Roland Dürre
Monday February 18th, 2019

Love it, change it or leave it!

The Projekt Magazin invited me to enter in this year’s blog parade.

Since I like the organizers of Projekt Magazin, Petra Berleb and Regina Wolf-Berleb very much and since I also love their product, I agreed with pleasure and will write down my ideas here.

The Blogparade topic is:
Our work is now agile/digital/self-organized! 
More success through new freedom in the project, or just much ado about nothing?
I will just copy and paste the questions and ideas from the invitation and then give my own comments.

Here are the questions and my answers:



What flexibility for trying other approaches and consciously choosing new and easier ways do you have in your projects?


During my years as an employee at Siemens and Softlab, I was extremely lucky in that there was a cooperative trust culture in the areas I worked in, which means I had a lot of leeway. And since I usually worked successfully, the freedom grew.
;-). Because if you are a success, you are mostly right. That was in the 1970ies and the early 1980ies.

Except that the situation in the enterprises started to get worse. As I understand it, the reason for this lay in the widespread systemic increase of various trends that complemented each other. For instance when priority was given to the shareholder value  and when there was an increased belief in the introduction of processes. I also mean the use of  Key Performance Indicator systems (KPIs) for enterprise control that increased bureaucracy and the certification of all sorts of processes. More and more Taylorism created silos that paralysed each other.

The goal was to get rationally controlled, perfect and powerful enterprises that were thus brought into a position that gave them the chance to not only survive, but also become number one in the harsh competition. The employees were provided with target agreements, which was based on the assumption that you could motivate people through material promises. What a concept of humanity is that?

The enterprises wanted to be in a position where they can control (manipulate) the market – and eventually the consumer. Today, they look like over-regulated and trained powerful elephants. Creativity, courage and joy have disappeared like the multitude of species in nature. To these enterprises, it comes as a surprise that they are now overtaken and left behind by new enterprises.

As a small programmer, I was not able to change my elephants. In order to prove that shared work is also possible with another philosophy, I had to found my own enterprise.

My first step towards founding an enterprise was trying to find a like-minded partner. That was not easy. After I had found him, Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly founded the InterFace Connection GmbH (today: InterFace AG) in 1984. In the IT sector, it was easy to found an enterprise, partly because we were in the possession of superior knowledge that was very well paid.

The name Connection stood for a group of conspirators who wanted to move together and do something great in an agile way and at eye-level. And I still believe that you have a lot more leeway as an entrepreneur – if the incoming money is more than the outgoing money. And in those days, this was certainly possible in the sector digitalization, even and especially if you did some unconventional things.

 


To what extent do enterprises leave their project leaders, scrum masters and product owners and counsellors enough leeway when it comes to their choice of procedure in project planning, communication and the way they organize the cooperation in the team (self-organization)?


Naturally, this depends very much on the enterprise. Especially huge concerns have problems with this. For a successful medium-size enterprise, it is often something that goes without saying. For instance, some huge enterprises have decided they want more agility and want to achieve this through Change Management. They often invest a lot. More often than not (almost always), the concept fails. If they are lucky, they get biotopes, but those will soon dwindle and disappear.

I get the impression that it is very hard or even impossible to change huge, often non-personalized social systems. Especially, it will not be a success if the initiative comes from above. Personally, I am not sure if you can actually teach the elephant to dance  (Elefanten tanzen lernen cited:  Dr. Marcus Raitner).

 


And what are the successful approaches?


That is very easy: you have to trust that the people in the enterprise can actually do it. You need no experts. Everybody must be competent in their specific trade (in our company, this was programming). But everybody should also be willing and allowed to also deal with the special topics, such as delivery on time, quality, knowledge about the customers, integration, the building, security,… And you want to ask everyone to participate in everything: writing the manual, teaching customers and planning the product. Even ambitious goals. 
And you will want to let people participate when you get the result. You will celebrate successes, but you will also have a party after a downfall, by way of consolation.

 


The underlying question is also whether or not the hype about agile enterprises and the demand to have a culture that puts more the humans into the centre will be taken up and realized in the long term by organisations. Project teams in particular have the chance to initiate change in an enterprise. Can and should they simply work changes? Will anybody appreciate it if they try to break obsolete processes, strict hierarchies and silo-thinking – or will they then be considered saboteurs who bring disorder to an enterprise?


