Hans Bonfigt
Tuesday January 31st, 2017

Heuchler, Lügner und Claqueure:

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 29th, 2017

Painful Experience as a Democrat.

One of the reasons is probably the “oligarchy of the parties” (according to Karl Jaspers) that has taken (almost) all Europe into custody. More and more, we now “enjoy” the results of this development that has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few decades.

Besides, it really annoys me that the powers that are generally called lobbyists now have an overwhelming influence in society and politics. Lobbyism has become part of the system and rules and harms the common interest – often quite apparently at will. I witness all the time that the thus generated real (and often non-transparent) power structures ruthlessly sweep away the efforts and success of groups and individuals. The damage done to both humans and our future is willingly ignored, because more often than not, the only thing that counts for the powerful is money and power.

In addition, there is a historic (birth) defect. In most of the democracies I know, they (almost) always – directly or indirectly – vote for a boss. The elections determine who will be in power. It might be a caste or an individual. But I do not wish to hand power to a system or even to individual persons. Because it is not what modern times call for.

A short time ago, Niels Pflaeging twittered a question:
“All #leadership must be shared!“
Or
“
Is #leadership a collective and social phenomenon that is always present in social groups?“

In these sentences, I would probably have replaced the word #power by the word #leadership. But regardless: I rather like the first sentence and believe that the second sentence is outdated. Maybe it was true in former times, but such an image is not fitting for a world where sympathy, considerateness, democracy, freedom, equality, friendliness (towards fellow humans) reign instead of enmity, respect, participation, appreciation …

Enterprises and all other social systems do not need strong leaders. And this opinion of mine is older than the election of Trump for president. I do not like powerful persons, no matter if you call them president or chancellor. In my opinion, centres of power and power fights are less than optimal. They are something I personally find offensive, I am fed up with them. But on the other hand, behavioural patterns such as the “Mother Theresa” concept (total sacrifice for others) look suspicious to me. The same is true for persons who sacrifice themselves as martyrs for social, political or other goals.

Not only in political systems, I would wish to see coordinators who organize and build networks at the top. Social consensus about central topics must be worked out together and we (as the rulers – Souverän) must be given the opportunity to finally vote on alternatives and decisions that have been well prepared.

This might be our future. Today, however, I remain in the still unpleasant present in this respect and will describe the “pain I feel as a democrat” that actually even increased over the last few weeks. I was going to write a few satires in the “first person”, introducing some politicians. The first was going to be the SPD top politician Sigmar Gabriel. It was to read more or less like this:

“My name is Sigmar Gabriel. I am 57 years old and, until recently, I was Federal Minister for Economic Affairs. To this day, I do not know how I ever managed to get that job. After all, the only thing I did through all my life was teaching adults in union-loving enterprises and, above all, be a political functionary. And this CV made me Minister of Economic Affairs of the powerful FRG! And Vice-Chancellor! Well, it is surprising, but then, apparently, the success speaks in my favour, doesn’t it? Now they say I cannot lead the SPD into the electoral campaign as their top candidate. In fact, my party, those ungrateful villains, downgraded me because, allegedly, the people in Germany do not perceive me too positively. Regardless of the fact that I was a huge success and the German economy is booming as never before. And, basically, we have no unemployment, either. But then, I know about intrigues and power play. And everybody knows you cannot win them all. However, that is fine by me – Germany has become too small for me, anyway. Besides, you have better chances of a career in Europe, just look at comrade Schulz, the rogue. Consequently, I am now going to save the world and do a stunt as Minister of State of the FRG. After all, that is a nice job for a thorough-bred politician like me. Besides, I have wished for some time now to work a little less – after all, I am again going to be a father (which is no small achievement at my age). Being Minister of State is something I can do with one hand bound behind my back and I always wanted to do a little world-travelling, anyway. I am sure it will be a good experience for my baby if it cries and I can be away from home… “

This is where I will terminate my satiric remarks, because I feel it is not nice and rather cruel to write these kinds of things in the name of another person, even if, in cabaret, it is a commonly used form of satire. Writing like this will not alleviate my pain, because there are many reasons for those. Today, I will only tell you about my SPD pains. They are only a small part of my democratic ache. Basically, I understand less and less what happens at the SPD.

Let us start with the Federal President. When I was in grammar school, they taught us that the fathers of our constitution wanted the Federal President to come from among the people and that he/she should ideally not be a politician. It seems that – as so often at school – I misunderstood something. Article 55 of our constitution says:


(1) The Federal President may not be a member of the government or of a legislative body of the Federation or of a Land.
(2) The Federal President may not hold any other salaried office, or engage in any trade or profession, or belong to the management or supervisory board of any enterprise conducted for profit.


Well, those sentences are written in the present, aren’t they? That means my teacher was wrong and Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier can actually transfer directly from being a minister to Schloss Bellevue and Villa Hammerschmidt.

I have never met Walter Steinmeier. Regardless, primarily due to how he conducts himself and acts, I hold him in high respect. But he, too, spent his working life in the ivory tower of politics and that was also where his career was. He was very successful and as a reward, he got the ministerial posting to a high political office. It is quite possible that many persons considered him the last famous SPD person to have been highly regarded by all.

Now, they just go ahead and make him Federal President through (secret) party agreements. They continue to pull the strings. The post of Minister of State that thus becomes vacant is simply given to the not so well-loved Minister of Economic Affairs. His prodecessor – Brigitte Zypries – is an interim candidate  and even calls herself interim minister (Übergangskandidatin). All these things happen in times that cannot really be called politically easy. Is this in the best interest of the German population?

Because the people do not love him, the new Minister of State Sigmar Gabriel was no longer accepted as head of the party and also not made candidate for chancellor. In other words: he had to go. In front of the microphones, he says that, becoming a father, he wants to work a little less in the future. And on the very day after his inauguration, he flies to Paris where he meets obsolescent persons. No matter if you are well-loved or not, standing in the political limelight is even nicer if it is abroad.

