This presentation generell defines sustainability, shows ecosystems, supporting sustainability and examples,which are most best known in which the autour participated.
On 7th of October 2016, the federal council, which is the assembly of the federal states of Germany and a constitutional body, decided, they will allow from 2030 onwards to register only cars, which are CO2 neutral. That means, they will not allow any more to register combustion engine driven cares from 2030 onwards.
This should have now followers, because it is a logical step, if countries tread the decision, done in the climate conference in Paris, seriously. A combustion engine care has a lifetime of about 20 years. If people tread the target to be 2050 CO2 neutral seriously, they have to forbid selling combustion engines in 2030. A logical step, which has to be done in every country, who signed the agreement of Paris.
I would even go further and require, that until that time, it is also assured that electrical energy is not anymore produced out of fossil sources or critical sources like nuclear energy. Only if we produce electricity out of renewable energies and use them for everything, we fulfill the criteria, defined in the Paris assembly.
I fear for Germany at present time the activities of the executive. The minister for transport questioned immediately that decision. From the ministry of energy we heard no statement so far. The execution of this decision is difficult and needs characters, which are capable to apply this. Bothe ministries have not performed adequately in the past. I hope, the ministries will apply certain logic in their doings. Otherwise I hope that the election in 2017 will clarify the situation.
Thank you very much to the federal council, to bring a discussion up, which should have had took place already years ago.
Now we have to care, the lobbies will not eliminate this logic. This can be a sign for the world, if local short term interests will not kill it.
The examples I will provide today are mainly taken from Europe, but they could take place anywhere. I will focus today on a social political discrepancy. We are living in a time full of developments that ultimately impact the structure of our society. To act on the opportunities of some developments, it is necessary to also adapt the social political framework.
I will provide three examples. All of them represent big opportunities for most countries, in my opinion. These opportunities can be taken only if society makes the necessary changes. Thus we come to a weakness of democratic systems, which are already developed over the long term. Societies are not ready to change unless there is pressure on all people or everyone has a deep understanding of the necessity for change. In democratic systems, elections take place every four to five years, and the politicians have only one interest: to keep the lobbyists quiet and maintain the status quo as much as possible, so as not to inconvenience people.
Let me take as the first example the energy transition in Germany. A fast reduction of CO2 is necessary to fight against climate change, and Germany was ahead of all countries in implementing renewable energies. This took place as long as the utility companies were not directly influenced. About two years ago, the utility companies recognized that they cannot hinder a further change toward renewable energies, and their old power plants will become more and more obsolete. Renewable energy sources are already the cheapest forms of energy one can produce. Last year the utility companies divided their business into a renewable part and a conventional part. They are now struggling more and more with the profitability of the conventional energy sources. Environmental activists are requiring a clearer scenario of how to end dependence on coal energy. Last week the German utility companies attended a conference, where the German minister of economy and energy affairs announced:” I will never agree to a scenario to get completely away from coal energy, if no one gives me a solution for the workplaces of the coal mine workers.”
There is a clear urgency to reduce CO2 emissions to keep our climate in balance. The minister also knows this. It is his duty to develop conditions to promote a solution for coal mine workers. It is clear to everyone that this has to be done, but the minister has announced the opposite to assure the coal mine workers not to fear and instruct the utility companies not to start with their change processes.
This is nothing other than purposeful propaganda to survive the next election. This hinders the necessary progress in energy transition. The society has to change to make the necessary changes in our energy system, and the politicians have to provide the framework. The above-mentioned statement of the German minister of economy and energy affairs shows that he is neglecting his duties to ensure that the utility lobby and the coal mine workers will further promote him.
The second example I will mention is TTIP, the free trade agreement between Europe and the US. US President Barack Obama and former EU President Barroso announced the beginning of TTIP negotiations at the G8 summit on June 17, 2013. The first of 11 rounds of negotiations so far was from October 19 to 23, 2015, in Miami. A 12th round of negotiations is scheduled for early 2016. There are a lot of lobbyists fighting to keep their areas protected. TTIP is mandatory, especially for Europe if it wants to strengthen its economic position. Some politicians have discussed that the European Union needs this free trade area, but the voices of the lobbies are louder. TTIP could be a good tool to finally overcome the European financial crisis. But because of political hesitation, this has not taken place.
My third example is the refugee crisis in Europe. After World War II, a lot of refugees came from the eastern part of Germany to the western part. There were skeptics and critics, but the refugees after World War II heavily contributed to what was called the “German economic miracle.” To finalize the economic growth in Germany, companies were asking for Italian, Spanish, Greek and Turkish workers. The additional workforce produced additional GDP and drove growth rates.
Why should this be different with the refugees who are coming now? I agree, there cannot be a never-ending stream of people coming to Germany, but the people who have arrived so far are not killing this country. This takes us back to the idle politicians, who are not actively building up the conditions for integration and who are not intervening early enough in the crisis regions of the world. They are only discussing how to protect the present situation by building up the borders again.
To summarize: Necessary developments that would bring the world to a sustainable future are blocked due to pending political decisions. Politicians are not making these decisions because they are not responding to needs; they are following the interests of lobbyists and trying to prevent societal change. If they did so, they would risk failure in the next election.
One reason for the economic strength of Germany is that Germany cleaned up its social security system. This was done under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s “Agenda 2010.” It brought a lot of changes for society, but it made Germany stronger. After implementing these changes, he was not elected again. For this I very much appreciate him: He did what was necessary, even if it was clear to him that he would jeopardize his next election.
I wish Germany had more of this kind of politician to overcome the present problems. . Politicians must be clear: The problems like climate change, trade limitations and refugees will not disappear, and a late decision is even harder to make. In a mature democracy we need politicians who take responsibility and do not think only of the next election. Otherwise these societies will not change like necessary and the countries becoming weaker and weaker.
The Internet has helped to globalize our world. Now, the Internet is changing our day-to-day behaviors. For most people, communication with a bank takes place mainly or only on the Internet. A lot of things are purchased on the Internet. If we have a question about a subject, than we are not looking in a lexicon, now we use search engines like Google to find explanations. But all these changes are only the beginning of a much deeper influence of the Internet in our life. Let us briefly discuss these developments, which are ongoing and will influence our lives in the next 3 to 6 years. The three main influencers will be:
1. The Internet of things: On the Internet, people are connecting, communicating, and exchanging data and information. But why should people only be on the Internet? Today, we have many machines, sensors and actors that can communicate via the Internet. All of these elements can exchange data and information between each other. This gives us a lot of additional possibilities. On the Internet, we have access to data about the weather, traffic, maps, events, and so on. On this database, we can imagine things like autonomous cars, transport system optimization, demand-driven infrastructure systems, and so on.
2. Cloud computing: In cloud computing, the full IT structure is provided by service companies. We divide this into SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), and PaaS (platform as a service). All the services or part of the services are provided from service providers.
3. Big data analysis: The amount of information and data available on the Internet today is hugs. With the Internet of things, it will multiply even more. To combine this data in real time drives us toward new business opportunities and will increase the productivity of a lot of businesses.
4. Artificial intelligence: With complex algorithms and intelligent sensory and learning systems, we will become more and more capable of building systems, including service systems that are unimaginable today.
These above mentioned developments are not a far-fetched vision. These developments are already available today, waiting for us to use them. They will influence our lives in the short- and mid-term. Here are a few examples:
1. Autonomous cars: It started with some distance sensors, which initiated active braking if the distance from a car in front of your car is too short. A lot of cars already offer an automatic parking device. You stop your car outside the parking lot, your car measures the parking area, than you drive the car at the beginning of the parking lot and push the button for automatic parking. Your car will drive perfectly into the parking space if you do not disturb it. Even the Tesla can drive on highways mostly autonomously. It keeps distance and can over take over other cars autonomously. These are the systems that are already released to the public. On a few test tracks and even on a few highway pieces in Germany, there are test cars that drive autonomously every day. So we should expect that autonomous driving will be released in the new future to public use. To make autonomous driving possible, we need a lot of communication with the environment around the car. We need precise information from a map, distances to barriers around the car, exact road pictures, general traffic information, and so on. We have to bring all this data together to go with the car autonomously and safely to our desired destination. For this, we need the combination of the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and big data.
2. Guidance in health data: In the health-care sector, first applications are on the way. For a few days, I have had a sensor on my arm, measuring continuously my heart frequency, how many steps I take, how often I climb stairs, and how I sleep. It is calculating how many joules I used. Once a day, I get an e-mail with hints to my behavior in relation to my health. This looks like a gadget, but if we develop it further, it can become a serious device that can improve the health of the whole population, reduce costs for health care, and extend the life expectations for people. Maybe we can develop it to call for emergency help if necessary because the location of people is always possible to navigate. Heart frequency, blood pressure, blood sugar level, and so on can be monitored continuously, and in case of disorder, a message or help will be sent. There are even developments on the way that compare the behavior of people to a reference base and to calculate best behavior to extend a person’s life span. This can then be given continuously to people, providing them the opportunity to correct their behavior. An American friend of us got from their health insurance a step tracker. Exceeding a certain level of steps per day reduces their health insurance fee.
