Let me cite Seneca:

Seneca, part of double-herm in Antikensammlung Berlin (wikipedia)

Seneca, part of double-herm in Antikensammlung Berlin (wikipedia)

Philosophy teaches us to act, instead of talking!

What we say should not entertain, but have an effect!

You want control, not tattle!

Seneca was an important teacher and thinker in ancient Rome. If my understanding of history is correct, then he wanted to help his students to become a bit more successful and happy in life. This is a nice goal. I gladly make it my own, both for myself and other people.

During the last year, I, again, spent much time abroad. I had a few great days when I attended a philosophy colloquium with Klaus-Jürgen Grün (Philkoll) that I found absolutely fascinating. As part of the jury during the business plan contest, I also learned many new things. On several PM camps, I exchanged experience and knowledge with many others. Many peer-to-peer meetings with friends, “mentees“, young persons who had just founded a start-up and many more were a chance for me to experience totally new worlds.

🙂 On the whole, I, again, learned more than ever before. And I am almost overwhelmed by all the things I now know. Mind you, this is regardless of me knowing that I know nothing. Consequently, I also have no idea how to best use my knowledge. That is bad news, because somehow or other I am now fed up with just thinking and talking!

I want to do something!
Together with friends, I would like to be part of a cooperative flow that actually has an effect! And that renders the right kinds of results. With enthusiasm for us and others. I am talking ideas that can actually be realized.

So here is what I propose: 
In the future, I will do no more philosophy seminars. To be sure, I return home from these seminars with a full heart, but I do not really know with whom to share all these exciting novelties that made such a huge impression on me. No more barcamps either. To be sure, I meet even more extremely nice and wise persons there, but basically, we all go back home happy because we have been reassured by all the others that what we think is the best thing to think and because of the intense feeling of togetherness we experienced. It is less about listening and coaching groups and individual persons.


Let us do more and act more aggressively!

But how?
Well, I must admit that, initially, I had no idea. Consequently,I took a closer look at my own field of expertise – remembering all the things we software workers and IT experts already managed to pull off. In the enterprises, we abolished the German formal address “SIE” and the ties. To make up for it, we introduced refrigerators and coffee machines. We invented open source and wrote the agile manifesto. We started extreme programming and mobprogramming, as well as peer-to-peer-reviews. We triggered the agile, lean and open concepts. And we created entrepreneurial cultures based on respect and meeting at eye-level, where “participation” and “error tolerance” are no foreign words.

And we also came up with the Hackathon, where industrious programmers take their laptops and meet on week-ends, build up their WLAN and write, for instance, software for an NGO. And said software will already run on the following Monday, waiting for further development during the next Hackathon.

Incidentally, this is now also something they do outside the IT sector. I know a counselling firm where the gentlemen who usually are the advisors take a sabbatical once a year and meet for a long weekend in order to, for instance, build a kindergarden under professional guidance. I rather like this!

Why not establish a kind of Hackathon in this way where the result is not some software but a great business plan? One that has two components: the business idea and its application? Maybe that would be a contribution promoting, for instance, the solution of some of the problems all these refugee seekers will doubtless bring and turning them into something positive? How about, for example, paving the way for creating “refugee enterprises”?

All you would have to do in advance is define a few important requirements.

  • The refugee enterprise must be in the common interest. After all, you want people to realize that something positive is happening – something that helps everybody.
  • The refugee enterprise must not be a competition for established structures. Otherwise, you would immediately get a huge and very productive outcry.
  • The employees must do something in the enterprise that is in accordance with respecting the dignity of said employees and…
  • The refugee enterprise must be self-organized and self-controlled. In other words, there must be no management from the outside. That means the contribution of experienced entrepreneurs and managers cannot be operative. Instead, it must be restricted to helping them to help themselves, i.e. coaching and advising.

So what can we do?

We (between 20 and 30 entrepreneurs, managers and experts) meet for a kind of “hackathon”. But instead of programming, we generate a business plan. We spend two days in isolation. On the first day, we will come up with a business idea. And no later than on the second day, we will work out how to apply it. Let us call this kind of event a StartMaker. All we need is two days – and the right kinds of people. I already know some of them. And I am sure that something great can start from this idea.

So what do you think?

(Translated by EG)

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