But that is not all. The new SPD hope is a man who came to my attention mainly because he is politically unremarkable, but also because he is a very active “master at pulling strings”. He has been living the good life in the European Parliament ever since 1994. Before that time and partly also during that time, he was the major of Würselen (Nordrhein-Westfalen). In 2012, thanks to proportionality and secret agreements, he managed to become the Präsident des Europäischen Parlaments.

Since he seemed so unremarkable to me, I looked him up in Wikipedia. Now I would kindly ask all those who think about voting for SPD to look up the curriculum vitae (Lebenslauf) of Martin Schulz in Wikipedia. You can learn how, simply by being party member and representing their policy, you can make a career with just a few small tricks. It is a good example for the fact that in the SPD internal policy is more important for a career than being active in favour of social democracy.

For me Herr Schulz is a “Gabriel square“. Again, it gets painful: for me, Europe is so much more than just the EURO and the EU. To me, the new SPD top man looks like a symbol and metaphor for the poor state of the EU. An EU that is dominated by nations and economic interests and boycotted by small countries. There is no consensus about values, it is politically disrupted, mega bureaucratic and over-regulated. Basically, all nations want out, but they lack the courage. The EU that many see as something we cannot do without is a threat to a humane and democratic Europe of regions. But perhaps the EU and the SPD have something in common: they both seem to have forgotten the people of Europe.

Now they want Martin Schulz to save the SPD. A party we would badly need as general hope for a new democracy. I personally doubt that he, with his methods, can save the SPD. However, I am fairly convinced that he will not give new life to the idea of social democracy.

Neither is it any help for me that the USA now have Trump, which gives them totally different problems. Which means that my pain will not get any less acute.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday January 23rd, 2017

Inflation in Local Traffic

I did not pay too much attention to the latest Deutsche Bahn price increase at the time when the schedule changed from summer to winter. I just had made a mental note that the “Deutsche Bahn increases its prices for long-distance travelling by 1.3 per cent on average”. That is what the SZ, too, had written.

The Shuttle Munich-Nuremberg Today on Arrival at Nuremberg.

But it turns out that was a myth!

On Saturday, I wanted to go to Augsburg with three other persons. So I ordered a Bayern-Ticket on the internet. My eyes almost pop out: it now costs 25 €. A very short time ago, it was 23 €. That means it is more expensive by 2 €, which is an increase of around 9 %.

Well, I can survive that, can’t I? But then comes the other surprise: all travellers sharing my ticket (up to four are possible) used to cost 5 € per person. Now they cost 6 € per person. That is 20 % more.

Consequently, the Bayern Ticket for our small group is now 25 € plus three persons à 6 €, which is 25 € plus 18 €, in sum 43 €. Well, that is no less than the price I occasionally pay for two long-distance DB tickets to Sylt (for instance in February).

Formerly, I paid 23 € plus 3 persons times 5 €, which was 38 €. Consequently, the price for the four of us increased from 38 € to 43 €. Well that is 5 € more, which means an increase of 13 %.

I also admire the “rounded prices” they so easily come up with. To be sure, cents are inconvenient and more and more shops simply round the sum when you purchase products. But simply obscuring the first digit after the comma – after all, we are talking 10 cents, that used to be 20 Pfennige – is a little strange to my way of thinking.

Incidentally, there is also an inflation on special tickets for all kinds of things: with and without local traffic in transport associations, for special regions, between cities or for a maximum distance. This is how they make everything more complicated. And if you include the basic moon prices and the similarly introduced low prices (special offers in long-distance travel), then the price policy of Deutsche Bank gets more and more bizarre.

This is how empty the shuttle looks at 4 p.m. – I always carry my chrome book.

However, I only get annoyed once in a while and later continue going places by train, because, for me, there is simply no alternative to railways. Consequently, I am also going to Nuremberg and back with the Bayern Ticket today after having paid my 25 €. After all, the train is a good place to sit and answer all your emails and write all your articles. That is something you cannot do when driving a car.

Basically, driving a car is out of the question for me these days. According to social research, the majority of our people are embittered. I, too, would be bitter if I had to spend one or more hours behind the wheel of car each day. I prefer going by train and enjoy seeing how google waits in front of the A9 traffic jam. It is my morbid delight in the failure of a stupid system.

Going by bus would be an alternative to going by train. But that is not my idea of travelling. I am a little spoiled because of the mostly rather empty DB region trains and do not enjoy being squeezed into narrow busses that are often forced over the streets of this republic in self-suicidal mode by their drivers. Besides, meinBus and flixBus had to cut their networks considerably and drop quite a few connections from their list of destinations, because the venture capitalists who own the companies no longer felt like permanently making up for the deficit.

So here is what I will do: I will continue to go by train and hope that the density of train services with the resulting mostly empty trains will remain the normal state of affairs. …

Incidentally, the German railway is not the only company where these enormous price increases can be observed. You can also find it in public institutions and quality food, as well as with some everyday articles. And in real estate.

Yet now I hear that, allegedly, the inflation rate is still less than 2 %. Basically, I do not believe they lie to us on purpose. But I certainly do not believe the 1,X % – and I think they are not really interested in telling us that our savings dwindle. Which also means that the chasm between the rich and the poor continues to grow. We already have ample opportunity to see the consequences and can speculate on more of them to come.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

The shuttle to Munich on January, 23rd, 2017 at Nuremberg Central Station, platform 12.

Two Magazines I Like – Or: Paper that Deserves to be Read.

brand eins & enorm!

I started “blogging” and publishing my experiences and ideas in the IF blog in 2008. It was a true delight for me to primarily do this for myself. Then I enjoyed noticing how many readers I have and also liked the many events and contacts that developed from it. Then I looked for and found a few co-authors, not many of whom actually remain to this day.

IF-Blog.de was also responsible for me finding brand eins. But more on this later in this article.

The January 2017 Edition

The history (Geschichte) of  brand eins officially starts in August, 1999. In 2008, brand eins was already in its ninth year. In fact, the early stages of its history were even three years before that, in 1996. And yet, like many of my friends, I did not yet know anything about brand eins.

The beginning of the brand eins story was probably with an interview by Jost Stollmann (1996). At the time, Jost was the boss of Compunet; the InterFace Connection GmbH was twelve years old at the time. My personal connection with Jost Stollmann is not only that we are both IT enterprises. No: he was also one of Rupert Lay’s students.

