Monday March 30th, 2009

Radio Philosophy #016 – 2039.

It is March, 30th, 2039.
Our grandchildren are looking back.
To March, 30th, 2009.
Rick Wagoner, Boss of GM, leaves.
General Motors gets another 60 days 
to come up with a new financial scheme.
Frau Merkel buys time for saving Opel.
She tries to foresee Opel’s future.
Hearing those who want to give Opel another chance.
Hearing those who do not want to give Opel another chance.
She thinks about the future generation of cars.
What role Opel might play in it.
She contemplates, she considers, she discards.
Sören Kierkegaard says:
Life can only be understood in retrospect-
but has to be lived forwards.
If only we knew, 
what our grandchildren know.

Special edition following the article in Spiegel Online
of March, 30th,  2009 „GM-Rochade verschafft Merkel Bedenkzeit“ (Time to think it over for Merkel thanks to GM).
(Translated by EG)

Bernhard Findeiss

Agile Retrospectives (Part 1)

A key artifact in all agile methods, and hence in Scrum, is the retrospective.

Some agilists even go to such lengths as to say “start with retrospectives alone, the team will figure out the rest of the process themselves”.

What are retrospectives then, and are they carried out?

The need for retrospectives can be derived directly from the Agile Manifesto, which states

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.

The 12 principles behind the manifesto literally say:

“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjust
its behavior accordingly.”

What this means is that in agile methods the team is in control of the process, not vice versa. If the team thinks it can be more effective by making a change to the process, then it should by any means do so.

mehr »

Roland Dürre

The meaning of life

All my life, I have asked myself what makes my life a meaningful life. When I was into adolescence, I often despaired, because I did not seem to be able to come up with a good answer. Over the years, I improved. Nowadays, I often feel that there is, indeed, a meaning to life, even if you cannot define it.

In the mid-80ies, I and a group of friends regularly went a long way to the yearly seminar with my mentor Rupert Lay. A good friend of mine, the Englishman George Brooke, who I also cooperated closely with in Munich, once asked me during lunch-break what exactly it was we were doing on those seminars. My reply in English was that we meet there to find “The meaning of life”.

His reaction was intense: remembering Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”, he had a laughing fit. He choked on the Spaghetti, causing considerable unpleasantness both in the restaurant and on his suit. Fortunately, there was no lasting damage to his health.

This is how I first heard of Monty Python‘s “Meaning of Life”! It strikes me that no other film describes the meaning of life as well as this one. I get the impression he understands me.

(translated by EG)

See for yourself:




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Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

A hundred years ago,
The cultural critic Karl Kraus of Vienna said:
It will not suffice, to have no ideas of your own.
You also have to be incapable of expressing them.
That is why there is so much prattle all around.
If you have no ideas, you need many words.
The result is speech diarrhoea.
It is the only illness,
Not covered by health insurance.
A pity.
Because I would gladly pay those 10 Euros charge
For really bad cases.

(translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 28th, 2009

Expropriation in Germany!?

A “horror vision” pervades Germany – there is the thread of expropriation of shareholders, for instance those of Hypo Real Estate.

In wikipedia, you can find an excellent article on eminent domain. Karl Marx, too, whom I always mentally associated with expropriation, is amply represented in wikipedia. It is always a good idea to read wikipedia articles on issues like these, before blindly starting to discuss matters.

In wikipedia, you can also find the picture I used in this article and the beautiful signature of Karl Marx.

The actual concept of expropriation in Germany is a complex one. It is advisable not to rush ones own judgement.
I can understand that our federal government wants to prevent the insolvency of big banks, because these institutes are considered “relevant to the system” and therefore it can be assumed that the insolvency of one big bank will cause a collapse on all fronts. Besides, the owners have not been very cooperative when it came to selling their shares at current (low) stock market prices, neither have they been prepared to add necessary capital.

Our “proper idea of what is wrong and right” considers it correct to expropriate something that has become a danger and turned into a liability for the community by causing nothing but costs. This is especially true when the owners take no pains at all to restore order to their financial situation.

However, I want to say something in defence of the “bad share holders” at institutes like Hypo Real Estate. They probably thought investing in this bank was a good idea because they considered this enterprise invulnerable due to its “system relevance”. Was there any more security of investments possible as little as five years ago than a German or Bavarian loan bank? Especially if this loan bank had its main business interests in the allegedly most secure type of investment of the world, namely public bonds.

Maybe this is why they paid more for the investment than they would normally have spent on a “non-system relevant” enterprise. That would mean that the share holders who are now to be expropriated are the ones who look stupid. With this, the belief in “secure investments” would further dwindle among all investors.

But there is probably no such thing as a secure investment.


In my personal opinion “system relevance” is a term that should never have been created. I do not believe that banks are as “system relevant” as politicians dogmatically say (see also my article: Banken, eine systemrelevante Industrie …).

(translated by EG) mehr »

7 Pieces of Advice for Corporate Bloggers

In this article, I want to consider Corporate Blogs, i.e. blogs run by an enterprise. As you can already see from the document survey of the blogosphere (Vermessung der Blogosphäre), Corporate Blogs have a huge problem when it comes to triggering the desired response. Many readers consider blogs a portal for background information, modifying one’s opinion through discussions and contacting people. Mostly, enterprise diaries fail to give that impression – which is exactly where you should spend your energy.
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Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Alexander Große
Thursday March 26th, 2009

Experiences of a Temporary Career Soldier #1 – Start

As some other authors of this blog might know, I am myself a temporary career soldier at the German armed forces and have been with the army since July, 2002. After quite a few seminars, force practicals and leadership postings, I now know the German armed forces quite well.

Over the last six years, the German armed forces have undergone a change the (sad) culminating point of which – for the time being – has been the current report of the armed forces commissioner in front of parliament this week. On the whole, what is wrong with the German armed forces are basic issues. In my future blog articles, I will endeavour to look behind the scenes and outline the advantages and disadvantages of a conscript army from the viewpoint of someone who is directly concerned.
Initially, I will just list the pros and cons of our conscript system. Later on, I will get to other sectors and procedures within the German armed forces.

Does the conscript system still give anything positive to the soldiers? Does it have any advantages for the German forces when involved in active combat? Where does the army go and why do the political powers continue to demand the conscript system? These are all questions that I wish to shed light upon. For a change, I want to give another than the official view. Partly, I will manage to objectively base my arguments on reasoning. Partly, however, my arguments will remain subjective, reflecting the personal opinion of an officer in the armed forces.

Maybe this series will allow you to look behind the scenes, because someone is giving you a little insight into what goes on in the armed forces

(translated by EG) mehr »