Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President
I felt very fortunate this morning. Returning home from a conference on error management organized by the European School for Management and Technology - and yes of course, I did bring the ASEM flag - I had the opportunity to walk around for a couple of hours in Berlin, Germany.
I just love to wander around in cities, especially early in the morning when there is hardly any traffic and only a couple of joggers running through the sceneries: discovering and admiring, but wondering too. About how it must have been to walk these same streets in the old days. You just have to return 50 years in history in Berlin to understand that things would have been completely different. There are plenty of symbols referring to ‘the wall’, reminding me that I simply wouldn’t have been able to follow this track that impressed with a few hundreds of years German history.
People build walls to protect their properties – that is quite understandable. Defending our territory and our history is essential to preserve our identity. More so, we need to feel safe and secure before we can grow and develop. But cutting off systematically from the outside world is not a healthy option either. In fact, in a military context, isolating your enemy has often been a proven concept leading to surrender. To prevent this, we need bridges. To bring in food and energy, to enable trading of products and services, to seize new opportunities that can assure sustainable growth.
Our society has a history and legacy to be proud of as well. So we have to protect this. As a result we will take the necessary steps in 2016 to protect our brand and our products. At the same time however, we need to develop more partnerships. When we are able to recognize the strengths of other organizations in order to match them with our core, we can achieve amazing results. Just look at the results of our partnership with Taylor and Francis for publishing the Engineering Management Journal. Better visibility for our authors, improved assistance for our editors, systemic screening of copyright violations, additional search options for our members. Submissions went up with 40% in one year, ASEM members get up to 20% discount on various Taylor and Francis books: value and growth – our past-president Gene Dixon can be proud. Thanks to Beth Cudney and Paul Kauffmann for setting up this partnership, thank you Toni Doolen and Eileen Van Aken for turning this relationship into a success story!
Today in Berlin, the remaining part of the wall is a symbol that reminds us of a period of division and separation. Berlin itself however, has grown to become the symbol of successful unification. Let’s work together this year to develop more partnerships, creating opportunities for engineers around the world to connect and to benefit from our products and services. There are amazing things we can accomplish if we manage to preserve our core, but are willing to think win-win with our partners: a number one priority for our upcoming spring board meeting.
Engineers sometimes are instructed to build walls. I tend to believe however, that in general, we prefer building bridges. Much more challenging, for sure, but when done well, also much more rewarding.
I hope you had a wonderful end-of-year season. On behalf of the ASEM Board of Directors, I wish you a healthy and happy 2016. There is a lot to look forward to this year. Let me know if you want to contribute to our success.
Let’s get connected!
Geert Letens, PhD PEM
ASEM President 2015-2016