At the time, Rupert drove a red Series-Three-BMW (including a 2.0-litre machine), which was rather extraordinary for a Jesuit pastor. In fact, his car looked a lot like my red Series-Three-BMW (including 2.3-litre machine). That was something we enjoyed very much. Rupert’s BMW, however, was not a business car, but a gift (or item on loan) from Jost. And Rupert very much delighted in his fast red BMW and especially in its origin.

Incidentally, Jost Stollmann remained faithful to brand eins – he gave more interviews with them (in 2009 and in 2012).

(Unfortunately, I could not find the 1996 interview anywhere. I would really like to read it. If any of you has a link or a pdf for it, you could make me happy by sending it).

Florian Prange, Entrepreneur and Treasurer of FÖS.

brand eins is something I first came upon through Florian. At the time, Dr. Florian Prange had just started working for InterFace as a senior consultant. He was a very refined, young and socially active type of person. Today, he has his own enterprise and is treasurer in the board of directors of FÖS (Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft), which is also a very interesting address.

Florian liked my articles and consequently pointed me towards brand eins. In his opinion, my articles deserved a few more readers – and he thought that maybe this could be achieved through brand eins.

In fact, I did not know about brand eins at the time, regardless of the fact that it had already been on the market for nine years. For managers, the “must” magazines were the Manager Magazin or the  Wirtschaftswoche. Both are anathema to me – and I saw that brand eins was totally different and much better.

Consequently, I was fascinated by brand eins and quite a few friends and business partners were given a copy or two of the magazine over time. Giving it to them was always a huge success – many had never heard about it and were surprised. They were happy to get totally new impulses.

It was even beneficial in terms of business. One of my friends (If-blog author Edwin Ederle) managed to be mentioned in one of their editions with his enterprise data2impact (Feine Klitsche). And the reviews (Rezensionen) on brand eins I wrote in IF-blog for quite a few years were also often read.

Frau Gabriele Fischer Giving a Presentation for InterFace (2009)

This is also how I first met Gabriele Fischer, the founder of brand eins. My contact with her led to a great presentation by Frau Fischer at the IF-Forum.

Unfortunately, Frau Fischer did not want to become a “Youtube-Toussie“ (this is how she herself formulated it), which means we cannot offer you a video documentation of her excellent presentation.

And this is how posterity will really miss something very important.

brand eins still exists today – and it is now the established business magazine, not only for managers! And it is still the only paper I deem worthy of reading. …

Wrong!

I should have written:  Was. Because now I found enorm . That is a magazine dealing more with life than with business.

Here is how it happened. On Friday one week ago, I was introduced to Peter Felixberger (who, incidentally, is good friends with Gabriele Fischer). Among other things,  Peter was also the founder of changeX.

Today, he is programming manager of Murmann Publishers. He is the editor and responsible for the edition of kursbuch.edition and of the magazine enorm, as well as publisher of »Kursbuch auf Weltreise« (Goethe-Institut). And there are many other things he does on top of that. My friend Andreas Zeuch also published his latest book  at Murmann.

On that Friday, I had a wonderful conversation with Peter Felixberger. I noticed that there are many similarities between our ideas of value, interests and needs. Consequently, it was very nice for me to listen to him. He really made me quite enthusiastic about his publishing company and his products.

He also showed me enorm, which is a magazine directed at the age group between 20 and 40, but in my estimation it will find and has already found many followers among the younger and older readers.

I can easily imagine enorm in less than ten years being as much of a success as brand eins is today. Consequently, I will now give you a short mini review of the current edition 06 (December/January 2016/2017).

What is it that fascinates me about enorm?

There are two elements that fascinate me: the basic concept of the magazine and the topics.

I would say the basic concept is one of fairness and considerateness.

I rather like the topics because everything I find in the magazine is of high relevance for me. The structure is GET-UNDER-WAY, BECOME-ACTIVE and LIVE.. Under the subsection “Against All Odds”, I find a beautiful collection of topics that I consider extremely important today. After all, enorm has been available since January 2010. You will find all the editions since 2010 in the archive archive on their website. Also full of important topics. Many articles, however, are “not yet set public” – dependent on the edition. I find that reasonable, because especially if you write about important topics, you should also be able to earn money with what you write. Besides, there is still enough to read.

Now I wonder if it is perhaps a good idea to make some enorm editions gifts to my friends and business partners – as I formerly did with brand eins. Especially in the departments with the impossible name “Human Resource“ (HR), enorm might perhaps be extremely helpful in small and big German enterprises when it comes to better understanding the values, expectations, interests and needs of the employees. And there is probably no enterprise that could not potentially benefit from such understanding.

Withbrand eins, it was possible to read all archived articles for free. That seems to be a thing of the past. But I find many brand eins articles on the internet – see also the two Jost Stollmann interviews. And the Inspiration section on the brand eins website also looks very attractive to me.

Incidentally, it is also very rewarding to follow both magazines on twitter. Here are the “accounts“:
@brandeins and @enorm_magazin. So: #FF!

Buy and Pay!

I think it is a matter of fairness to, once in a while, also buy paper articles. If you do not wish to read it yourself, you can make a gift of it. And that will inspire other persons.

So here is what you want to do: walk to the kiosk on February, 24th and buy the next enorm edition.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

or:
If production nd development chains become too complex, they might easily break (down).

I got the ideas for this article during a short discussion about whether or not our developed society might – technologically – regress into the pre-electrical era. The person I discussed it with thinks such a thing is not possible. This firm believe made me thoughtful.

A small brother and a very small brother of the flat package I describe. The telephone shows how small the individual parts are 🙂

In the early 1970ies, I studied mathematics and computer science at Munich Technical University. I was also a student working for Siemens. After all, they had great computers and students could really make good money, considering the times.

My working place was in the “Koppstrasse” camp buildings. Our tests were conducted in the Feurich-Building – which was in the Siemens AG central building at Hofmann-Straße. Life in the camp was great, it was truly an F&E atmosphere, just like you would wish to find it today with a good start-up.

