If you still believe growth is the cure

“If you still believe that growth is the only way to improve our world … start with health, freedom, love or peace.”

While economy is based on the assumption that only growth in production and consumption will lead to more prosperity, it appears there is a movement that started to acknowledge more universal desires, which in fact are not seeking for quantitative growth. There is a new quest is for less consumption, but better experiences; be it health, freedom, love or peace, we see an uprising of being versus having, quality versus quantity, experience versus possession.
Change is no more the sole vehicle for economic growth alone; change has become an option, and keeping the status quo has become an alternative. To some degree, this made ‘conservative’ a bad term, even though most people will indisputable agree that there are not many values like nature, freedom, love and peace, that deserve it more to be protected, preserved.

This is not about stagnation at all; it is about progressive change of our value system.
If we wish to pursue our long lasting future, we will need to move away from the illusion of eternal materialistic growth. We will need to move towards more ethically inspired concepts of qualitative growth, that – even when wasted or pervasively brought forward to all people in this world – may bring qualitative prosperity to every human being, and pave the way to a sustainable future.

One of the major steps to take will be the change of our measurement systems. We will not be able to measure the qualitative growth and progress in simple spreadsheets or existing currencies of our financial world. We will need to agree on a new currency, that denominates not financial wealth, but sustainability, quality of living, universal values.

Today, I have a more sound belief, that across any given culture in our diverse world, we ultimately share the same values, if we only take it to a high enough level. I have a hope that, fueled by our ability to overcome biological determinism, we take the chance to work on a joint future, to create a higher set of values that unite, and abdicate those that have taught us to compete and fight.

Heute schon losgelassen?

‘Ein Mann klatscht alle zehn Sekunden in die Hände. Nach dem Grund für dieses Verhalten befragt, erklärt er: “Um die Elefanten zu verscheuchen.” Auf die Bemerkung, dass es hier gar keine Elefanten gebe, antwortet er: “Na, also! Sehen Sie?”‘
– Aus: Watzlawick, Paul (2009): Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein, Piper-Verlag.

Dieses Gleichnis des großartigen österreichischen Psychologen Paul Watzlawick soll darauf hinweisen, dass der konsequente Versuch, das eine Problem zu vermeiden (die Angst vor dem Erscheinen der weissen Elefanten), in Wahrheit zur Verewigung des anderen Problems führt (wer kann schon angstfrei handeln wenn er ständig am Klatschen ist).

Viele Führungskräfte handeln nach einem ähnlichen Prinzip und sehen ihr eigenes, permanentes Managementhandeln als Voraussetzung für den Erfolges in ihrem Unternehmen. Wenn auch der Nutzen guten Planens, Organisierens, Einteilens von Ressourcen und klarer Entscheidungen unbestreitbarund notwendig für zielgerechtetes Handeln ist, so erkennen doch zuwenige Führungskräfte die Möglichkeit, gleich gute wenn nicht bessere und nachhaltigere Ergebnisse zu erreichen, indem sie auf die Fähigkeiten des Sytems bauen und vertrauen. Die Wissenschaft der Kybernetik nennt diese Selbstordungskräfte von Systemen ‘Autopoiesis’ (Luhmann, 1984). Die Crux dabei ist schlichtweg, dass sich Autopoiesis der direkten Kontrolle entzieht, und damit dem Selbstverständnis des traditionellen Managements.

Aus eben diesem Verständnis heraus lassen sich zwei scheinbar gegensätzliche Prinzipien der Unternehmensfühurung unterscheiden, nämlich Management versus Leadership:

– Management als Steuerung trivialer Prozesse.
Management handelt nach den Prinzipien von Ursache und Wirkung und kann so direktiv-zielgerichtet erfolgreich sein.

– Leadership als Umgang mit komplexen Systemen.
Leadership geht erfolgreich mit Systemen um, welche nicht-trivialen Ursache-Wirkungs-Prinzipien unterliegen, und vielmehr den Grundlagen der Kybernetik, der Wissenschaft von der Steuerung komplexer Systeme, folgen.