3. Sharing economy: For people in future social systems, it will not so much be important to have personal items. It will be more important to experience and socialize. This will increase the sharing economy. I need a car only if I cannot reach a destination directly by public transport. For these distances, I need an organization, which assures that I have access to a car in close reachable distance or someone gives me an individual service. This has to be managed. From a big database, which is continuously updated, the best solution will be extracted and proposed to me. I choose by best price, shortest time or whatever my requirements are. I want to cook a Chinese meal and need a rice cooker. A rice cooker I need only twice a year. It makes no sense for me to buy one. I look to a database, where I find possibilities to share such a device. We can imagine that this list of devices can grow.
4. Energy availability: This is an area that has been discussed for a long time, but has been blocked due to lobbyism by the politicians. In Germany, two big energy companies Eon and RWE divided their companies into the fossil-driven division and the renewable-driven division. This shows me very clearly that they finally understand: the future is renewable. But this renewable energy does not have the same conditions as the energy coming from fossil fuel plants or nuclear plants. Renewable energies are much more volatile and composed of a lot of small energy producers. If I go with my electric car and need to charge it, I can look to the Internet to guide me to a place that is convenient for me, which has energy available and so on. If in a house nearby, a family decides to use a washing machine within the next six hours, the artificial intelligence can calculate how both, the family and I, can be served best. I can immediately charge my car, and the family gets their clothes washed in 1 hour.
We have now seen developments in different areas regarding the Internet of things, cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. We can see that this is not fiction. It is already partly in place and has started to change our way of life. In the end, it will change our social system and society.
I predict we will appreciate and accept most of the technical changes. In my opinion, the more difficult part will be the necessary change of social behavior and society. These changes require generations. The described technology will change within the next 10 to 15 years.
In this respect, we will have the biggest challenges in the future.
But for people who understand these changes, they can already start to develop their businesses in this direction or develop business models according to these changes. I would like to be a member of this group.
This is not a complete guideline of how to manage changes of company ownership, changes in the management board or generation change. We will discuss how to set up a process, how to manage this situation and which options should be taken into consideration.
The most common change in company ownership is done by selling a company.
What are the main differences in selling a company?
1. The share deal: In this case, the company’s shares or part of the company’s shares are changing ownership. The company continues with its business and its liabilities for its business, as done in the past. These deals are done to clean investor portfolios, to merge companies to get the new company a more complete portfolio or sometimes also to extend market share. In the post-merger phase, very often the management structure will also be adapted. This will normally be done with a post-merger integration (PMI) project.
2. The asset deal: With an asset deal, the company sells its assets or parts of its assets. These deals are often done because the buyer is not ready to take liabilities from the company he or she buys or only a part of a company is sold, which makes it often difficult to share its liabilities. Asset deals provide a lot of possibilities to shape a necessary restructuring process or to enable a good PMI project. The problem with an asset deal is always that the old company, which is now out of assets but still has liabilities, then has to be liquidated or sent to insolvency. A lot of legal requirements have to be considered for such a process.
The possibilities and needs involved in shaping a company sales deal are important. Shaping the deal in a good way opens for the new company the possibility to place itself better in the market or to make its existence further on possible. There are some Founds in the active market that deal only with this kind of company, which they are bringing back in more healthy conditions to the market. This is a hard job, but with the right management team, which can properly handle these kinds of change processes, this business model guides to good profits.
This brings us to the next subject: management change in the board of a company. In the case of company sales, there is normally automatically also a change in the supervisory board. This new supervisory board defines and decides upon a new or changed board of management.
To keep companies healthy, to develop them in a good direction and to assure successor availability, changes in the board of management in a company are necessary and should be planned accordingly. Most of the contracts of management board members are given for a period of three to five years. This assures that the supervisory board has to decide from time to time about every management board member. Let us make a small list of reasons why management board members should be changed from time to time. This list cannot be complete, but it shows the situations that should be taken into consideration:
1. The management team is not playing as a team together. This will provoke a situation in which, for strategic decisions, there is no consensus in the team, and so these decisions can be pushed by the CEO only.
2. There may be performance issues. If a board member cannot deliver the agreed-upon target results or is not capable of bringing a company back to profit after a certain period, he or she has to be changed.