I already described my first project in the IF-Blog. It was about calculating the biggest possible Mersenne prime numbers. The task was one for people who liked working by themselves.
Then I became more and more part of the team and almost intoxicated by the challenges of our task. Together with other colleagues, I developed the PALOG-A- and PALOG-B systems.

PALOG is short for “PrüfAutomat für LOGik”. A PALOG-A device was supposed to test the function of “maxi flat modules” that were built serially. These modules had various functionalities in big computers. The functionality and correctness of the underlying logic had already been tested.

All we had to do was check if the serial production was error-free and if the manufactured components rendered the desired results reliably. I will explain the extended function of PALOG-B later in this text.

A maxi flat module is a huge board; it is rather broad and thick, but not very high. The boards you see on the picture are from a later time and were a lot smaller.

On one side, a maxi flat module had 128 pegs that had to be pressed into the rear wall of the big computer. The computer fed the board with digital patterns following the number of pegs, then the board returned a result and further processed it.
(I might be wrong and the number of pegs was only 64, but I seem to clearly remember 128.)

On the surface, the board was full of electronic modules that had a few larger or many smaller feet. These feet were pressed into the pre-arranged holes of the board. The entire construction was then brazed and soldered from underneath. In case of serial production, it was done by a dipping solder bath.

Sometimes, the building modules on the board we used had been developed and produced by Siemens. Some of them had to be bought. I particularly remember chips by Motorola that sometimes cost up to 1,000 DM.

If some of what I said here is not correct, please forgive me. I never specialized in hardware, instead always developing software.

The placement and soldering processes were far from trivial. Consequently, it was absolutely possible – and it happened quite frequently – that these maxi flat board modules rendered no or erroneous post-manufacturing results. Sometimes the individual parts delivered along with the products were also faulty.

But how can you find out about this? How can you test such a maxi flat board module?

Our method was quite simple. We sent bit patterns into the objects to be evaluated and then checked if the answer was the right (expected) one. Naturally, for reasons of efficiency, you cannot conduct such a test for all kinds of input patterns. It was the task of our software to generate relevant patterns that made it possible to prove with as few test steps as possible that the logic of the maxi flat board module worked correctly.

Back to the younger and smaller brothers of the maxi flat board module.

To this end, it was mounted in the PALOG-A machine and sent over the 128 pegs according to their functionality. The answers were compared with the desired results. If the actual test patterns were identical to the desired ones for all test patterns, then it was validated that the maxi flat board module worked without a glitch.

Seeking and finding the relevant test patterns was not at all easy and we developed it from the functionality following a rather “mathematical” procedure. The programming was a “cross” procedure on BS1000 and soon also on BS2000.

The actual patterns, along with the correct answers, were generated on process computers of the 300 series. Incidentally, they had a 6-bit assembler with two accumulators beautifully named PROSA. The “three-hundred-computers” were reputed to be incredibly fast.

The 306 was the top model. But even this Siemens machine that, at the time, was considered the fastest ever, easily took a week or more for calculating the necessary patterns.

In those days, the computer rarely ran for an entire week without breaking down. Mostly, it would break down within such a long time period at least once. Consequently, the software had challenges besides the algorithmic one, such as the reloading of the program in case of a system breakdown. At the time, this was not at all a matter of course.

Well, so far so good. At least, PALOG-A allowed a reliable validation about whether or not a maxi flat board module was free of errors. But quite frequently, we had poor product quality. What to do with that? The very fact that the construction elements were so expensive was a discouragement against destroying or dismantling them. Not much would have been won by this, anyway. Consequently, it was desired that all of them can be repaired.

If you wish to repair an error in a complicated flat board module, you will first have to find out where exactly on the board it is. In our case, you cannot simply solve the problem by logical thinking or code reading as in a program. Neither did we have a debugger. After all, the question is which individual part of the module is faulty, which soldering does not work, or similar problems …

This is where our system PALOG-B came in. Whenever a PALOG-A maxi flat board module was discovered to be faulty, it was transferred to the PALOG-B system. As soon as it arrived there, it was subjected a (so-called) PFAD procedure, i.e., it was processed with totally different test patterns. The returned data made it possible to circle the error on the board. This is how we managed to correct all possible mistakes by multiple circling. Afterwards, the board was again tested with PALOG-A – and if it worked, we celebrated.

I am sure you can easily imagine why the procedure was called PFAD. It is German for PATH and all the different input patterns had to run through the various paths. And as soon as you determined which of the many possible paths does not function, you are a lot closer to finding the bug.

I tried to describe the procedure as simple and comprehensible as possible. In reality, it was a lot more complicated and based on know-how that had been developed and handed down over many years.

Our software was only a small part of the design and construction software necessary for the efficient development and production of IT systems. At Siemens AG, they continued to work in huge steps. A few years later, the Siemens AG had an extensive work bench consisting of many software systems for the development of their chips. It was probably far superior to all the competition.

Unfortunately, I forgot the abbreviation, but I do remember that the application allegedly was the world’s most complicated software solution and contained the most lines of code of all the known programming systems.

And then the downward spiral for the data processing area started and all the know-how disappeared.

But then who cares about the “delights of yesterday”?
Let gone-byes be gone-byes!

I can easily imagine that the know-how and toll chain you need to develop and produce an Intel processor or an IBM Power today are by far more of a challenge than the rather limited flat board modules.

And it is quite possible that, today, not only a high tech processor, but also a “simple” electric motor or power generator simply cannot be produced without a similarly complex machinery. And what happens if – for whatever reasons – such a machinery breaks down?

This is where the circle closes and I return to where this article started. The total immersion of these tool and production chains in all technologies and sectors – chemistry, energy, farming, mechanics, pharmacy, physics,… – I can easily imagine that our system might collapse and we will have to start at ZERO. And that may not be easy.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I wrote the technological issues totally without checking back in any documents, only relying on my memory. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not really much help with such exciting computer science topics. I find it a pity that, especially when it comes to the very technology that made Wikipedia possible, there is mostly no sufficient description of said technology to be found on its pages.

So please accept my apologies if I occasionally did not remember the correct abbreviations or made similar mistakes. There was nowhere I could look up anything that could have helped my memory. So much the more would I be grateful for any corrections and notes on the technology I described.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 17th, 2017

Prognoses are Difficult, Especially if they Concern the Future.