I am trying, both in private life and in projects of my professional life. After all, I want to be happy, don’t I?

What you need is joy at what you do. That includes work. For joy, you need courage. If I am in a situation that I do not love, then I need to change it. And if I can see that this will not be possible, then I need to leave it.

However, I am well aware that the principle “love it, change it, or leave it” is often easier said than done if you are dependent upon someone. The problem is that you are dependent.

 


Apart from this, I am interested in your motivation if you try innovations in your projects. Are you doing it because you get the impression that the old processes are not what we need in the future? Or are you doing it because you want to have a sharper profile as an project manager and entrepreneur? Or is it because it is what your boss and the members of your team want?


For me, this does not need motivation. All we need is openness. And if I attend a Barcamp such as PM-Camp where other people report what innovative things they did and if I like what I hear, then I am keen to try it myself.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 13th, 2019

Meetings & Conferences!? (Entrepreneur’s diary #130)

I no longer attend as many meetings and conferences as I used to. Consequently, I also no longer suffer under pointless loss of time as I used to. The question is: What is worse? Conferences or meetings?

Innovate Session at the (Zurich?) PM-Camp

I do not know. Both are usually boring. But you absolutely have to be there.

At conferences, you meet speakers who are enthusiastic about something that is news to them, but it is often extremely old news to you.

Others demonstrate what great personalities they are and distribute their knowledge in huge quantities. Or else, they have boring stupid jokes and useless information.

The presentations are often stiff, the slides are just routinely read out. You can clearly see that the mostly male speaker did the same presentation often before. He just changed the place, date and event on the slides this morning.

In my opinion, traditional conferences are a leftover of feudalism. On a classical conference, two castes meet – the speakers and the listeners. The speakers are paid and enjoy other privileges, while the listeners must pay and shut up.

More often than not, you get a terrible noise background – always one-way. During the breaks, you actually interact, but then you will soon be sent back to the lecture halls by the “orderlies”.

I prefer anti-conferences, such as OpenSpace and Barcamp.

There are fewer conferences and workshops than meetings. You attend a workshop with something in mind, because you want an advantage or you want to meet someone. You can actually skip it. On the other hand, if there is one of the often terrible meetings, you have the obligation to attend. The only way to avoid them is if you are very high up in the hierarchy.

And whenever you are sitting in a meeting, the “important people“ will often be late or start the meeting by giving their attention to their smartphones. As soon as everybody has arrived, the meetings can start. They end because the scheduled time is over and one of the important people has his/her next meeting. You rarely get much more than poor compromises.

Here is what I recommend with respect to meetings.

Both big and small concerns have far too many meetings. A wise friend of mine is trying to do something about this. He gives his customers the following rule:


Whenever there is a meeting, all the attendees ask the question: Does this meeting really make sense? If more than one person says: no, then the meeting is immediately to be terminated and everybody goes back to work.


Even in big concerns, this concept is very successful. If we want this procedure to become a success, then we need a little civil courage. But in a halfway civilized world, it actually works.

If everybody thinks they should have a meeting, you need a format. Because without structure, you mostly only get small talk. And thus, you will only get a result with a lot of luck (and after a lot of time). The format depends on what the goal of the meeting is.

Is the meeting because you want to find solutions and reason (creative) or is it more for team-building (mental)? Do you want the meeting to give you courage? Or is there a hard decision that needs to be made and cannot be made merely rationally because of a multi-dimensional problem (please remember that, per definition, decisions will always be made under uncertainty)?

You might decide upon the ars construendi, a game, a debate, etc. You might want support through dialectic rules and suitable tools (visualisation, haspic experience, … ).

And if the meeting is important but nobody knows why, then you can ask the important question. What exactly is our problem? Incidentally, this question is not asked often enough.

And then you choose the simplest of all formats and make it a  lean coffee. I also recommend a common time-boxing for each topic and an accompanying review of all decisions. Time-boxing means that you want to decide in advance – before starting the debate about a topic – how many minutes (!) you are going to give the problem. And with “review of decisions”, I am referring to a constant evaluation whether or not the priority of topics you decided upon is still relevant or if there have been changes.

