Roland Dürre
Sunday September 16th, 2018

Hambacher Forest. Ethics. Primary. Secondary. Virtue

Dracula as a Metaphor.

Years ago, I liked writing about ethics. For me, it was a very simple topic. It was primarily about virtues and the question which virtues are primary and secondary virtues. Then this sort of ethics started to get boring.

Now, what happens around brown coal in the Hambacher Forest makes me more concerned. In fact, I am not just concerned, I am appalled.

And I believe it is about time that we again talk about primary and secondary virtues.

When I was a child, I was taught many virtues. Well, it was more than just teaching, I was literally trained in them. It started with the demand that I should always be nice. I was to be washed clean at all times and my (short) hair had to be combed nicely. When adults were in a conversation, children had to shut up. I was admonished to be obedient, nice and never recalcitrant. However, the worst sins were if you lied or – God forbid – steal. Respecting the property of others and telling the truth at all times were the highest virtues of all.

As I grew up, I started to have my own ideas. And I understood very early on that there were quite a few glitches to my education. And that, for example, the categorical demands that you must not lie and must not steal will not hold after a thorough ethical test.

Later, I studied the philosophers and I remember reading the letters exchanged between the older Kant and a younger French philosopher. Well, the Frenchman with his arguments caused quite some sweat on the forehead of the then so famous and well-liked Kant. Kant’s reaction was very irrational and, in my opinion, very emotional.

This is how I learned that categorically sticking by the Eighth Commandment will certainly cause a lot of damage and thus can only be a secondary virtue. In fact, in normal life there are many situations where ethical behaviour actually forces us to lie in order to prevent damage to ourselves or others.

I also saw very quickly that the Seventh Commandment is not much better. I do not even have to mention Robin Hood and the questionability of a society that is dominated by property. It will suffice the imagine a child that might die from hunger but could be saved by theft.
This is why the Hambacher Forst Activists are definitely not criminals, even if they are not necessarily heroes.

Because they act upon virtues that I consider primary virtues. They are autonomous and they study the situation. They live up to virtues that I consider primary virtues, such as civil courage and constructive disobedience. They even do it in a very responsible and peaceful way.

The only thing I could ethically hold against these people in their tree houses is that they cultivate a martyrdom and that their actions in favour of a “good cause“ will eventually have negative consequences for their own lives. Because it is an important – and for me also a primary – virtue that your self-esteem is high and that you do not ruin yourself. Especially not for others!
Because, basically, we all know that matters cannot continue as they are, just like we also know that, when all is said and done, we will all suffer under the destruction of the world.

As opposed to an omniscient minister, I do not know what is the “mother of all problems“. All I can say is that I believe our system practices a very questionable approach on how to treat humans and nature.

We have several problems. The source of these problems are probably weaknesses in our approach to poverty, education, climate protection and mobility. The reason why our social system has these problems is probably that values, priorities and power structures have changed in our country and its politics.

For instance, we know that a polarization into poor and rich parts of the population can have quite unpleasant consequences. We also know that our social welfare state tumbles towards a future full of crises. We also know that our mobility with big cars and the combustion motor has no future. We also know that stricter speed limits on motorways, other streets and also in the cities are more than necessary. We also know that subsidies granted to the motorized traffic in general and to the Diesel engines in particular are total nonsense.

To be honest, we also know that electricity-powered vehicles will not improve the situation at all. On the contrary, they will have an even worse environmental footprint, especially if the electricity they need is produced from brown coal.

Incidentally, this is not only true for brown coal, but also for higher-quality coal that is processed by overexploitation in Australia, then driven to the coast, then loaded onto huge container ships and thus brought to Hamburg. In Hamburg, the coal will be distributed to various means of transportation – and later it will be used up somewhere in Germany. Well, this is certainly not a solution.

Most of the electricity we consume world-wide is made from coal. This is still true today! Regardless of the fact that there is now a social consensus that says we must not produce electricity from coal for many well-known reasons. However, we cannot manage the exit because of “economic interests“. Yet we need this exit very soon if we want to replace all those combustion motors by electrical solutions.