Complexity made by Visual-Braindump.de.

This sentence is not only said to have been spoken by Karl Valentin , but also by Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Niels Bohr, Kurt Tucholsky (they all were rather intelligent persons). It clarifies a lot: prognoses are not at all easy – and the same is true for planning ahead. After all, planning is the little sister of the prognosis.

On Friday (February, 10th), I will give a presentation at high noon during the FORUM AGILE ADMINISTRATION 2017 in Stuttgart. The amusing title is:

“The inevitable unpredictability of the future“

Naturally, such a title was not something humble me came up with. Still, I find it suitable. After all, it sounds like the intellectual formulation of the simple truth that the future is not predictable. Just as they teach and write in the academic sociology and/or politics circles in their overblown way.
How am I supposed to plan for the future if I cannot even see the future? I will show you with a few examples how very seldom this will work.

I also would like to tell you how private enterprises will always make themselves scarce when matters get a little problematic. They are particularly keen on making themselves scarce if they managed to privatize good profit over many years and if then, as their life cycle nears its end, big deficits are on the horizon. Of course, deficits are something they want to burden society with, rather than face them themselves.

Whenever we are talking public agencies, this is not quite so easy. They have to survive disruptive situations, even in situations when a private enterprise would simply give up. Because life has to go on. Consequently, they need to maintain resilience, or do all they can in order to develop “anti-fragility”.

To be sure, resilience and anti-fragility are also just two additional buzzwords. They are supposed to make it clear that agile and flexible structures offer a huge advantage in times of change. And that strict processes can then easily kill a system.
I already have many ideas for my presentation. Now I am in the structuring and refining stage. I look forward to my presentation and my audience and would be delighted if I could welcome a few familiar faces in Stuttgart.

So here is all the information on the event. On the front page, you will find the program:

 

And details for the booking process can be found at the back of the page:

So I look forward to seeing you in Stuttgart.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 15th, 2017

PM Camp Meeting 2017 – #pmcamp – Jan, 20th, 2017

It is certainly not breaking news, but next Friday, we will have our 2017 PM Camp meeting.

Once a year, the representatives of all organizational teams for PM Camps meet. This year, the organizational team Dornbirn (Eberhard, Marcus, Stefan, Roland), are the hosts. InterFace AG supports them logistically.

Consequently, representatives of the organizational teams for the PM Camps at Barcelona, Berlin, Dornbirn, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, München, Rhein-Main, Stuttgart and Zürich will meet on Friday, January, 20th, 2017 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Unterhaching InterFace AG building.

The PM Camp meeting is traditionally where strategic questions concerning the future of the PM Camp movement are discussed. Consequently, the goals of the meeting are:

  • Looking back:
    What was the development of PM Camps over the last year? 
Reports about format experiments in 2016.
  • Status Quo:
    Where are we now? What is CURRENTLY important for us?
  • Looking towards the future:
    What do we have to be careful about and what do we need to actively promote to make sure that the PM Camp movement continues to give relevant impulses for the PM scene on the whole?

I am telling you the date because I want to enable all friends of the PM Camp movement and visitors of PM Camps to voice their opinions and ideas during the PM Camp Meeting.

If you have suggestions that might impact the future of PM Camps, please do not hesitate to send me an email. I will collect all emails and introduce the ideas during our meeting.

I look forward to many impulses by and inspiration from you!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
On the evening before (Thursday, January, 19th, 2017), those who arrived early will meet for dinner at 7 p.m. at the Unterhaching Althaching restaurant. If you feel like meeting old friends, please come and join us.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 10th, 2017

BICYCLE Culture – an Interview with Roland Dürre

I basically know Franziska Köppe from the EnjoyWorkCamp. It is a very nice barcamp promoting a new understanding of work that is held annually in Stuttgart. Franziska interviewed me about my bicycle enthusiasm. The result is something that is very important in my life – which is why I revised it a little bit and then saved it in my IF blog, as well. However, I tried to leave those parts that came from Franziska as they were in the original version.


 

Active Mobility – Promotion and Request

January, 3rd, 2017 – Are car drivers the coachman of our times? Mobility is undergoing change. Since the 1950ies, the automobile industry has been strongly promoted – especially by politicians. The sector is said to be “system relevant’”. It is closely linked to many providers, as well as with traffic planning and lobbyism. But is that “system relevant”? Start-ups and the crowd economy, as well as cultural changes with respect to the behaviour of not only our young generation threaten conventional business models. I talked about bicycle culture and his own contribution towards our future mobility with the entrepreneur and mobility activist Roland Dürre.
(introduction by Franziska)


 

The Interview

Franziska: Hallo Roland, please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what exactly do you do?

Roland: I do not know who I am. It feels to me like I am a human being, an activist, a blogger, a coach, a maker, an entrepreneur. I love life and my family. I try to be courageous and to very much enjoy what I do. After my retirement from the InterFace AG, it is – even more than before – my task to hand down experience and, if possible, to help others – especially younger persons – to become happy and successful. I am grateful for all the beautiful things I experienced in my life and will be happy if this gratefulness will further increase during my remaining years.

Franziska: One of your passions is riding your bicycle. What is the meaning of the word BICYCLE culture for you? What connotations does it have in your life?

Roland: Both culture and RIDING my BICYCLE are beautiful things. They go together well!
But let us look at what car culture brought us. Driving a car, I am totally isolated from everything that is outside my car. Other people become anonymous objects in other cars. I actually know people who, conscious of their own isolation when sitting behind the wheel of their car, use swear words they would never use in their normal environment. That is something I can easily understand.

Riding my bicycle, I am used to greeting cyclists I encounter. When standing at a red traffic light, I often start a conversation with persons riding on the bike next to me. I try to be considerate. As I see it, pedestrians should always have right of way before cyclists. But then, cyclists should also have right of way before cars.

Riding my bike, I see more that is happening around me. That is true both if I am on a bike journey in foreign countries and in Germany. Social contacts are quickly established. Riding my bicycle, however, I also see how many animals, such as toads, cats and dogs are killed by cars. It always makes my heart bleed.

