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My personal vision to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden on Will they listen to my outcry for a better balanced American Dream?

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Will it come to a new (cold) war between the West and Russia? Or are we all used to prosperity enough to really do our best to prevent a new war.

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Eelco is the co-author of Wicket in Action

About 3 months ago Stefan Schrader and Kristofer Eriksson, friends of mine from Germany, were helping me out at Componence to find new technologies for our new product developments. When it came to front end technology they told my team and me for the first time about Wicket, a cool components oriented web development framework where HTML is mapped to components and every component has a model that represents an object.

It’s simplicity allows developers to no longer hassle with HTML and allows designers to work with practically no conflicts with developers. And compared with framework like JSF, you no longer need to have lots of XML configuration files. And purely the fact that it’s a component oriented framework makes it match so well to the philosophy of Componence. After hearing about Wicket my enthusiasm has only grown since, as Componence and I have the chance to work with a lot of very smart and nice people. I have no regrets of pushing my developers into this direction.

Lots of Dutch developers in Wicket
As I started to learn more about Wicket it was Eelco Hillenius who started to help me out with questions and helped me to make the choice for Wicket. I contacted Eelco directly through LinkedIn after seeing his name on dozens of comments on various blogs about web development frameworks. It was maybe a coincidence that Eelco, one core developers of WIcket and development group, was Dutch and had found a new start in Seattle through his involvement in Wicket. He’s also the author of the Wicket book ‘Wicket in Action‘, together with Martijn Dashorst. Martijn is the leader of the Wicket development group and still lives in Holland. I have also had the chance to speak with Martijn and it’s good to see that there are still pure and enthusiastic developers around in Holland, even if they might be expected to become a manager or something like that. Probably there are a lot more cool Dutch Wicket developers, I’ll try to meet more of them when there is a Wicket gathering again in Holland.

Impressive minds in the US
Since Eelco was living in Seattle it was by chance that he was a friend of Jonathan Locke, the founder of Wicket. And by chance Jonathan was introduced to by just weeks after I had made the decision to go forward with Wicket for our new Vanadium product line at Componence. And chance provided me the opportunity to interest Jonathan into working with us in Holland, as he was quitting his job at the time. And from then on I guess it was luck that Jonathan was interested in our idea to link Wicket ot Portal technology. A deal was made quite fast and easy to work together in Holland.

So Jonathan came to Holland last June and I’ve had some nice talks with him about all kinds of matters in life, also a lot about his worries about the way US is running their finances and how a vacuum tunnel could really generate ‘high speed trains’. With an IQ well above 130 Jonathan has been able to put matters in great abstraction, probably how he founded Wicket. And during the discussions of the issues related to the Wicket and JSR-286 bridge (portlets 2.0), it was Jonathan came up with the ‘Gizmo layer’ concept for Vanadium. Yes, I really enjoyed working with Jonathan, as beside beside being smart he also introduced me to Miko Matsumura. After a 5 hours drive to Frankfurt it was definitely worth to have Miko challenge some ideas that we have at Componence.

And now two months later Jonathan has also put me in contact with Tim Budreau, the NetBeans specialist. And again I’m lucky enough that Tim is interested in our project and will be working with Jonathan further in Seattle to make the Gizmo layer more concrete. Currently I’m very excited to see their results, as the conceptual documentation should be ready in about 2 weeks.

Is it easy to get experts on board?
So it all started with a new interest and from there on the tools we now have today on the internet just bring us together. I think easy because we talk about bringing developers together as their interests usually is in new technology concepts. I think at Componence we have cool ideas for our software developments, making it more easy for us to have great technical minds to work together with us. And of course the luck factor always needs to be around the corner …

3,5 weeks for me was maybe slightly to long to take a vacation, but I for my honenymoon it was really great. This is something we in the Netherlands, and in other European countries, are lucky enough to be able to do. Yeah, in Holland the standard minimum is to get 25 vacation days a year based on 40 hours work per week, as many sick days as you need to be really sick and some companies add 5 – 10 more days for their most dedicated team members. And some companies also register overwork, making it possible to even have 5-6 weeks of vacation. I guess the amount of vacation days also shows a certain level of prosperity. The Dutch governmental bodies have all this and to top it they have a standard 36 hour workweek. I’m not sure how long they can keep this up though, as also in Holland it’s hard for the working class to pay for all the elders who have their pensions.

‘Old Europe’ knows how to care and relax, but have forgotten how to be strong …
In generally I believe in a good work / private balance where we work hard and have enough time to enjoy life. The latter is something I think the Europeans do best, compared with all other continents. In America and Canada, both strong economies, you start with having approximately 10 vacation days. There you really see that people ‘live to work’ where in the Netherlands and the richer countries of Europe people ‘work to live’. I do believe that we should work to live, but I think that because of prosperity many people in the old Europe take things for granted and forget that sometimes suffering and sacrifices are needed to keep the things we value. But imho this attitude is induced by decades of social governments, who rightfully wanted to get the whole country out of the ashes of WOII. The result are ‘care-states’ that have rules and regulations to sustain all the weak and poor, while strong people are stimulate NOT to make LOTS of money (60% taxes over the higher incomes). This is leading to a trend where many stronger professionals and enterpreneurs are moving abroad to countries like Canada, Asia, Australia, America where hard work is still appreciated. How to change it, I don’t think it’s easy. I think it’s about time Old Europe has to become ‘poor’ again to really learn how to be ‘strong’ again.

