Roland Dürre
Thursday May 31st, 2018

Modern Enterprises (Entrepreneur’s Diary #125)

 

This is my attempt at outlining a “modern enterprise”.

 

If you visit Antarctica, you will see the condition of our planet. We badly need change.

Because: The country needs new enterprises.

If we wish to improve our lives, perhaps even if we just want to survive, we will have to drastically change our individual behaviour and the fringe conditions of our society in politics, business, social and cultural areas.

🙁 In this article, I do not wish to write about social and cultural changes. In politics, I find the current tendencies towards demolition of the rule of law rather critical and dangerous. As far as business is concerned, I think we have now reached a perverse state of affairs that is really threatening. This is where we must start the process of change.

We managed to counter the destruction of our own bodies due to hard labour with the use of machines. Since the industrial revolution, we managed to drastically decrease the number of working hours per day.

Now the trend turns. Our growth ideology promotes an exploitation of both ourselves and others for stupid goals. The resulting burden is on our personal and social life (and on our families). By now, the process has reached a grotesque and fear-inspiring level (all-day care for small children, all-day schools for children and adolescents, several parallel jobs for grown-ups, full-time work for men and women, often in combination with hours of commuting that make the work day even longer, normal work on four or five days far away from home).

One would assume that it is the task of the state to change this situation. However, just like the unions, the state will not be able to do anything about it. Change is a task for all people who are concerned with the economy and who are responsible for enterprises – i.e. for many of us.

We must counterbalance the blind dogma of “productivity” with a new efficiency that promotes less waste (#nowaste) and more humanity. We must meet the wishes expressed by especially our young generation that say our work environments need some modification.

People are not here to serve the economy, but the economy is here to serve the people.

In this sense, our country needs new enterprises. There are quite a few communities and people who are concerned with the concept of #NewWork (#newwork) and who also try it out.

As early as in 1984, Wolf (Geldmacher) and yours truly, as the founders of InterFace Connection GmbH, aimed at establishing a really new and different enterprise. Unfortunately, we (and later I alone) only managed to do this during the first few years. Then the enterprise “grew up” and there were problems. Perhaps the time was not ripe, and/or I made too many mistakes.

Today, I at least feel competent to describe what such an enterprise would need to look like. I also know huge and small enterprises that show that modern enterprises, as described below, actually work quite well. This is true both for service providers (health, hotel, IT, mobility, care for the elderly and handicapped,… ) and the producing sector (bicycle technology, clothes, food, shoes, software, sports articles,…).

I would like to remind the reader that the following text describes many patterns that would be “ideal“ if realized. You will not find them too often in their purest form. It is already quite some progress if an enterprise leans towards the proposed direction.

I would also ask the kind reader to keep in mind that the following impulses are not supposed to be a textbook (which, with this topic, would have hundreds of pages). Instead, it is a lose document that wants to inspire a little bit and make you a little thoughtful!


 

Characteristics

Here are the outstanding characteristics of a modern enterprise

  • Common-good economy;
  • Networking idea;
  • Core competence and core business;
  • Customer and product centred;
  • Structure;
  • Processes;
  • Teams;
  • Infra-structure;
  • Requirements;
  • Culture and values;
  • Dynamics.

These are the important issues I would wish to discuss today!


 

Common-Good Economy

As demanded by the Bavarian Constitution, the priority of a modern enterprise must be to contribute towards the ” Gemeinwohl“. In other words, the products and services provided by an enterprise must, first and foremost, serve the people.

You will find something absolutely worth reading with Christian Felber, who is perhaps the most important protagonist of the common-good economy in the German-speaking world.


 

Common Good beats “Shareholder-Value“.

The common good principle limits entrepreneurial diversity and creativity.

Not everything that can be done is desired.

That is the price we have to pay for the common-good economy.

If you follow this principle, it is, for instance, hard to imagine how an enterprise that develops and produces weapons or mines can be common-good oriented. The service provided by private enterprises who “lease armies” or produce such things as “fighting robots“ – which is quite common today – cannot be in accordance with the common-good economy.

Less harmful examples for a clash between the common-good economy and products are the production of tobacco and e-cigarettes, or a farming concept that ruins the basis of its own existence (the soil and the country) in a predictable and sustainable way. I could make a long list of examples for existing misuse.

However, common-good economy not only takes the customers into consideration. It also considers other stakeholders, such as the employees and providers. The exploitation of employees violates the principle just as much as does the extortion of providers.

Also, in a common-good economy, the balance of “extremities” must be given. It contains and enumerates all the damage an enterprise does to its environment during the production process. The waste of water caused by a cheap production or the pollution of living space through wastewater are good examples.

However, damages caused by the products you make are also part of the extremity balance:
Example: If pre-defined threshold values for cars have been confirmed during examination but if they are then ignored and significantly higher when the cars are actually driving (exhaust scandal), then this is not simply fraud, but a huge damage in terms of the extremity balance by those enterprises that produce and are responsible for the cars.

Social damage caused by the enterprises (along with positive effects, if there are any) are also part of the extremity balance.

Examples: Damage done by enterprises if they grant credit to people although they know full well that those people cannot serve them. Manipulating people towards buying nonsense products (so-called marketing), making grown-ups addicts of gambling and children addicts of sweets, and much more of the same kind that happens every day.

Modern enterprises can follow the common-good principle!!!


 

The Idea of Networking

The networking idea means that an enterprise is willing and capable of promoting a special “added value“ to a number of cooperating enterprises, rather than wanting to develop highly complex system all by itself.

Partnership on the market beats dominating the market.

Example: The goal of a modern enterprise should not be to completely develop and produce an electronic car. Instead, it should provide an important part.

In general, you will want to say.
P (partnership) beats S (superiority)!