The opposing party for the activists at the Hambacher Forest is an industrial sector. Or rather: it is a concern the domineering and driving factor of which was the shareholder value over many decades. And it used all the legally possible – and sometimes even borderline legal – means to achieve a sensational shareholder value. Few sectors were able to make their shareholders as rich as the EVUs over a long period of time. It all happened at the cost of our environment and – as with (not only) nuclear energy – at the cost of our country. And it was all achieved through legal procedures, thanks to great lobbyism and soft blackmail.

Now more and more people want to change this, and for good reasons, too. Because they understand that it has to end. And soon. I mean people who show civil courage and who put the virtue of constructive disobedience over obedience. Even though they know that, in the end, they will stand no chance against the omnipotence of the country and business. Which is why their actions are detrimental to their own lives.

In my book, these people are not criminals but people who live important primary virtues. The only thing I regret is that they do not have the slightest chance of success – and that they should actually be aware of this. But then, this has always been the problem with idealism and idealists. Which opens yet another, totally different discussion.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday September 15th, 2018

Manifesto of Life

Currently, you get manifests like mushrooms sprouting from the soil, for example the Manifesto of New Work (Manifest zur neuen Arbeit) as a Microsoft (!) denomination on #newwork.

Inspired by #PMCampBER and beautiful discussions in the last few days, I now came up with a manifesto of life. Naturally, the agile manifesto (this time you get the link to the English version), stood in as a model.
Here is how my proposal for a manifesto of life:

 


 

Manifesto for Life

We are looking for values that make it possible to live in joy and with courage
and we try to live said values in our own lives and when in contact with others.
Looking for these attitude of mind, we learned to appreciate:

  • Self-responsibility and self-organisation beat being controlled by others and immaturity!
  • Values and positions beat morals and dogmata!
  • Love and peace beat hatred and war!
  • Freedom and abstinence beat suppression and extravagance!
  • Trust and transparency beat distrust and secrecy!

Signed by


Now all we need is a few equally minded people who wish to sign!?
(recommendations for improvements welcome)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
A short time ago, Dr. Marcus Raitner came up with 10 google theses for “good leadership” (10 Thesen von Google für “Gute Führung). They might be a good basis for a “leadership manifesto”.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday September 12th, 2018

Culture Engineering. Terminology. Methods, Tools

Wearing my new Hanseatic hat after my return from #PMCampBER in the Grosshesselohe forest restaurant.

Let me give you a short report on the PM Camp Berlin session on Culture Engineering before I will write about the “contradictions” in social systems. It was one of many exciting sessions I participated in at the anti-conference #PMCampBER.

The topic was “Culture Engineering” – as a method and tool that helps to influence, change and control the culture in a social system that has an economic goal, i.e., in an enterprise.

The person who had initiated the session himself had felt suspicious about the term “Culture Engineering”. His “feeling uncomfortable” was due to his scepticism about question if a culture can actually be actively influenced with an “engineering-approach“. He feared that such a concept could or would easily end in manipulation with negative or at least unpredictable results.

One session participant said that there is a successful “Culture Engineering“ stream of studies in Leipzig and that the graduates of this school are actually quite sought after by the human resources departments of companies, especially huge companies. I find this rather exciting, which means that we are in the middle of the world of culture engineering and human resource (HR).

As far as titles are concerned, I constantly get visiting cards with job titles such as engineer, officer, manager or president on them. And I must admit that, of all these titles, the one I like best is the engineer who, for instance, is in charge of a project. But “German-English“ is modern, so I am getting into it. Now we have the CEO, CTO and CIO  and, more and more often, also the CHRO (HR as an abbreviation for human resources). That is where you will find the innovation manager and the culture engineer. In general, I am quite suspicious of officers and managers, and the same is true for presidents and vice presidents.

In our session, the first thing we approached was terminology. Someone proposed that maybe we could say “culture gardening”, instead of “culture engineering”. I found this rather appealing. But then I thought that, in analogy to “garden cultivation”, the task could be called “cultural cultivation”.

Then we discussed the definition of entrepreneurial culture. We found the answer (from entrepreneurial theory):

Entrepreneurial culture is the memory of an enterprise.

😉 Honi soit qui mal y pense, but, for me, this is immediately associated with “memory manipulation”.


When I looked up the term in Wikipedia, I discovered a Wikipedia call on copyright.

