Roland Dürre
Saturday November 28th, 2015

PM Camp Dornbirn – Between Pretension and Reality?

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnIn retrospective, the Dornbirn PM Camp was rather a success. Most (well, basically all) of the participants felt great and drove home with a feeling of satisfaction. In my opinion, this is great.

Also, many participants filled in our feedback forms. This is how we (the organizational team) received many constructive comments. I am currently working my way through those, along with the twitter “timeline” of our anti-conference. You can read the timeline under the hashtag #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, it is a lot of fun: a retrospective view with many useful links.

Statistically spoken, the feedback was just as positive as the individual comments. This gave the organizational team a boost. Barcamps are something special. They are based on freedom, eyelevel, participation, equal rights. You can also see those factors as “weaknesses”. But then, they are weaknesses I personally find rather attractive. A barcamp lives from the moment. You cannot control them, the sessions rise from the context of what you have just experienced. And that is a good thing!

In other words:
Freedom and diversity can also polarize. You might get focal points and conclusions that not everybody will always like. Well, you have to cope with this, just like freedom is not always something you can easily cope with. It takes tolerance.

Democracy, too, has its problematic side. Even the question how to best organize democracy can be a problem. Just remember the passionate discussion about “direct versus parliamentary democracy” – one of which is considered the solution (for instance in Switzerland) while being considered extremely dangerous (for instance here in Germany, because we believe the people are stupid). On the other hand, many are no longer at all happy with our “parliamentary democracy”.
Anti-conferences are democratic. Their dynamics depend very much on the persons attending. As opposed to conferences, you meet in a rather free room with only little formatting. This might trigger group dynamics that not everybody will welcome. But then, every participant can feel free to counteract.

PM Camps are very pluralistic meetings. Males and females meet, old and young persons, starters and almost-pensioners, successful and not-so-successful persons, persons who studied at university and persons who learned their trade in apprenticeships, no-nonsense types and laughing types, “not so wealthy ones” and “rich ones”, etc. Maybe these barcamps can manage to bridge the gap between ME and WE and thus reduce the tension between “individual” and “collective” needs.
And what is true for projects is also true here: technology and tools are no longer the problem. The existing methods, too, are mostly more or less suitable. Yet most of the projects fail because of the “human factor”. This is also a danger with barcamps. You can never please everybody. Consequently, both the tweets and the feedback forms showed us that some details were highly praised by some, yet criticized by others.

Besides the positive feedback, there was criticism and recommendations for improvement. Wherever the recommendations for improvements do not counteract the barcamp principles, we will take them very seriously. Just as we will take the criticism to heart. But then, you could also say:
If someone criticizes something about a barcamp, he is also criticizing his own behaviour.

Here is a list of feedback with my comment:

Positive Feedback:

The positive feedback is by far the majority. Even though I would enjoy citing all of them, I will restrict myself to a few:

If the PM Camp would not exist, one would have to invent it!!

I will be back!

I was able to learn a lot, make experiences and meet very interesting persons!
Continue in this way, no regulations!

There was a very homely and cosy atmosphere, the discussions were all at eye-level!

I could continue I this way – and very often, there was a
Huge Thanks!
and 100 % of the participants replied to the question:
“Would you recommend the PM Camp to a colleague?“
With a Yes .

Of course, reading this made us truly happy. We in the organizational team will process all the positive feedback with care and diligence. After all, what is true for persons when it comes to “personality development” (often also called management or leadership training) is also true for communities: first and foremost, you should promote your strengths, instead of always trying to work on the weaknesses. Because the latter will never be a success anyway and the former is so much more promising. Consequently, we want to make those things better that are already quite positive.
But I also have examples for

Negative Feedback:

The WLAN on the Camp was a catastrophe …

Yes, that is true. But I know how Stefan, in particular, took pains, both before and during the event, to improve the situation at the university. On the evening before, I also had a dialogue with one of the experts who had explained the problem to me. The specialists at the university, too, tried their best, but again, they did not manage it. Due to highly complicated security aspects, the systems are programmed in such a way that the technicians cannot do it. Naturally, we will try to do better in this respect next year. Yet we should also appreciate how much the Dornbirn Fachhochschule as a sponsor of the event is doing for us. Maybe we can be a little lenient in return.

There was no information about parking!
Yes – we forgot our dear car drivers.

More precise information on the event (start, end) on the website, please. 
Yes, that is certainly something we can improve.

Pictures of those who organize a session would help with the orientation.
Unfortunately, “Aebby“ (Eberhard Huber) had to cancel on short notice – consequently, his polaroid camera, too remained in Stuttgart.

Criticism and recommendations on
Ice-Breaking, Moderation and an introduction round,
very diverse. Some wanted a round of introductions, others not. Some wanted more moderation and/or ice-breaking, others less. I would say it was about equally distributed.

Many ideas and recommendations for improvements in the feedback forms were about

“Newbies“ and “class meetings of old PM Camp attendants and how one could, maybe, improve the quality of sessions, for instance by coaching, mentoring or moderation.

A narrow majority wanted an explicit support for Newbies. The others thought it worked quite well automatically. To me, it also seems that this is easier with small PM Camps – such as Barcelona – than with big ones such as Dornbirn. So this was almost indirectly a criticism that Dornbirn is getting too big.

There was also some criticism on individual sessions and how they were offered.

Too much IT in the sessions.

I missed the games.

It would be better if the sessions of the second day were better based on those of the first day.

The principle and variants of sessions should be better explained beforehand, especially for the newbies.

I support whatever improves the session concept. Yet I believe that the organizational team should not meddle with the content of the sessions. They belong to the “part-takers”. The organizational team has the chance to motivate those who are interested in the messages or want a controversial discussion about them by formulating the mottoes and selecting the impulse given before the event. That should be enough.

But there are some challenges for the future. I particularly liked one of them:

It will be THE ONE challenge of the future to maintain the high standards.

That is exactly how I feel!

Incidentally, there is a lot of praise and some criticism of the Dornbirn PM Camp on the official GPM Blog. Reinhard Wagner reported on the Dornbirn PM Camp in a post, actually writing a few rather negative things in his last paragraph (…PM Camp only partially managed to deliver what it had promised. …).

Since I see a number of misunderstandings in this article and also because my name appears in it, I will now discuss Reinhard’s theses “dialectically” and also try to explain a few things.

This is where I start with the text of the last paragraph written by Reinhard in the GPM blog. The sum of all the cursive text elements is the complete last paragraph, copied from his post 1 one 1 (RW). Whenever I use “normal” font directly afterwards, then those are my comments (RMD).

(RW) … The motto of this year’s Dornbirn PM Camp was “breaking with patterns” (What patterns should we break and how can we do it?). This is something the PM Camp managed to deliver only to some extent. As I see it, that is also the dilemma of the entire “PM Camp” movement.

