Too Much Coffee

In the American movie Jungle-2-Jungle, a prominent business leader goes to the jungle, and while there he sends a message to his employee to sell all of his coffee shares. However, his battery dies before he manages to confirm that he wants to sell the coffee.

His employee, unwilling to act without confirmation, doesn’t sell the shares, and much of the movie revolves around the two men attempting to sell the coffee shares that are quickly diminishing in value. 


Truman fires MacArthur

The History channel online describes well „perhaps the most famous civilian-military confrontation in the history of the United States.“

In April 1951 President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur. On April 11 Truman addressed the nation. He defended his overall policy in Korea. “It is right for us to be in Korea.” Nevertheless, he explained, it “would be wrong—tragically wrong—for us to take the initiative in extending the war… Our aim is to avoid the spread of the conflict.” 

MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome. Parades were held in his honor, and he was asked to speak before Congress. Public opinion was strongly against Truman’s actions, but the president stuck to his decision without regret or apology. 

Eventually, the American people began to understand that his policies and recommendations might have led to a massively expanded war in Asia.


Revisiting a Decision

Revisiting: A term used by Americans to describe the act of questioning a decision made by senior-level management after much time and effort had been invested. Such decisions are typically of strategic nature.

Americans consider „revisiting as decision“ as hindering, slowing down or blocking their implementation, and thus a threat to overall success. There is low tolerance in the American business for the tactical level revisiting decisions made at the strategic level.

Empowerment: To give official authority or legal power to; to enable; to promote the self-actualization or influence. First known use 1648.

The term empowerment has become popular in the American business context, signaling a desire, perhaps also need, for management to be less involved in the tactical execution of their decisions.


Execution Wins

Execution: To carry out fully; put completely into effect; to do what is provided or required; to make or produce (as a work of art) especially by carrying out a design; to perform properly or skillfully the fundamentals of a sport or of a particular play; to perform indicated tasks according to encoded instructions, as in a computer program or routine. Latin exsecutio, from exsequi to execute, from ex- + sequi to follow. Synonyms: accomplish, achieve, discharge, enact, fulfill, implement, pursue.

Americans believe that an athletic team with less talent, a military unit smaller in size, an enterprise with limited resources can win the game, defeat the enemy, succeed in the market, if it executes its strategy in a focused and disciplined way.

And critical to execution is unity. One can see the signs of a unified team: the members of an athletic team wear their uniforms in the same way; a military unit moves in formation; a company has a certain ethos or spirit.


Insubordination

Discipline: Punishment; a field of study; training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; control gained by enforcing bedience or order; orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior; a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity. From Latin disciplina teaching, learning, from discipulus pupil. First known use 13th century.

Cohesion: The act or state of sticking together tightly; union between similar plant parts or organs; molecular attraction by which the particles of a body are united throughout the mass; Latin cohaesus, past participle of cohaerēre. First known use 1660.

Subordination: Subordination: Placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position, inferior; submissive to or controlled by authority. Middle English subordinat, from Medieval Latin subordinatus, from Latin sub- + ordinare to order. First known use 15th century.

Insubordination: Disobedient to authority. First known use 1828.

Insurrection: An act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government; Middle English insureccion, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin insurrection-, insurrectio, from insurgere. First knownuse 15th century.

Rebellion: Opposition to one in authority or dominance; open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government; an instance of such defiance or resistance. First known use 14th century.

Mutiny: Forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority; concerted revolt against discipline or a superior officer. From Latin movēre to move. First known use 1540.


Chain of Command

Chain of command: A series of executive positions in order of authority. First known use 1898.

Americans favor clear lines of authority, also called chain of command. This is indicated in their organizational structures – more vertical than matrix – and in the titles given to those in the various management positions. American management, for example, does not look favorably upon team members who develop close relations with higher levels within the chain of command.

The chain of command in the U.S. Department of State is: Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office Director, Deputy Office Director, Desk Officer. Government bureaucracies like titles.

The chain of command in an American corporation can include: executive board (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.), senior vice president, vice president, managing director, deputy managing director, director, senior manager, manager, supervisor, specialist, technician, associate. American corporations like titles, too.


Animorphs

In Animorphs, a children’s science fiction series by American author K. A. Applegate, five American teenagers suddenly become aware of a secret alien invasion of planet earth. As the only people with the capacity to stop the invasion, the teenagers decide to form a resistance and fight back. In very little time the characters form a clear chain of command with a specifically designated leader.

At one point during the series the leader leaves for a short period of time. Faced with a sudden mission, the Americans never consider the option of operating on a consensus basis – instead they immediately pick a new leader. Then, even though most of the group disagrees with the new leader’s decisions, everyone follows the decisions, because they were made by the leader.

Additionally, towards the end of the series, the leader is faced with the option of either killing his brother (who is under the control of the invading aliens) or giving the aliens access to extremely dangerous technology. The leader decides to kill his brother, but, fearing how this action will affect the leader’s future decision-making abilities, one of the other members of the resistance stops him. This insubordinate member is immediately reprimanded and demoted.


A Connecticut Yankee

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, the main character, a head superintendent from Hartford, Connecticut in the 19th century, finds himself lost in 6th century England. At first the Yankee is sentenced to die, but he manages to use a solar eclipse to his advantage, and is eventually knighted. Having been raised in America, the Yankee believes that the best way to gain the respect of his new people is by taking a leadership position, and as a result the title that he chooses for his knighthood is “Sir Boss.”

Boss – a protuberant part or body, a raised ornamentation, an ornamental projecting block used in architecture; a soft pad used in ceramics and glassmaking; the hub of a propeller; to ornament with bosses, emboss; a person who exercises control or authority; specifically one who directs or supervises workers; a politician who controls votes in a party organization or dictates appointments or legislative measures; excellent, first-rate; to give usually arbitrary orders to; cow, calf. First known use in the 14th century. First known use for the “leader” definition in 1653.


“Uncharted territory”

At a press conference held together with Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is quoted as having stated “the internet is uncharted territory for us all”, when asked about the internet surveillance program Prism.

While this statement was received with particular amusement in the web, it also demonstrates a certain German reservation in the face of innovation. One might even call this a resistance towards profound change when it comes to the internet.

That the German federal government is not acting to expand their communication of political content over web platforms is also apparent in their Facebook presence – their profile has only existed since late February, 2015. According to senior communications adviser Seibert: “We did not take [this step] too soon, but we did take it.”


“Teutonic Obsession“?

The British newspaper The Telegraph published an article by Jeremy Warner about the geopolitics of the European Central Bank and the Euro-Crisis. The fact that the bank had only now started the process of quantitative easing was in large part due to Germany’s previous efforts to resist this.

However, the German’s resistance against these measures taken by the ECB was not due to the German’s experiences with hyperinflation during the time of the Weimar Republic, but rather traces back to much profounder factors found deep within the German psyche: the ancient Teutonic obsession with legality and rules.

Could this also be the reason why the German response to proposals for money-saving measures, bail-outs, and troika made by the Greeks is a always the same resounding statement: “The Greeks must stick to the rules”?

But where do rules become necessary, in order to assure reliability, stability and continuity, and where must one deviate from them due to changes in circumstance? Does not every change in strategy incorporate breaking the rules of a time gone-by?

Is Jeremy Warner’s statement about a so-called ancient Teutonic obsession with legality and rules even historically accurate?