You should use the first three minutes of a meeting to come to a common decision about which of the established communication formats you want. And then you can start. And sixty minutes later, you are finished. If you need ninety minutes, it is high time to stop and answer the question: what went wrong?

I can guarantee that, if you apply these rules, your meetings will be shortened considerably and, in return, they will give you more results. And you will actually experience that they can be fun. And sooner or later, these meetings will actually give you the shared flow that you need so badly for a successful co-existence

So: have courage and just try it. And if you are a little helpless, then why don’t you take an easy, agile and unpretentious moderator. There are many of them around.

RMD

P.S.
For more articles in my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

A positive example: Hype Cycle following Gartner Inc.

I have now spent fifty years doing digitalization. Among other things, I witnessed many hypes.

In this article, I will write about the hypes I remember. Mind you, this is not a scientific work. It is more something to bring a smile to your lips.
Let me report.

First: what exactly is a hype?

It is quite easy:
There is a trigger. It can be a technological advance, a single event or a mass hysteria…

Then the gold-rush will begin. And, more often than not, there will be a bitter ending… 
It often ends with:
A waste of effort.

Here are a few indices for hypes:

  • The number of newly founded enterprises on hype.
  • The amount of investment capital in the hype environment.
  • The number of presentations given by politicians, analysts and other wise-guys on the topic (mostly they do not understand anything about it).
  • And others (all you have to do is think a little, then you will come up with enough).

Currently, everybody is talking digitalization. It is a mega hype that consists of many sub-hypes.

Hypes around Digitalization

In the 1970ies, I worked at Siemens in “industrial informatics” (that is how I called it). It was really engineering stuff. We programmed in the classical way. For instance operating systems, modules for remote data processing and computer networks, databases and transaction monitors.

All this is not very exciting. And it is also rather hype-free. Simultaneously, hypes like small computers that could play games, were invented. That was decidedly more exciting.

AI

The first hype I experienced consciously from the outset was the AI hype. Everyone who considered himself modern did a bit of Artificial Intelligence. For me, in the industrial computer science, the topic was out of reach.

In those days, the magic word was expert systems. It was particularly popular in such sectors as medicine. The workshops on AI were full of digital dreamers.

On top of the expert system, there were also nice exotics – some friends of mine, for instance, worked on a system that was supposed to hear from the noise of a chopper if all was fine inside. Well, if I am correct, I have to write that is what they tried – the project never became reality. So this is another one of those hype fates.

Those were the days when two programming languages divided the AI community into two: For the one group, Lisp was the only true AI language, for the other group, Prolog.

As far as Prolog was concerned, I soon saw that the hardware was not yet good enough for the costly back-tracking. Regardless, much was done with Prolog, especially in Japan. As far as I know, the projects were mostly academic – and not much was actually achieved. There was also a hobby version. It was called turbo Prolog (in analogy to Turbo-Pascal). At the time, one of the InterFace enterprises was the InterFace Computer GmbH. They probably had the world’s best Prolog. And the development of IF Prolog actually ruined the enterprise. To this day, I know nothing about Lisp.

There was no definition that indicated how artificial intelligence differs from normal intelligence or from algorithmically determined software. As you all know, there is another AI hype today. And whenever I ask one of the speakers how he would define artificial intelligence, I seldom get a good answer. Later in this article, I will give you my personal definition – but I am not sure that this is any better than what I usually hear from the experts.

In my life, I knew many hypes. Big ones and small ones. There were so many of them that I definitely cannot remember them all. Here are some of them (those that I remember):

Very early, there were the hybrid calculators. The synergy between analogous and digital concepts was supposed to open up new dimensions. This hype ended before it even seriously started. Then I remember the Ontologies. They were sponsored like no other informatics topic. Risc processors were supposed to make servers faster. Object-oriented programming was a hype and it had a few smaller children, such as object-oriented databases. Some of it disappeared, some became the generally accepted standard.

There was a time when everything was about what colour your office was. To be sure, today this is all self-evident, but my HIT/CLOU customers from the finance sector were really enthusiastic about the colour “RED” (for the red numbers on their balance sheets …).

The wish to have colour also promoted the client-server hype. It was based on colourful Windows PCs and, as I see it, it was to a huge extent due to people wanting to play Solitaire on their computers. The “organizer“ was hype until the smart phone replaced it as a combination of organizer and mobile phone. And on all these devices, you can also play solitaire.

