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Did you miss me? As you might have noticed, I skipped my first edition last month. One year of consistent writing and publishing and then I slipped. Well, you could call it a failure. I had the intention to do this every month. I did not live up to that promise. I had the intention to make this my means to write regularly. I couldn't get myself to do it last month. I had the intention to be prepared for exactly the situation that arrived last month, which is that I cannot set time apart to prepare this newsletter. I wasn't prepared. So there are several reasons why you could consider my slip a failure. And you can choose to concentrate on this.

Or you could go around and wonder what caused the slip, what the learnings of this are and what the positive side of it could be. Before making the decision to skip an edition I was stressing myself into writing something and nothing was good enough. I was uncreative, not the usual wordsmith and in general not in a good mood when writing. So although I *could* have sent an edition somehow, this would have been far from the quality that I wanted to give. By taking the pressure away a new idea could grow and mature. And this month's article was only possible through this break.

Every good idea and thing sometimes needs to hit the pause button. Summer tends to be that natural pause. Sometimes laying at the beach or a lake sounds way more attractive than writing at a desk. But not always you can plan for this moment. Sometimes it just doesn't hit you with genius. Whatever the reason, it's okay to step away for a certain amount of time then. Because coming back to it with a fresh mind is worth more than all the effort you could have put in it in the meantime.

It's not about the quantity of time you sit at the desk, it's about the quality. So get up, take a break and do what your body and mind needs right now. The work will still be there later, but with a fresh mind it's probable that you will enjoy it way more!

It’s-e me, Mario!

It’s-e me,  Mario!
Nostalgia is a comfortable tool. Everything was better when we were younger, or so it seems. Just think of a time when you were younger and playing your favourite game. Were you happy? Did you have fun? Was life easier then? Probably. At least this is how we remember it. I am not going to get into the fallacies of our memories and how bad we actually are at remembering here. Because this time it might help us.

So back to what you were imagining you were doing as a kid. There is one thing we did every time all the time – playing! Everything was a game. Did you analyze the situation and think about what you just learned? I assume you did not, you focussed on the fun and the play. The learning happened automatically.

At some point we “grow up” and most of us stop playing. Not a thing we do anymore, at least not in these serious businesses that we are doing now day in And day out. Play and Fun is something for the after-hours or the weekend.

A few years ago, a fun-damental shift happened. Pun intended! At some point, somebody stood in a board room with a box full of Lego bricks. And they let their participants play! A scandal! Are they mocking us? We’re dealing with some serious business here. What are they thinking? That we are here to … Oh wait, this really is fun!

Lego Serious Play opened up new opportunities for how we can express ourselves in workshops. And it pushed the door wide open for more playful approaches to learning, strategizing and planning.

Wikipedia describes play as a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for recreational pleasure. And how much fun is left in our workdays nowadays? So we take the opportune chance to do something we feel is good for us. After all, this is what we remember from our childhood, right? With play, the fun returns to our offices! Play opens up doors to connect to our colleagues, it reduces our stress levels and boosts our creativity? But play also opens up a playful path to mistakes. As a child play is how we learn and explore the world.

So why are we feeling so awkward in the beginning actually playing in a work setting? Because we're not used to having the possibility, the chance and the agency to do, what is fun and easy at work! The older we get the less we play and the more we use our logical and rational brains to understand and grasp the world around us. We solve our problems with our minds rather than our intuition. And the easier a solution looks the more we question it! The dissonance creates an uncomfortable feeling.

And because we don’t experiment anymore, mistakes feel like a failure. How should we deal with them? Rationalize them away! Most of us really don’t like to fail. It is uncomfortable and connected to the fear of serious reprimands. But focussing on the failure will only get us so far.

Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer and now science YouTuber calls this the Super Mario Effect. From his experience with the popular video game, he conducted an experiment. He found that when you are just informed that you made a mistake and you don’t have to fear sanctions, you will go further. But if you focus on the failure to avoid punishment you will give up earlier.