This is how, probably, dynamic alliances of small enterprises can make “better products“ that might well be complex and satisfy the basic needs of humans. Yet they can at the same time be sustainable and in harmony with the common good. In other words, they need not be detrimental to other people or, as is common today, to all of us.

Without – as is the practice of the huge concerns – manipulating the customers in advance and telling them what they have to need and then selling them those things.


 


Core competence and core business

There is a clear competence based on which a clearly defined service is offered or an actual product is developed or produced. In this business model, we need modern virtues such as self-restriction and the focus on your own strengths.

Example: An enterprise focuses on the development of electric motors (or perhaps even just an important sub-competence like the necessary software) or (rather than and) the efficient production of the entire motors.

Concentration and focussing beat “do-it-all-yourself“.


 

Customer centred and product centred

The customer and the product must be the centre of all entrepreneurial considerations. Consequently, all employees must work together towards one goal.

If you have a service enterprise, the person who receives the service must be the focal point of all creativity.

Examples: In an enterprise that offers home-care, the people you are assisting must get the optimal support and care. In a hospital or hotel, everything must be about the guests getting well soon or feeling absolutely comfortable. An enterprise that, for example, helps a medium-sized enterprise to cope with all the problems that can arise if you use IT, the service must give the customer time for his core business (the round-the-clock-worry-free solution).

Similarly, an enterprise that makes a product must make sure that all employees work towards making the product even more perfect on a permanent basis (functionality) and nicer (design) and easier on the eye (emotion), simpler, more efficient, less costly, etc.

Examples: You want to develop the electric motor for the low-volt sector, the best gear hub for the bicycle, the best e-velo for travelling, the best pair of shoes for making it easier to stand and walk in. Or to produce new e-cars by combining the simplest and best components available on the market.

If ALL employees in an enterprise are enthusiastic about a core competence and willing to work towards it – then true innovation will happen. The positive consequences are that the employees will identify with the enterprise in a healthy way and that being an active part of the enterprise (often simply called work) will give them courage and joy. That is what a modern enterprise needs in order to survive.

And this is how the customers can get so fascinated by a product that they recommend it in such a way that makes marketing (which basically should be banned) and sales promotion (the very word!) obsolete.

A shared enthusiasm for what you offer will move mountains.


 

Structure

I use the word “structure” as in “organizational structure”. I no longer use the word “organization“, because a modern enterprise organizes itself intuitively. They no longer need disciplinary bosses and an organigram that describes the organization.

A modern enterprise has no hierarchy. There are no panels such as directorate or work council. The legally binding positions of the enterprise (director or chairperson) are more representatives than decision makers.

All teams have a maximum size and are self-organized. They are well connected, interact directly and learn from each other. They are also responsible for their communication with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, …).

All decisions are team decisions. The teams are responsible for guaranteeing quality and time of delivery, as well as efficiency and further development.

Depending on the size of the enterprise, there might be a (small) back office. Possibly, some value adding teams are necessary in a direct or indirect way. Persons who mostly achieve the added value indirectly, however, will not give pre-defined requirements. Instead, they will give impulses and inspiration, or, in times of crises or problems, they help with actual moderation or support.

There are no main departments such as strategy, marketing, sales, human resources, product planning. The same is true for entrepreneurial processes and pre-defined methods. Neither are there any central services that get out of control and suddenly set their own standards. Simply because everyone uses their brains and actively participates. And because the services and products have a quality that sells by itself and because the promotion by those who bought it and tell the tale creates more demand than can be met.

Local & flexible beats central & inflexible, iteration beats planning!


 

Processes

I use the word “process” as in “process organization”. As before, I no longer use the term “organization“ because modern enterprises control themselves intuitively.

In a modern enterprise, you have no processes. Something that worked in practice and well-trained behaviour will always dynamically be adapted to change. Rules and regulations are not necessary, because the idea underlying every employee’s activities is their knowledge, their experience and their mental concepts. They all want to achieve the best goal – the best service for the customer or the best product. Social interaction is determined by values, rather than rules.

Common sense and intuition will beat processes and rules!


 

Teams

They realize the achievement of an enterprise, which means they render the service or make the products the enterprise thrives on. All employees in the teams must know and be competent in the core competences of the enterprise.

Example: There was a time when google only employed people who could actually program. That included administrative and managerial jobs.

Besides the explicit added value, all employees and team members also take responsibility for others

and for all the factors that make success possible.

Example: In a software team, everybody can program. Each team member takes responsibility for important fringe issues such as quality control, configuration, delivery on time, customer interaction,… on top of his original duties. This is how all competences and talents can be used for filling different roles that will contribute towards the success of the team either after mutual agreement or without even having had to talk about it.

Depending on the size of the enterprise and the challenges, it is possible that, apart from the teams that directly cause the added value, others will be necessary for the indirect achievement of added value.

Example: There might be service and moderation teams. The moderation teams are made up of particularly experienced employees with moderation competence. They can help if a team has problems or if a team becomes too big and cannot really cope with how to divide itself. However, their support should always be restricted to moderation and perhaps help towards finding solutions.

The teams are the central elements of the enterprise!


 

Infra structure

The entire enterprise is part of one intranet (software system). Said system provides a wiki or social media system. However, I would not call it “knowledge management“ (the term has been used up). Instead, I would call it a common basis of communication.

Example: A system such as Google+ is very mature and offers all you need. If you have a bigger enterprise, you might consider customizing or even develop your own system. If you have a small firm, I would recommend you take one of the many systems available.

All members and teams contribute towards the content.

Example: A team found potential for improvement at the tag and tells other teams about it.

Ideally, the system should be available to all stakeholders (customers, providers, sympathizers and the competition), usually with reading and comment enabled. Because transparent systems are an advantage for all parties concerned.

