Roland Dürre
Tuesday September 30th, 2014

Entrepreneur’s Diary #101 – Make or Buy!?

How to find the right kinds of people – and why recruitment is an anti-phrase!This is a question I often had to answer during my entrepreneurial career. And it was never easy to reply to.

You often need some tool in order to better organize affairs in your enterprise. It might be a small software solution, a new process in the infra-structure, a tool providing a particularly ingenious service, or a special marketing or sales activity.

More often than not, what you will need are software solutions. Those were the times when we, as an IT enterprise, had to decide:

Should we produce it ourselves or buy it? Make or Buy?

This is not only true for software. Processes, too, are something you might either define yourself or find a counsellor to assist you. For instance, you can also design simple tools for administrative tasks – and they work surprisingly well. 
For our second Christmas Party in 1985 in the Villa Stuck, we even made our own snack sandwiches under the supervision of a master cook. We also bought our champagne from the wholesale. Incidentally, that was one of our best Christmas parties ever.

One positive factor about doing it yourself is that it is authentic and traditional. In fact, you gather new know-how in your enterprise. It might also be considered a positive effect that a tool you designed yourself will help you to define your own distinctive line on the market. And it can be considerably cheaper than the mega-functional market product many of the functions of which you do not need, anyway.

However, doing it yourself might also have negative side-effects. The result might look amateurish. In the long run, it might well be more expensive than buying it in the first place. Using idle resources (“resources that lie unused”) which basically were meant for other use is dangerous, because developing your own tools might cause those tools to get a life of their own.
New functions that take a long time to maintain are suddenly sought after and you will have to live with the fatal obligation to further develop tools – which might sometimes cause exploding additional costs.

On the other hand, if I buy the desired solution or service, I will probably get a professional system, and possibly even at a cheaper price? I can focus on my central business and will not use up future resources by perhaps relying on sometimes very precarious island solutions.
As you can see, there are many rational reasons pro and contra “make” and “buy”. You have to take many things into consideration. One of the most important, perhaps the most important, questions about “make or buy” might be: 
What will the persons employed inside the enterprise accept better: the self-made product or the bought product?

After all, what good will the best and most professional marketing (and expensive) agency do if your own organisation does not accept it? What positive effects will the best Leads from a presale activity with external partners have if your own sales department is not interested? Sometimes you get the “not invented here” syndrome.

What good will the best process software do if the simple self-made one is lived by the users? What use is the best social media system you ever bought if the people working in your company prefer the simple, internally designed Wiki?

This brings us to a simple conclusion:

Whenever I am interested in something totally new, the question: “make or buy” is not really relevant. It is a lot more important whether or not your employees will accept it. And this is the criterion following which you can then decide if you want to make it or order it elsewhere.

However, when we are talking software, there might be another best way: 
Use an open source solution and be part of the community.

RMD
(Translated by EB)

P.S.

For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Monday September 29th, 2014

Why do we have to Import the Walnut from California?

schweinchenslowenienMy Barbara fed the piglets her apples. Now they can again live off the land.

That is exactly what we, too, did on our bike trip. When we saw the next walnut tree, we stopped and ate a few nuts. There were enough of them left to serve us as dessert after dinner. And I remembered how, many years ago when we were children, we collected all kinds of things. Many varieties of berries, beechnuts, all kinds of fruit, chestnuts, mushrooms, …

But then Aldi came along and the walnuts we ate came from California. Some way or other, I found this a great idea when I was younger – I mean: walnuts from California, wow! Today, I am in favour of regionalization and feel that walnuts from California are a negative example for global nonsense.

And a little later – what a coincidence! –, we watched the “Weltspiegel” on the German TV channel ARD in our  Isidor hotel.

In this program, a US “walnut farmer” laments how the government of California is not capable of supplying enough water for him to grow his walnuts, because his trees are all shrivelling to nothingness due to a “century’s drought”.

He also says how he prays to God every day, asking him to send rain. Except he never mentions the “climate change” and the “American Way of Life”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 28th, 2014

More on Project Management

“I always get a little grumpy on hearing someone say project”

Marcus Raitner currently invites interested parties to join the blog parade on “Beyond Project Management” in his blog “führung-erfahren”.

“Beyond Project Management” is also the motto the orga team of the Dornbirn PM Camp agreed on for the 2014 PM Camp. As I see it, this is a great motto.