(RMD) Not only PM Camp, but the entire human society has the dilemma that it cannot manage change to a reasonable or at least desired extent. Current history alone is a good proof of this (wars, terrorism, the destruction of the planet…)    .
The problem I have with what Reinhard writes is that, for me, the only thing a PM Camp is supposed to deliver is a) to be a good host and b) to find the right participants. That is also what the organization team for “our” Dornbirn PM Camp aimed at. And as I see it, the same is true for the entire “PM Camp Movement”.
Each year, we meet at the PM Forum (our strategic organ for all PM Camps) amd discuss how to best do this. Here, the representatives of the regional organizational teams (the operative event managers who organize the Camps) and the core teams (the normative founders) meet. During this meeting, we exchange ideas on what could be improved in order to make it even easier for you – our guests and visitors – to exchange knowledge, find consensus and gain insights.
The basic role of an organizational team for a PM Camp is that of host. It looks for sponsors and, finances the event where it costs more than the participants’ fees have brought. In addition, we, as a group, try to come up with mental concepts (for instance a motto like the metaphor of “breaking with patterns” before the event) and to promote the success of the entire affair through impulse presentations during the Camp (what?) and ideas about the methods of presentation (how?), without ever jeopardizing the core ideas of a barcamp.
We are very careful about not clandestinely turning our “anti-conference” into a conference or congress.
Please remember:
A PM Camp is nothing other than a barcamp directed towards project managers, entrepreneurs, leaders – basically all those persons who are prepared to take responsibility for our future. It provides them with a platform for the exchange of opinions and ideas and thus supports their networks.

(RW) The “young wild ones” (sorry Roland Dürre) try with all their might to distance themselves from the established big ones in the field, primarily from the GPM, the PMI and the PRINCE2-Community.

(RMD) As to the “young wild ones”: personally, I must say that I do not see myself qualifying for “young”. I meant quite a few young start-ups with this metaphor. They approach things totally differently from what I am used to with the “established enterprises”. And whenever a start-up is a success, then it is definitely not because it thinks in terms of projects.
But back to the text. The very phrase “established big ones in the field” shows how problematically Reinhard is positioned. Personally, I do not see the PM Camp movement as competition of any “established big ones”. Because we are not an association. If anything, we might be an alternative to it, meeting in a free area and exchanging knowledge and experience. During a PM Camp, what you do is motivate each other to start thinking. The “ME”s will meet as part of the “WE”s. That has nothing in common with an association or similar structures. This is also one of the reasons why the organizational team must not and will not give proactive recommendations.
Incidentally, the PM Camp Movement also always coordinates whatever they do with openPM, the open portal that provides a platform for the free exchange for all  project managers. openPM is a non-profit-making club that, as I see it, is no competition for the “established big ones” either. Consequently, openPM has nothing to do with those clubs/associations.
My personal reason for shunning clubs and associations is that, to me, they all seem to think they alone possess the “truth”, then they mould their truth into rules and laws and earn their (horrendous sums of) money with it. That is something I do not want to be part of. But I am not trying it with all my might. I am just clearly stating the fact.

(RW) The pattern “agile” versus “traditional” is used far too often. In almost all the discussions, you get the comparison between “industrial age is old and evil” versus “information age is young and good”, the same is true for “waterfall” versus “Scrum”.

(RMD) Here, Reinhard probably misunderstood something. It is quite possible that, years ago, there were such frontiers. In order to stop this nonsense, however, we started a PM Camp in Dornbirn in 2011. Its motto was “building bridges“.
Consequently, I hardly noticed any conflicts between “agile” and “traditional” during the Dornbirn PM Camp. On the contrary: all the persons I heard – including the impulse presenters – made it quite clear that anything can be justified. All you have to do is consider what you want to use when for which purpose.
Incidentally, I believe that all you need to know about “agile” has been written down in the “agile manifesto“. What you find there is a recommendation to use “common sense” in an “honest” way. And I cannot see where this is supposed to be a method. Basically, it should be something that goes without saying. Just like it goes without saying that you can make many mistakes in projects.

(RW) One presenter spoke against all rules and “patterns”, before, a few pages into the presentation slides, saying that you should actually not do any projects (#noprojects).
(RMD) If this is referring to the impulse by Robert Weisgräber, then I have to say that his was one of the best presentations I have watched in a long time. This can also be seen from the feedback statistics. But perhaps the metaphor #noprojects  is not all that easily understandable. Yet I did not really hear that you should not do any projects. What I heard is that you should think twice before deciding what to do.

(RW) In a workshop on “organizations as living organisms”, they tried to show how such an organization works. When I asked if we could perhaps exemplify this with the – unfortunately very successful – organization “Islamic State”, my request was rudely denied with the (killer) argument that this is not really the time to discuss that general topic.
(RMD) Naturally, what someone says in a session cannot meet the total approval of all participants. It has something to do with democracy. On the other hand, I would also not think it goal-oriented to discuss the IS as an example. Not just because, to me, the IS looks like a criminal, fascist organization (The Third Reich, too, was fascist. And still the “GröFaZ“ generated fear for all the established generals with agile warfare).
To be sure, Reinhard Wagner could have organized a separate session on the IS, or perhaps, more precisely, a session about “modern guerrilla war of fascist organizations as a successful method for fighting against technologically superior armies”. But I would not have attended such a session (or if, then just to tell everybody that I find it absurd).

(RW) Then, one participant tried to discuss the Cynefin framework. This discussion ended with the categorization of engineers and business economists on the right side (simple or complicated systems) and software developers, those creative wild ones, on the left side of the framework. Well, this does not really help anybody, does it?
(RMD) Again, this is about the content of a session. It has nothing to do with the Dornbirn PM Camp. Personally, however, I see it like Reinhard Wagner, considering the entire discussion about complicated/complex, left/right, blue/red more or less esoteric nonsense. However, I am sure that you can actually conclude right things from wrong assumptions  …

(RW) Instead of breaking patterns, they dress old clichés in new clothes.
(RMD) I do not really understand this sentence. But I find it rather over the top to say something like this about the entire Dornbirn PM Camp. To me, this sounds a little like culture pessimism. But I admit that our entire society suffers from us constantly, again and again, using the same patterns. And that fantasy and creativity are things we tend to push away. Perhaps Reinhard and I actually lament the same state of affairs.

(RW) Finally, I have to ask the question what, in practice, the PM Camps actually want to achieve.
(RMD) Once again: PM Camps offer the general framework for meeting, communicating in an atmosphere of trust, sharing knowledge, gaining insights through honest discourse. There is no promise from the side of the Camp. If there is any goal, then it is that the persons who attend make each other look bigger – instead of smaller, as we have known it from many teaching systems. However, I believe it is amore valuable or practical application to “share knowledge” and to learn from the “other party” than to earn certificates or, what is worse, from the “certification of the world”.

(RW) To be sure, my own workshop impulse for “project management for social purposes” instigated a lot of discussion and enthusiastic comments,…
(RMD) Question: “What is an enthusiastic comment?“! 🙂

(RW) … but then my question what we could actually do was rather quickly cut short because everybody disappeared (wanting to have lunch).
(RMD) Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? This is something the second day – with its actual sessions – could have been used for.

