short time, but currently is scaling and spreading the word? Wouldn't it in this context make sense to put the complementary competencies together, and build on the strengths of a local chip manufacturer (with global connections), engage with Europe's largest microelectronics cluster (Silicon Saxony e.V.) and make #SachsenDigital a reality. Next week's semiconductor trade fair SEMICONEuropa 2015 #SEMICONEuropa (Twitter activity) brings together all the local and global players in the field together to Dresden. Why not join in?

Even though the initial lines of this post may sound not positive this might open an unfamiliar path, joining in "U.Lab - Transforming Business, Society, and Self", and there already exists an international community locally in Dresden participating in this recent MOOC.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What Theoretical Physics Brings to Entrepreneurship, p.5
Quite by serendipity, having lunch with a theoretical physicist from Asia some days ago I learned that theoretical physics is not plain theory, but the science field trying to make sense of seen reality. In short an experimental physicist finds a new material, which has some "unexpected" properties (that is the practical part). However, as Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), the famous German-American experimental social psychologist, is quoted, "There is nothing more practical than a good theory" which underlies and explains that real-life phenomenon. For this very same reason theoretical physicists then work to figure out, with the help of computer simulations, perceived patters of reactions of the material due to change of particular parameters, and known knowledge, what the underlying root causes of the new material's properties, and how they can be used, and eventually made practical in future applications.

What has all this to do with entrepreneurship, and eventually innovation?

Let's have a look at innovation and how it comes (in various forms) into the world, and to practical use. Peter Drucker, "management guru" and "Renaissance Man" of the 20th century well respected in the global business community in some form laid out a "theory of innovation", namely the sources of innovations that lead eventually to their economical success. In "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" he lays out seven distinct sources, which range from "The Unexpected" to "New Knowledge". See Andre Kearns' Slideshare  presentation for a good overview of these (and a condensed overview of the book itself) here.

Quite often the public focuses on the innovation based on new knowledge, such as technology-based (generally on new knowledge), and wonders why innovation is not taking off shortly after discovery, and first prototypes of possible products or services based on it. Due to Drucker this kind of innovation is the one with the longest lead time (and quite a high loser rate, due to the shift of other relevant parameters that change over time, especially shifts that touch society as a whole, such as demographics, immigration, or world politics) this should "In the theory and practice of innovation and entrepreneurship, the bright-idea innovating belongs in the appendix" ("The Daily Drucker", 20 July, p. 220).

So making sense of how innovations diffuse into society (and not just on some edges due to price, or perceived value by a minority) is more challenging than it looks like at first sight. Prof. John D. Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management, Director MIT System Dynamics Group, not only gave quite a thought-provoking presentation in early 2008 stating that "technological solutions are not enough to address the problem of creating a sustainable world" but has covered the issue of innovation diffusion in his book "Business Dynamics - Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World" (chapter 9.3, Innovation Diffusion as Infection: Modeling New Ideas and New Products, p. 323-347).

So the question stays, "What does it need to bring innovations into the world?"

To close this post, and keep the question open that underlines Kurt Lewin's "There is nothing more practical than a good theory", perhaps it is time for what Jay W. Forrester envisioned in 2007 at the International System Dynamics Conference in Boston in his speech "System dynamics - the next fifty years" and his statement at the end of the speech, "We should be able to move sufficient understanding of the behavior of complex systems into the public sector."

Isn't a "school of thought" (even a quite independent department of an existing university), based on theory and practice alike, the "perfect" place to make this happen?