Now I am reading my way through the blog parade “beyond project management” and discovering that I find plenty of correct and reasonable ideas in all the articles. And I am truly enthusiastic and would recommend for all of you to read the nice blog parade contributions.

🙂 The more I read, however, the more thoughtful I get. In fact, I already wrote two blog parade articles – and here comes the third one.

In fact, I already wrote two blog parade articles – and here comes the third one.

In one blog parade article, you will, for instance, find that project management is basically about practice, simplicity, people, leadership and, above all about making sense.

I find that truly great!

Except:

What exactly do practice, simplicity, people, leadership and making sense have to do with project management in particular and management in general?

Also, I read a wonderful story in the blog parade. It shows how absurd project management in the private sector can be. And I ask myself how something that does not work in real life is supposed to be a success in an enterprise? After all, we are always dealing with human beings, aren’t we?

  • Projektarbeit bedeutet Ergebnisse unter Unsicherheit zu liefern und
  • Projekte werden nicht genehmigt, sondern finanziert.

In another article, I find important sentences, such as

  • project work means delivering results under uncertainty and
  • projects are not authorized, they are financed.

Well, this is certainly true. But what does it really mean when all is said and done? Here is how I understand it:

The results of (project) work that made sense must – at the latest – “work constructively” from the time the customer uses them for his enterprise. How is that supposed to work out if you realize something that has been planned a long time ago and is then still used at the planned (and then probably unsuitable) time?

Here is my personal experience:

In my (IT) projects, it never ever happened that I delivered the project result as specified at the beginning of same project. The final result was always something that differed considerably from what we had expected to get at the outset. Sometimes it was reduced or massively changed even before the original deadline. Fortunately (?), the result was always something the customer actually desired and consequently, it was always appreciated. This was very important, since you should not forget that the customer is usually the one who pays a lot for the final product. Besides, we also wanted our customers to come back later with more orders.

This is how I learned that both the time of delivery and the solution have to be what the customer wants if you want him to be happy. If I had delivered exactly what was originally agreed upon at the desired time even once, the customer’s goodwill towards me would soon have dwindled to nothingness.

Consequently, we have to deliver a true added value to the customer if we want him to gladly pay us and return later with new orders. And usually, this will not be precisely what he used to believe he needed and ordered several months or even longer ago.

Of course, this also means that you have to decide together with the customer why you deliver something other than was originally desired. Such a process is not easy and costs more than just strength. It actually calls for many talents.

As I see it, happy customers cannot be gained through the currently still valid meaning of the word project:

A project is a planned process which starts at a determined time, has a precise goal, fixed parameters (cost, time) and a non-negotiable end.

To be sure, this definition sounds nice. But it originated at the time of Taylorism and industrialization.
Here is what I believe:

A project is not a project with a clearly defined goal. Instead, it has an open ending. And those who are “responsible for the project” must be a team of entrepreneurs who are competent in many roles, among them “understanding” and “persuasion”.

I never knew a “project” that ended up with exactly what had been planned at the beginning. Even the best “requirement engineering” never managed to do that. There were always huge modifications in the functionality, costs and delivery date. Especially with huge projects, I often witnessed differences that sooner or later became gigantic.

Following these ideas, one might well substitute the word “enterprise” for “project”. That would give us a definition looking more like:

An enterprise tries to shape the future attempting to match yesterday’s assumptions with today’s reality and tomorrow’s requirements. And the process is a continuous task, with neither beginning nor end.

The reason is that, basically, you will always imagine things totally different from what they will later turn out to be. And you will always learn in the process.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday September 27th, 2014

Another Project Polemic

If you do politics as a project
…
or

I always get grumpy on hearing the word “project”!

I know a proud nation. It considers itself “God’s own Country”. Consequently, the people of said country feel responsible for preserving “the Western Values”. Meaning exactly those values it considers Western Values. Due to its power, it feels the obligation to play the role of “world police”. The people play this role with a high degree of professionalism in three steps:

Step I:

They collect data.
No exception is made for secret data. If someone holds something secret, then we have to assume that it is important, don’t we? And how is anybody supposed to understand a situation without knowledge of what is important? Consequently, they spend a lot of money in that country on the CIA, NSA and other “agencies”. And they listen in on the entire world.

Step II:

Data are processed.

They use numerous experts and think-tanks. In order to create security, danger scenarios are designed along the lines of all these data. This is how they totally logically and reasonably generate certainties – in a professional way and using their best brains.