(RW) To be sure, it was also rather hard to make the participants actually put into practice what we had been talking about at the GPM.
(RMD) I cannot imagine why it would be easier at the GPM than in real life.

(RW) Yet this is where they could have been proved that they can do more than “give nice Sunday speeches” , letting “beautiful words” be followed by “actual behaviour”.
(RMD) Even Seneca said: “philosophy is not about talking, it is about acting”. And we can all see that we all talk a lot yet do nothing from the climate change caused by the burning of fossil raw materials. But again, I discovered that I have something in common with Reinhard.

(RW) That is what I would wish for, but perhaps it will just remain wishful thinking at Christmas Time.
(RMD) My hope (I do not know if it is wishful thinking), not only at Christmas Time, is that humans become a little wiser.

Even though there were many objections to what I had done in his article, I would like to explicitly thank Reinhard for writing it. And perhaps this is the beginning of an enthusiastic and wonderful discussion about:

How badly do we really need all those associations and clubs?
Because to me, it seems that many of them are totally unnecessary and I would certainly expect more from grass root movements.


(Translated by EG)
The heading of this post is not my wording. It was directly taken from Reinhard.

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday November 26th, 2015

The Avalanche – or: An Inappropriate Good-Bye to Hydraulics.

Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment #46)

It was typical! Whenever Carl really needed some sympathy, nobody was home. Consequently, he gruffly pulled the front door closed after an expectant “Hello”.

ZZZZZimg213The only thing he found on the ledge in the hallway was a note saying:
’Am in the municipal office sorting winter clothes. Why don’t you come, too? It might get late. Kisses, Gerlinde’.

Hmm – Shit! Instead of a friendly face lighting up in welcome, all that drifted through the garden into the living room was the usual November blackness. The last bit of red heaven seemed to be embarrassed as it gracelessly disappeared behind the yellow tamarisk. Well, neither was it necessary for Carl to have any more heaven at the moment. Purgatory or hell would have been more like it…

He was still standing in the hallway when his bag flew out of his hand. His trench-coat and shoes were grumpily thrown in the direction of the clothes-stand. 
What a shitty day! – he said for the third time, automatically gripping the Brandy bottle! ’Carlos I’! In disgust, he fished for a glass on top of the house bar and threw himself onto the living room sofa with a moan. Listlessly, he stared at his reflection in the patio door pane that was darkened by the night outside. For his first ’Carlos’ he still toasted himself.

As he drank his second one, he was already in the phase of being annoyed with his stupid cerebellum for still circling around the nonsense the concern leaders had offered at today’s meeting. Not to mention all this reassurance drivel of our ’Ruling Fairy-Tale Auntie’, who, through her persistent ’We can do it – We can do it’ tried to preserve the long sleep of her nation that has been going on for ten years without any interruption.

Yes – who knew, perhaps she herself was ’Sleeping Beauty‘!

However, it seems that this was not even known to the overambitious Prince Seehofer in his overflowing-with-asylum-seekers Bavaria: otherwise he would never have been so disappointed about her not being prepared to wake up from that sorry state where she obviously did not know what happened in her realm.

Mind you, he had taken such pains, hadn’t he? Keeping her standing no less than twenty minutes next to him in front of the entire Bavarian Royal Household, just to show that she was well capable of sitting it out when he took command, just continuing to sleep standing up – as always.…

And Carl would probably have gone to sleep after his fourth ’Carlos’ if he had not accidentally activated the remote control of his TV. All of a sudden, he saw a rather excited TV moderator who foulmouthed an absent Schäuble in no uncertain terms, because said minister had totally unbecomingly broken the rules of how to describe the asylum seeker problem by not using the German ’hydraulic collective symbolic language’.

During an event the moderator briefly showed, he actually had – what a scandal! – compared the overwhelming influx of asylum seekers to Germany with an ’avalanche’ a careless skier might have triggered by moving the snow a little thoughtlessly: an avalanche of which at the moment nobody knew if it was already in the valley or still in the upper third of the mountain. 
This, so the moderator, was really disgusting! Such a totally wrong image is nothing short of inhuman and a catastrophe, said the moderator who had clearly been brainwashed to be mainstream! And this comparison was totally lopsided! After all, as opposed to the one-time alpinist Schäuble, our Federal Chancellor had never ever gone downhill skiing. In fact, she only ever went cross-country skiing, and even then only in the lowlands!

This totally unexpected avalanche-like deviation from the ’hydraulic collective symbolic language’ used by all the parties and media by the Federal Minister of Finances, so the moderator, was really evil!

And he asked what it might mean that Schäuble did such a thing at the very time when the Federal Chancellor was already clearly getting less and less backing both among the citizens and within the party? Is that how someone was massively rattling her guideline competence? Did this not show only the deep rips between CSU and CDU, but even within the CDU? Even in the Great Coalition?

What is the meaning of all this? The moderator apparently was not only asking himself, but also in the direction of Carl who, instead of replying, countered with a question of his own: the question if he, the extra wise Mister Moderator, knew how many glasses of Brandy he, Carl, had already drunk: four, five, six or seven? Because he himself certainly no longer knew 
After all, for him, so Carl told the moderator on the screen, the answer to that question was far more important than all this avalanche show! Because the answer was basically decisive when it came to the question if he, Carl, could still dare going to the municipal office and appear before the strict eyes of his ’winter-clothes sorting Gerlinde’, thus at long last actually doing something productive for the asylum seekers.

Or else if it was wiser to save face and stay at home, doing nothing practical? To make up for it, as before, he could start trumpeting one smart-assy solution after another into the world tomorrow, as soon as he was again sober. It was all about this difficult hydraulic asylum seeker topic which suddenly was also discussed like an avalanche…

Hm – it was truly a difficult decision, Carl told himself. And as such, it certainly should not be decided before the next ’Carlos ’, or should it?

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday November 24th, 2015

World-War III

Flag the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

There is a lot one could say about terrorism. But in my personal opinion, people mostly write the wrong kinds of things. For instance, much of what I heard and read in connection with the Paris assaults is incomprehensible to me. Many things annoy me, because they seem so flat and un-thought-through.

Also, I am not happy with the reaction to and the treatment of the events and the current situation by our “elite”.

I find it sad that the reasons for this development are forgotten and not asked about either. After all, we have had a strongly developed colonial situation in this world for centuries. The rich countries rule over the poor countries, they exploit and literally abuse them.

Starting during the “long 19th century”, continuing in modern times and still being the state of affairs today, this never changed. The so-called independence of the suppressed did not really improve matters significantly. True, in the 21st century, the methods perhaps look a little more subtle than they were in the 19th and 20th centuries. But this only means they are no longer as obvious as they used to be. However, they lost nothing in efficiency when it comes to the degree of exploitation. On the contrary.