Then there was the hype of rich clients (basically, today every smart phone is a rich client).

At the same time, the internet came. And later the WWW2. So we had two hypes simultaneously. The difference lay in the fact that some people had discovered that the internet was not only made up of consumers. This had been the case from the outset, because without someone offering something, there is nothing to read.

For twenty years, I have now regularly served on the jury board of BayStartUp (that is the enterprise that organizes the Business-Plan-Competition in Bavaria – and it now also has other things on offer for people who want to found an enterprise). So there I see what hypes are currently en vogue. Here are some of them:

There were times when most of the young entrepreneurs wanted business models around APPs in order to later develop PORTALS.

Two years were mostly about 3D printers. In between, we also had the 3D spectacles and the accompanying infra structure. … 
(Incidentally, 3D printers are a good example for how a patent can encumber the development of something and how, as soon as the patent has run out, the technology will prevail). 
As to 3D spectacles: there was one under the Christmas Tree three years ago at our home. At the time, I found the possible content rather weak – and it probably did not improve with time.

There was also a time when block-chain was totally fashionable. It might even take a top position as far as hypes are concerned – especially if you also consider the speculation money that was thrown into it.

One of the less noticed hypes is probably currently the use of sensors. After all, they will see to it that we will soon no longer talk about a human-machine interface, but about a world-machine communication instead. The humans will then only be part of the world (hopefully not a too disruptive part).

Many fellow hypers already warn against the dictatorship of machines. However, it will probably not be more damaging than the man-dominated governments.

Today, it is quite clear:
The current hype is again AI. In combination with big data. This is how we are warned against an atrocious world – and how we paralyse digitalization with data protection. This deprives us of many social chances. And we forget that AI and big data are only technological progress. Which always changed society. Mostly, life became easier.

To be sure, it was always important to tread carefully where technological progress was concerned. Humanity has not always succeeded in this.

This is why I also like Bertrand Russell:
» Every increase in technology will also bring an increase in wisdom, provided it does not decrease human happiness. «
I like to mention the motorized individual traffic. It destroys the planet and causes 1.3 million fatalities every year and several times that number in injured persons. They probably lacked wisdom when they invented it.

But then, who could have known this a hundred years ago? I believe technological progress will always cause change. And where there is change, there is always risk. However, if you consider the risk, you should not forget about the chances. Especially since mostly you only see the true disadvantages a posteriori. This is why I believe you should be cautious (wise) but not fearful (stupid) when it comes to hypes.

To me, the entire hype about data protection and data security looks like a good example of a very special kind of swarm stupidity – I adopt this term from Gunter Dueck.

From Philosophy to Technology.

The hardware that is used for digitalization still works with the same principles as in the 1970ies. The enormous progress we perceive as far as calculators, connections and storage (the holy trinity of IT) are concerned is a consequence of  Moore’s Laws  (Moore’sches Gesetz of 1965). This explosion in pattern recognition is a fantastic basis for many applications.

The principles his kind of AI follows are fairly old. Turing described it many decades ago – I think in the 1940ies.

It caused huge progress in the recognition of speech, which, basically, is nothing other than the interpretation and application of patterns. This is the central requirement for the new kind of software that is self-learning when it comes to translating languages and steering a car. Basically, it simply was not possible in old times by what we then had in terms of hardware.

For instance, Deepminds Alphazero-AI managed to beat the best Asian GO player, and after a short time it also managed to hammer Goldfish (the best chess game) . Mind you, the Chinese now woke up as far as GO is concerned. They now invest money and manpower in unbelievable quantities to promote AI. And they will soon take over the Americans with their old Watson and perhaps also Googles Deepmind.

🙂 And just like the Chinese, the Bavarians now also woke up … and they want to show the Chinese what they can do – which is something to make the experts in digitalization smile. To be sure, the videos show a lot of space science. Eventually done by robots. For both, you need IT and AI. And that is not something you get for a few million euros. You will need to invest billions.

Of course, in Bavaria, they not only gave a nice performance. They also backed it with activity. So they installed a  ministry for digitalization and made a young lady named Judith Gerlach the State Minister for Digital Affairs in Bavaria on November, 12th, 2018.