I support this call with all my heart and consequently I publish it here.
However, I am not sure that it will suffice if you contact your representative in the European Parliament. You will probably have to do more than that.

Yet this is a good example for controlled change in values and rules. And the motives are very capitalist.


Back to Culture Engineering. As with many buzzwords, I find the term a little ridiculous. The same is true for a culture engineer or innovation manager at HR.

I certainly believe that you should be aware of and actively live the culture of an enterprise, just like that of all other social systems. And it is also quite legitimate to use modern technology and methods. But it is a something that must happen between the leaders and all the others. Leadership as defined in Google (see the article article by Dr. Marcus Raitner).

However, culture cultivation will only be a success if as many people as possible participate in the cultivation process – and I mean with a lot of attention and actively.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday September 10th, 2018

PMCamp Berlin – Experiences, Adventures, Contemplation.


The first day #PMCampBER 7/9/2018

Between September, 6, and September, 8, the sixth PM-Camp Berlin took place (PM-Camp Berlin). As always, it was an exceptional event. One of the reasons why it was excellent is the extraordinary quality of the organizational team and Ralf Eicher, another reason, naturally, are the more than 100 great people who took part.

As we all know, the train trip from Munich to Berlin is a mere “jump“ these days, which means it was no problem for me to go there. Since I am one of the PM Camp founders, I went to Berlin for more than just nostalgic reasons. I also wanted to retrieve my knowledge and learn new things. And, above all, I wanted to exchange ideas with nice people and simply share my experiences. As always, it was a total success. The two days were particularly nice because I met so many old friends.

And I returned with many new considerations and various insights. I also learned about tools and methods that had been unknown to me before. Let me share some of it here.

Again, I was part of LSP (Lego serios play). Julian Kea (known as @kiLearning in Twittter) showed us that, in a team with modern methods, you can actually do such as thing as Story making. Besides, I heard about tools such as the Mentimeter. With this tool, you can represent the mentality found in a creative community (that is ”the cultural standard of a social system or community“, also known as mind set) as a tag cloud in no time. This is really quite convenient.

The sessions on the following topics gave me a huge number of impulses:

  • “culture engineering“ as a science that strives towards finding methods that can change the entrepreneurial culture.
  • What exactly is meant with “coaching“ and “agile coaching, and the question
  • whether or not it makes sense for a medium-sized enterprise to position itself “against  right-wing populism”.

My experiences were so fundamental that I want to – and probably will – relate them in the IF blog.
Generally speaking, I once again realized to what a huge extent we are all responsible for our own actions. How it is important that we do not allow our rationality to suppress everything else. And during peer2peer conversations and rounds of different sizes, I also saw how many people, also as a community, can have a wonderful “mindset“ – which makes me look forward to the future.

However, I also noticed that most people have a basic conviction that I need to contradict. They assume that, in many dimensions of our life, we have a speed-up process and an increase in complexity that forces us to be prepared to accept change and innovation at all times. And the hope is that we will be better equipped to do this if we increase the agility in our lives.

Here is how that sounds:

“We have to become more agile in order to be better equipped to deal with complexity and acceleration and develop more resiliency and anti-fragility.“

Mind you, there is no doubt at all in my mind that some (or better: many) things both in our private and business lives will improve. But I am not at all sure that in our private and professional lives everything will really become more complex in the future. My experience (analysis) does not support such a statement, but my analysis should definitely be just as much under scrutiny as the following sentence:

“There is a lot of nonsense in all kinds of social systems – often bordering on mania!“

I will write a few articles on “the contradiction between processes and common sense” and “the contradiction between trust and secrecy” to illustrate this.

And I truly believe that an agile mindset – combined with a few shared values – can help considerably. The agile manifesto describes four huge contradictions and proposes positions that should be given priority (it is always the arguments on the left side that should have priority over those on the right side). I discussed this with many people and the majority of them saw it as I see it. Here is my link to the German version of the agile manifesto although I like the English version better.

Back to #PMCampBER. Yes, it was great. Many thanks to all the participants, and, of course, especially to the orga team.

I am inspired and look forward to writing about “contradictions” as a fundamental problem of the culture in social systems. I also believe this might be a good topic for a future PM Camp session – wherever it takes place.

RMD
((Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday September 6th, 2018

Vacation. Over. Short Report and Contemplation.