Consequently, I see a correlation between driving a car and being ruthless and inconsiderate. Whatever is in the way of a car will be killed. Carbon dioxide is emitted, fine dust produced – and it all happens just because people want to be comfortable. It is normal to have 1.400,000 million fatalities world-wide, because you cannot do without a car. But the truth is: you can! I experienced it in a self-experiment. And you definitely feel better without a car.

Here is a cultural provocation: Car drivers are the coachmen of our times. Coachmen were not very well-liked, because whenever any of the common citizens were in their way as they drove through the narrow streets of the cities, they used their whips to beat them out of the way. In those days, coachmen were considered “scum and riff-raff?!

BICYCLE culture – a quiet and clean world with happier and healthier people.

Franziska: It is probably true that most of us – especially those living in big cities – consider mobility as something that has to be connected with a car. Mind you, not too long ago, it was a matter of course that people went by bicycle whenever they had to go somewhere that was more than five kilometre away. Let us return to bicycles. What kind of world would come to mind if you were permitted to dream BICYCLE culture?

Roland: A quiet and clean world with happier and healthier people. From a change in mobility concepts, progress in other areas of life would automatically develop. One of the things I like to say is: If someone cannot even get a grip on his or her mobility, how are they supposed to get a grip on their entire lives? After all, you cannot get anywhere without the “desire and ability to live a responsible life”.

Roland Dürre on his way from Salerno to Pisciotta

Franziska: So far so good. Except that the reality in everyday life does not look quite so blue and rosy. You already said it: That is one of the reasons why you are actively promoting “active motility”– AktMob, as you call it  ..

Roland: That is true. I know many streets in Munich where it is no fun at all to ride a bicycle. And on my big tours, it also happens time and again that I have to struggle through a street where I am really afraid I might die.

Mind you, AktMob is not just about riding a bicycle. It is about any sort of mobility that is not horse-drawn carriages, combustion motors or electronic cars. All that matters is that you are moving under your own steam. Be it with roller-blades, skate boards, hiking or using the

Franziska: In the traffic sector, cars as individual means of transportation have been promoted since the 1950ies. It was based on the political concept of the economic boom in Germany. Unfortunately, even this short time was enough to make our cities inhuman. Strange as it may seem, pedestrians and cyclist no longer belong to traffic in the cultural sense. Especially a look at kindergardens and schools every morning shows how absurd this sometimes is: children are driven by car because, due to all that traffic, it would be too dangerous for them to walk. How grotesque is that?

Cars as status symbols in the economic boom world.

Roland: What a good example! Cars were, indeed, not just an object that took you from A to B – especially for men. As soon as you had a driver’s licence and a car, you were at long last grown-up. It is certainly not totally wrong to call a car a phallic symbol. And sitting behind the steering wheel of a vehicle, men in particular feel omnipotent. Can you imagine anybody not liking that feeling?

But even more than that, the car was a status symbol in the economic boom world for Germany and the world where everybody was recuperating. The car is perhaps the best metaphor for bought happiness as a substitute for needs not being met.

When we were still young men and had no cars, we always got the impression that the beautiful young girls clearly preferred the men who owned cars – while they looked down their noses upon us non-car owners.

But the car was also a symbol for freedom – like the cigarette. And it was also a new private space – in the US, for instance, they say that there were several years during which more than half of the children were made on the backseats of cars. Even the Kinsey report said so. And these motorized vehicles certainly also were a nice thing when it came to our laziness. Well, and that such a god-like vehicle – especially when its marketing was also optimal and emotional – won over everything else is rather clear, isn’t it?

The critical mass – riding bicycles together

Franziska: With activities “We Are Traffic”, there are so-called Critical Masses on a monthly basis, both in Germany and world-wide. Cyclists make use of §27 of the StVO, which says that, as soon as they are more than 15 (critical mass), they may drive together. I am quite happy that this movement gets more and more popular in D-A-CH. For instance, it was a peaceful and joyful event for 3,290 cyclists last November in Germany. This year in July, the number had even increased to 13,371 [source: Daniel via itstartedwithafight]. Everybody can join – even if they only want to ride a short part of the way.

© Radlhauptstadt München – cyclists’ night 2016 [picture taken by Andreas Schebesta

Roland: I rather like Critical Mass! In particular, I appreciate the movement because it seems to be truly grass-root. And I am convinced that the only way to cause change is “from the bottom”. Politics and administration are paralyzed by lobbyists and their own rules and have neither a chance nor the desire to try anything. But – without someone trying something, nothing will happen!

Franziska: And yet you can find some bicycle enthusiast among the politicians, too. For instance look at your hometown. The city of Munich aspires to being called bicycle capital. This is also due to the commitment of Wigand von Sassen, who has now been responsible for the city bicycle campaign project since March 2009. Since they started with intense bicycle promotion, there has been a considerable increase in the relative number of cyclists among the total traffic. For instance, there are regular bike checks where you can have small repairs for free. In October, you had the cyclists’ night, in September the RadCouture… This is a lot of commitment in favour of BICYCLE culture. It shows a lot of courage and stamina.

But let us think in more modest terms. What can every one of us do? You do not always need grand gestures.

Driving a car – nothing but a bad habit?

Roland: It is definitely time for something to happen. However, I do not think the higher percentage of bicycles is due to an “intense” promotion of bicycles. In fact, I think that more and more persons discover that there are better ways of being mobile than using a car and also that a car eats up a lot of money. I see all those many cars as a prosperity reserve for the future where many of us will feel more “tightness”.

Driving a car is nothing but a bad habit. Basically, it is necessary for us to be willing and able to change our habits. Smoking is a good metaphor for the process. It is not easy and for many smokers unthinkable to become a non-smoker. And then you can do it against all the odds – and you will quickly feel a lot better.

Currently, I myself am a good example for how hard it is to change patterns you were used to and actually liked. On regional trips up to thirty kilometres, I only go by bike. But unfortunately also for short distances. So my personal mobility program is now “get off your bike and back to walking”. I want to do more hiking. And it is very hard for me to give up the old habit and not automatically mount my bicycle, even if I only have to go a short distance.