This caused a lot of explosive energy in the world. The politics of the last few decades – incidentally, I am not only talking the West, neither only the USA – served to enrich said explosive energy with fire accelerators. And the time when everything was set on fire with matches was certainly no later than the reaction of the “western world” to 9/11.

But what are the French doing now? Making the same mistakes the West has been making all the time. They throw their bombs with gusto. And probably they will also (and maybe even primarily) bomb civil buildings and hospitals. And consequently also children, women and innocent citizens. As this is always the case with these kinds of attacks. This is how you give extra air to the fire and guarantee new recruits for terrorists.

I also find it annoying to see how different standards are used. Not long before the Paris assaults, the IS bombarded a Russian airplane. More than 200 persons died. Yet, the human fatalities in the Russian airplane were treated with quite a bit of serenity. Where were the shock and the minutes of mourning – and the Russian flags in Europe? To be perfectly honest, until then I had not even known Russia’s colours. After all, I grew up west of the Iron Curtain.

Other attacks, for instance in Beirut, are not even noticed. Because the only reason why we would be interested in those is our yearning for sensational news and catastrophe.

But the attacks in France were totally different. Why? There were huge numbers of solidarity addresses. Silent minutes of mourning were happening all over the place, the avatars on the internet were illustrated in the French colours. Because we are afraid that the same could happen in Berlin or in Munich?

Even as early as on the morning after the attacks, the newspapers boosted it. They talked about World-War-III now being on our doorsteps. When I went to the bakery on Saturday morning, I read a number of these headlines. And the day before yesterday, I read that “the world is now uniting against terrorist“ (SZ of November, 22nd).

In my life, there were many people I knew well and liked who died. Some died of old age and illness. Others remained in the Alps, one never returned from a flight trip.

Ever since my childhood, however, people dying on the streets keep accumulating. They were the largest number and losing some of them really moved me deeply. For instance, I remember a young woman full of life who had spent a very short time at InterFace Computer. No longer than one week into her employment with us, her workplace remained empty on a Monday morning. She had spent the weekend in her home in the Saarland and on the way back, she had suffered a car breakdown. When she exited her car, she was simply overrun on the motorway exit. Just like this. Like an animal.

Are traffic fatalities less painful than war fatalities? Isn’t it strange how we forget traffic fatalities? Why don’t we mourn for the deaths in traffic on a daily basis?

You certainly cannot calculate or balance the pain you feel when a person close to you dies. But I do not think there is such a huge difference between a beloved member of the family being overrun on his way home and the same person being killed in a terrorist attack in a coffee bar.

Consequently, I feel that, indeed, we do have a “World War III“. In fact, we have been having it for many decades. All traffic areas are the current battlefields. Because on the streets of this planet, between 1.3 and 1.4 million people die every year. They come from all social classes and nations. In addition, we have many times as many seriously wounded and wounded. Now if that is not a war, then what is?

In Germany, we still have more than 3,000 traffic fatalities every year. When I was young, there were some years when we had more than 20,000 – in West Germany alone. That means that we in Germany actually made some progress in this war. But we are still far from peace. 3,000, too, are too many. And the number is now again increasing.

If you want to understand what a huge number this is, just go and watch a soccer game with 3,000 spectators. And then imagine all of them lying dead in cars on the streets!

It is quite likely that, in Europe, both fans and players die on the way to the soccer match on each soccer weekend. But who is interested? A few weeks ago, there was at least a minute of mourning at the Augsburg WWK Arena for those FCA fans who had been injured in a car accident on their way to the stadium.

But why do we not have a minute of mourning for our traffic fatalities and those world-wide? Because nobody is interested in the carnage on the streets. And because business has priority. Which, incidentally, is also true for terrorism.

Consequently, there is no international outcry and no important speeches are made by politicians for a more humane traffic. As opposed to the fight against terror, “no world is now uniting” against all the people who died in traffic accidents. And the national governments could not care less, which is totally incomprehensible to me.

There is one exception: the small country Sweden actually takes it seriously and started a Vision Zero, with which they want to definitely reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero – I bow before them!

The IS, on the other hand, consists of madmen who want to conquer first the Near East and then the world. They built up a terror regime that reminds me of the Nazis. However, regardless of them currently probably being the strongest terror formation, they are quite weak. It would be quite easy to dry them up.

But what do we do?

We buy their crude oil. Because it is less expensive. Thus, every filling of our cars metaphorically contains some IS fuel. They also get their weapons and equipment from us. This is how we get our “oil money” back. And we also provide those criminals with recruits from all over the world. Isn’t that a scandal?

But we block the realistically existing third World War out and also trivialize the climate change. Which actually might easily trigger the fourth World War!

As I see it, there are good reasons to believe the scientists. Especially if varieties of disciplines and schools come up with identical results. It looks like the detrimental effects caused by the climate change will be even more fundamental than the perhaps 75 million traffic fatalities since the end of WW-II.

The resulting environment war would probably be WW-IV. It will probably bring deprivation on two levels. The sacrifices nature demands from us through ever increasing numbers of catastrophes on various levels. And the others, those who will fall in the war between the “early losers” and the “not yet losers”.

And, of course, yet again we hope that we will not be among “early losers“. After all, we are luckily living in a rather “fortunate climate zone”. Now isn’t that rather reproachable? And are you sure that this is not perhaps a misconception?
Yet here, too, there is no chance for shared programs and mutual agreements. Nowhere. Neither nationwide, nor world-wide. Mind you, the environment conference starting in Paris in a few weeks is probably the very last chance to avoid the worst case scenario.

But we ignore the really existing third world-war on our streets as we also ignore the threatening fourth world-war caused by the climate change. To make up for it, we wet our pants with fear of terrorism from an IS that, basically, is actually quite ridiculous. Instead of simply drying them up and dealing with the really important issues.

(Translated by EG)

I took the picture of the flag from Wikipedia. It is black, the colour of death. The picture was entered on October, 15, 2006 and downloaded by Russavia.
As I see it, we should beware of black flags. Incidentally, I do not like any kinds of flags. But if you absolutely insist on a flag, then I would prefer the lively, multi-coloured ones!

Roland Dürre
Monday November 23rd, 2015

The Arcis-Vocalisten – December, 22nd, 2015 !!!

Here it comes again in the IF Blog: Advertising – for the unique choir Arcis-Vocalisten!


Because their music is inimitable and because I rather like Evelyn – who sings there with heart and soul.

22.12. evelyn arciss

For us, Bach is like having been present when God created the world (Friedrich Nietzsche).

Johann Sebastian Bach is a must during the Christmas season like the Christmas tree, almond biscuits and butter sweets. Even as early as with the first alto-aria “Bereite Dich Zion” and the Choral “Wie soll ich Dich empfangen?”, Bach’s great music fills us with great joy every year. Intense drumbeats, roaring trumpets, brilliant flutes and oboes, the murmuring bassoons, the satin sound of the violins, violas, violoncellos and contrabasses, all welcome the new-born child Christ.