3. After, for example, heavy restructuring phases, a lot of uncomfortable decisions could have to be made, which could make it difficult to work together afterward. In this case, a management change may be necessary.
4. Sometimes it may be necessary to make changes in the management board to bring new ideas in. Especially companies with long-term continued good business have the risk of losing track. Only to emphasize: we are the best! Makes blind for changes in the surrounding.
After these examples of why change is necessary, we should now think about what may be the best source for our candidates. We can get candidates from inside the company or from outside the company. From inside the company it will always be a candidate who will be assigned to the management board for the first time, but the internal candidates have the advantage that they know the conditions within the company quite well.
External candidates can be from the board of another company or can provide special skills, for example, MBA educations, a specialist in some science fields and so on.
The perfect candidate will be someone who is accepted from the supervisory board and the board of management.
The management board is like a good meal: The right mix makes the difference!
Choosing candidates for a board of management, we have to consider their mindset for this task. The board of management, and in the end the chairman of the board or the CEO, is responsible for everything that happens in the company. The board of management has all the power to decide on changes in the company. They must be ready to do so.
Until now, we have discussed only companies, which are composed of shares, and the organs (supervisory board and annual general meeting) of these companies are deciding on data. This becomes somehow more complex when it comes to family-owned companies. It starts already with the problem that the owner often for 20 to 30 years (one generation) stays in charge of all board decisions. The whole company is relying on his or her intelligence, decision-making skills and capability to change. This is a high risk for the development of a company.
My proposal for this kind of company is always to put at least the organs for a limited company in place. Try to define criteria at which a wider circle of people will participate in decision making.
The same is to be taken into consideration for the successor planning. The children of the owners do not always have the best skills to continue the business.
My advice is this: Children of company owners should have at least 10 years’ experience in another company and should have developed in the external company to a management position. If this cannot be fulfilled, the organization of a limited company should come in force.
This article is a reflection of my experience and not a scientific analysis. I would be happy to discuss the aforementioned subjects.
This question should be answered in the context of a global world view. The European Union is composed of 28 countries. A trade union connecting these countries defines an internal market in Europe that makes its own conjuncture and allows itself to disconnect for a certain time from global conjuncture.
Nineteen countries of the EU have introduced the euro as their common currency. The introduction of the euro has caused many problems, which will be discussed later in this article. Despite these issues, the euro, along with the U.S. dollar and the renminbi, is currently one of the three most important currencies in the world.
The security that the EU has caused should also not be underestimated. In its history, Europe has never had a period of peace lasting more than 50 years. Today, Europe has had 70 years of peace, and most Europeans cannot imagine any violence between European countries.
Furthermore, the EU promotes democracy. Presently, two Eastern European countries show autocratic tendencies, but there are also reactions that criticize and hinder such tendencies.
Now we come to the question in the headline above: Is it possible to empower the EU? If the answer is yes, it is necessary to explain the obstacles to such empowerment. Those are described below.
1. The economic trade union connects the European countries in one economic bloc. This makes the countries depend on each other. Stronger countries thus claim that they are suffering due to the bad performance of weaker countries. However, these stronger countries forget that one powerful reason for their economic strength is that they are able to do business in a larger economy. The overall economic performance of the EU is not really a disaster. There are some strong-performing countries and some black sheep. The solution lies in finding tools for achieving better balance in this situation.
2. Because EU countries all use the euro, they have an additional interdependency. This interdependency is strong because certain parameters must be kept in place to ensure that the euro thrives. Recall the never ending discussions about Greece. It is important to recognize that the Greek economy accounts for only 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product of the eurozone. This small country did more damage to Europe than it would have if the European countries had been as strong and connected as the states of the U.S.
3. All states of the EU are members of NATO. Thus, these countries are connected in a large society and cooperate to help any member country threatened from the outside. This is surely also a guarantee that the countries will likely not have disputes with one another. Presently, there is a dispute with the new Polish government, but, with luck, the dispute will be resolved soon. A year ago, the Polish government asked for NATO to have a stronger presence due to the violence between Russia and the Ukraine. Now the new government is concentrated only on itselfs and does not consider foreign affairs. This nationalism is disturbing the EU.
4. The EU is promoting democracy. Much needed is a common understanding of law and order and that the rules defined by the EU are necessary. These are preconditions for the functionality of the EU.
Collectively, the aforementioned points raise one issue: The EU works only if common behavior and common rules can be applied in all countries of the EU. How can that be done?