In addition to the system, you organize meetings (face2face) at regular intervals and with a reasonable format, for instance barcamps. Basically, the internet only makes sense if you also see each other once in a while.

For the infra structure, the following is true: It always has to be a means to an end, rather than its own end. It must be capable of adapting to changed needs quickly and be absolutely simple. So here is what we need:

No more than the amount we really need and as much as necessary!


 

Requirements

From the business point of view:
The only element we know from classic enterprises and that has to remain intact in a “modern enterprise“ is the strict adherence to business control principles. All teams must have positive balance sheets. If a team has problems, it has to either solve them or ask other teams for help. Budget deficits are only tolerated for short time intervals. If they do not disappear quickly, the team will be suspended.

Any surplus will be used for financing the (low) infra-structure costs. A considerable part of the profit

remains with the team, the team members decide the quota and extent to which profit is distributed among the team members. Dependent on the individual situation, a suitable part remains with the enterprise or/and with the shareholders.

Example: If a team has a problem, for instance with coming up with a decision or with dividing itself into smaller parts, they will contact the moderator. That is also true if a team notices that it has technological problems or quality deficits. The team will choose its own moderator.


 

Structure:

The size of a team will be mutually agreed upon. Depending on the task or challenge, I would say a team should be between seven and fifteen employees.

As the situation requires, a moderator should be able to work for between ten and twelve teams. If you have a small enterprise, for instance only one team, then members of the teams will also play the moderator role.

Example: The enterprise Buurtzorg (The Netherlands, Home Care) has 1,000 teams with ten employees in each team (i.e. 10,000 employees), for which fifty moderators are totally adequate. They have many teams that never need a moderator and some teams that often need a moderator.

If you have founders (which, naturally, is only relevant for a young enterprise, since after a few decades the problem solves itself biologically), then they can, of course, be moderators, impulse givers and inspiratory, as well as achievers.

Example: At InterFace Connection GmbH (which was the predecessor of InterFace AG), I did consultant work for other companies and at the same time contributed towards building up CLOU/HIT (”product owner“).


 

Knowledge:

All experience is shared. This should at least happen online and, if we are talking important experience, also in person (peer2peer or in a barcamp).

Example: Best Practice concepts discovered by one team will be published for all teams on a shared website.

Merkantile clarity, the willingness to support each other and the absolute readiness to share all knowledge are indespensable requirements!


 

Values and Culture

Similar to the entrepreneurial culture, values are also best described by stories. It makes sense to remember the culture onion  (Kulturzwiebel).

Example: There are enterprises where the employees share the belief that all they do and all their decisions should be agile, slim, transparent, pragmatic, professional, uncomplicated and similar things. They also believe that listening is just as important as – or maybe even more important than – talking. The values they live are eye-level and respect. Self-organization, self-responsibility, participation and error tolerance are normal behaviour. They all share the basic assumption that all form of indoctrination can be avoided if you use your common sense and emotional intelligence. And, last not least, they all believe that the “heroes” that every social system will inevitably create will turn exceptional employees into models.

In summary, one could say that a modern enterprise is a social system with a respectable goal that masters the art of not producing system agents. Because diversity beats simple-mindedness. Together, the employees know and understand more than the “boss“ alone can ever know or understand.

Thus, “corporate identity” will not be decreed from above, but instead develops mutually, just like the future is also shaped by mutual agreement. This is possible in a modern enterprise. Bureaucratic detours like holacracy, („Holokratie“ – in my opinion, the concept is crazy) must be avoided. Because the cooperation in teams and in an enterprise must not be dominated by bureaucrazy.

In a modern enterprise, it must be clear that there is no control through set goals and that nobody tries to motivate anybody by explicitly holding out a prospect of rewards by granting material favours (extrinsic motivation). Both measures will not work and in the end they will be more detrimental than beneficial.

The employees are motivated because they experience an environment where they can work with courage, joy and confidence in a self-organized and self-responsible way. This is how an intrinsic motivation will grow. And because they know that they can and will be successful together and that, at the end of the day, the success will be shared fairly and in a self-organized way wherever possible.

In former times, I often invoked the term “fear-free zone” as something an enterprise must realize. Today, I have progressed and now I demand a “zone that leaves room for unfolding“.

If you want to have it, you will, first and foremost, need absolute mutual appreciation of everybody’s value. It must be lived and shown by the models. Most likely, something else must be added to this element, for instance maybe that the expectations are not ”too trivial“.

Culture and values are the “operating system” of a modern enterprise.


 

Dynamics

Since the world changes at an enormous pace and is also perceived as more complex than in former times, there must be a high willingness to change in a modern enterprise. The wisdom of an enterprise should ideally consist of the wisdom of the masses. The right questions are asked before you start working on the solutions.

Nothing is as constant as change!


 

Utopia?

Some readers will probably not understand this article and judge it as utopian. Freedom makes them insecure because they know another world and feel comfortable with this other world. They prefer clear statements by third parties, instead of accepting responsibility.

That has also been my experience with some of the people who started out with me. They considered my ideas utopian. Regardless, my experience with self-organisation and self-responsibility were always excellent.

There is another argument that, sadly, I have to accept:
Huge success, exceptional growth and the thus achieved enormous dimensions will corrupt an enterprise and its culture.
It is perhaps some kind of entrepreneurial natural law.

Well, all I can do is provide a nice counter-argument and a solution:

I notice all the time that huge enterprises that had medium-sized beginnings work better than the concerns I know.

And perhaps there is a counter-measure: You could decree that companies that grow too fast have to divide into smaller ones according to their core competences and determined by the teams that were built inside the company?

Today, I know a number of firms that show that it really works and that you can be very, if not fear-inspiringly, successful with utopian ideas. You can really earn a lot of money with this kind of company for your employees and for your enterprise.

