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?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Creative Process is Key

My personal role model about intercultural collaborative and most creative value creation is the Semperoper Ballet, the ballet company within the Semperoper Dresden led by Creative Director Aaron S. Watkin since 2006.

After individual pieces created by contemporary choreographer William Forsythe have been presented at various productions on stage here in Dresden, now a full-evening ballet, #ImpressingTheCzar, is premiering tomorrow (7pm with box office at the house opening an hour earlier, with some luck you'll eventually get some tickets) with several performances after that (check out the Semperoper schedule).

Get a flavor of what it means to create a piece so different from what you normally would expect a ballet to be on stage, and the different. 

Impressing the Czar - Week I

Impressing the Czar - Week II

Impressing the Czar - Week III

Impressing the Czar - Week IV

Impressing the Czar - Week V

In case you now got curious on how your creative thinking (and acting) process can be sparked by ballet and the creative process around check out where you'll find more work created by William Forsythe. Have a look at the following article by Prof. em. Edgar H. Schein on "The Role of Art and the Artist" that gives a few more thought inspirations on why it is valuable to visit a ballet performance (even or especially you are not familiar with the piece).

Sunday, January 4, 2015

CES2015 Ante Portas, and #LichtjahrDD #IYL2015 with it

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) has now a 40-year history, and its 2015 edition is just about to start.

From January 6-9, 2015, Las Vegas will be host of one of the most prominent trade shows/ conferences / event around technology and its use in daily life. Most of us are surrounded by vast amounts of technology with "embedded power" which enables not only persons to monitor and track personal activity, but also improve the state of life in general (whether on a personal, organizational or social one).

Screenshot of official CES2015 website

#CES2015 is going to be like a whirlwind, or "tech tornado" - the speed to capture all certainly for most of us (including myself, an AI support tool to not only monitor all the upcoming events, conversations, demonstrations, and review but to relate all this data to what I have gathered on data, knowledge and personal wisdom (if one could say) over the course of a good 40 years grown up in a connected home in the late 60's in Mainz-Lerchenberg where my parents were both working at the German Television ZDF).

It seems odd that smart metering even for the most common thing like central heating (not the wood fire place anymore) hasn't come into the mainstream yet. Even when you see newly built housing, or refurbishing of old houses there is seldom a focus on using smart technology.

How to capture all that what is going on during these days in Las Vegas at #CES2015? h/t Eventifier and their team to make the almost impossible POSSIBLE (direct link to the aggregated overview,

Around two months ago I attended the workshop on #SmartCityDresden (mostly German, but we worked to include the interested English audience as well, especially as Dresden is a major European hub for semiconductors, material science, and other underlying technologies and initiatives) here in Dresden at Technische Sammlungen (which houses the history of optical legacy of the city which once was home to cameras widely known around the world) and shared a few thoughts on it on LinkedIn.

In two weeks time the International Year of Light, #IYL2015, will start and at Technische Sammlungen there will be the kick-off event of the local activities around light and light-based technologies #LichtjahrDD [the provided link brings together all tweets that mention both mentioned hashtags and we are glad to have Eventifier as partner of the year-long event].

Without further due we'd wish all who read with excitement not only this blog, but looking forward to  #CES2015 and the International Year of Light


PS.: Anybody interested to join the kick-off event in Dresden on Monday, January 19, 2015 please tweet to @LichtjahrDD using the hashtag #LichtjahrDD and further details will be delivered