Die Implikationen dieser Sichtweisen sind so weitreichend, dass sie alles andere als einfache Lösungen anbieten – sie erfordern eine Änderung des eigenen Selbstverständnisses als Führungskraft. Im weitreichendsten Fall wird sogar ein Paradigmenwechsel von Führung erforderlich.


We all want to be happy – but are we really supposed to be…?

First, read this article. FastCompany: How to be happy anywhere

Then think twice: why do YOU think that people seem to be more unhappy the more they possess?

I came to conclude, that happy people are an unwanted species – at least from an economic point of view: “Unhappy people are the fuel of an economy that is determined to eternal growth.”

Did you ever wonder why the evening news are followed by the best paid commercials? – It follows a simple yet intriguing logic: the news tell you how bad this world is – and buying the latest gadgetry will make you feel OK again.

Lets face it: Happiness has no lobby, since there is no economic interest in happy people. The worst thing that could happen to a market driven economy would be a society that dwells in happiness, without any interest to participate in the rat race of limitless consumption.

So what is left for us to do? Surrender to a programmatic uneasiness, where only the good consumer has a right to call oneself ‘happy’?

Wait a minute – it’s not that hopeless. We still have our free will. We may decide to detach from media and marketing that keep selling us the keys to happiness. And we can search for alternatives, to find our own keys to happiness, to find our wealth and happiness within ourselves…


The day after I attended the TEDxVienna event, I went out for a long walk with my 8year old daughter. She was curious why I spent a full day away from home, listening to so many people out there on a conference. So I gave her some examples of what speeches I found inspiring.

One of them had reminded me of the term ‘Ubuntu’, which comes from the language of the Zulu and Xhosa. ‘Ubuntu’ is commonly known in South Africa for describing a sense of connectedness between the individual and the society, or the world as a whole (the literal translation we learnt would be ‘I am because we are’).

My daughter kept asking me questions about the deeper meaning of the term, and what the speaker actually wanted to say. I replied, that it was an important term, and an important way of living peacefully together. She kept asking me, why we would need that term, she did not seem to understand.

So I pondered for a while, trying to distill the essence of the speakers’ message. I tried to explain that Ubuntu was a concept of living together, not against each other; that it seems we all forget this in our so-called civilized world, and that all the people at the event, seemed to feel gracefully reminded of what is important in our lives. She still did not understand.

Then I stopped and looked at her.
“What is it, that you don’t understand? I thought I tried to explain ‘Ubuntu’ as something important to you?” I started feeling guilty of being too complex, too hard to understand, or my daughter just being too young for such a high-level topic of connectedness, the ethical concept of some African tribes, and that I should not discuss with her pilosophies on how to save the world.

“No, daddy, I do understand ‘Ubuntu’ already, that is not my point. Being connected is important, like love is an important word, and like life is important, and all of that… But daddy, what I do not understand is – why did the people in that meeting have to talk about this over again? Shouldn’t that all just be natural?” – That same moment I realized, it was me who did not understand…

What price would you pay for faster web-surfing?

Today, Amazon launched its new Kindle Fire.

Read the announcement and an introductory video here.

This is basically a tablet PC running on Android 2.1. What is different though, is that – among many other changes that make the free Android surfing experience nearly invisible – the latest Amazon tablet uses a proprietary technology for browsing the internet. (watch a straight forward marketing video on the link below, which helped me understand what is behind that new technology http://amazonsilk.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/introducing-amazon-silk/ ).

Faster browsing – for free!

In all simplicity, the new Silk browswer will send your request for internet content to the EC2 Amazon network, where the heavy computing, pre-loading and resizing of the content will be made, before it is sent back to your handheld device in smaller bits and pieces. As a result, an image that you wanted to see will not download with its original 3 MB of data, but after resizing is done, it may be as small as 10 KB, because your Kindle Fire does not need more resolution. Ultimately, this will speed up your browsing experience tremendously. – Sounds smart, doesn’t it?