Mrs. Judith Gerlach was born on November, 3rd, 1985 in Würzburg. She is married and Roman-Catholic and the mother of two children.

She is young, since she turned 33 years at the end of 2018. And it is certainly to her credit that she has two children. After all, I, too, learned a lot about digitalization from my children.

Her CV shows that she is a highly qualified lawyer. This makes me a little thoughtful, because it sounds more like data protection than like high technology. I wonder if she knows what exactly an operating system is. But perhaps her counsellors know all about it?
On the page you find if you follow the link above, the State Minister wrote:


“I see extremely good chances for Bavaria. We already put ourselves to the top of the queue in many sectors of digital development and we will continue to focus all our power in order to develop new technologies and use them in a socially responsible way. To this end, the new Ministry of Digitalization serves as motor, coordinator and think tank.“

Judith Gerlach, MdL 
State Minister


If she knew her business, she would never have written such a sentence. Or else, she would have asked someone to proofread it before publication, for instance someone sitting in the Bavarian ZD.B, which is also a foundation of the Free State and where people actually know something about it.

But then, being competent in the legal sector, she always has a good excuse. How is she supposed to know where Bavaria (or Germany and Europe) are digitally situated if compared to the world standard?

Perhaps it is a new (old) hype that we now use legal experts for the social design of our technological advancement (digitalization is nothing else)? That guarantees at least that the AGBs (and data security) will be perfect.

You will find information about the international position of Europe if you take a look at the Economic Partnership Agreement EU-Japan ( EPA, or JEFTA ) that was recently signed.
A single sentence states that Japan will lower the custom duty rates for European farming products and in return Germany will lower those for high tech products from Japan.

The trend seems clear: Bavaria and Europe are on their way to becoming farming countries. Maybe along with being a tourism country. We are certainly nowhere near the top when it comes to high tech exports. This is not only true for international trade agreements, but also for the technological reality.

Just look at the problems we have with 5G and Huawei. I remember my first Siemens job. Communication was a hype. And at the time, nobody could do anything without Siemens in communication technology. Today, however, nothing can be done without (red) Chinese technology. Nobody will pay anything today for yesterday’s joy.

The aforementioned sentence by the State Minister sounds like mockery:
We (Bavaria) are already at the top of digital developments in many areas.
The opposite is true.

To me, it is a surprise that the powerful VDA (Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V., Behrenstraße 35, 10117 Berlin) did not sabotage the EPA/JEFTA agreement. After all, the Toyotas might now well enjoy a price drop of 10 %. Mind you, I do not think the Japanese will be stupid enough to let the German Idiota drivers benefit from what they saved in duties (excuse the primitive pun).

Is it possible that the VDA currently has other things to worry about, because by now our holy cow Motorized Individualized Traffic has become a sector where others are miles ahead in technology?

The trade agreement is very beneficial for Germany as the world’s number three meat exporter. Especially with respect to pork, we are far ahead of everyone else – and this will soon also have the label “animal welfare” authorized by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Maybe this will cause a new pork hype.
I think it is all rather surreal?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
So now I still owe you my definition of AI: 
As I see it, an Alg-SW becomes an AI software 
if it realizes its functional added value through learning and practice. In other words, it must collect and analyse many patterns that can then be correlated and evaluated with results in order to build up a huge amount of knowledge from experience. 
This is probably a little like the human brain works.

P.S.1
Here is my first Jubilee Article  after 50 years of IT.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday February 5th, 2019

The Future and Gambling.

Is there anyone who does not like bets? Especially if you are really an expert? As most German men are when it comes to soccer?

For me, the future has always held a special fascination. One of my early dream jobs, along with film producer, was futurologist. Later, I became a programmer and IT entrepreneur. My specialty was digitalization – which means I tried to predict its future. Mostly, my predictions were wrong, because the technological development was faster than I had expected. The only exception were the flat-screens. I was wrong about them, too. It took a lot longer than I had predicted for the flat-screen to replace the CRT monitor.

Occasionally I also tried to predict the future outside the field of IT. There is a nice story about this. It was a bet where I won a box of champagne – which I never received. Regardless of the fact that they say betting debts are honorary debts.

Here is the story.

This is the year 1993. The Focus just appeared for the first time. It is said to be an alternative for Spiegel readers, the German news magazine created and sold by Hubert Burda Media.

