Cooperation … is the subject of our 5th Topic Booklet. We chose this multifaceted topic because it is always on the minds of our clients. We may be tempted to smile when we realize that the Internet, the tool that has had the greatest impact on our collaborative activities over the past 25 years, is itself a product of the need for better forms of cooperation. The physicist and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee developed the html language, the browser and the first Internet pages for the CERN nuclear research center in Switzerland. Today, more than 10 000 scientists from 85 different countries are working on major projects in the field of particle physics. And problems were encountered as early as 1989 when it came to sharing and preserving knowledge and the results of completed projects. These problems were exacerbated by the fact that most of those scientists worked on a given project or subproject for no more than about two years.
Fluid organizations are the current answer to the challenges posed by globalization and digitization. Decisions must be made round the clock in globally active organizations, when, for example, night has turned to day in a branch located on the other side of the globe and a production problem requires immediate attention. The Internet and the many communication channels offered by social media enable more rapid communication, and decisions must be made 24/7. The old management mechanism in which decisions regarding emerging problems are requested “from the top” often leads to a dead end. But where are the new models?
Don’t let tunnel vision leave you out in the cold! Having worked with managers, teams and organizations for many years, we have witnessed the effects of major changes in the business world, increasing internationalization, complexity and accelerated development on business enterprises and the people who work for them. We have observed that many managers and line employees develop a kind of “tunnel vision” that compels them to work harder and faster, yet often less effectively. Though rarely the result of a conscious choice, this frequently has a negative impact on their creativity and innovative drive.
Is it art, or can we get rid of it? This question is equally relevant to quite a few modern works of art and a number of trash heaps as well. Modern art is not always necessarily recognizable as such – as in the case of the two ladies who were looking for something in which to wash glasses for an evening event organized by the Leverkusen chapter of the SPD in 1973. How could they know that the old bathtub full of bandages and gauze they found in the basement was actually a work by a guy named Josef Beuys? Their misjudgment cost DM 58,000 at the time and has since been cited with amusement in numerous anecdotes and television commercials.