You definitely want to be there!

(Translated by EG)

For IF Blog readers who want to visit the concert, we have a special discount…
Just send me an email titled “Bach-Christmas Oratorio”.

Now I returned home from Dornbirn and it is the weekend. It was a truly strong week. First, I spent two nights in Nuremberg with a long day on the #DOAG2015 and then, between Thursday and Saturday, I enjoyed a very intense PM-Camp in Dornbirn #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, the two hashtags will link you to the tweets for the two events. It is well worth taking a look.

Last Wednesday, on the DOAG 2015, I was again permitted to speak. I talked about:

“Creative Room – Healthy Room!“

Here are the picture by Christian I used and the short outline of my presentation.

"created by Christian Botta"

“created by Christian Botta“

Today: More often than not, the work situation in enterprises seems to be insufferable. There are (many) employees who mentally already have given notice. The salary is considered compensation for personal suffering. But then, they have neither the courage nor the strength to say: “Love it, change it, or leave it“.
Useless meetings, feeling powerless and the burnout syndrome are the consequences. Now they want to do something about it, see also: BGM (company health management).
Consequently, we find change all around us. Conferences are replaced by anti-conferences. I prefer attending barcamps…

And I will now present the story of my presentation. I had to hand in a short version. Then the documents for the presentation. Also the transparencies. But I had none. Because I always speak without.

Christian Botta of VisualBraindump made a picture protocol of my presentation. Thanks a lot!

Today, I give my presentation. Perhaps I will call it “Complexity, Innovation and Burnout in Enterprises”. In fact, that would have been a better title than the one in the proceedings. Or perhaps “How to Keep Humans Species-Appropriate”. Because, basically, I was talking about the same principle as the “key speaker” Gunter Dueck.

I started with the impressions for the presentation from early this year. That was when Dietmar Neugebauer (President of the DOAG) asked me if I would again like to speak in November on his conference. I certainly gladly accepted. Then there were the thought-provoking impulses. One of them was OpenInnovation at InterFace AG , realized with the Nuremberg FAU, chair of Prof. Möslein. During the final event of this project, there was a presentation by Dora on “creative rooms”. After this, it became pretty clear to me how rooms (and organisations) should “look” if you want them to provide innovative inspiration – both physically and virtually.

Apparently, they have something to do with participation, respect, eye-level, culture, breaking patterns, joy and happiness.

A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with Dr. Marius Poersch. Marius is a psychologist, head doctor in a hospital with many patents who have suffered from burnout. He wants to be more than just a “repair shop”, so he also does some scientific research on what humans and organisations can do in order to minimize the burnout risks. After his presentation, I have a good idea what a “burnout-free” room should look like.

Surprisingly, but basically also logically, the result is: the rooms are exactly the same. The “room” as described by Dora for promoting innovation looks exactly like the one presented by Marius for keeping us healthy.

So what are the reasons for all this frustration we suffer from? We assume it is the complexity that gives us fear and the bureaucracy that is generated in our society as its consequence, trying to give us some dubious sense of security.


As an example: my own frustration as an entrepreneur (because at oracle in Nuremberg), the story of DocuMaker and the Federal Agency for Employment.

Failure due to stupid rules, the Oracle middleware product manager does not know the product, prediction about the future of Oracle by Larry Ellision … lots of frustration, immense loss for all. Thank God no Distress for us, because the success would have been Oystress.

A complex world with quick change gives us problems. And then there are the processes, rules, protocols, processes that are supposed to help with the complexity but all they do is make life harder for us.

About the Berlin PM Camp (complex versus complicated).

There were also many abstract discussions about the difference between complex and complicated. According to Niels Pflaeging, it is quite simple: as long as it is just complicated, the classic methods of project management and problem solving can help us. But this is no longer true when it gets complex.
I think it is not as easy as that. I did a session with Maik Pfingsten (Blogger, PoD-Cast) and rather enjoyed Maik’s definition of complexity (from the perspective of the system engineer)
x – axis: degree of complicatedness; 
y – axis: speed of change;
The more you get of both, the more “complex” it is;
I extended this to also include the 
z – axis: “human factor” degree in the project.
This means: the more complicated and dynamic and the more of a human factor you have, the more complex it is …

Seneca said: Philosophy does not mean talking, it means acting.

What can we do? Whenever it gets more and more complicated, when matters change ever faster and when the human factor becomes more and more apparent?

There are no cooking recipes or Best Practice, neither are there any methods or technologies. All I can offer are a few ideas to think about.

As an engineer, software person and technologist.
Let me refer you to the: Agile Manifesto (2001)As an entrepreneur, manager and leader:
Hans Ulrich – Eight Theses on Change in Management (1982)Insertion:
Here are his “Eight Theses on Change in Management” in a nutshell with a few additional notes:

  1. Accept not knowing and not being able to predict the future as a normal state of affairs!
    Well, you simply cannot predict the future …
  2. Broader horizons for your thinking!
    Oppose “You cannot do this” or “This is how we always did it”. Do not suppress the freedom of ideas. Share knowledge.
  3. Move in the category “both”, instead of “either-or”!
    Black-and-white is out, colourful is in.
  4. Think multi-dimensionally! 
Your balancing of values must be ethically responsible. Basically, humans can only deal with three ideas at one time.
  5. Use self-organization and self- control as your basic formative model for your enterprise!
    Responsibility, subsidiarity
  6. Consider management as a function that gives and promotes meaning!
New management image.
  7. Focus on what is really important!
    Work economy.
  8. Make use of group dynamics!
    Cultures, symbols, rites, rituals …

As a human being:
John Izzo – five things you should consider before you die!
I strongly recommend the Review  of the book.

Or the experiences made by Bonnie Ware:
Here are the five things he found out people wanted:

  1. “I wish I had had the courage to live my own life“
  2. “I wish I had not worked so much”
  3. “I wish I had had the courage to show my emotions“
  4. “I wish I had remained in contact with my friends“
  5. “I wish I had permitted myself more happiness“

Those are the five insights Bonnie Ware collected when he accompanied dying persons. As I see it, there is a lot to be learned for life from these statements …

Yet none of all these things will help you if you are not prepared to actually live. Something is still missing.


One of my mentees works for Osram: They are already in a permanent crisis, anyway. Additionally, their move from near the 1860 stadium to Garching looked a little stupid to me. My mentee lives in Unterhaching. His daily way to work is now four times as long as it used to be. He feels how his mood gets worse and worse. .
He arrives at work in a bad mood and returns home in a bad mood. Dialogue: How is your boss? – He is in a good mood! – What is he doing differently from you? – He rides his bike every morning from Trudering to Garching! – So why don’t you, too ride your bike! – Cannot! – Cannot is not defined! 
He then bought an e-bike and went to work riding it every day. And ever since then, he arrives at the office in a good mood, and the same is true for when he arrives at home. And he feels so much better …

In simple terms:
Our body needs exercise and fresh air. And time with nature. And you can have it so easily – with active mobility in everyday life. See also AktMobCmp.