April 1961 – when the news magazine actually still was a news magazine.

One of my highly appreciated employees – let us call him A. – bought an early edition of the news magazine FOCUS and read it on his way home from a customer. He showed me the magazine because he found it an outrage. He was quite appalled by the superficiality and partiality of the magazine.

A. believed that the project FOCUS will have to fail and that the magazine would quickly disappear from the market.

Spontaneously, I tended towards agreeing with A. To me, the sorry effort also looked atrocious. I agreed with A: The FOCUS is too colourful, to garish and too simple. It is superficial and primitive.

But then – is that not what our society has come to? And the future? Consequently, I contradicted A. We had a dispute and eventually we made a bet. The bet was formulated and the loser has to pay a box of champagne.


A. and Roland betting. Roland assumes that the FOCUS will be a success and that the magazine will still exist ten years from now. Andreas bets that the FOCUS will have disappeared before ten years are over.
The loser has to give the winner a box of champagne.


I make an entry in my diary and wait. Ten years later (2003), I stand as the winner. However, I do not get the champagne. A. ignores my demand.


Today (2019), after more than 25 years, they still both exist: the Spiegel and the FOCUS. Here are the current edition sales numbers (the Spiegel is still the winner).

Spiegel:
The number of sold copies is 712,268, which is a minus of 32.6 per cent since 1998. 
Focus:
The number of sold copies is 413,276, which is a minus of 47.2 per cent since 1998.


I do not know which of the two is the winner in online readers. It is no surprise that the hard paper copies get fewer. It seems that this is true for almost all newspapers and magazines (with the exception of very few, such as the brand eins). The number of copies printed (sold copies) and the advertisements therein (in T€) is on the decline.

As I see it, the Spiegel has moved towards the FOCUS. That is not an encouraging conclusion with respect to the quality of journalism in the one-time news magazine. The same is true for the fact that the best stories are those that have been made up.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Freedom? Morality? Principles? Facts? Certainties?

Using beautiful terms and buzzwords, both politicians and the marketing of huge concerns try to impress people (and motivate them to buy things). The former do it because they want our vote, the latter because they want our best – the funny stuff.

Consciously treating language shabbily is part of this “new dishonesty“.

Language is supposed to have a manipulative effect. There is an endless number of terms that are very suitable if you want to seduce people. These terms are used whenever someone says something great. In particular, it is used by people who believe they are in possession of the truth (if you are precise, you will have to call it certainty). They use terms they themselves do not really understand, but still they hope that, by using those terms, they can sell their certainties.

They will not concern themselves with what these words actually mean. Instead, they just parrot them. Consequently, we should put all statements that are put before us under really thorough scrutiny. After all, we live in times of irresponsible blabbering.

In 1983, I was lucky enough to attend a very high-profile management seminar on dialectics in Frankfurt under Rupert Lay. In those days, Rupert Lay had the reputation of being the German Nestor as far as “Ethics in Management“ was concerned. It was a very modern topic, almost “hype”. I learned a lot during that seminar. And I tried to continue learning for the rest of my life.

I was 33 years old when I learned language, i.e. when I learned what exactly it means to use language properly. Well, that is rather late, isn’t it? The six other seminarists were all top managers from industry or presidents of associations or politicians in high office. They were all around thirty years older than I. That means they were all a lot later than yours truly, doesn’t it?

After a short warming-up discourse, they all agreed that freedom was their most important property and that they would immediately die for it. When I distanced myself from these two statements, I was treated like a pariah. To be sure, I was the youngest, had the longest haircut and did not wear a tie. Consequently, these older silvery-haired gentlemen could not really take me seriously, could they?

Unfortunately, the entire affair was symmetrical. Because to me, these six persons looked very much controlled from outside, which means they were the opposite of free. To be perfectly honest, I thought my six co-participants in the seminar were the prototypes of unfree persons. They were typical system agents who were caught in their fascist jails.

This did not bode well for the entire seminar. Regardless, this seminar is where I started to see philosophy and rhetoric as something important in my life and to appreciate their value. Thus, I learned to listen carefully, to analyse language and to treat difficult terms with caution, rather than negligently. And ever since then, that is what I have tried to actively do.