The campground directly on the ocean.


Now we are back. The vacation is at an end.


On the first September Sunday, we went back to where autumn greeted us. After more than two weeks of the simple lifestyle under the Greek sun. It was not a luxury vacation – it was very hot, we spent a lot of time in natural surroundings with little civilization and very basic sanitary facilities. But there was plenty of swimming and riding our bikes – and there was much to enjoy every day.

And, once again, a deflated tyre.

When we were riding our bikes, the thorns were often a nuisance, because they kept puncturing our tyres. Mosquitoes were after us and small fish kept nibbling where the mosquitoes had bitten us. It was really hot and quite warm in the tent, even at night. The fresh wind and the ocean were extremely welcome.

It was no luxury vacation, but we had a great time with many experiences. Riding our bikes, there was much we really got a chance to inspect closely. There were up to five grandchildren and they all enjoyed the days just as much as the grown-ups. Naturally, that was a particular joy for us.

Once, it even rained.

There was one rainy day, after which the days were only slightly colder. At night, there were no lights and we saw the stars – during the middle part of our stay, we even saw the full moon. The stellar configurations I had learned as a young boy re-appeared.

And, in the middle of one night, I was wondering what it would be like if the sun were not to rise one morning. To be sure, I was well aware of the fact that, so far, this is not very likely to happen. But do we really know? Well, I can only say that I was quite happy to see the sun rise every morning!

In this simple world, I understood how important the sun is for us humans – and why, over many millennia, the human race saw the sun as a deity.
The beauty of nature has always impressed us.

During our bike tour.

You only have to ride up a mountain, and already you see the world below become smaller. Unfortunately, what you see is sometimes misleading – more often than not (too often), there is a lot of trash hidden among the beauty. Our paradise, too, has its set-backs.
Another notion gave me pause. Because I swam along the beach every morning and then went on a leisurely stroll on my way back. I was really looking forward to my cup of coffee for breakfast. And on the way, I had to climb over quite a lot of small rubbish.

No beach is free of trash.

And I though: “Why don’t I carry a plastic bag with me on my swimming/hiking tour, so I can collect all these many straws? It would certainly do me no harm, would it? And I should have enough of a personality to not mind people certainly then looking at me in a strange way.“
🙂 And perhaps the Goddess Sun would like such behaviour?
However, the next morning came and I had forgotten the small plastic bag, which means the plastic rubbish was not picked up.

On the Mavrouni cemetery, the corpses can see the ocean.

So far remote from the noise of our cities, you also start thinking about life and death. And you realize that camping might also be one of those things that potentially get a little harder as you grow older. Regardless, I would like to try it again. And if I can still do it next year, I will carry a small plastic bag whenever I go swimming in the morning – and then I will collect some trash on my way back. And I will not mind if people look at me in that peculiar way!

I promise!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 2nd, 2018

SIEMENS. #MyLife

Siemens technology as I experienced it during a wonderful trip to the Veragua-Rainforest and Puma Waterfall Research Centre in Costa Rica

In the early 1970ies, while studying in Munich, I ended up at Siemens AG. I was a working student at Kopp-Strasse. My office was there and our tests were done at the Feurich Building IT Laboratory. The Kopp-Strasse was beyond the “Hofmannstrasse” compound, the Feurich Building inside.
Siemens was a wonderful enterprise. Perhaps it is (was)  The German Enterprise.

Our motto was “building high technology for and with everything that is related to electricity”. There were more than 20 sectors, and every one of them did exceptional technological work. We complemented each other in a synergetic way. In addition, the entire enterprise was under excellent business leadership.

In the technological areas, there was an atmosphere of departure. The challenges were never big enough and the solutions were absolute works of genius.

In those days, the directors were very approachable. One of them described his view of his role as follows:

“Most of the more than 25 Siemens AG departments are doing economically very well. There are a few that need a little extra help. It is my job to make those strong again. I am not worried that there will be a day when I no longer have any work, because it is quite normal that another “strong” sector will need a little support at some time”.

To me, that sounded plausible. Such is life, also business life. There is no such thing as continuing top performance. Consequently, it is also quite normal that one sector or another will occasionally need some support.