Seneca, too, taught us: 
Follow the laws of nature.
(Seneca was a teacher who wanted to make his students successful and happy. Unfortunately, this has never been the first goal of my teachers).

How is anybody supposed to come to terms with his own life if he cannot even come to terms with his own mobility? And driving a car is definitely not something that makes you free, nor will it bring you fulfilment in life … (Even if that is what a seemingly overpowering industry tells us in a gigantic brainwashing process).

So: what we need is nice and regular exercise!

But not the kind of exercise I experienced after the Eldorado cinema in the Sonnenstrasse. I had tears in my eyes when I exited after having watched the great “Die Kinder der Mme Ann“. And just imagine, right across the street, there is a fitness studio on the first floor. It has huge windows … And you can see in the light of the windows how the persons do their “work-out”. According to the motto Work Hard, Play Hard, WORK OUT …

For me, this is a horror vision. Planning fitness like an entire life. So why not change your life! You will see it can be done. Because, as Seneca said:

The reason why we do not start doing something is not that it is hard. Instead: Things are hard because we do not do them.

(Translated by EG)

During my presentation, I made two more insertions: about terrorism and about the asylum seeker situation. And I gave a short summary of what caused both. But most importantly, I described why I am not at all happy with how we react to both problems. However, I will write two separate articles about how I feel about these issues in the near future.

Unser Bäcker in Putzbrunn

Our Putzbrunn bakery

On weekends, we enjoy the day and start it with a special breakfast. That is why I always ride my bike to the bakery, where you still get homemade pretzels.

I only know two bakeries in the south-east of Munich where this is still true. One of them is in Taufkirchen, the other in Putzbrunn. To get from my home in Neubiberg to the Schlank Bakery, I have to ride almost three kilometres. The Götz Bakery in Taufkirchen is around seven kilometres from home.

Both ways have nice cyclist’s paths. Especially if the weather is fine, riding to the bakery is a good way to begin the day. I pass baking houses. They warm up pretzels and other stuff. But that stuff is not tasty. Consequently, the shops are mostly empty. Using my two bakeries, on the other hand, I have to stand in the queue for quite some time (especially on weekends). Mostly, around thirty persons are ahead of me in the queue. And you can easily imagine how long it takes until they all have said what they want.

There is always quite a traffic chaos on the street in front of those two bakeries, caused by cars competing for parking places

Especially the elderly gentlemen and young ladies in their SUV-s know no mercy for humans and nature, just rolling over everything. You have to be careful where you park your bike. …

Yesterday (November, 14th, 2015) was the day after the Paris assaults and attacks. Again, I went to ride to the bakery. And I arrived around 9 a.m. – which is usually the worst time. And I was already prepared to have a long queue standing in front of me.

But no! No SUV-s! No cars on the parking places! Total quiet inside the shop. Everything looked deserted. And I was served immediately.

I spent the entire way back wondering what might have been the reason for this. But I could not come up with an explanation. Somehow or other, I never seem to think of what is most obvious!

Later, I called my friend Christian of VisualBrainDump. And I told him about this strange phenomenon. He knew the answer immediately:

Naturally, everybody is sitting in front of their TV sets today.

Well, that sounds absolutely plausible to me. Except I would never have thought of it. It is crass, isn’t it? Something happens in the world. And what do my dear fellow compatriots do? They leave their SUV-s in the garage and eagerly watch the sensational events on the nearest TV set.

This morning, Sunday, everything was back to normal and I was standing in the queue as always.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 12th, 2015

The World’s Biggest Project?

Today (November, 12th, 2015), there was an SZ article about a mega project in the “knowledge” category. It was titled: “India links its rivers” and written by Robert Gast. Let me cite:

India links its rivers

In order to distribute the water reserves of the country more evenly, they plan to build 30 channels and 3,000 water reservoirs. It would necessitate moving half a million people.

As early as December, the Indian Government wants to promote the realization of a gigantic infra structure project. Over the next years, they plan to build 3,000 water reservoirs and 30 channels with a total length of 15,000 kilometres. For instance, they want to connect 37 rivers on the sub-continent. The project, which is assumed to cost more than 150 billion Euros, is a reaction to the fact that there is extremely much rain in some regions of India while other regions have extreme aridity. The west and north of the country regularly fight against floods, while the districts in the east and south of the sub-continent again and again suffer under the drought.

KrishnaRiverConsequently, India started as early as ten years ago making plans to connect the great rivers of the country. Also, they want to pond rivers, especially in the Himalaya region. This is how engineers want to store excess water and then transfer it to dry parts of the country. They plan to re-route 174 billion litres of water each year. Farmers could then work their fields in times of drought, as well, says the Indian Authority for Water Development – who promote the channel building project. On top of this, they also plan to install water-driven power stations with a total capacity of 34 gigawatts.

However, the project meets resistance among the citizens. According to a study done by Upali Amarasinghe of the International Water Management Institute of 2008, more than half a million persons would probably have to be relocated. Environmentalists think the project intervenes too strongly with nature. For instance in the tiger reservation of Panna. After all, they plan to pool the river Ken and re-route it to merge with the Betwa river through a 230 kilometre channel as part of the channel project. Yet this would cause the flooding of parts of the national park and 1,600 families would have to move. Additionally, the 32 tigers living in the reservation would become totally isolated from other preserved areas. Regardless, the Indian government is determined to run the project. In September, they already inaugurated a new waterway between the rivers Krishna and Godavari in the south-west of India.

For me, this article was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, this project might well be the world’s biggest project. Secondly, there are many similar projects all over the world. They all want to facilitate access to water, initiating huge geographical changes. Because water gets more and more dear. And perhaps India does not really have a choice if they want to cope with the expected climate changes like long droughts and extreme amounts of rain.

Except that, to me, this all does not really sound sustainable in terms of our planet. Perhaps India and all these many other countries planning similar projects can postpone their collapse by a few decades. But in the end, it reminds me a little of the “thinking in terms of the next three months” as practiced by the concerns. Except that, in politics, the three months are a little longer and perhaps closer to a five-year period.

Perhaps we should, along with these projects that might well be necessary, try to heal the worst destructions we subjected our planet to during the last hundred years?

(Translated by EG)

About the author:
Robert Gast, born in 1984, is editor in the science sector of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He studied physics and wrote his diploma thesis about Gamma Radiation in Space. Afterwards, he worked on a nine-months grant of the „Initiative Scientific Journalism “. This initiative gave scientists a journalistic training. Before signing up with SZ, he had worked for some time editing the “Zeit”, as well as the “Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung”, the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”, the “Deutschen Presse-Agentur dpa” and the “Spektrum der Wissenschaft”. In 2013, he was awarded the Georg von Holtzbrinck Preis für Wissenschaftsjournalismus (category: young academics).

About the photo:
Krishna River Gorge by Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India, 13 January 2008, own work of Zeman, the file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

On November, 8th, Sina Trinkwalder wrote on Facebook.