Step III:

Decisions are made and activities are initiated.

After all, you have to counteract against the threats you found. Based on artificial data, you deforest one country with Agent Orange and burn it down with Napalm. Tyrants are murdered and dictators and their countries are declared war on. The army is sent into the desert and all around the world. Armed drones are sent on their way to kill particularly dangerous persons. Special teams destroy the current public enemy number one. Sanctions against insubordinate behaviour are organized. “Partners” are reminded of their contractual obligation and alliances are formed. For instance now in order to bomb the IS. The plan is to have destroyed it exactly four years from now.

Doesn’t this kind of procedure sound exactly like very rational, fact-based project management?

Except what are the consequences of such behaviour? The USA have now spent years trying to achieve their goals in this way, yet all they ever achieved was the opposite of what they had intended. And I have a growing suspicion that the main mistake is that the US policy is based on superbly professional project planning, rather than value-oriented.
I get the impression that this mistake is not restricted to politics, either. And that projects sell irrationality as proved ratio!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

This article was inspired by me reading several articles from the blog parade “Beyond Project Management”. Marcus Raitner currently invites people to participate in his blog “führung-erfahren”.

The blog parade is intended as some kind of warming-up for the Dornbirn PM-Camp 2014. The motto will be “Beyond Project Management”.

Roland Dürre
Friday September 26th, 2014

”Project: Without War” or “My Project #nowar!”

I started this article on my way back home from the 2014 Berlin PM Camp (#pmcamp14ber) in the train. It was meant to document my sessions on the Camp between June, 20th and June, 22nd, 2014. And tonight, on the second day of my bike trip from Toblach to Maribor along the river Drau, I finally manage to finish it.

On the 2014 Berlin PM Camp (#pmcamp14ber) I “disburdened my heart”, proposing and conducting a session on the “Project Peace!“. For me personally, this session meant new frontiers. Consequently, I was grateful that the participants were not too critical and tolerated my weaknesses during the session. After all, this is what is so nice about many barcamps and also about the PM Camp: people listen carefully, yet they are tolerant.

I came up with a few theses during the session, offered some personal ideas and tried to create awareness for this world’s main dilemma: war. Above all, I asked many questions. This was because I wanted us all to find answers and to discover how we all and each of us individually can act towards peace. In all kinds of projects – every day and very individually.

Here is the short report of my session on “peace” from the Berlin PM Camp, followed by my first thesis of the session:

If we want to live in a world of peace, we all – individually and collectively, locally and globally – have to behave friendly and act in the interest of peace.

So here is my first question:

Is a world and society in peace really such an unimaginable utopia?


Let me remind you of a sentence I already found fascinating when I was quite young:
Imagine they declare war and nobody goes there!

The opinions of the participants on how high the chances for peace were differed hugely. As I see it, a slim majority shared my opinion: it is imaginable to have a society where life in peace is possible both internally and externally. Others believed that human nature and war are simply inseparable. When I heard this argument, my reply was that in that case “human nature” would have to change, just like individual persons and the society as a collective mass of persons will have to change.

I personally believe this is possible. More questions of mine were:

Why do we frivolously subordinate our behaviour to unimportant goals? 
Why do we always have to be right? 
Why do you always find this “self-righteousness of the just ones”? 
Why do we so often fight for unimportant things, at the same time forgetting what is really important to us? 
Why do we demand “punishment” when in reality we almost always mean “revenge”?
Why do we always plunder our resources in such a ruthless way and later try to steal what we no longer have from others?

After all, it is exactly this kind of thinking and behaviour which – so it seems to me – directly or indirectly causes “war”.

This, too, was a statement that triggered off totally different reactions among the participants. Especially the topic of “punishment and revenge” was discussed at great length. One of the questions was also if and to what extent punishment should be an indispensable part of “education”, also why/if force has to be the “ultima ratio” in politics? Maybe most of this world’s societies are actually “archaic force systems”? And maybe even our “developed” and “enlightened society” still is guilty in this sense in some areas?

My next theory was that, even if total peace is a utopia, we must still work towards it at all times. There are many rational reasons for this. And since the dangers humanity is facing are so immense, we simply cannot afford to waste our strength in wars. Basically, this is a rather reasonable approach, isn’t it?