Thank you very much for living and having discussions with me.

RMD

P.S.
I often and gladly give presentations on this topic. I always defend my theories. Strangely enough, though, I seldom have to do a lot of defence work to do. Instead, I usually get a lot of consent and support.
🙂 To my surprise (or not), this support often comes from very conservative leadership personalities.

P.S.1
For more articles of my entrepreneurial diary, see: Drehscheibe!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday May 26th, 2018

Moderne Zeiten

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Selfie in Greece, antireflection coating in Greek and English.

There are about seven billion people living on this planet. Less than half of them have internet access. The majority do not have it. It seems to be clear that those people and nations that have internet access will become richer. And those that do not have access to the internet will become poorer. They already talk about the new poverty caused by the lack of digitalization.

Something similar is true for children. If children learn to handle the internet early, they will usually have better chances in their lives than if they are kept away from it.

In our country, children under the age of sixteen will need the formal consent of their parents if, for instance, they want to be part of social media. Among social media are: FB, Twitter, Instagram, MeetUp, LinkedIn and many other often very useful systems that change the world.

If I activate a usercode in Wikipedia, I will be member of a large social media system. Even in Wikipedia, there is a huge danger that it will swallow me whole. And there is a lot of mobbing going on, too  – I can really tell stories from personal experience.

Now let me ask the lawyers and all those wise legislators:

Will a thirteen-year-old genius who won “Jugend Forscht” need his father’s written consent in order to become a Wikipedia member?

And here is a question for you all:
Will a Mormon father (small religion with perhaps 20 million people) or an Islamic father (huge religion with about 2 billion believers, slightly behind Christendom but with a better trend) give his child said consent?
I am not sure. The mother will not be allowed to do it.

But let me switch from general considerations to my personal experiences and mental experiments.

As some of you know, we have seven children. I am sure that nothing in life taught me as many positive and important things as my children did. That includes my parents in the same way as my mentors and teachers, perhaps even Barbara. From whom I also learned a lot. As opposed to school, which you can forget about.

That was true for life in general and especially for digital life. And this is true regardless of me having been the IT professional (and pioneer) in our family who actually created some of it.

Today, if a grandchild of mine wishes to participate in facebook or twitter, then I will support him or her. I would give advice and ask if he/she likes it if I follow. And I would learn the new things he/she would bring me. The only way I would be worried would be if he/she chose a “private modus”. That would actually make me doubt if he/she has been socialized properly.

So here is a mental experiment:    
What would I do if he/she were to experiment in the “darknet”?    
Note: the darknet is an attempt at moving through the internet in absolute anonymity through wearing a mask. You hide your authenticity (what you really are) in order to move under an identity that cannot be tracked back!

Argh! That is exactly what the tax agency wanted to abolish, which is why Swiss numbered accounts were made illegal.…

For technological IT reasons, this goal is just as impossible to reach as absolute data security – even if it is supported with very archaic methods, it can basically not be guaranteed. If this were not so, the success of the cyberspace armies in the darknet would not be possible. All you need to know is how it has been programmed. And you need to be good and industrious. Perhaps a little more proficient than the enemy. But there are always ways.

My grandchild – if he/she has learned a little more in the internet – will soon contradict me and point towards blockchain technologies and bitcoin.

After all, in these scenarios, it is guaranteed (even at a high price) that, as soon as you choose your identity, you have a guaranteed part of a percentage of a totally virtual (and limited) number without having had to give your authenticity. Or rather: back-tracking is made impossible (which, incidentally, is only true for the one who actively and successfully does the “mining“).

A normal buyer will definitely have to identify himself or herself, again and again (at least until his/her bitcoins have become worthless).

So if my grandchild were to start moving in the darknet or trying bitcoin , I would probably get a little worried, but I would not ask them to terminate their experiments. In the case of the darknet, I would recommend the highest degree of caution, in the case of bitcoin, I would fear that they will probably go crazy. After all, I personally know quite a few people who believed in it and some of them ended really tragically (or, in the best case, they only went crazy).

Well, basically, I can also well imagine that children under sixteen might, strictly under the law, be allowed to generate some part of a bitcoin – even without the consent of their biological parents. After all, all they would have to do is find a clever way of joining a few asic systems –  don’t young people enjoy to experiment a little?

And if they successfully generate bitcoins, then they have them. Regardless of the fact that they do not actually own them. It is more like “possession they achieved through computer capacity and algorithms” – which, strangely enough, is a very small part of a virtual and limited range of numbers. Numbers some analysts believe in and some gamblers are prepared to pay money for. Just as it was a long time ago with tulips in Holland.

Because, as far as I know, the exciting question if bitcoin is virtual possession or virtual ownership has not yet been answered. At least the tulip bulbs were real – allegedly, you could even eat them when they no longer had any value.

Now this was heavy material. I know that even many of those who regularly talk and write about bitcoin and blockchain will not understand it. So, please, excuse my digression.

There are so many exciting – and also simpler – things happening in the internet that I could write about, and whenever there is an opportunity, I will probably do so. And over-emphasized topics such as “mobbing in facebook“ are certainly not the most important issues, even if some grown-ups like watching their occasional porno (which, of course, they will deny). Neither are Parship, Elite-Partner or Tinder the real problem. There are many far more exciting things happening – in many dimensions.

But now our children have to ask dad and mom if they want to test a new social media platform on the internet. Mind you, there are so many more important things the parents need to do, such as earning money and washing their first and second cars.

But currently, I am in Greek and the sun is shining – and, to me, those are more important things! So long.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Since the #DSGVO is now active, I extended the IF Blog Data Security Declaration (Datenschutzerklärung) as follows:


Extended Data Security Declaration of May, 26th, 2018:
The aforementioned data security declaration is about as old as the If blog itself. As a matter of principle, I am not in favour of collecting anything, let alone collecting data. Consequently, I never collected data or tried to use them for any purpose in IF Blog.