Faster business – for free?

In fact, being a bit suspicious about such generosity of re-inventing the internet ‘for free’, I am wondering: what if Amazon would get a chance, to scan and pre-browse each of their user’s content ‘for free’, what could they do with it? What if they exploit their position as content bottleneck to the information, networks and products you are seeking? What opportunities would that bring to a company that controls both your browsing experience and your mobile device, while on the backend, acts as the largest online retailer in the online world? – Would you still want a device with these capabilities – for free?

Pictures of my life

Back in the year 2000, I watched this Buddhist monk on the holiday island of Koh Samui, Thailand, wiping the floor with such humbleness and satisfaction, that it could not contrast the fun and holiday mindset of this island much more.

Five years later, I attended a workshop on managing your personal ressources. The trainer used stories of mastery from a book by the author Reinhold Dietrich. This book instantly became my best company when working with managers and adults, who were seeking to understand more about mastery and leadership. And this book became a good advisor for those questions in life that are hardly explained by long verbiage or discussion, but rather by listening and pondering…

It took me years to see, that my favorite book was actually showing the same theme like that picture I shot five years back.

Without knowing what came first – the book, the monk or the workshop – it finally came all together and made a lot of sense to me, as a whole.

– Marcus Pietrzak

The book: “Palast der Geschichten” bei Reinhold Dietrich.

What will you keep doing next year?

Have you made up your new year resolutions for next year yet?

If not, then hurry up, there are just a few hours left! – Think of all the things that you did not achieve this year, and for sure will make better next year. – Don’t leave out any of your characteristics, behaviours, habits that you learned to hate about yourself last year! Ensure you remember everyting you did not achieve this year, like doing more sports, eating healthy, loosing weight, spending more time with you kids and being a spouse! – When you are truly honest to yourself, you will conlclude: You really need to change yourself next year!”

Do you feel energized for a change now?

I just came across the status message on a different social network, where an old friend asked: “What would you like to do differently next year?”

All right, I know well that my friend is in the people-business of personnel development, helping companies and individuals change the way they want to be, and he is doing that well. – However, I was left wondering: why do most people focus primarily on things they think they need to change, instead of starting with the things they wish to keep doing in the next year?

Have you ever looked at all those things over the past 365 days, that actually did work well? Did you recognize your little habits, spleens and characteristics that made you different from all the other people around you? Did you ever look at them as welcomed part of your personality? Have you ever appreciated the things that worked for you, because you did it in your own, unique way?

What was the last time you gave yourself a clap on your shoulder?

In case you cannot remember the last time you felt proud about yourself – why not try things differently today? Why not start from what worked well, formulating a resolution about what you will keep doing next year?

If you truly want to change, you need to know what will remain!

Start with identifying your smaller and larger achievements. Embrace your milestones, that mark up what went well for you last year, because you did it your way. Make sense out of your decisions, which you took because in that particular moment, it was the right time, right place and the right people … or simply because nothing else was an option. Enjoy the feeling of having made progress in your life, because finally you made it to this New Year mainly by your own strength.

Think of the explorer on his expedition, the mountaineer on his Himalaya challenge: just as they all start their journey from a base camp that gives them home and strength, it is your personal choice, if you start into the new year from your points of failure, or if you start from your personal base camp of strength.

Sail on into a Happy New Year 2011 !

– Marcus Pietrzak

Things we remember

Abraham Lincoln once said: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

And Mindbox says: “In the end, it’s not the presents you brought home or the wealth you made. It’s the time that you spent with your kids, what they will remember hereafter.”

So go ahead, spend some wonderful days in the holy season with your beloved ones, whoever they are to you, and share the greatest gift with them … your time.

Merry Christmas & Peace to your world !

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☆   *  ☆   A very Merry Christmas*  ☆ *  *
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*  *☆     *  and peace and contentment to your world *  *  *  *   *

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*  * and a Happy New Year 2011 ! *  * *  *  * *
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