Besides, some utopias in the past actually became reality. Just think of women’s rights. Not too long ago, they were not permitted to study at university – and the right to vote was truly utopian for women. The French Revolution, too, was just for men. And the first woman to demand exactly those rights for women was beheaded – by the revolutionaries!

During the session, I finally came up with the following statement:
As I see it, we need (to give) a purpose for social systems such as enterprises to be a success. And this is also necessary if we want our personal lives to be a success. How can anybody become a happy person without a purpose? Through all my life, this was what I believed. Consequently, I always tried to find a purpose in my life and my enterprises. Today, I see it a little differently. In fact, now I believe that, both in life and always, what matters is not having a purpose. What actually matters is the effect!

Let me re-formulate this: 


Effect has priority over purpose.

(Perhaps the effect will then automatically show you the purpose).

Today, I believe that, basically, there is only one true purpose to life. And that is to work towards peace. Simply because there is nothing more important. Consequently, I believe: 
We all have to take part in working towards peace!

Well, obviously, this is also true for me, which is why I initiated the session. In fact, I believe I should have done so a long time ago. Now I wish to catch up by as much as possible and fight my ignorance. Consequently, I am looking for comrades in arms who might be able and willing to help me. I would like to strongly rely on the young generation, the so-called “generation y”. This generation gives me hope, because it believes in the following values:

Consideration, acceptance, appreciation, eye-level, honour, enlightenment, joy, shared experiences, harmony, individualism, life, love, courage, purpose, respect, sharing, wealth, understanding, contentedness.

And all these values do not go with war.

Except: life is full of conflicts (I wonder why). Consequently, we need the competence to deal with conflicts. So we found a few rules during our session:

First rule:
Serenity: never join a conflict that is not worthy of it.

Second Rule:
Stop hating! You simply need to remember the “paradox of hatred”: Those who hate want to destroy someone else, yet they always only destroy themselves.

So what do we need in order to gain peace?

Education, learning, experience, joy, courage, responsibility, knowledge.

How can we gain this?

During the session, we came up with the following results:

Let us never forget that there is no absolute truth, only certainty!

Let us always question “collective constructs” and the “absolute truth”!

Let us replace enmity by philanthropy! 
Let us work towards social consensus.

Let us teach the people to behave “ethically responsible”.

We can succeed through civil courage and constructive disobedience. Let us all fight against “moral flippancy”. 
And let us always remember ourselves and our personal happiness. We can all learn and practice happiness.But it will not happen while we win over others or constantly increase our consumer habits.

However, we also talked about “being able to afford working towards peace”! Subsequently, we discusses if it is possible to modify our projects in this sense. And perhaps if we even could start peace projects.

The general agreement was that only a true grass root movement can bring peace. And that it will definitely not do any good to just join some Easter Peace March. Instead, we need persons who are seriously willing to work towards peace. Like John Lennon did. However, we also said that you have to be able to afford working towards peace. And that this is nowhere near as easy as it looks.

    Here is my personal summary of the session:

  • Minimize damage! Avoid collateral damage! Break the vicious circle of force..
  • Do good! You will find that collateral benefit follows suit!
  • Respect other persons and their opinions!
  • Never practice vengeance!
  • Honour and appreciate yourself – because only those who value themselves will also appreciate (like, love, accept,…) others. And those who manage to do so will not start or like war.
  • Contribute as far as possible towards the increase, rather than decrease, in many dimensions of your own and other person’s personal lives.
  • Always treat others at eye-level and with respect..
  • Always make other persons look bigger, rather than smaller.
    (Making others small might well mean you turn others into beggars).

I believe:

All these things must work both on a small and on a huge scale. If we can manage peace individually, then we will also succeed in bringing it to the systems we support.
The real challenge lies in our daily behaviour. Every one of us can and must contribute. The longer your lever because you are a manager, an entrepreneur or otherwise in a position where your ideas multiply, the more effect you can have! And the greater is your obligation to work towards peace.

Consequently, my vision for what should always motivate us is: 
All our projects promote peace. Both interior and exterior peace. And if some projects do not do so, let us re-define them! Let us make them peace projects.

Why should this not work out? How can we get there? Aren’t those some good questions for the next PM Camp?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

I see quite a few encouraging factors. For instance the history of WW-1 (yesterday evening, I browsed through a program which illustrated battlefields of WW-1. Again, I felt how all this carnage is quite pointless).