You simply have to sit down and realize; what currently happens in Germany is not “like 1933”.

In those days, the people followed a rat-catcher, because there was mass unemployment. They went onto the streets hoping for a better life.

Today, the people follow a rat-catcher, regardless of the fact that, officially, with 2.6 million unemployed, we have full employment. They populate the streets because they fear they might have to share even a slight morsel of their unjustified wealth.

That is the difference. Both are comprehensible. Both are condemnable. And the social community must oppose both

I found it impossible to resist, so I commented:

I rather like the term “unjustified wealth”. And I would find it a good idea for us to, at long last, step by step reduce our “reserves in wealth”. Incidentally, I find going places by car a good metaphor for unjustified affluent behaviour.

Wouldn’t that be a good place to start renouncement? – See also

The reply was:

Do I understand correctly: if you work in car production, that makes you an “unjustified affluence profiteer”?

Again, I could not resist and replied somewhat polemically:

Well, naturally the conclusion “if you work in car production” is wrong in many logical/dialectical ways. For me, everyone who takes more from the world than his due is an “unjustified affluence profiteer”. And I am afraid we all who write so wisely belong in that category. As to cars: I actually do believe that it is possible today to use your competence, creativity and intelligence for more important things than for building cars. After all, cars kill more than 1.3 million persons world-wide and, for example in Bavaria, the motorised individual traffic (cars) generates more carbon dioxide per capita than would be allowed even if you even wanted to preserve the current situation.

But I truly believe that the term “unjustified wealth“ as entered into the discussion by Sina is a very central term. So far, I never used it. It gave me pause.

I believe you should extend it to read “unjustified collective wealth”. And we should never forget that, basically, whatever we do is oriented towards the goals of “protecting our acquired possession” and “preserving habits that are often nonsense (and sometimes even detrimental)”.

If, however, we continue as before, a world that was once worth living in for me will probably be lost very few generations from now. And that is not an attractive idea in my book, because in some way or other, I see myself as part of an entity – and that also includes the dimension of time. Maybe we already lost our nice world …

(Translated by EG)

Dr. Andreas Zeuch came to speak. On the IF Forum of October, 29th, he gave a presentation:


Experience him


For those who could not come, here is his presentation on the “DEMOCRATIC ENTERPRISE”:



Andreas Zeuch is also the author of several books, for instance Alle Macht für Niemand – Aufbruch der Unternehmensdemokraten

CLOU/HIT at InterFace Connection

How Wolf and I eventually ended up doing it ourselves.

During the Berlin PM Camp, I related the stories of four projects from my vintage time. They were all very important to me. And I told you here  that I was going to describe them all in the IF blog.

if-logoProjekt 4

Now comes the story of my fourth project:

Even before 1983, I was fed up with working for others. At the time, I was still a Softlab employee. This is where I learned to extend my one-sided competence – with the exception of a little SNA (IBM), it was mostly Siemens technology – and learn more IBM technologies. In particular, however, I was able to learn about the different systems of the “intermediate data technology”.

I am talking machines which, dependent on their storage unit, consisted of two to three parts and had the size of Bosch refrigerators. That means they were a lot smaller and also a lot simpler than mainframe. At the time, those were especially fashionable. Consequently, there was an enormous amount of European and non-European competition with differing and often very proprietorial technology. Kienzle and Nixdorf were also among those aspiring MDT enterprises. And in those days, even in a city like Munich, the same software was developed synchronously in different enterprises for different technologies.

I am sure that Softlab was one of the most innovative German “software houses”. They, too, had a proprietorial system, the famous PET-Maestro. For me, this was the first system without the permanent frustration of data loss, because the Pet-Maestro already worked in symbols – and every symbol was immediately transferred to the hard drive. Consequently, you had a current warm start with every reset – and nothing was lost! It was such a relief to finally no longer have to fear data loss at all time when working, for example, with EDT or EDOR.

On other fronts, I also learned a lot of new things at Softlab. This is particularly true for the business sector: how to formulate an offer so that it contains the least possible risk, how to talk with the VB-s of the big enterprises (Bull, ICL, IBM, Nixdorf, Siemens – even at that time, nothing was going without the big ones), or how to write studies.

This is how I became a paper tiger (totally unrelated to paper tiger, the famous Chinese theatre movement). And in those days, it was (still) true that you got better pay per hour as a paper tiger than as a programmer. Thus equipped, I wanted to do it myself. Yet I did not dare to start all alone. So I went in search of a partner. I looked for and identified persons in my vicinity who I found nice and competent. And who perhaps also wanted to found a company. There were quite a few. But again and again, nothing came of it.

Until Wolf (Geldmacher) came. Wolf was considerably younger than I. Technologically, he was super. And our view of things was similar. Meaning that our values, expectations, interests and needs complemented each other. I was more the old style programmer – and Wolf had the knowledge about everything that was modern and new in IT. Also, Wolf knew absolutely no compromises when it came to quality. And if anybody had common sense, then it was Wolf. And I guess those are the most important factors: competence, common sense, quality awareness. Then you only need to be a nice guy…

Consequently, we founded the short version of InterFace Connection. We inherited the InterFace from Peter Schnupp, the “Connection” was our own contribution. That is what we wanted to be together with our employees: a “connection” that sticks together and later shares its success. We founded the enterprise in 1983 and started business on April, 1st, 1984.

But then, the enterprise is not the project I want to talk about. The project was about developing a product. And there were two reasons why Wolf and I wanted to have a product: firstly, we were convinced that a product would be something to be proud of. It creates an identity. Secondly, a product is easier to scale than a service.

Besides, in our eyes, the then well-established concept of “body leasing” did not have a future. Basically, we still believed in the law and as founders, it was pretty obvious to us that the common form of body leasing was exactly what, according to the AÜG, was simply illegal.

It did not take us long to become quite convinced that, in those days, Unix was the best basis for future products. Also, we agreed without hesitation that, basically, everything you needed for using computers was still missing in Unix. And in particular, we saw that a text system was sadly missing. And that the first thing you would have to develop rather quickly on Unix with its new data displays (in raw or cooked mode) and especially with the language c was a comfortable typewriter.

Since we had a huge amount of respect for the production and successful marketing of a product, we started the development of the product in cooperation with InterFace Computer. It did not take long before we had a small success in the SINIX (the Siemens Unix) environment. Consequently, the development of the product was moved to us and the InterFace Computer was put in charge of the ports and the sales on the “remaining market”.

And in no time, we also had a two-digit number of team members, all of them very young. In general, they were students. They had to have programming competence and be nice. And they had to cope with the work, regardless of their double burden of studying and working. Nothing else mattered to us.

Since Wolf and I (along with a few young employed computer scientists with academic diplomas whom we got through aforementioned body leasing and whose hours cost between 150 and 120 DM) financed the entire development, the young persons were rather free to come and go as they pleased. The only control was our assistant Heidi (Kaindl). Heidi was quite in charge of all the young persons, taking good care that everybody actually worked. The only times Wolf and I met them was during meetings (soon after our foundation, women, too, were employed).