I use the tool “webmaster” exclusively in order to know in what parts of the world my readers live.

Formerly, I sometimes sent emails with information on IF Blog (articles and authors) to known subscribers. I terminated this service a long time ago, because, to me, sending emails no longer seems up-to-date and besides I find them a nuisance. Now I deleted all the e-mail data.


This means:

  • You will never again receive IF Blog news. I think nobody will mind. For me personally, the news mania is nonsense, anyway. Nobody really benefits
  • On top of this, just as before, you can rest assured that no “private data“ are collected or used for any purpose at IF Blog.

Incidentally, I believe that the #DSGVO will have absolutely no positive effect and just bring us even more over-regulation. Thus, it will increase the frustration with the state and push even more voters towards the “populist” parties. It might also promote the tendency towards righteousness – which, in our culture, already gets on my nerves.

Besides, it will probably make even more people ready to “ignore the law“ – which too many are already willing to do as it is – and erode the trust in the state as a wise, competent and responsible legislator. I think that is a pity, but then it seems that this is what the gentlemen in Brussels and Berlin want.

However, even I will not get any wiser by lamenting. As far as possible, I try to adhere to the law both as a human being and as an entrepreneur. Even as a biker and car driver. And that has always been true for the IF Blog and this is how I want it to continue. So I will abide by the rules.

I will probably write a few more articles about the #DSVGO. In one of my next articles, I will write about the stupid rule that children need to be sixteen years old before they can decide how they want to use the internet. But they can change their religion a lot earlier than that.

Allegedly, children are too stupid for the internet and need legal protection. Well, that is not how I feel about it. I think that the grown-ups who wrote and designed the #DSGVO really do not have the slightest idea about the internet.

But I will write more about this in the future on this blog.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I recommend the following link: Link zur #DSGVO. Under #RAStadler, Thomas Stadler has been twittering for a long time and I have been following him for many years. I learned many important things in his blog. Many thanks!

THOMAS STADLER
STANDORT: FREISING, BAYERN, GERMANY
Fachanwalt für IT- Recht und Fachanwalt für Gewerblichen Rechtsschutz in der Kanzlei AFS

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 24th, 2018

Why the DSGVO is moving in the wrong direction.

Roland als Insel-Philosoph mit (sauberer) Wäsche in Sifnos (Kykladen, Griechenland).

A philosophical analysis.

My theory:

We have too much property and too little common land.

We strive too much after ownership and too little after shared social life and survival, experiences, …

Here are a few facts that support my theory:

  • 62 super rich people practically own half the world.
    (62 Superreiche besitzen so viel wie die halbe Welt)
  • Why is it a matter of course that humans (“natural persons”) can acquire (buy) soil and property to their hearts’ content?
  • Why is everyone allowed to own a car that causes considerable damage to the common good? Or a yacht? Why can huge social systems with an economic goal be completely owned by few people or other social systems?

Something is rotten with property. To be sure, I understand to some extent – and even wish for myself – that people, who in our legal system are called “natural persons”, can own property to a reasonable extent.

But why do “legal persons” like capital companies (GmbH, AG, Company Limited … – in French, they are called  “society anonyme“) have the same rights?
If a “natural person” dies, the problem of inheritance is added, which strengthens the polarisation of “poor and rich”.

“Legal Persons” will not die naturally. But they can become bankrupt. And what then? Even with our modern bankruptcy laws, the protection of those who are owed something has priority over saving the enterprise.

In addition, money will usually increase by itself. That makes property more and more powerful and power richer and richer.

Now let us look at the components of ownership.

Initially you own objects. As I see it, that is ok as long as we are not talking objects that should belong to the community and as long as the situation does not do any damage to the common good.

It gets harder when we are talking the ownership of rights. Is it really fair that someone who, with his team and in a fortunate communication system, developed a patent and therefore has a huge income over many decades, can buy any property he feels he wants in Munich City every year? That the authors of bestselling novels or soccer stars will be billionaires after a few years?

To be sure, I understand that the effort of an artist should be suitably paid for. But why is the right to mental property given in the same way to “legal persons” as to “natural persons”? Why does the music of Bob Marley or of the Beatles not belong to all the people of this world, rather than to a few concerns? The same is true for the dramas of Bert Brecht?

And now we also have ownership of data? Isn’t that totally grotesque? As I see it, we do not need data security but the obligation to be transparent! And that we should not try to protect ourselves against institutions that manipulate us. Instead, we should abolish them.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Munich is a big city. In Munich, there is also a great theatre tradition. In former times, the “Resi“ (Residenztheater with various locations) and the Kammerspiele  dominated and fascinated me. Today, you get top theatre especially in the Volkstheater and perhaps also at an outsider in Freimann: the Metropoltheater.

However, we also have a huge variety of amateur theatres in Munich. I find the theatre troupe tgsm especially outstanding. With this opinion, I certainly do not want to discredit all the many other ambitioned “amateur actors“ in Munich who play with enormous enthusiasm on many stages. On the contrary, with theatre, it is just like in real life – the amateurs (people who do it because they love it, rather than for money) often need not feel inferior to the professionals.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a very special experience at the tgsm. It was a play that, unfortunately, is only rarely performed. Perhaps because it is unpleasant and because it hurts.

Fear and Misery in the Third Reich

by Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956)

Here is what it says in the tgsm brochure:

In 30 scenes, Brecht describes 30 moments of life in the Third Reich. Initially, he wanted to call the piece “Germany – a Horror Story“. The premiere was in 1938 in Paris with eight scenes. The individual scenes are separate units and are not combined to become a linear story. Yet, taken together, they are an image of life under the national-socialist regime. If you look closely enough, you will understand the mechanism of all dictatorships: polarisation, fear, defamation of minorities (enemy image) and demonstration of the government’s power on a daily basis. This is why the issue is also a current issue today and will always remain one.