The generally accepted tale about WW-1 is that the people in Germany and Austria actually wanted war. That is what I learned at school and never understood as a young boy.

Today, current historical research teaches me that this statement is simply wrong. The proof was manipulated at the time and later on simply taken at face value. Perhaps WW-1 was also history’s first media war. And the media were controlled by the powerful ruling “elite”. Consequently, the media did everything to boost and then document the war enthusiasm.

However, the majority of “simple” citizens never wanted war. Only some of them allowed themselves to be manipulated and went onto the streets to join the cries for war. And later, all of them had to pay a bitter price.

Roland Dürre
Saturday September 20th, 2014

Start up (10) – The Conciliatory Ending.

But, please, do not forget: not everybody must become an entrepreneur! There are lots of other ways towards happiness
.


If you wish to live your life in self-responsibility, it is not necessary for you to become an entrepreneur. Just like in “real life”, an entrepreneur, too, will be subjected to plenty of control from outside, perhaps only in a different form. Perhaps it is even harder to bear.

”Be willing and able to live your life in a self-responsible way” as an important definition of “living freedom” is quite possible in other ways, as well. All it means is to “do your own thing”, start exciting enterprises (not necessarily companies), or simply live your own life in a very intense and autonomous way. In other words: you want to make your life “your own project”.

It might be something as banal as starting your own family. In fact, I admire the decision of a woman to have a baby as true entrepreneurship. A life led in a very conscious way is already entrepreneurship at a huge scale. Developing your own opinion consciously is entrepreneurship…

Yet there are many more sensible things you can do that are entrepreneurial. It might be the support of an NGO or taking responsibility in all kinds of social systems – be it at the “Tafel” or in one of the often accused political parties. In fact, they are exactly the places where some good and autonomously emancipated-thinking persons would be badly needed.

Basically, it is always about taking responsibility. Consequently, I consider the school crossing guard just as much an entrepreneur as the retired manager who accompanies a dying person on his final journey in the hospice.

Writing a blog or being part of an internet community is a form of courageous entrepreneurship. Just as being part of a barcamp is also already entrepreneurship on a small scale.

And this is where, of course, I warmly recommend the PM-Camp – the next one will take place in Dornbirn between November 20th and 22nd, 2014!!!
RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday September 18th, 2014

Start-up (9) – Making Use of the Wisdom of the Masses?

I would like to encourage start-ups to open up, but at the same time I would like to warn against small-mindedness and insular thinking. So here is what I would like to say:

Diversity beats simple-mindedness!


Be careful not to become isolated, because it is quite easy to go down a wrong path following an idea and then turn dogmatic idealist. And then you can easily earn the reputation of being a nutcase.

Be open!


Establish a founders’ blog and twitter about your enterprise! Share your experience with many. In return, you will receive lots of precious knowledge and a whole treasure of experiences.

Put trust before secrecy!


Mostly, your ideas will not be all that unique. There are many out there who have similar ideas and would like to share their knowledge with you.

No patents!


It is better to lay open your discoveries early on. Then others cannot have them patented and many potential enemies will no longer be interested. In fact, patents will often cause you a lot of trouble and when all is said and done they do not really help, because the powerful will ignore them, anyway.

Crowd-Funding


Might well be the best way to get hold of some money (and important insight).

Association


Legally, you do not always have to be an incorporated company or a limited liability company. There are other models, too, which can be quite goal-oriented.

Common Welfare

Start early thinking about whether your product might answer to the requirements of a Common Welfare Business . If it does, you might gain sympathizers and comrades-in-arms.

It is all about understanding the future. That is a difficult task, and it is easier if you combine forces.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday September 16th, 2014

Beyond (Project) Management

In his blog “führung-erfahren”, Marcus Raitner officially invites everybody to participate in a blog parade on “Beyond Project Management”.

The orga team of the Dornbirn PM Camp made “Beyond Project Management” their motto for the 2014 Dornbirn PM Camp. Incidentally, the orga team of the Dornbirn PM Camp is identical with the PM camp core team that started the entire PM Camp movement. We in the team thought it was a good idea to initiate such a blog parade, quasi as a preparation for the PM Camp. And thanks to Marcus, someone did all the work involved.

First and foremost, I wish to point out that our motto is not meant to be some catch phrase and consequently it is not supposed to have advertising value. A grass root movement such as PM Camp does not need advertising. After all, it is supported by persons who come voluntarily.