I admired the economic strength and the exceptional business competence of the enterprise as a total unit. That was something that clearly distinguished us – Siemens – from the competition, such as AEG or Telefunken. As far as D was concerned, also from Nixdorf. And when occasionally some people lovingly and with irony called Siemens “a bank with an electronics sub-sector”, then this was not something I found so bad. It is quite a good idea for an enterprise to have “the funny stuff”.

Their mentality, at least as far as engineering areas were concerned, fascinated me. We worked in the same way as employees at google later told me they worked (during the good years). There were huge technological challenges, a high degree of self-responsibility and a faire error tolerance in case of failure. In addition, they had a clear reporting strategy without any restrictive processes and roles. Those were virtues that catapulted us to the front in technology. And we were (often more than) at eye-level with IBM and the other mostly US competition. The few European competitors had been left behind a long time ago, anyway.

In the late 1970ies, I was a tenured Siemens employee. In 1980, they also sent me to Neuperlach. And then I soon left the enterprise. Because the aforementioned virtues were getting lost.

They defined roles and introduced processes. Bureaucracy became the domineering factor and all decisions were made with a strong consideration of the shareholder value. A huge wave of paralysis was combined with irrational planning approaches, thus making it harder and harder, if not impossible, to work successfully. This is how a great technology went down the river.

After having founded my own enterprise, I did a lot of business with Siemens. Initially this was an excellent situation. Siemens was an honest customer and business partner. I can tell and already have told you many positive stories about it.

In the 1990ies, the climate started changing more and more for the providers, too. The providers came up with a nice German bonmot: “Partnerschaft ist, wenn der Partner schafft“. (If the partner does the work, they call it partnership). This is also something I could tell many stories about.
Then, the distance between me, and the same is true for InterFace, and Siemens grew. As the years went by, I followed the decline of the biggest German enterprise in the third millennium. Thus, the pain I, as an original Siemens person, felt became less and less and was finally relieved to some extent by a morbid joy of seeing a sick system collapse.

Now, in 2018, there are again exciting news from the one-time electronics concern. A new enterprise organisation is under way. They want to become „meaning oriented“. But what exactly does that mean?

Incidentally, all the stakeholders are to benefit – but above all, they mean the shareholders, then to some extent the customers, the people who work in the enterprise, the providers and the external social systems. It seems that Siemens did not learn a lot from what they saw in the last decades, because those decades show that this is not how it works.

The emotional distance between me and Siemens has grown. Today, I can look upon Siemens with more serenity than a few years ago. And I notice:

Again, the employees are verbally made the ”centre“. And there they are more in the way than anything else.

The first priority is given to the shareholder, i.e. the international capital. As I see it, Siemens wants to tread on a path that I already saw several other enterprises take.

You divide an enterprise into two (here: three) parts and take the new enterprises to the stock exchange. As soon as each of the enterprises alone has a higher stock exchange value than the old one ever had – the champagne corks can fly. This is especially true for the capital.

It is a totally different story what will become of the three successor concerns. However, it will have nothing to do with the old Siemens company.

Well, this is neither here nor there, because the times when they said “we produce everything that has something to do with electricity” are history. Which is also true for the other German enterprises that, with their more or less enthusiastic employees (and many guest workers) created the “economic miracle”.

RMD
(Translated by EG

Roland Dürre
Saturday August 11th, 2018

The Things I Do #MyLife

I have been part of the “Forum Agile Verwaltung | Austausch und kollegiale Beratung“ (a closed facebook group) for many years. I enjoy it very much and learn a lot. Now there was a call to all members of the group asking them to introduce themselves. It was my pleasure to reply to the call. Here is my contribution:


 

At fav17! Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, agility master and my photographer this time.


In this group, I feel that I am a guest who can get his first input on interesting topics and both listen carefully and learn. I became part of this forum because I was once invited to give a presentation on the “Unpredictability of the Future“ in the forum.

About me: after my university studies of mathematics (major) and computer science (minor) at Munich Technical University that started in 1969, I became a programmer. After some apprentice years at Siemens AG and Softlab GmbH I founded my own company, the InterFace AG, in the early 1980ies with Wolf Geldmacher . During a PM camp, I met and learned to appreciate Thomas Michl.

Thanks to our product CLOU/HIT, we (InterFace) won many customers from the public office sector (police and county jurisdiction, the Central Employment Agency, and many more federal and county offices). And we learned a lot in the process.