Concerning the image below:
Be not afraid, my blog is not going to turn into advertising CDU. I will never vote for or support a party the members of which, shortly after WW-II, conspiratorially  and in secret meetings prepared for German re-armament, and then realized it against the protests of the people (and to the benefit of the German Armament Industry).

Because I believe that those were the days that a unique chance for us people was lost for good, just because some people were scared.

No, this is about the text on the poster, or rather the text on the tweet.

The picture illustrates a tweet that was shared by the verified account of the CDU (excluding Bavaria) .
Frau Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer forwarded this tweet under the account @akk . That is how it ended up with me.

Here is the text as it was shared by @akk at @CDU– Tweets with this picture:


In an interview with   admonished the readers: “I expect people who come into our country to accept our values – and above all, I expect us to fight for our values”.


To me, it seems like a sentence directly from marketing. In some way or other, it is a stroke of genius in its bi-polarity. After all, it contains a demand that seems to be easy to accept.

Those who “come to us” should “accept our values”. We, “since we are “us” because we are here already”, should fight for our values. Of course, the weak point in this sentence is the term “values”. What exactly are “values”. What exactly are our values?.

Why do we expect those who come to our country to know our values if we ourselves do not know them?
As I see it, it would be a huge social obligation to work out a consensus about what our values are. Even if you probably cannot solve this problem.

Here are a few ideas.
If I want to understand the meaning of “value”, I first look for related terms, such as morality and principles. I am looking for a general term (because it is easier to understand and describe a word if you have a general term you can use in order to distinguish between the less general terms. That is what you learn in the first semester if you study philosophy).

In Wikipedia, you will find an overview  on the individual letters of „VALUE“. The first cube contains an enumeration of how the word VALULE Is generally used. For our purposes, this is not helpful. Incidentally, this cube is not even complete: you will, for instance, not find what the “value” (content) of a variable is in the game with words used by programmers.
In our context, the second cube of the article is relevant. Here is what it says.

(Wikipedia – value – version of February, 3rd, 2019, second column of text)
Value stands fo:
• Ethics, i.e. characteristics and qualities that are considered morally desirable
• social norms , i.e. social regulations for how to behave.
• christian values
• Ethical values, see: ethical law

Well, I do not really know why Christian Values are part of the definition. I would find “religious” values more appropriate. You could exemplify them by using “Christian Values”. And you would then have to include the values of other religions. Perhaps you could also describe these values as mindsets. Consequently, our values would be described as our mind sets. But do we have a common mind set?

If, in our historic tradition, the Christian-Occidental values are propagated, then I always remember that, until the end of the 18th century, the Christians were also among those who supported and used serfdom , which is just another word for slavery  . Well, at least in my eyes that does not make the tradition any better. Bear in mind that mostly serfs were also dependants .The landlord was mostly also the owner of the farmer. And who owned the land?

I like the first entry in the upper cube ethics a lot better. We learn that this is all about our concepts of values. So what exactly are concepts? Visions or hallucinations? The entry also shows us how easily you get into close proximity of morality  that judges if we apply values. After all, morality is something that believes in possessing the truth about what is good and what is evil. Can you tell me what is good and what is evil?

In Wikipedia, you will also find on morality:

Morality is about mostly actual behavioural patterns , conventions and rules or principles of certain  individuals, groups or cultures.  . A violation of morality is called immorality. Amorality is the denial or the purposeful refusal of moral principles and can culminate in the total absence of moral feeling.

So now we are again dealing with patterns, conventions, rules and principles! So let us continue – which means we end up with an article about principles . Now things are really getting complicated. Consequently, we will only take one sentence:
Generally speaking, a principle is a maxim or a basic rule you stick by.

So now we can ask:
Did the author (I am sure it was not AKK herself who wrote it) really mean values with this beautiful advertisement? Or morality? Or principles?
Or does it mean that those who come to our country had better stick by our rules and regulations and that it is our job to see to it that said rules are not violated? 
- Which makes it sound quite differently.

I strongly suspect that the person who wrote this sentence did not even know what he or she actually wanted to say.
Because he or she did not think of such a thing (and perhaps was not even competent enough to think of it). It was simply going to be a nice marketing slogan that sounds nice and makes a good impression. Insofar, it is a good match with the general dishonesty in our communication.