And the typical “PM Camp attendant” is an autonomous person who will not easily let himself or herself be influenced by buzzwords and marketing promises.

Consequently, we ask all the “participants” to view the three words “beyond project management” in a very objective and matter-of-fact way. They are supposed to remind us that we can and must look beyond our own horizons and to invite us to also “take a look at the insides of the brains of others” once in a while. As a general rule, this is something I would find more than desirable. In fact, I feel it might help to develop a little more tolerance, thus counteracting the intolerance as it is lived in our society and, as I see it, in all social systems due to collective constructs.

{Before I start with my actual article on the blog parade, here comes my first deviation from the topic}

I rather liked this motto. After all, it reminded me of a very big event organized by the very big US ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) in March of 1997. At the time, the association celebrated its fiftieth birthday, which means it was founded in 1947.

Said birthday was celebrated with a gigantic event. The motto was:

Beyond Calculation:

The Next Fifty Years of Computing

Here is what it says in the book with the same, which contains the presentations of the conference:

In March 1997, the Association for Computing Machinery celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the electronic computer. To understand what an extraordinary fifty years the computer has had, you need only look around you–probably no farther than your desk. Computers are everywhere: in our cars, our homes, our supermarkets, at the phone company office, and at your local hospital. But as the contributors to this volume make clear, the scientific, social and economic impact of computers is only beginning to be felt. These sixteen invited essays on the future of computing take on a dazzling variety of topics, with opinions from such experts as Gordon Bell, Sherry Turkle, Edsger W. Dijkstra, Paul Abraham, Donald Norman, Franz Alt, and David Gelernter. This brilliantly eclectic collection, commissioned to celebrate a major milestone in an ongoing technological revolution, and now in its second printing, will fascinate anybody with an interest in computers and where they’re taking us.

Remarkable:

Among the invited speakers of the ACM event were the “most elevated and famous computer scientists alive tody”. But along with the computer scientists, they also had invited famous authors from the science fiction genre!

For me, this calls for a mental extension of our #pmcampdor motto by following the ACM and saying:

Beyond Project Managing:

The Next Fifty Years of Managing

{End of the first deviation from the topic and beginning of the second deviation, this time about terminology}

Before contemplating “Beyond Project Management”, I want to take a closer look at the term itself. As to the words Project and Management, you will know that I already wrote several articles about those in the IF Blog Entrepreneur’s Diary (Unternehmertagebuch).

Consequently, it is about time for us to look at the word “beyond”. Let me just insert a copy from “dict.cc” at this place:


beyond
{adv} {prep}
2626

jenseits [+Gen.]

beyond {prep} [outside]
933

außerhalb [+Gen.]

beyond {adv}
529

drüben

beyond {adv}
436

weiterhin

beyond {prep} [above]
223

oberhalb [+Gen.]

beyond {adv} darüber hinaus
beyond {adv} in Übersee
beyond {adv} auf der anderen Seite
beyond {prep} [in addition to] zusätzlich zu
beyond sth. über etw. hinaus

As you can see, translating these kinds of words from German into English gives you a wide range of potential meanings and associations.

{End of second deviation from the topic and start of the actual article about the blog parade. Now we are really into it!}

Beyond Project Managing:
The Next Fifty Years of Managing

I choose the meaning of “beyond” as in “on the other side of today”. So my article is meant to be a contribution to the discussion about what the future may look like – for instance in fifty years.

And looking at our suffering and tormented planet, it seems like fifty years might be a very long time, indeed. Much has to happen, because fifty years from now, matters might look rather bad, both here on this planet and for all of us individually.

For instance, I have a clear opinion about the collective and individual future of projects and the people involved therein:

The future of our society (collectively)!

First and foremost:

I no longer believe in projects that follow the “old” rules of the industrial era.

Just name me one non-trivial project anywhere on the world during the last few years which actually finished within the given time and cost limits. This goes for both the technological and social sectors. Even if you find “successful” projects by this definition, you will soon discover that they only were a success due to a huge amount of coincidence and/or due to a development that could not have been predicted in the way it happened and that led to the surprising success. They were simply lucky. Except that you cannot organize (and plan) good luck in a project.

When I say failed projects, I do not just mean the often mentioned big ones such as the Berlin Airport, the European Galileo or S21. No: I see so many small projects that are not doing any better either.