In those days, Wolf had the role of SCRUM-Master and more (even though the word SCRUM did not yet exist). He told the team about quality. And that, first and foremost, they produced quality not for our customers, not for our sales partners Siemens and not for the InterFace Connection. Instead, being honest programmers, they needed to produce quality in their own interest. And Wolf had rather high standards and was very strict. If someone was not able or willing to deliver quality, he or she had no future at the “Connection”. But Wolf also protected the team, for instance when I tried to limit resources. And he made sure that we invested were necessary.

My task was perhaps that of the Product Owner. At least in the beginning. When I had been a young boy, I had been forced to learn stenography and typing. I used to love stenography, because it is a beautiful way of writing. It does not hurt your hand, as normal writing does. But I hated the typewriter. And I knew exactly how a good editing machine would have to look. I had also written it down in the time of our foundation.

When things got more complicated and, for instance, CLOU with its “embedded sql“ was added to our repertory, I transferred the role of Product Owner to our customers. And that was one of my best decisions ever. Because the customers actually were able to tell us their ideas about an automated chip processing. They showed us how to continue on our way.

One of our rules was that all employees – with the exception of Heidi – were able to program. Heidi was our first and most important customer. As soon as the first HIT version was available, we confiscated “nroff-makros”, her “office vi”, and she had to use HIT – which, incidentally, she did not appreciate at all. After all, the vi solution had not been so bad. Later, however, she learned to love her HIT. Surprise, surprise! After all, she was one of those who built it!

All other colleagues on the HIT team had to work hands-on. In other words, all of them had to be able to program, find errors and, above all, co-work (team work).

We were very early users of tools that would be commonly used a lot later. But this was only true for tools that actually made sense, such as “lint” for the quality control of our code or “sccs” for the source code administration. I am pretty sure that, time and again, we were the first in Munich. We were also earlier than most of the others using a “tracker” and an automatic “built”. But we never used planning software. Just as we always took pains to avoid “bureaucrazy”.

So all of us involved in the project were programmers. And we actually always coordinated in the team who was going to develop what. The personalities of the people involved were very diverse. But then, we also had the magic programmer. It was not entirely in jest that we called him “God”. But the first rule was that we were a team. Everybody helped everybody. Our motto was: “one for all, all for one”. Nobody was ever left in a lurch. And whenever you did not know a way out, you asked your colleague. Pair-programming in the strict sense did not exist, because it went without saying that this was practiced quasi automatically. Consequently, there were always several persons who knew the sources of the others. It was like an overlapping system that worked well some way or other without many words.

Of course, we had a rather complicated system with an awful lot of modules, interfaces, tools, API-s in our development. In total, a huge number of lines of code was produced. There were modules for the virtualization of keyboards, terminals or printers. We had developed the first National Language Support. Later, it became part of the X-Open UNIX implementation. We had complicated modules and modules everybody feared, as well as boring modules. Once in a while, we also had to find errors in the compilers we used.

The team always decided among themselves who was going to take on which task. Everything was part of the project: our value bank, mostly constituting of OpenSource components for source code administration, for the Built and the partly automated test, for the ports to the many end systems the Unix world then offered. Even producing the customer newsletter HITNews, which at the time was printed four times a year and determining the structure of the courses were part of it. Everything was done together, everyone .gave his best.

Naturally, once in a while there were situations when perhaps someone was unable to cope. Because maybe he did not yet have enough experience or perhaps he had underestimated the task. But then a colleague would help. The right person was always available. And when it was really necessary, there was still “God”.

Of course, everybody had his own role in the team. Each of us was a project manager and as such responsible for the appointments he had made. Some had more, others less. Each of us was a quality manager. Some more so, others less. Of course, there was something like a first contact for our customers and our partners. It was always a mutual decision (“who is the best for this job?”), but he remained in the team as a programmer. But, basically, every developer answered the questions of his customers. After all, they simply came into our office. The central bell rang, and whoever was the first to answer the telephone was talking to the customer.

Naturally, some of the colleagues were more concerned with integration, planning, configuration and the built-theme, the manual, … But every one of them was always fully integrated into the team in terms of technology.

But everybody always went back to programming. And everybody was responsible for top quality. For instance because they built automatic test environments simply as a part of the project. The responsibility was totally shared.

With the success came the necessity to have teachers for our product HIT/CLOU. During the first few years, all the developers also taught the courses. This was true for teaching the end users, the special users, the systems engineers, the operators and the programmers. Even the central persons, like Friedrich Lehn, the “father” of CLOU, taught courses where beginners were instructed on how to program CLOU.

There were instances when the developers did not appreciate this. After all, developing is much more important, isn’t it? But the courses were quite popular (because, after all, the colleagues knew what they were talking about, which certainly counterbalances the occasional “didactical” weakness). But the great thing about it was that our colleagues always knew exactly what the customer wanted and needed! This is how the customers as a whole became the Product Owners.
Due to these inter-disciplinary tasks, our colleagues grew both in technological competence and personality at enormous speed – that is also true for sales competence. More often than not, it was unbelievable how young students became experts with a huge self-esteem after a few months.

Without ever saying it out loud, we on our team understood even at that time that it is all about making all the persons in the team and in the enterprise look biggger instead of smaller. And to make them be part of everything and share everything. We knew that we often had to have really steep goals, often even bold goals. Otherwise, we would never have managed our product. But we also knew, especially in this situation, the importance of living a strong error tolerance.

The colleague in the team or the customer must never ever be the enemy or adversary. Instead, the only enemies were the challenge or the detrimental circumstances.

Wolf and I were the “management”. But we were more like visitors in our enterprise. After eight to ten hours with customers every day, we came back to our employees at home in the office for recreation. They were all our friends, it felt good to be near them. And they showed us all the great things they had, again, created. We gave our feedback and then disappeared to our next day of consultancy.

And whenever a nice result was achieved, we all celebrated. It was the best time of my life. We learned so much. We also learned that thinking normal and conservatively is often nonsense. For instance, I always wanted to deliver to our customers on time. And I had to learn that this is utter nonsense.

Because if you want to create something really innovative, you will learn again and again that deadlines do not make any sense at all. It simply will not work. If a deadline can absolutely not be met, then all that matters is a functioning communication and looking for a solution that satisfies the customer. Because when they are all in one boat and want to be a success together, then there is always a solution – and we found out that it can always be done.

I already hear your objection: 
Well, it might work for a small project. But what about a huge project?

To be sure, we were perhaps less than 50 persons. But the very same projects had failed with more than one huge concern. They had often used five times as many persons as we or even more. Expensive, experienced and highly qualified ones. But it did not work.

I believe it can be done in the same way if you have a huge or even a very huge project if many such great teams are linked and cooperate with good-will.

(Translated by EG)