Franziska: It is certainly not easy to change behavioural patterns. When I was still an employee, I found it easy to mount my bicycle every morning and ride to the firm. To this day, it is not a problem for me to take the bike when I have business meetings (except if they are too far away, then I use public transportation).

It was easy for me because I knew I had to be there no matter what. But ever since I work in my home office, I find it very hard to mount the bicycle every day – just because I want the exercise. The requirement of having to go from A to B is missing. That makes it more natural for me to do my hiking round through the vineyards in the evening. It gives me peace to ponder and structure the day’s ideas.

Now I integrate this exercise into my working day. On the one hand, I offer public network meetings. We call it Walk to Talk. We meet at a green place and see what topics everybody brought. And then we run through urban greenery for 90 to 120 minutes.

I particularly delight in the fact that the people I coach, my mentees and my supervision partners appreciate this way of talking just like I do. That means that I can enjoy this exciting discourse surrounded by greenery (“Gehsprächs” im Grünen) between four and six times each month. But I would not object to it becoming more.

Incidentally, I would recommend this format to everybody – especially as a welcome deviation from meetings that far too often happen in closed rooms and sitting down. Which brings us to the topic work world = life world.

You have been an entrepreneur for a long time. What can a boss do in order to promote a BICYCLE culture? What are the important factors?

BICYCLE culture in the mobility and health management of enterprises – not an easy task for the boss

Roland (laughs): That is not at all easy. I am sure the most important factor is that you do not offer business cars as an allegedly attractive part of the salary. Unfortunately, I did it up from 1984. The InterFace AG has far too many so-called “business cars”. And it is not at all easy to take away acquired rights.

Services such as bicycle racks with roofs and/or showers in the basement are to be recommended. And you have to be a good example yourself. You have to infect people with your own enthusiasm for bicycles and for riding bikes.

Franziska: Riding bicycles is, indeed, catching. The last time I made that experience was when, in the company I last worked for, we founded an everyday cycling group. It worked like a bus line. The experienced cyclists offered to ride alongside the beginners. In no time, we had an ad-hoc bicycle repair shop and organized (after work) bike tours. Through joining in, I learned about shortcuts and secure routes to work, as well as all kinds of bike tricks.

It filled me with pride to notice how much I already knew after some time and how I could advise others. That was a huge motivation boost towards also surviving the wet-cold rain days with temperatures around the freezing point. There are considerably more dry days than rainy days. And as soon as you are on your way and have ample rain protective gear – the rain does not matter anyway. That is also something I only found out through riding my bike on a daily basis. Mind you, this is still not considering all the many natural panoramas and the intense experience of the seasons of the year.

In your experience, what is it that makes active mobility in everyday life hard or impossible? What – perhaps small – helpful advice can you give to overcome those obstacles?

Roland: Many things come to mind. There is, for instance, the wrong belief that children and heavy objects can only be transported by car. That is not true. Children are happier on the bicycle than in a car. Shopping is a lot easier if you take a bike trailer or a cargo bike instead of a car. Even two bike panniers will go quite some way.

Regularly taking a look at your mirror and your weight, perhaps even at your blood pressure, will soon convince you that it makes sense to exercise more often.

Franziska (laughs): Correct!

Let us get back to entrepreneurial thinking. Since many employees are determined by numbers, data and facts, I am often expected to ask about it. What advantages do you see for the boss to consider “active mobility”?

Roland: Well – it has been proved that persons who exercise regularly in fresh air have considerably fewer sick days. Isn’t that something to convince you? They will also arrive at work in a better mood and more emotionally balanced. And riding a bike also gives them an enormous amount of creativity.

Strong together – AktMob promotes active mobility in everyday life.

Franziska: Early in 2016, you had the AktMobCmp in Unterhaching in order to bring active persons around “active mobility in everyday life” together. In 2017, you will organize evening events and the next AktMobCmp is also currently being organized. What are the topics you will discuss there? Who were – and who are – the participants?

Roland: The invitation addresses everyone who thinks in terms of taking responsibility for our future. The way we think about mobility directly reflects on our way of life. AktMobCmp is a BarCamp – which means we do not know the topics and sessions in advance. This openness, however, makes it possible to get many nice and tangible results on the personal level.
AktMobCmp 2016 — BarCamp for active mobility in everyday life.

Franziska: In other words, you organize and moderate the ActMobCmp as a BarCamp in order to provide space for everybody’s topics. What is special about this particular event format?
Roland: The Barcamp format is characterized by the persons who come organizing their meeting and their sessions according to their individual needs. There are no invited presentations that have been selected by a committee. Everyone is allowed and supposed to contribute. The organizing team only has the role of host who makes it possible to meet at all. The social control is with the participants. I already experienced several times how a session that was abused for marketing purposes was empty in no time.

Franziska: And then there are sessions where humans are made to work intensely and productively in order to solve a shared problem. That is what I like about BarCamps. Especially if the organizers believe in the self-organization and self-control of the participants practiced in those anti-conferences.

For you, this belief grew over the last few years because you experienced it yourself. Because this AktMobCmp is not the first BarCamp you have organized. You are one of the fathers of the PM Camp movement that brings together people all over Europe who exchange ideas on project work. What fascinates you about the BarCamp idea?

Roland: The great thing about BarCamps is that you discover many new things. After all, all the participants are willing to open up and share their knowledge. As a general rule, all participants will go home happy and richer. What you experience will continue to have an effect on you. You have made new friends with whom you remain in contact. This is how, on BarCamps, humans and movements are linked and thus gaining more and more strength.

Franziska: I know exactly what you mean! Since some of my readers are BarCamp newcomers, can you give a few examples?

Roland: Well, there are movements such as eye-level (Augenhöhe),  intrinsify.meEnjoyWork with EnjoyWorkCamp, entrepreneurial democrats (Unternehmensdemokraten), common good economists (Gemeinwohlökonomie) and many more, all of whom I met at BarCamps. Along with those who support and promote them. This is how I made new friends at BarCamps, for instance  Nadja Petranovskaja, Dr. Andreas Zeuch, Dr. Eberhard Huber, Gebhard Borck, Dr. Jens Hoffmann, Maik Pfingsten, Dr. Marcus Rainer, Dr. Niels Pflaeging, Roger Dannenhauer, Dr. Stefan Hagen and many, many more.