During the development phase of CLOU/HIT, it did not take us long to understand that a customer-oriented development of complex software products will no longer work with “old concepts“, which is why we replaced “hierarchically organized groups“ by “networking teams“. At the time, this was revolutionary and extremely successful.

Today, I am no longer operatively active. Instead, I now limit my involvement to handing my experience (knowledge and expertise) on, mostly to younger persons. Some of them are individual persons, others are teams (start-ups).

I try to avoid giving advice (an advice is also a vice). Instead, I try to inspire people and generate impulses. And I try to find good (the right) questions in mutual agreement with all the parties concerned. Because a good question is the requirement for a good answer.

My goal is mainly to make other people, and especially young people, more successful and happier.


I think this is a concise description of what I currently do.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday July 22nd, 2018

Love & Hatred.

I used to quite like a few proverbs. For example:

(i) No pain no gain!
(ii) No risk no fun!
(iii )No hate no love!

You can use them in all kinds of situations. There are people who actually gain eternal notoriety by cultivating these proverbs. All these proverbs have one thing in common – they signal that you cannot get one thing without accepting another thing.

In some way or other, these ideas were also part of my kitchen philosophy. They were part of my cynical approach towards life.

Today, these – perhaps wise – sentences no longer mean much to me. I want to win without having to suffer. I want to be happy without having to risk something. And, above all, I want to love without having to hate.

I think it is a basic decision of every individual human being if he/she wants to live by the principles (i – iii). Or if they prefer living without those principles and instead focus on what is positive?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday July 17th, 2018

Innovation. Management. Future.

I did it ?!

More and more enterprises create positions that they call “innovations management”. Whenever I hear such a thing, I am tempted to ask these managers what exactly their job-description is (regardless of the fact that I do not really believe in precise job descriptions).

More often than not, the Innovation Manager will sit in the Human Resource (HR) Department. After all, it is his main task to make the employees “more innovative“. Besides, I do not really know why you need HR.

“What exactly is innovation?“

That is a question I rather like asking the “Innovation Managers”. Mind you, this is not with an evil purpose. I really do not know what innovation is. Except that it is a buzz-word everybody seems to use these days.

I particularly like asking such stupid questions when I meet people who are supposed to make very classical-style enterprises more innovative. For instance when we are talking the financial sector, i.e. banks and insurance companies.

In such situations, I always remember the definition given by Simon Grand (St. Gallen). He called innovation “creative destruction”. This might not be very helpful. But at least it is a definition that indicates that innovations usually cause change. And nobody likes change. Except when you have a massive problem.

Which brings us to the next question:

“What exactly is a problem?“

I find a definition that describes rather drastically what a problem is:

“A state of affairs that cannot continue“.

It might be the task of innovation to change such states of affairs …
And then we are in the middle of such horrifying scenarios as fragility and disruption, which threaten our stability. After all, innovation is supposed to help when it comes to strengthening the anti-fragility of systems that are threatened by disruption. And if you listen to what managers generally believe today, then disruption obviously increases. Which is due to the ever increasing complexity (also one of the general managerial beliefs).

“Disruption and anti-fragility “

Two more of those nice buzz-words. You fear the one and you are supposed to create the other. And if the Innovations Manager sits in the HR department, then, naturally, he has to create the innovation with his resources – that is with the people. Consequently, he has to provide the employees with better equipment for dealing with disruptions, thus taking the system for which they all work to a higher level of anti-fragility.

“How do you go about doing this?“

Here are a few ideas.

Perhaps you want to tell stories. You could describe a nice working and living environment. You could introduce values that may sound well but are really hard to realize in old systems. Because the opposition among the persons and institutions can hardly ever be overcome.

Or maybe you will want to introduce new forms of communication such as barcamps with which you hope to penetrate walls and bunkers in the enterprises.

But who knows if any of this is enough?

I do not know. I look forward to reading or hearing stories about successful innovations management. I would really like to tell those stories to a broader audience.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 5th, 2018

Fuckup! Nights! Munich!

Something new happens all the time. A few days ago, I discovered the FUCKUPNIGHTS. And I decided that I want to be part of it. 🙂 .