‘New Europe’ will save Europe’s position in the world
I personally think Old Europe is blessed with the new Europeans as these new economies will eventually keep the whole of Europe strong! We should not be afraid to take more new countries like Ukraine and Turkey into the EU. The ‘Old Europeans’ are just to short-sighted when they complain about how the EU is investing millions into these new EU members. But Europe MUST invest, to preserve their position in the world. These new Europeans have the background that Europe is old and great (remember the great empires of the past), but because of lack of democracy have been kept ‘asleep’ for such a long while. Now with democracy into their lives again, they can see and take chances again. And here in Old Europe we are just lucky enough that they remember the old times when Europe was the strongest in the world.

Americans are used to fall and climb, but they might fall too far …
I guess the Americans possess the spirit to sacrifice more to get more, as it’s quite normal to see elder people (60+) still at work and to see how many people have 2 or 3 jobs at the same time. But then again their confidence of their capacity to continuously work more to get more, makes it less necessary for them to manage everything to have a steady foundation and a good balance. This is quite obvious now with the extreme situations related to the credit crisis, where banks that were just not managed decently are now saved by the governments at any cause. A new American acquaintance of mine, Jonathan Locke, is very worried about the current situation and is now asking questions about the American financial system that he has never thought to ask before. Although I love the ‘American way’, I do hope that this time they will not fall too far this time. But maybe America need this freefall now, to make them really change their self centered policy to have more and more for themselves …

Dutch advisors for America and American advisors for the Netherlands
I believe in situational management, different leadership for different situations. And as America is trying to have more financial stability and a more decent financial policy for the next decades, I think they should ask former Minister of Finance Mr. Gerrit Zalm for advice. The Dutch have always delivered good managers who are well known for their ability to achieve consensus and to save money for bad times. I think America would really benefit from such management styles to build a stronger foundation. Maybe then they can build new GM’s that will STAY THE BIGGEST for more centuries.

But vice versa, as the Netherlands are saying they want to stimulate and support entrepreneurship, they might have a better chance of really doing it when they take in real BIG entrepreneurs like Donald Trump as advisors. Hmm, maybe it’s just better to swap the Ministry of Finance and Economics between countries for a few years :). Then the Dutch might really have a chance to still be a country that counts in the world. Maybe then we can build new ABN AMRO’s or Corporate Expresses again and keep Unilever and Heineken from falling in foreign hands.

It’s good to balance, Australia is doing a good thing here …
In Australia the trend is that everything is going faster and faster, the economy is becoming more like ‘America’. It was actually quite a surprise for me to see the vast amount of American fastfood chains in Australia and how stores are open untill really late. I think on average Australian professionals work at least 50 hours per week. But then again, they have 20 days vacation each year and they can easily travel to nice places like Whitsunday Islands or Daintree to really relax and enjoy the real beaties of mother nature. A comforting thought for me was also to see that Australians value their entrepreneurs and really give different benefits for self-made people, probably something they also have taken from America.

I guess it’s logic as the whole continent only has 22 mln people, only 40% than in the Netherlands, while they have hundreds of times more space. So there is still enough space for Australians to develop, I just hope they are strong enough to preserve their beautiful landscapes like the Daintree rainforest. Especially with the rising level of seawater endangering a lot of natural wildlife habitats, where there is a delicate balance between fresh and salt water.

Componence is blessed, we get the chance to really mix
At Componence we are lucky to have Old (Dutch, German, Swedish), New Europeans (Polish, Romanian, Ukrainian), Asian (India, Vietnamese) and Americans in our network. We have the ability to mix and match:

  • Dutch for Ukrainians -> Decent management, where we try to create awareness for ‘long-term’ development;
  • Dutch for Indians -> Fair leadership, where we see that India needs new opportunities from us so that they will return the favor in 5-10 years from now;
  • Ukrainian for Dutch -> Boldness and strength, where we see that young people always think they can do a lot more than just standard;
  • Indian for Ukraine -> Willingness to learn and do any job, where we see that young people are thankful for any opportunity of work and appreciate the chance to learn;
  • Indian for Dutch -> Obedience and dedication, where we see that team members will listen and follow their leaders with practically no hesitation;
  • American & German for Dutch, Ukrainian & Indian -> Inspiration and confidence, where we see that expert architects show us the way to realize the technologies and solutions we want to deliver in our Enterprise vision;

For me personally, having 30 vacation days a year would be cool when you combine it with an average working week between 50-60 hours. I think I more support the ideas behind the book ‘The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works‘ by Ricardo Semler.

So Enterprise, if the man or women who is leading your Enterprise 2.0 strategy doesn’t blog, only uses LinkedIn for their profile and network and doesn’t have a profile on Facebook (or any local community), then it’s time to reconsider the position 😉

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Online tools have always been there, since the early days of internet chat and communities made it possible for people to get in contact for mainly social reasons. But when will people change their mindsets to really adopt online tools to improve their work?

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