I was worried when this evening started. Simply because I know that all the misery and atrocities of that time depress me. A short time ago, even riding my bike along the premises of the Dachau KZ gave me a sleepless night.
In the evening (at 10.30 p.m.), I rode home with a profound feeling of happiness. Which was totally the opposite of what I had expected. Because I had experienced great and precious theatre.

It made me particularly happy to have seen so many people (around 25 actors and around 15 supporters) who, in their free time and on a totally honorary basis, worked extremely hard to make something so great happen. And because I felt that those people saw the world like I see it.

Many thanks!


Here is the good news:
There are still a few performances, so you can watch the play! Here are the performance times:

June, 1st, 2018 (Friday)
June, 2nd, 2018 (Saturday)
Pasinger Fabrik, starting at 7.30 p.m.

June, 7th, 2018 (Thursday )
June, 8th, 2018 (Friday)
June, 9th, 2018 (Saturday)
Pepper Theater, Neuperlach, starting at 7.30 p.m.

June, 14th, 2018 (Thursday)
Neubiberg, Aula der Volksschule, Am Rathausplatz, starting at 8 p.m.

For tickets, click here.

And here are a few links to whet your appetite: a long comment on the debut at the end of which Konstantin Wecker sang a song. Naturally, he will not be present during all the other performances. You will then hear his song SAG NEIN as a recording. When we saw the performance, everybody sang along, so it was a great experience even without the master.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 10th, 2018

What Tools do Leaders Need?

Roland explains SCRUM. Not SCRUM tools! It has been some years.

A short time ago, I read the article that was supposed to answer the question:

”What tools does a product owner need?“

It was a long article. Quite a few reasonable things can be found in said article and it is not bad. Much of it sounded thought through.

However, the more of it I read, the less comfortable I felt. Because somehow or other, it did not seem to be correct. To be sure, tools can certainly be useful once in a while. But today, we use so many tools that, more often than not, we do not see the wood for all the trees.

Consequently, I asked the “tool question” for other white collar jobs from my professional world:

“What tools does a scum manager need, a project manager, a quality manager, a requirement engineer or a leader in general, who today is also called manager and who even needs to be know “digital leadership“?
(You all know my reservations about all these buzzwords you can formulate as you wish by using the words digital, smart, manager, leadership, project and others of the kind.)
And I feel confirmed that we believe too much in tools. They are not really all that useful and they mostly distract us from what is really important – which is hard enough to find.

As a next step, I tried to remember what role tools have had in my life. I can no longer remember the tools I worked with when I built sand castles. At school and at university, however, I used (my) handwriting and books. In some few cases, there was a pair of compasses, a ruler, a slide rule, a logarithmic table and, once, the typewriter (when I wrote my diploma thesis).

The bicycle was extremely important – without it, I would not have been able to reach the school. Yes – I almost forgot – in mathematics, my common sense was also necessary.

Immediately after my intermediate exams, in the early 1970ies, I started programming for Siemens as a working student (at TUM, it had been more like playing games). I became a software engineer.

My tools were programming forms and paper. I also had one of the famous Siemens pressure pens the secretaries were always so reluctant to hand over. The form had 80 columns that were printed following the assembler syntax.

Incidentally, the assemblers for the Siemens Series 300 process computers were called “prosa”.


🙂 Warning: the following part is for experts, for instance programmers.

If I remember correctly, then the first 8 columns on the form were for the “jump marks”, also called “labels“. Then there were special columns where, among other things, you marked if the left or the right accumulator was to be used. The last 8 columns (numbers 73 to 80) were for numbering. When starting a new program, you were well advised to execute it in a hundred steps, which left room for extra additions. Column number 72 was for the start of the next card. This, or something like it, was how you did it.

With the pressure pen, I drew some sorts of “process images” onto the white paper, and then I transferred these into orders on the form. Then, some assistants transferred the form into punch cards. There was one punch card for each line. The line was typed twice. First the holes were punched and then, during the second phase, the punched card was controlled. This is how the program was created as a series of punch cards.

A box or at least a rubber band for the punch cards were also important tools. Later, I was also given a portable punching machine, because I was allowed to patch corrections when seeing a customer. This was a huge distinction and I was truly proud of it.

Additionally, I had another tool of a totally different category. It was the thin and very well-structured Siemens calendar (for the OFK, the upper leadership, it was leather bound).

That was all and it was totally sufficient as far as tools are concerned. I still remember how, at the time, I bought a luxury tool from my private funds. A Texas Instruments wonder calculator. But that was more of a hobby and not really necessary – which is why I had to pay the approximately 600 DM from my own pocket. But my enthusiasm, and apparently also my income, were huge enough to cover it.

This calculator offered the octal (numbers 0 – 9) the se-decimal, and also the hexa decimal system (with numbers 0 – F – where numbers 0 – 9 were extended with A, B, C, D, E and F) and also made all the transformations. It was occasionally a useful tool, but above all it was something you could really show off with.

Please note what goes without saying: 
Of course, all calculators were based on the binary system and could only compute zeros and ones. They used the binary system (0 and 1). The first “dumps” were only zeros and ones and we needed to be able to read them.

Since in the binary system the notation tends to become rather lengthy, they quickly established bigger units that consist of two half-words, the bytes. For the process calculators, the “word” had 2 times 3 bits (so the byte still had three digits), whereas most other systems had the basic unit 4 Bit (= 1 Byte). The languages with the three bits were octal, those with the four bits se-decimal.