We Live Life Without Filters

That is the motto of this movement, which calls itself FUCKUPNIGHTS. It started in Mexico, from where it continued its triumphal procession into large parts of the world.

It is about failure. We also discussed this in June 2016 at the Berlin PM-Camp. Because failure is simply part of life. It might sometimes even be a source of success. Because there is a lot you can learn from failure. And you can not only benefit quite a lot from what you learned from your own failures. You can also share it with others. It can help those others to avoid failure (= to be a success).

The Techdivision– Marketing brought the Fuckup Night to Munich and Rosenheim. On July, 5th, (that is today), the FuckupNight will be held in the Munich Balanstrasse. And they were still looking for a speaker. Consequently, Sacha (the boss of Techdivision at Balanstrasse) asked me:

Hi Roland, would you like to present a personal fuckup example from your life in seven minutes and with a maximum of 10 slides?

Here is all the information on FUCKUPNIGHTS in Munich. Today, the event is already overbooked, as mostly happens with Techdivision events (you will find them all at meetup).

Well, I gladly obliged. However, it also meant that I needed to prepare. Consequently, I started thinking:

  • What were my greatest errors, my worst blows below the belt?
  • When did life really make me feel small?
  • What was it like when I felt I was an absolute failure?
  • What can you relate publicly without exposing other people?

There is also a FuckUpNichts Speaker Manual:

 


Speaker Manual: What exactly are FuckUp-Nights?

“FuckUp-Nights“ sounds offensive? Well, it is not! The FuckUpNights were initiated in order to publicly speak about projects, work and ideas that failed and to share these experiences in the community. In a relaxed atmosphere, precious experiences made by successful managers, enterprises and start-ups are discussed during these evenings in order to learn from the mistakes they made.

For seven minutes, three or four people tell you, for a change and with lots of wit, humour and openness, not about their great successes, but about how everything can go wrong – which means they had so-called fuck-ups.

How to present my FuckUp in seven minutes?

  1. Please send in advance 10 slides that illustrate your failure.. 
The images should be numbered from 1 to 10 and later appear in that sequence. Please remember that each image has only about 40 seconds, because otherwise you will need more than seven minutes.
  2. A short biography, because we need to introduce you on the day of the event (1-2 paragraphs).

During your presentation, you will want to remember the following:

  • Who am I?
  • What was the original idea for the project/business?
  • What went wrong?
  • What should I have done differently? What have I learned from the experience?

And please do not forget!!!
We are talking FuckUp-Nights! People make mistakes. All is well as long as you can tell them with enthusiasm, wit and humour. So enjoy your presentation! 🙂


 

I rather like that. So I gladly think about my personal fuck-ups. I am always hardest hit if a disappointment is personal, especially if people are concerned. They hurt – but I would not wish to publicly speak about them on a fuckup-night, because in doing so, I might not do justice to others or even hurt others.

Consequently, I will focus on my entrepreneurial failures. One of them was the great visionary idea of magicHIT. It cost the InterFace Connection a lot of money and eventually turned into a total failure from the economic viewpoint. It might be a good presentation, I will relate it tonight. And I will write down the story here. It starts with: I was a …


i) Third Generation IT-Pioneer (Computer Science after 1969) and

no longer all that young – but, considering the times, a rather young entrepreneur.

Years of training at Siemens and Softlab.
Focus on: industrial computer science (knowledge for the sake of domination).
Unfortunately, I paid too little attention to “the toys“ produced by Commodore and Atari.
Later, it turned out that this was a huge disadvantage.

 

 

 

 

ii) late founder with instant start (1984 – I was already 34 years old)

Here is a happy entrepreneur, because things worked out.

  • The start went well – Wolf (my partner, whom I had spent a long time looking for) and yours truly were in paradise. Especially when we had our first team and were able to develop a product.
  • In a nutshell, you have four relevant business/income model types in an enterprise:
  • Service, i.e. time and material,
  • the lot,
  • full service,
  • a product

Unix is our topic! And a product is the best of all disciplines. Consequently, our goal was:

We want to develop a product for Unix (because a product will give you identity and a scalable income).

We build CLOU/HIT!