We, too, first met at a BarCamp (EnjoyWorkCamp?) didn’t we? You will find posts, podcasts and videos of all these persons online. Reading those will automatically make you understand why you need to connect yourself with others and do things together.

Franziska: I think the first time we met was at the Dornbirn PM Camp. But our first really intense discussion was during the “EnjoyWork” initiative. Consequently, I find it even more exciting to have gone into more detail about a few topics we share. Many thanks, Roland, for the exchange of experience.

I wish you well and for your ACtMob to be a huge success – and a good bike-chain at all times.

Roland: Many thanks – it was a true pleasure!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Some more links:

Roland Dürre
Monday January 9th, 2017

PEACE

PEACE must not become a religion, because then we will quickly become un-peaceful.

That is also the reason why there must be no project PEACE.

Seems to be a powerful symbol für peace. May be to powerful.

As you all know, I was going to start a project PEACE. Well, more than ever, I am in favour of PEACE. But no longer as a project.

In the last few months, I have had many dialogues with wise and peaceful persons. Like me, they are convinced that peace is the most precious commodity for us humans. And I learned a lot from them and thought a lot about what I can do for PEACE.

Here is what the current state of affairs regarding my ideas is:

I no longer believe that peace can be brought about by organizations and projects.

A short time ago, a strong lady came to me and said:

“Roland, I am now retired, I have lots of time and I would like to support you in your project PEACE”.

I had to tell her that, according to my understanding of PEACE, there cannot be a successful PEACE project:

The only possible project is to live for PEACE yourself.

Very individually and initially only in private. So I asked her to start her own “project” and simply live for (and work towards) her own und all our PEACE. Consequently, I believe there have to be many small peace projects. Everyone first and foremost works on them for himself or herself and individually.

And that you have to deliberately refrain from coordination and mutual agreements. That would be dangerous and quickly cause manipulation and ideology. And it would probably do more harm than good.

So it is my idea that we all should not organize anything. Instead, we should open our sensors wide and be considerate and free – perhaps as a swarm with others who want PEACE. That sounds religious. I do not like religious patterns.

But perhaps PEACE can work if peaceful persons live their beliefs exclusively for themselves and if the convictions they have are based on their own ethically responsible judgement and on the values of humanity (such as the Golden Rule, the Biophilie principle, human dignity being unalienable  …).

I think even “peace-loving” people must NOT actively try to convince others towards being PEACEFUL or act as missionaries. All humans have to come to their own conclusion about PEACE being the requirement for everything else. Otherwise it will not work.

And, above all, nobody should be willing and able to sacrifice themselves for what they believe and thus become martyrs! Because this is not how PEACE can work. Consequently, no organization and no project for PEACE can be a success and actually bring PEACE. In fact, perhaps even the symbol for PEACE I chose and inserted at the beginning of this article is questionable and might be criticized.

It is not easy for me to formulate my complex ideas. If I succeeded in making a little clearer what moves me, then that will make me happy.
And I will continue to strive towards my own PEACE..
RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Perhaps this is a process – can we call it evolution?

Or is that already true for the present?

On January, 3rd, Franziska Köppe interviewed me for her blog FAHRRADkultur.
Here is the result:

Franziska’s message is “bike-riders will live longer lives”. Consequently, I certainly hope that she is right and that our life will not be terminated ahead of time by some motorized vehicle. And that it will not happen that, to make up for it, one more white bicycle will be sitting on a street or crossroad.

I hold Franziska in very high esteem. Consequently, I was a little cautious during the interview. My worst provocation was perhaps (citation from the interview):

“Car drivers are the coachmen of our times. Coachmen were not very well-liked, because whenever any of the common citizens were in their way as they drove through the narrow streets of the cities, they used their whips to beat them out of the way. In those days, coachmen were considered “scum and riff-raff“?!

I abide by all I said in the interview. Let me add that the more I live (and I mean “live” in the truest sense of the word) without a car, the more I am aware of how stupid and irrational it is to drive a car.

And that is true for many dimensions:

  • For the lie behind the image and reputation you subconsciously want to gain through owning a car.
  • For the challenging work you have to do as you sit behind a steering wheel, although you have grown used to it and thus ignore how strenuous it is. More than this: you actually lie to yourself and claim that you “enjoy the experience of driving” or “relax behind the steering wheel”. Your car is perceived as your “best friend” and a place where you “feel at home”.
  • For the horrendous deprivation of exercise and fresh air you subject yourself to as a car driver. That is also true for the physical damage caused by constantly sitting and the negative consequences, including spinal problems.
  • For senselessly wasting time, especially if you drive a car. Using public transportation, you could take far better advantage of that time.
  • For the physical (considerably more than one million fatalities and far more seriously and not so seriously wounded persons) damage world-wide every year, as well as the psychological risk (double stress for instance when using the telephone while driving a car).
  • For how unfree a car makes you – it is the millstone around your neck – because you always have to go back to where it is parked.
  • For how you depend on the car: whenever there is a problem and it does not work, your personal world is under threat of destruction.
  • For how much of a burden a car is: How often do I hear people say – I have no time because my car needs to be picked up from the service/taken to the service. And the weekend is spent polishing it because you love it so much.
  • For how ruthless car drivers treat their environment and society. Neither pollution nor waste of energy are considered, the external additional costs of mobility are considerably higher if you drive a car than if you go by any other means of transportation. And we all pay the price.
  • For the fact that you accept the risk that you might kill or injure people, doing enormous damage to yourself in the process.…
  • … and for a lot more …

For me, driving a car thus gets more and more synonymous for living your life the wrong way. But:

Life is too short to live it the wrong way!

I know from personal experience that people who consider their car part of their own body like a wheelchair that has become essential to their life will under no circumstances agree with many of the points on this list. I can also relate from personal experience that it was very similar with smoking for me … you only really understand how bad it was when you no longer do it. But you know how hard it was to break with the habit.

RMD
(Translated by EG)