Consequently, the dumps became smaller and, depending on the assembler, consisted of the numbers 0 to 7 or 0 to 9, extended by the letters A – F.
To this day, I remember that one of the assemblers I programmed had the se-decimal word 07FF (binary expression: 0000 1110 1111 1111) for the machine command “release control”. I forgot everything else.


🙂 Here comes more for managers.

Later, I replaced the Siemens calendar with an “Löhn Kalender” It was a small ring binder (also rather expensive) with many compartments that more or less had the functions of today’s outlook. You could buy it in plastic or real leather. It did not take long before I had the leather version. This tool supported my lengthy metamorphosis from being a programmer to being a manager/entrepreneur.

There was a huge disadvantage to the “Löhn” calendar: it could not talk. Consequently, I missed appointments in my life as a manager because I was so fascinated with my work as a programmer that I never realized how quickly time had flown.

This is why I did not remain faithful to the “Löhn” calendar and substituted it with an electronic assistant. It was a Texas Instruments device that used to be part of the Electronic Organizer family (Personal Organizer).

Its functions were fewer than those of the “Löhn”, but it could make a wake-up noise. Thus, I always heard it when, shortly before my appointments, it gave a bleep, which meant that my arrival on time for my appointments was drastically improved. And if you compare the price with that of my TI calculator for octal, decimal and se-decimal calculations, the small miracle system was almost cheap.

Incidentally, these devices were later combined to become the, also new, mobile telephone. For me, the mobile phone and the organizer are something like the father and mother of our modern “Smart Phone“.

So much on my own tool history, which later continued with the use of my laptop, airbook and tablet.

What tools does a leader need?

This question is about as silly as asking: “what tools does a cook need?”, without mentioning what the cook is supposed to cook. The only answer I can think of is: “his common sense and probably a kitchen knife”.

The correct question would be what tools will a person need in order to prepare a certain meal. If I want to feed my guests cheese fondue, then this is totally different from potato dumplings or fried chicken or raspberry ice cream or goulash out of the tin! If I want cheese fondue, then the most important ingredient is high-quality cheese with the right taste (which is also true for Swabian Käs-Spatzen). And the right wine. And the right white bread. As you see, it is not the tools that make the difference, but the ingredients!

Now you might counter that you cannot really compare a leader personality with a cook. Because, after all, the latter is a craftsman who, in the end, will serve something tangible and hopefully reasonable.

So we are looking for a job that comes closer to that of a leading personality? The pastor comes to mind. It is probably a better fit, because you do not get a result you can eat. The same is true for the manager.

SO: What tools does a pastor need?

I would say:
The bible and his spectacles if he cannot see too well any more. But perhaps, today, he has a bible download on his tablet. And if he needs an excel, then he made a mistake. Just like the leader.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

hy are you here? What is your goal?

That is the question you will almost always hear if you attend a personality-promoting seminar.

And, once, I heard the following reply.

“Power, Money, Women“.

To me, that sounded honest. At least as far as men are concerned, it seems to be the normal motivator. So it does not come as a surprise that, in such seminars, I almost exclusively meet men. In fact, it is also a match for our #metoo world. When all is said and done, everything will be as it will be.

I also heard many other answers to the question. They sounded nice. Mostly, however, they sounded like lies to me. Let me relate the following story.


You need to know that, like many other managers and consultants, I attended quite a few seminars and training camps on “promotion/building of personality for leaders and managers” during my active career. Initially, when I started my professional career with Siemens, I was more the engineering type person and was totally opposed to such seminars. I never volunteered to attend.

Roland on his way from the Jena Akademie-Hotel to the stadium (Carl-Zeiss).

When I moved on to the Softlab GmbH, my attitude changed. When I was around thirty, I attended a TPM (Training Psychologische Management) seminar. It was mandatory if you wanted to “move on”.

I was very sceptical when I went there – and returned enthusiastic. From then on, I was always the first to volunteer when a seminar “beyond the technological boundaries” was advertised. This is also how I first met Rupert Lay, who was going to become very important in my life. The same is true for other mentors.

The times when I was a newbie were not the only times when I witnessed that the coaches first asked the participants about their expectations. “Why have you come?“, or something like it is typically the first question asked at a seminar.

Today, I use this question whenever I open a seminar session, because I believe it makes a lot of sense. You get to know the seminarists and you can hear what their interests and needs are. If you are the coach, you can modify your own expectations to fit reality if they were too lofty. The question will definitely motivate people to think and it can also be used well towards introducing the really important issues that move us and that the participants are supposed to discuss.

During one of my first seminars under a famous coach, I heard the following answers to this central question:

… I am full of imperfections and want to improve on some of them. …

… I have a number of talents that I would like to give myself a chance to develop …

… at long last, I want to make that decisive step in my career I have been waiting for for such a long time. …

… I want clarity in my life and bring structure to same. …

… I strive towards an independent and responsible occupation because in my current job I am dependent on a systemic concern, which makes me unhappy. …

When questioned more persistently by the coach, some of the participants described in great detail what a great person they are and what a super position they hold. And that they want to climb up the ladder a bit more. And that, now, they want to learn how one can become even better and more important.

Well, that annoyed me a little. Everything was rather surreal, artificial and synthetic. Before I started, a gentleman (of course) spoke. Even his outward appearance seemed to radiate success. He also seemed absolutely charismatic.

His introduction was quite short:

I want more success!

When the coach asked back what exactly his definition of success was, his reply came immediately:

Success? For him, that was more power, more money and more women – in no particular order.

Wow! That was it. To me, this statement sounded somehow a lot more honest than what the men before him had said. Now they all looked like hypocrites to me. Perhaps this hypocrisy had annoyed him just as much as it had annoyed me?