 

 

 

iii) Innovation is creative destruction

Evening event BICCnight it at media / Foyer Funkhaus Bayern /Muenchen / 22.07.2011
Foto: Stephan Goerlich
Foto: Stephan Goerlich

Also Digitalization. Which means: no more filing cabinets, typewriters and telefax machines (all of which were still relevant communication tools at the time).
Data bases instead of paper. Documents will be automatically generated, the communication is via computer networks.

We start with the destruction of the old world.

 

iv) Life is a dream

Absolutely guaranteed: far from everyday problems – a few years ago in the South Sea.

Our product CLOU-HIT sells marvellously.
If your are the leader on the market in no time, this feels wonderful. Major customers (both public offices and enterprises) use our software at a huge scale. They fill our purses with money and give us prid

 

 

 

 

v) The competition does not sleep!

CLOU/HIT is a success. But the product is no longer the newest.

We know that. Regardless, we enjoy the success of our product. And we celebrate it. Parties are an important part of every enterprise.

Yet we know that innovation continues and that we need something new. Because if you sit on your laurels, you have them at the wrong part of your body.

 

 

 

 

 

vi) We start developing MagicHIT …

This is how Christian and Daniel see me(©
Visual-Braindump) – at least it is how they saw me on the last Dornbirn PM Camp in 2016.

… the first ODA-/ODIF-EDITOR (ODA/ODIF is ISO norm) world-wide, as a “wysiwyg“ system with the extremely powerful semantics on UNIX and X11).
Every document is an object of a category, its semantics are determined by the category (examples: invoice, contracts, official orders, …).
We port MagicHIT on Windows
A special team with ten employees works in a huge old flat Im Tal near the Munich Viktualienmarkt, where they have their special work environment.
After a few years, the first version of the product is finished. There is a wonderful manual.

 

vii) Many warnings!

Wake up! The bell rings!

Famous partners from huge enterprises and offices warn us:

“You must be suffering from brain-damage. You cannot win against MS?!“

We are idealists and ignore the warnings.

After all, there is (still) enough money.

 

 

 

viii) One customer is not enough!

CAREFUL – I know them.

After huge efforts in sales, we have found only one customer for the new MagicHIT – the German Armed Forces.

They want to turn their command posts into automated commands through MagicHIT.

Things start to get messy. The costs remain, but there is no success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ix) Game over

“My post – InterFace life ?“

All offices and huge concerns buy word and windows. It no longer makes any sense. We capitulate and give up. The development of MagicHit is terminated.

 

Maybe someone will need it many years from now.

🙁 And I must postpone my exit …

 

 

x) Fiasco and Happy End

We have to do the calculations. For almost ten years, ten or more of our best employees worked for nothing. Depending on how you do the calculations, that is an investment of between 10 and 20 million DM/EURO. For nothing!

But:

The know-how we gained in this way is extremely helpful. We learned a lot. That helps us to survive for the next ten years. Basically, it helped right up to this day.

 

 

xi) Lessons learned

Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, agility master and my photographer this time.

David will not always win against Goliath.
Wonders will not repeat themselves.
The product that is most beneficial will not always win.
Progress is slow.
More often than not, you cannot fight against power, corruption and fraud.

But still, it was nice!

RMD

P.S.
Basically, it was a three-times fuck-up. Because around ten years later, we again implemented MagicHIT for Siemens and the Bavarian Justice System – we called it ForumStar-Text for them.

Due to the ignorance of a partner, we later lost the bidding process that had already been practically won (second fuck-up). For similar reasons, we also lost the visionary project to – in cooperation with TUM – bring ForumStar to the Bavarian Justice System and Siemens AG as an Open Source. Even Siemens, represented by (chairman of the IT provider ), had already agreed. It might have been a great hour for Germany or even Europe.

Then Siemens AG cancelled the meeting between representatives of TUM, the Bavarian Justice System and us at short notice. They did not appear. Fuckup, von Hammerstein left the SBS a short time later and became an important reformer at Kabel Deutschland. You can admire the remainder of SBS at ATOS and the InterFace AG still does its business, now with IT compliance, CLOUD and still with software development (our motto is: ”long live devop!“). … And the Justice Systems in Bavaria and

Germany  public authorities concerning judiciary are now serviced by IBM. Such is life.

P.S.1
And many thanks to the great Lydia of Techdivision for all the huge support she gave me!