If you are interested in finding out how Frau Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer interprets the sentence on the poster, why don’t you send her an email @akk and ask her?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday February 2nd, 2019

About To-Do and Not-To-Do Lists …


With my friend Dr. Marcus Raitner during the legendary Dornbirn PM Camp (2013).

There are some blogs that I enjoy reading and about which I also know that I can recommend every individual article therein. One of them is Führung erfahren, which is by Marcus Raitner.

Today, I read the current article by Marcus:
Von den Stoikern Gelassenheit lernen

In this article, Marcus, among other ideas, does some contemplation on Sylvester-Good-Intentions that later became non-existent. Let me cite:
“I was going to be more considerate with my time, I wanted to become more focused and better at giving the right things priority”.

And, of course (the “of course“ is my perspective), he did not succeed. Not because he was too weak. On the contrary: it is very normal that such rules will not work in life, as Marcus can testify: 
”As that of many others, my calendar is full and the five-hour rule as Bill Gates or Warren Buffet introduced it (invest five hours every week in reflections and learning) seems a thing that simply cannot be achieved”.

Quite apart from the fact (and this is again my personal view) that this five-hours rule is not a good one. If anything, you should plan to work a maximum of five hours organized by others on every workday (!) and to donate the rest of the week to yourself. I write “maximum”, because for me these five hours are already too much.

Here is another citation of Marcus:
“… is somehow or other interesting or important (or at least might be interesting or important) and thus the calendar is always more than full, which is also true for the to-do list. Consequently, focusing is first and foremost the question of knowing yourself.“

I do not believe in to-do lists and not-to-do lists. They do the opposite of what you hope they might do. However, self-realization is certainly an important requirement if you want to change. It is not just about priorities in the existing pattern of life or about doing things another way or breaking with a few patterns. The change has to be a radical one. You need to start a new life.

Here is what I propose: it is a good start for change in your own life if you just remove two things completely from your life. To me, the following candidates are obvious:

  • Driving cars.
  • Let the alarm clock wake you up.

Mind you, I do not mean this as a joke. If you manage to remove these two things from your life, you are well under way towards happiness. I managed both. And since I no longer sit in a car at regular intervals, I feel a lot better.

No longer driving a car means, for instance, that you ride your bike. Consequently, you have exercise, instead of having to sit still behind the wheel and never being able to relax mentally. You win time. And if they have no car, it means for most people that they need to work a lot less. After all, they no longer have to earn the money the car costs.

No longer having an alarm clock, too, changes your life dramatically. You get to sleep earlier, eat less at night and no longer schedule pointless meetings early in the morning. And the body will always get exactly the amount of sleep it actually needs. That makes for an increased health and better performance.

Especially entrepreneurs or managers (well, manager is an anti-word, it used to be the leader or the leadership role) can more easily determine what they want to do when, which is not so easy for the train driver or the general practitioner.

We entrepreneurs and leaders are very lucky in that respect, because we have a lot more flexibility than most people in this world. But we actually have to make good use of it – and we must set an example for the others as the leaders in new work. It is up to us.

The downside is that we have to kiss old habits good-bye. And nobody wants that. But it works! I can guarantee it. Just as I can guarantee by 100 % that, if you smile at the mirror, you will see someone smiling back at you. And that is a nice feeling. So: smile at the mirror, sell your car and lock up your alarm clock!

As it happens, 
Marcus gives us a nice metaphor:
“I am absolutely convinced that elephants can learn to dance.”

With Dr. Stefan Hagen, also during the Dornbirn PM camp of October 2013.

That is probably the only important issue where Marcus and I have different opinions.

The elephant metaphor means that huge concerns can actually become agile. I do not think that such a transformation is possible. And also, I cannot imagine that this might be the famous exception from the rule. Whenever I saw concerns try to transform, they failed in the end. In the best case, small biotopes were created, but they were always taken over by reality.

So I plead to abandon the business circus where strange but terribly well-paid actors of the genre business theatre want to make the elephant they administer (and exploit) dance. Let us start a beautiful work life. Where we, as lazy leaders, will limit ourselves to dedicating our time to people (for instance our employees and customers) and to be there when they need us!

Even if it means that we will then no longer get millions in income and compensation – as currently the stars in the business theatre do. None of them are really needed. 
🙂 Neither the millions, nor the business theatre.

RMD
(Translated by EG)