I was the last to introduce myself. Prudently, I decided to say that

… I had not really given the question any thought and wanted to see what the seminar was going to do for me …

This statement was not really honest either. Instead, it was a carefully made statement that caused quite a few condescending looks from other participants. I read some incomprehension in those looks. How can anybody attend such an expensive seminar without having a goal at all?

These looks came especially from the hypocrites. Well, it was no surprise, because at the time I was by far the youngest participant and the only one who wore jeans and a polo neck sweater. None of the exclusive twine that the nobility wore. But I had learned: it is all about power, money, sex. It became clear to me at the time. And this insight is certainly something worth thinking about. Not just because of #MeToo.

After all, what is power? As I see it, power develops if you have special personal characteristics or if you have a special position or wealth. In our society, it is probably best if you have all three of them:

  • Personal characteristics
    On the plus side, this might include your good looks, your well-modulated voice, your height, elegant and suitable clothes, grace and authenticity, a good education, a pleasing personality, good manners and natural authority. People with these characteristics will certainly find it easier to get a good position than others.
  • Position

    Important positions in the state or in important institutions will “give you power”. The power of the office will transfer itself to the person. System agents pretend that the power of the system they represent is their own power.
  • Wealth
    Wealth gives you power. Others want a share of your wealth and consequently subordinate themselves. Incidentally, it was on purpose that I wrote wealth, instead of property. Because nobody is interested in whether or not the imperium has stability. The only thing that matters is its splendour. So what our protagonist wanted was more power (i.e., personality, position and wealth). But he also wanted that funny stuff.  Which is synonymous for money. Which brings us back to power.

In our society, only one basic right is important: the preservation of your achievements. We also have a mantra of faith: “If you have money, then there is nothing you cannot buy”. That includes power. You only need enough of it. This is how money and power become synonyms.

But our protagonist also wanted sex. Because in his (or in our general) concept, you can assume that there is nothing you cannot get if you have enough power and money.  Including all women.

Perhaps our successful protagonist just saw it as a good joke. Just like they do when they sell realty. They have three central criteria:
Location, location, location.
And perhaps all he wanted to say was that power, money and sex, in our #MeToo world, are synonymous anyway?

I fear that this is what characterizes our society. It polarizes. Money makes power – and – power makes money. And if you have both, you have everything. This is how our society and our planet will collapse.

And what is our reaction? We get upset about sexism. Perhaps even rightly so. But it would be better if, just because of a little sexism, we would not totally forget the other catastrophe that ruins our world (money and power…).

Incidentally, if you work as a mentor, the question is also a good warming-up strategy. For instance, I often ask new mentées what they would wish to achieve as a result of our mentoring in the future. I often hear quite appealing replies.

At one time, a young man answered that it is his goal in life to fight extravagance. Because he detested “waste“. And that this was actually the reason why they selected me as his mentor! Because everybody knows that I, too, detest “waste“!

That is true. And it made my day. We started our work. And it turned out well!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday May 5th, 2018

People and Their Characteristics

WARNING:
The following text might be a little hard to digest for many of you.

A few years ago in the South Sea – guaranteed to be far removed from seminars and all kinds of mentoring.

It is not the people who are good or evil but what they do.

For me, this is a very central idea from the age of enlightenment.

Similarly, you can say
It is not the managers who are correct or incorrect but their decisions.

“Incorrect” in this context means “wrong“.

Mind you, it is even more problematic when it comes to decisions than when it comes to behaviour. What you do often has consequences. More often than not, you cannot really know, even à posterior, what consequences your decisions really had for the enterprise or for the world. Because the question is always ”how real is reality?“, which you can read about in Watzlawick. And decisions that seemed to be the right decisions at the time often turn out to have been totally wrong in retrospect.

You cannot give people and managers characteristics like good or evil. They are not gear-wheels that function as part of a clockwork in your family or enterprise.

With humans, even trivial measurements such as weight and height are not too easy. You see a tall lady with unbelievably long legs – then she takes off her shoes and becomes a dwarf. An overweight person might easily turn into a slim one because he lost 20 kilograms.

Nor can you decide about beauty. One day, the hero shines in all his splendour wearing his gala uniform; but what about when he wakes up hungover and has not shaved (for reasons of gender fairness, I chose a male example and abstained from using the example of the one-night stand and the terrible morning after).

With intelligence, there is also no objective measure. You determine the I.Q. – but what about emotional intelligence , see Emotionalen Intelligenz in his book ”EQ … “.

Consequently, we should not give people characteristics such as fat, tall, beautiful or intelligent. They are frivolous and inadequate. But you can do a lot worse.
Some people told me that I am a “brain-controlled person”. Others testified that I am a “person who decides following his gut-feeling“.

They all were persons who are close to me and presumably even meant well by me. They believed they had learned enough about me to judge my personality. And they pitied me because they believed that I, being a brain-oriented or gut-oriented person, cannot do a fair job as a manager.

These – incidentally they were all male – people all saw themselves as great leaders. I saw them as idiots, or rather: I perceived them as such.
But that is exactly what it is all about:

It is all just our perception.

We all wear masks and act in the way we think we need to inter-act, which does not make communication and understanding easier. This is how we are (too) quickly prepared to make others look “smaller”, rather than “taller”.

There is no such thing as a person who is “brain-oriented or “gut-oriented“, “cold“ or “emphatic“, “sensitive“ or “insensitive“, “weak“ or “strong“, “emotional“ or “unemotional“, etc. These are all values you cannot measure. Regardless of the fact that some charlatans claim that they can do exactly that and make a lot of money selling the idea.

It is something we should permanently remember.

Especially, we should be careful when it comes to our self-perception. It is mostly wrong!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I can easily prove this last statement by relating discussions with many people who come to see me as my mentées. More often than not, it is truly shocking for me to see how they make themselves look small.