And I conclude that the ancient concepts and methods our fathers (and grandfathers) used will no longer work. They fail on a small scale and, of course, also on a huge scale.The challenges, however, which we are confronted with on this planet increase all the time.

How are we supposed to minimize the increased carbon dioxide production? 
How are we supposed to reduce plastic waste or even to get it out of our oceans?

How are we supposed to create peace in this world?


All these are examples for challenges which cannot be solved by a project approach – which means they cannot be solved by project management.

How is a system and a “team” born from the system, such as for instance the EU commissars, supposed to even find an approximation for the “right project goals”? Can we expect prudent “management” as early as when the initial questions start to be asked?

Do not forget that, in the old project world, there are always also just a few persons (or often only one person with a “rod”) who determine the projects and give the orders.

Both collectively and in our social systems (enterprises, too, are social systems – they have the economic purpose of producing goods or offering service), projects defined from “above” and then controlled by project technocrats will not help us through the next few years. Consequently, we will need other solution strategies for the future – beyond the world of projects.

And, of course, it would be untruthful for me to write down the solution here and now. After all, I cannot know it, can I? Today, nobody can probably know how it might work and how it will be. All I seem to see is how it will definitely not work – which is why I dare to predict:

In the future, the classic project concept will no longer be a promising model for successfully realizing important enterprises. Relevant and constructive change will only work through evolution based on the “inter-connected wisdom of many” (and it probably already does so today):

For instance, how can you establish a consensus about where you all together want to and have to go in a large group? How can you come to a mutual decision about what you want to achieve in a widespread group? How to manage lived and intended unity? How can you make all “participants” willingly contribute towards the “shared goal” in a concentrated way or/and how can you make them do without things they thought were important in the past?

Perhaps our PM Camp can show a way towards finding first answers for an “about face”?

In the future, classic project management, both on a huge and a small scale, will be more and more about initiating legislation, proclaiming regulations, state sanctions and perhaps re-distribute resources. We cannot expect it to do more than that.

Yet we “passively” need to change our lifestyles and “actively” our shared activities in collaboration with many.

It is about time that we threw the idea (which was conceived during the industrial revolution, then established during the last century and is no longer justifiable) that the future is predictable and can be controlled over board as fast as possible. And hence we should do the same with projects in the classical sense.
The alternative to a common “about face” is probably some sort of (world) government which assigns us all to its huge projects (welcome NSA) reasoning that this is how they are saving us. Such a system would probably become independent of its own original purpose and develop fascist tendencies while the system agents would justify this development with “honourable” motives (saving the environment) or necessity (human survival or whatever).

This is not a scenario we – and in particular I – would be in favour of. Consequently, we have to solve the problems of the future in a new way – and project studies are probably the least appropriate of all possible means towards that end.

Incidentally, we are no longer even capable of defining the necessary “projects”. How to define social projects? How should a project look if it is meant to create social consensus? How to realize social consensus in a classic project?

And what is worse: even the structures and coordinates which are the requirements of the project concept disappear more and more often. And I am not just talking the big wide world, but also enterprises and social systems of all dimensions.
Consequently, we have to find something new. And we have to try it out both on a small and a large scale. And we have to improve on it all the time – by practice and learning. And maybe, for starters, we should think beyond the fringe of our own hat of collective system constructs!

The future of a person (individually)!

Let us assume that we and our descendants will continue to live in a developed society as it is today assumed to be a matter of course (although that is not what it is). But as of now (?), this is still the case, at least in Central Europe. Let us assume that our descendants, too, along with us, will remain untouched by the threats of hunger, thirst, poverty and, above all, that we can continue to live in peace.
Let us also assume that we will manage to support the lives of our children and grandchildren by an enlightened, violence-free and understanding education, “upbringing” and supervision in the future.

Then it might and should just be possible that most of the people in the next generation are willing and capable of leading their own lives as autonomous persons and thus can act self-responsibly and in ethic responsibility for their neighbours and their social systems.

Then these persons will be fed up with living and working in a Taylorist, deterministically controlled and hierarchically organized world. They will also refuse to single-handedly take responsibility for others and then be responsible (!). Also, they will not feel like working in a hierarchical team of “project leaders” (project functionaries).

Instead, it will be very important for them to have all important decisions originate with the aforementioned “wisdom of many” and thus also in the responsibility of and supported by all parties concerned.