We progress by focussing on the goal rather than avoidance. In the words of Mark Rober: “focussing on the princess and not the pits, to stick with a task and learn more”. Because we are driven by positive behaviour rather than just driven away from a bad experience. Nobody likes to feel miserable. We would rather feel good! Where can this endurance lead us? Very far out into the waters of experience.

Nils Bohr said: "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." If we are punished when we make mistakes how should we become experts? When mistakes happen - and they always do - we learn from them and get better from the experience.

So I want to make a suggestion: What if we included a new value in our chartas? What if we encouraged curiosity and a proper culture for mistakes and failure? What if we went at it with the assumption that everybody tackles a problem with positive intent? When we wouldn’t need to fear punishments and can explore whatever our curiosity makes us try? When we’re “Failing and failing and failing and eventually succeeding to the point where it finally holds value”? Well, I’d say at least the little Italian plumber would free his princess and we would go to work happy!

What others wrote

No text I ever write just comes out of my brain from some form of abyss. I am not that genius creative. I read a lot of stuff that forms my opinion. Not all of it makes it into my articles. Some things are just a brain tickler. So I will share good pieces with you, so maybe they also tickle your brain.
Ever skipped your lunch break because you didn't have time for it? Scientists who were testing on mice found out that they have something of a low power mode that influences their vision. So next time you feel the urge to skip lunch, you better get up anyways and grab something to fill up your batteries. Your neurons will thank you!
AI is very good already in seeing correlations. But this is only the lowest level of causal reasoning. AI is not able to understand causation. This shortcoming is based on the way AI is trained, which is through reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning incentivizes right shots in a trial and error system, but it does not provide a general understanding of a system, only a small set of behaviours.
Then again, even humans are having a hard time sometimes distinguishing between correlation and causation.
Using AI to show interdependencies between variables could help computers become more useful toos for human causal exploration and overcome the Reproducibility Crisis, as it could level out bias from the interpretation of data.
For generations the hierarchy has been clear: I am the older, more experienced one. You are the younger, less experienced one. I will lead, you have to learn your place, what I say is the truth.
With Gen Z, this attitude doesn't work anymore. They are not open to the idea of just sitting there quietly, receiving orders. For some managers this is a challenge. They are not used to that behaviour. How to deal with that? Well, use it! Gen Z is very vocal about their needs - so they are the perfect idea pool. Because chances are there are more employees who might not feel comfortable, but do not know how to speak up.

A word from...
John A. List

"The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think" - Harper Lee
This month I want to recommend you "The Voltage Effect" by John A. List
Book Cover The Voltage Effect
Ever wondered why so many products and services who start small and successful just spectacularly fail once they start scaling? In this book, John A. List might have found an explanation - Not every small experiment is made to enter the big stage. When scaling we are dealing with many different influential factors and while some might scale proportional, some might not even be influenceable by us. As long as we are not paying attention to these factors and their influence and cost, scaling will always be a gamble.

The Good News

Humankind is prone to overestimate what they can and should do to save the world. Our saviour complex becomes notorious. But our influence mostly is more invasive and destructive than actually healing.
Plants don't need us to save them, and here's one more proof! Scientists found out that stressed-out plants produce their own Aspirin.
P.S.: This is not a call for inaction in regards to climate change! We're still guilty as charged. And we should do our part to help... But if we don't manage and - doomsday vision ahead - humankind doesn't make it, the plants will be fine!
That's it for this month. Thanks for reading the 11th Edition and for your support. Please let me know what you think of the newsletter. All feedback welcome!
And on a last note, just to let you know: This newsletter, as any, was made by the loving support of snacks, coffee, and the vastness of the internet.
We actively want to bring in colours, not just lighten the place up! We want to create the space, where ideas from other dimensions are included, where thoughts outside of the black and white realm find a touchpoint with the spectrum. We want to explore possibilities how our society can be a better one when we don’t fight the unknown but embrace it with open arms and a curious mind. It is an offer to think differently. It’s an offer for different views, opinions and insights so that the “One Size Fits All” story of technology becomes a range of various stories that show us the immense beauty of digitalization.
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