All four points above also have one idea in common: if there were a common approach by all countries to the above mentioned issues, the EU would be much stronger, and questions about its long-term existence would never be raised. Some ideas have been proposed that seem like steps in the right direction. One of these is giving the European Central Bank the task of managing the euro.
For all the above mentioned subjects, member countries must give up some of their sovereignty. At the present time, it seems to have become even more difficult to repair even a few of the design weaknesses of the EU. Some longtime members of the EU are now changing their democratic constitutions and moving toward autocracy or nationalism. Hungary has been moving in this direction for some years, and now Poland, since its last election, is strongly and visibly pushing toward autocracy and nationalism. In France, it was only possible to stop the successes of the nationalistic Front National in the second round.
The different EU countries have very different approaches toward Syrian refugees. Every European country follows its own agenda in this respect. Here, it would be advantageous for the EU to make itself clear. Additionally, journalists should help to inform society and not always to ask: “Will the EU brake on that subject?” This question makes uncertain people even more uncertain.
To assure the long-term existence of the EU, member governments must relinquish some of their sovereignty and establish organizations that will apply common rules to all member states and that will have the power to punish if the rules are not followed.
At the same time, it is necessary to more clearly inform the world of the advantages of the EU. This must be done as soon as possible if Europe intends to play an important role in the world economy over the next few years.
I hope this article opens up a discussion that will develop a road map to improve process, to finally set action in motion and to repair the design mistakes that were made when the EU was established.
A mega trend is a collection of trends, patterns of economic, social or environmental activity that will change the way people live and the science and technology products they demand.
I would adhere to a CSIRO Project, issued in 2012, which defines the mega-trend as follow:
The six interrelated mega-trends identified in the report are:
1. More from less. The earth has limited supplies of natural mineral, energy, water and food resources essential for human survival and maintaining lifestyles.
2. Going, going … gone? Many of the world’s natural habitats, plant species and animal species are in decline or at risk of extinction.
3. The silk highway. Coming decades will see the world economy shift from west to east and north to south.
4. Forever young. The aging population is an asset. Australia and many other countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have an aging population.
5. Virtually here. This mega trend explores what might happen in a world of increased connectivity where individuals, communities, governments and businesses are immersed into the virtual world to a much greater extent than ever before.
6. Great expectations. This is a consumer, societal, demographic and cultural mega-trend. It explores the rising demand for experiences over products and the rising importance of social relationships.
The following diagram, also from the CSIRO project, shows the interlinks between the mega trends. It will not be possible, to follow only one of the mega-trends, because it is linked to others. So we should go for the whole system of mega-trends and consider its dependencies.
Let us bring the mega-trends to our subjects in this blog. The mega-trends describe from different angles that we have to deal with limited resources and that we have to go for alternatives and savings of this resources. Further on they show us the clear trend to globalization and connectivity. They show also, that the aging society and the shift of economic strength to newly industrializing countries has to be kept in consideration.
We should understand that the study I took here as an example is only one study of numerous studies. All this studies come to the same result for the mega-trends. There is a different wording from study to study; the contend is always similar. We should appreciate these results and direct our actions accordingly.
What we can derive out of the mega-trends?
1. We should save resources. This guides us directly to the energy production. Only the sun energy is “unlimited”. We have no right to use other energy sources than sun energy sources. The crude materials are all limited and have to be saved for the following generations.
2. The connectivity is a precondition to go in the direction of a global world and to more social contacts. The connectivity is also a precondition to deal with all the challenges; we will get with an aging society. We have to develop fast internet connections and services and to use this connection to increase convenience life style possibilities.
3. The homo economics, who is an egoistic behaving human, has to change to a homo socialist. The social competencies and behaviors will count much more in the future than now. We have to stop the purely egoistic behaviors, which are blocking every change in our world at present time.
Than we get clear options for action to shape our future:
1. We have to change as fast as possible to sun energies (wind power, photovoltaic, Thermal solar energy, water power).
2. We have to build on the internet physically and we have to extend possible services.
3. We should accept that the globalization will bring economically strength to regions, which we receive as poor countries today. To assure, that the developed countries are not losing everything, they have today; we need global connectivity and the possibility to participation on global business for everyone.
4. To make these changes possible, we have to change the homo economics to home socials. This will become the most difficult task in future.
To summarize, I would say: The mega trends show us the changes we have in front of us. All these changes seem to be blocked today. We will not stop them, because they are derived out of certain logic. We need enough people, ready to put this changes in place, to eliminate the road blockers.