Especially with young people, I witness this more and more often. Even today, respect, honour, appreciation, trust, symmetry and eye-level are extremely important for them. They no longer feel like spending their precious time (the currency of the future in developed societies) outside such worlds. And consequently, they will no longer be prepared to enter into the classical project world. Because they will prefer to work self-determinedly and at eye-level with other persons – for a goal they mutually agreed upon to be important and right.
As you can see, the “future of projects” depends on which concept of humanity we base it on for future generations.

It is my personal concept of humanity that our descendants wish to be “free” in the sense of self-responsibility.

Projects would only have a future if people were to reject this kind of freedom. And that is something I would find fatal.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 14th, 2014

brand eins in August and September

In August, I worked too much – unfortunately, it was totally controlled from the outside. And then I went on a long and nice vacation. My “brand eins” travelled with me, but it did not have a very high priority, because enjoying the day, swimming, riding my bike, eating well – in short: to love and live – was more important.

Currently, I am still looking at too much work. Consequently, I intend to go on another vacation in September. Still, you simply have to read the September “brand eins” edition. Regardless of all the other burdens and stress you have. As usual, I also already let some other people, whose trips by public transport were made more attractive by it, have it. These persons, too, were thrilled

May I Stay Another Hour, Boss?

Underneath, you will read: how we learn to love our work and the focal point in red with the heart says:

Work♥

About the magazine: it is an edition with heart. On the white September “brand eins”, you will find a sentence in huge lettering.

Well, basically, it is almost embarrassing for me to praise the “brand eins”. Consequently, I hereby admit that the August edition did not really make me jump in the air with enthusiasm. The September edition, however, is back with all the virtues I so much like about the “brand eins” – and which, regardless of all the high gloss and other publications on and around the topic of business, I actually more than miss.

The important and right themes on the topic of work and cooperation are hit and several inconsistencies are pointed out. I keep finding heretical and revolutionary ideas which clearly question the “established opinions” and the bourgeois self-perception of “this is how you want to do it”.

And it is totally authentic and far from the common (more or less outdated) gossip and chit-chat. Well, this definitely feels nice.

Late in November, I will be in Stuttgart to attend the EnjoyWorkCamp. And I would recommend to Franziska (she organizes the whole event) to send all the attendants the current “brand eins” edition as a preparatory reader.

May I Stay Another Hour, Boss – brand eins online

startseite_header

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday September 13th, 2014

Start Up (8) – Learning About the Market!

If you start in a market you do not know anything about, you must have really strong reasons. Especially if you selected a market where many contestants have already established their positions or if the market is generally perceived as basically dead.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what many founders do. Sometimes the reason is probably their inexperience and because they do not know how complex such a market is. Perhaps they also do it because they want to emulate famous idols, like Steve Jobs. He shattered the market of classic mobile phones with his i-phone.

At the time, the “other Steve” (Mr. Ballmer of Microsoft) provocatively said something cynical that did not at all sound so very unreasonable to me: “What does Apple want with a device on the cell-phone market that does not even have keys and with which you cannot even call someone?”. Well, Steve Jobs simply ignored this and was proved correct.

I think this is not the common business rule. In fact, it is a rather special case. Consequently, if you are a “normal founder”, you should take a really close look at the market. It is just too daring to start on a market you, as a young university graduate, cannot really know. You should at least know it a little bit.

This means you have to learn and work towards understanding your target market. Regardless of all enthusiasm and euphoria, you usually cannot be a success unless you learned the market in your target segment and understand its workings. There is no other way of being able to judge if your own idea actually has a chance of survival. More often than not, it is still rather unfinished and, like a rock in the river as it makes its way down the stream, receives its final polish before it will become one or several nice round pebbles.

The best solution when it comes to “learning about the market” is trying it yourself! But this will cost time and energy. There can be setbacks and disappointments, all of which you will have to be able to tolerate.

Learning, too, is expensive and costs energy! You can often learn more comfortably “sponsored by others”, for instance as an employee. And unfortunately, the proverb about “learning years not being master years” is also true when you found a company and learn a market.

Consequently, my recommendation to founders of a start-up enterprise might be
“Spend some time as employees in your target area. And when the moment comes and you feel you have learned enough, get under way!”

In retrospective, I must say that I, too, did exactly this. I learned all the technology and competence about projects at Siemens – and I learned how to do business at Softlab.

RMD
(Translated by EG)