Updated 22nd Jan 2013
I’m reminded that the German general election is just around the corner (in September or October 2013), with Sunday’s Niedersachsen vote going right down to the wire: the SDP/Grüne vote of 46.3% edging out the incumbent CDU/FDP government vote of 45.9% ! That’s really close – at best a 1 seat majority.
Is this a portent for the next German parliament ?
Dont’t know, but will be keeping an eye on this over the next few months …
I’m just starting to get to grips with the to-ing & fro-ing of coalition politics in a proportional representation system, having been watching the second series of Borgen (DR), set in Denmark. I can now see the players horse-trading support for senior cabinet positions in a majority, turning minority, government. This is not ‘Yes Minister’, but i gather it is also popular with many UK politicians, particularly those of a devolved / independent nature.
Many eyes have been turning on Germany for solutions over the past few years, which despite the general gloom in the rest of the European economy, has managed to mainatin some momentum – major exports to China and the rest of the world certainly helping. There are indeed lessons, but most of the best ones are really attitudinal, behavioural and infrastructural, perhaps even cultural i.e. providing (or re-building) an economic / social landscape that inherently supports longer-term business (indeed manufacturing) and societal aims. These will take time to implement and thence reap the benefits from, as it has in Germany, needing both political and social will reaching out well beyond the relative short-term results-lead timescales we have come to expect in the UK.
This is the same in business, of course. I have often seen (or been on the end of) orders which essentially say something like “I like that solution [in another place] – copy it”. It is not, of course, the solution itself which is key, but the method by which a solution appropriate to that particular department, business, organisation or country was arrived at. Indeed understanding the nature and characteristics of the problem / system is key, as there will always be some fundamental or maybe subtle differences on lifting the lid, that can will play a crucial role on outcomes.
So thinking and saying, “They have this in Germany and they’ve done well so it must be good, musn’t it ?” is not enough. Keep asking “Why does it work in Germany ?” and you’ll start to get closer to those golden nuggets that become useful to developing solutions appropriate to your economy (business, department, home etc). It works the other way too.
To a certain extent, the wealth of business has sheltered the German public (or at least the Bavarians), from the realities of the rest of the continent, indeed the weaknesses in it’s own system, despite seeing much of the fruits of their labour flowing outwards. Many organisations can also get into the complacency trap… “We must be doing the right things mustn’t we – look at how well we’re doing !”. We have seen cracks starting to appear,, however. “You buy your friends rounds of drinks for so long, before you either get annoyed, or, the cash runs out”,. or words to that effect.
OK. “Nothing new here”, you’re saying. So here’s the weather: It’s snowing – AGAIN !
Until next time.
Update 4pm: An interesting article highlights that the UK is now Germany’s largest trading partner here…(site down on 24.01.13)
“In reaction to EMU’s setbacks, as well as to the plentiful opportunities in the wider world, German companies have rebalanced their relationships in favour of three diverse groups of countries beyond the euro bloc: the US, faster-growing non-euro European countries and emerging market economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa. “, ‘Sobering truths in week of Elysée Treaty celebrations – Germany’s economic interests move beyond EMU, David Marsh – OMFIF, Monday 21 January 2013 Vol.4 Ed. 4.1
Update 22.01.13: Intresting items in relation this morning
Reuters: Sensitivity of UK economy to the snow – could triggre a tripple dip !!! http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/21/uk-britain-weather-idUKBRE90K0LP20130121
MittelstandWiki : Germany reliant on exports in 2012 for keeping it’s head above water (in German) http://www.mittelstandswiki.de/2013/01/statistisches-bundesamt-der-export-war-der-deutsche-wachstumsmotor-2012/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter