Roland Dürre
Monday October 29th, 2018

Sugar Coating (Entrepreneur’s Diary #126)

Last week, I learned some new vocabulary – sugar coating.

Following the motto “having a soccer table in your office does not in itself constitute #newwork“.

For me, it is quite clear that, in our social life as well as in our work-life, transparency within the enterprise and the participation of the relevant stakeholders (employees) are very important.


”Sugar coating“ as part of ”culture engineering“?

In my book enterprises are social systems where people work together in different roles for an economic goal – i.e. the goal of offering products and services that they will benefit from to people. Just like the Bavarian Constitution says.

Basically, enterprises are not machines that can be mechanically controlled by “management” that tries to minimize the input and maximize the output. Instead, enterprises are composed of humans.

A Great Team – InterFace Connection GmbH 1986: Celebrating.

That is extremely important. Just like I also consider values such as appreciation, respect and general considerateness when dealing with each other absolutely relevant in an entrepreneurial culture.

#newwork needs just as much communication as it needs civil courage and constructive disobedience. The elite of an enterprise should not be system agents. Instead, they have to be coaches, inspire people and give impulses. And the vast majority of an enterprise also has to try (and be able) to live the values they formulated.

For me, these are the pre-requisites and the basis of #newwork.

Especially in my sector, I discover more and more enterprises that “sugar-coat themselves”. Regardless, they still move at the edges of the German work legislation. And they form their processes and the entire system with an absolute priority on profit. For them, “entrepreneurial health management” is basically just an investment that is supposed to minimize the number of people who call in sick. For them, modern work environments are just a means to save on the rent for office space. And their decor is a sugar coat with great design and life style, both of which are supposed to impress the employees.

If you want #newwork to have any effect, then you cannot make it part of a strategically planned, human resource controlled ”enterprise culture engineering“. Instead, it must be lived by the employees –with intrinsic motivation.

This is what I have been preaching for decades, both because it is my personal experience and because of what I see in many enterprises.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Hans Bonfigt
Monday September 24th, 2018

Erfolgreiche Projekte

Wann gelingt ein Softwareprojekt ?

Über “Projektmanager” und ihre Wünsche nach “Resilenz” und “Agilität”
kann man sich trefflich amüsieren. Vorausgesetzt, man ist nicht darauf
angewiesen, daß die bedeutungsschwangere Gruppe selbsternannter “Indivi-
dualisten” (mit Google-Einheitstelephon) irgendwann einmal liefert.

Deutlich schwieriger ist es schon, aufzuzeigen, wie man es besser
machen könnte. Nun hat mich jemand genau danach gefragt, und warum
sollte man nicht einmal die Projekte aus 35 Jahren Berufserfahrung
Revue passieren lassen, die gelungen sind ?

Dabei möchte ich mich unterscheiden von üblichen “Ratgebern”, die unre-
flektiert postulieren, was sie im Herzen bewegt. Ich nehme mir statt-
dessen reale Projekte und bilde Schnittmengen gewisser Merkmale.

1. Der Sinn eines Projektes muß allen Beteiligten klar sein.
Nur so kann die Unternehmensleitung Rückendeckung geben,
nur so erlebt ein Entwickler die Freude an sinnvoller Arbeit,
nur so wird das Endprodukt vom Nutzer angenommen.

2. Ein Projekt muß wirtschaftlich erfolgreich sein.
Vor allem aber: Man muß diesen Erfolg auch transparent machen
können.

3. Die Einfachheit und die Eleganz eines Entwurfs entscheidet !
– Das zu impementierende Verfahren sollte so einfach sein, daß
man es einem Siebenjährigen erklären könnte. Vereinfachen,
vereinfachen, vereinfachen.
– Das, was nicht vereinfacht werden kann, wenigstens sauber
modularisieren !
– Immer nur EINEN Standard für einen bestimmten Schnittstellen-
typ auswählen !
– Lieber die Aufgabenstellung reduzieren als das Team überfordern.
Tatsache ist oft: Erst wenn das Endprodukt unter realen Bedin-
gungen läuft, stellt man fest, was es wirklich leisten kann und
welche Funktionen auch tatsächlich genutzt werden !

4. Prototypen bauen !
Viel wichtiger: Wenn sie funktionieren, gnadenlos löschen und
neu beginnen !

5. Tote Pferde nicht weiterreiten !
So gut wie jede Entwicklung kommt an den Punkt, wo sich Fehler
in der Konzeption zeigen. Gnadenlos zurückbauen.

6. Keine Demokratie und vor allem KEINE KOMPROMISSE !
In der Sache nachgeben mit Rücksicht auf persönliche Empfindlich-
keiten (Na gut, Meike, Du kannst Dein Modul auch in JAVA schrei-
ben …) erzeugt eine sprudelnde Quelle von Problemen.
EINER leitet das Projekt, genau wie auch nur EINER ein Auto fah-
ren kann. Das ist das Erfolgsrezept der Seefahrt.

7. Mitarbeiter respektieren !
Auch vermeintlich “einfache Codierarbeit” ist erstaunlich nicht-
trivial. Der Architekt sollte den Maurer mit Respekt behandeln
und umgekehrt.
Aber niemals sollte ein Architekt mauern oder ein Maurer planen.

8. Kommunikation standardisieren.
Keine Dokumente und Codefragmente
hin- und herschicken. Kein kompromittierendes “WhatsApp” oder
“Twitter”. Schon gar keine “Google-Accounts” !
Wir müssen Kundendaten treuhänderisch behandeln.
Klare, eindeutige Begriffe verwenden !
Die Fachtermini des Kunden verwenden !

9. Anzahl der Mitarbeiter
benötigte Externen und benötigte
Zukaufprodukte reduzieren !

10. Die Werkzeuge müssen sich der Idee unterordnen und nicht umgekehrt.
Haskell, Lisp oder “Clojure” machen noch keinen genialen Entwurf.

11. Die Chemie im Team muß stimmen !
Die “menschliche” Komponente ist zu 70 Prozent entscheidend für einen Projekterfolg.

12. Keine “Gnadenhäppchen” für die Mitarbeiter
in Form von “kostenloser Maté” und “Kickerautomat im Flur”. Das ist keine Wertschät-
zung auf Augenhöhe. ORDENTLICH ZAHLEN ! Das garantiert souveräne Mitarbeiter.

Abgesehen davon: Arbeit kann und soll durch sich selbst schön sein und
muß nicht mit albernen Spielereien “aufgepeppt” werden. Was dabei heraus-
kommt, kann jeder sehen, der ein aktuelles “Windows” öffnet.

-hb

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Monday April 3rd, 2017

A Very Special Task!

The Solution will be Supplied Later!

A short time ago, a good friend of mine came up with a brainteaser. He did not know the source, otherwise I would gladly have cited it. My friend was not able to solve the problem, neither was I. But it is a truly exciting scenario. And it has a surprisingly simple solution, including a beautiful mathematical reasoning. It also gives us a nice metaphor for our lives.

Among other things, it shows that mathematics can also, once in a while, be quite useful. Here is the story:

Here is a female criminal. On her card, the number 1 is written. But she does not know this. After all, she only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

A – not dislikeable – gang of 10 persons constantly violates the prevailing moral concepts in an outrageous manner. The gang members are creative and wise – this is how, with great finesse, they remain unmolested by the arm of the law for their abominable activities. That is lucky for them, because the legal penalty for their crime is death by strangulation.

In the public perception, the gang soon has a legendary reputation, and is idolized by quite a few simple people. For the authorities, this development is totally unacceptable. Consequently, the increased manhunt of the authorities, along with a growing arrogance and flippancy among the gang members led to the capture of the group.

All 10 gang members are quickly sentenced to death due to their abominable behaviour in a show trial. However, there is a way for the ten comrades in crime to save their lives – through an appeal for clemency. The head of state who decides upon said appeal is a very prudent and well-meaning woman. She is very wise; there are even some rumours insinuating that she may to some extent sympathise with the gang.

Actually, she works hard to come to a fair decision. She hands down a conditional amnesty (a little like a “Judgement of God”):
Before the verdict is executed, the ten members are permitted to see each other once more. There is a farewell meeting, the ten gangsters can spend the afternoon before their execution together and without supervision.

Here is a male criminal. On his card, the number 2 is written. But he does not know that. After all, he only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

As the meeting starts, the gangsters are told how the amnesty will work. A picture of each of the members is taken (two of them can be seen here). On each of those pictures, a number from the set 0 – 9 {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9} is drawn. Each number can be used several times. Consequently, it is possible that the same number is written on all the pictures. Or that only some numbers are used, for instance {1, 2, 3)}. Or maybe only the even or uneven numbers. Whatever. But perhaps all numbers have been used. Nothing is impossible.

After the meeting, each of them is taken into solitary confinement until the time of execution. Each of the ten gang members is shown the nine pictures of the other nine members – but not his own one. And then they ask him the number on his own photo. And if even one of the gangsters gives a correct answer for the number on his card – all of them will get the amnesty.

Initially, you will think that the gangsters have quite a good chance to avoid their punishment and enjoy clemency over justice. And there is no doubt that their situation will have improved. After all, chances are not too bad that one of the ten will guess correctly and thus free them all.

But it is nowhere near as easy as that. Matters may turn out poorly. And there is one thing the wise regent forgot (or perhaps not): by applying a simple agreement, the ten gangsters can make sure that one of them will inevitably say the right number, as written on his picture. And this is how he can guarantee that he and his comrades will enjoy the amnesty.

It is a small problem: what agreement makes it possible for the gang to use the meeting that was meant as a farewell to make sure that “their heads” are out of the sling with a 100% chance?

I will publish the solution in a few weeks – and until then, I look forward to having many email solutions sent to me!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday October 6th, 2016

Work and Retirement? Money!

Basically, I do not want to work or get retirement money. All I want is: earn that funny stuff!

Zeche Sterkade / Sterkade Colliery. This amateur photograph was taken by an apprentice coal mining engineer, Charles Sydney Smith, of Derby, England, on a visit circa 1910-1913.

Zeche Sterkade / Sterkade Colliery. This amateur photograph was taken by an apprentice coal mining engineer, Charles Sydney Smith, of Derby, England, on a visit circa 1910-1913.

Digitalisation.

Currently, I travel a lot in order to promote Digital Transformation. My role is both active and passive. This means that, once in a while, I talk about it and, but far more often, I listen to what other wise persons have to say about it.

Whenever I hear presentations and speeches on digitalisation or the coming change or its consequences, it strikes me how they always also talk a lot about “jobs”.

In particular, they talk about jobs that will soon no longer exist. It seems to me, however, that nobody seems to really and precisely know what is going to happen to these jobs.

Dark Future.

And they also say that the future will not at all look very bright for most people – especially if they live in developed societies. Perhaps – and that is not really a surprise – those are also the moments when they mention and even demand the unconditional basic income.

Whenever I hear the word job, I come up with “heretical ideas”. It is a central factor of my life that, basically, I never wanted to work. To be sure, exciting tasks have always fascinated me. After having worked as a baby sitter, private tutor, for a hauler, as a night parking attendant or for a cleaning service, my “job” when I was in my early twenties was “programming” – which has also always been my hobby.

Everybody talks about jobs and the unconditional basic income.

No, I did not want to work. And I also did not want a job. What I wanted was earn money. I wanted enough money to provide my family and myself with a nice standard of living. And I wanted it as easily as possible and without having to work too hard. And I also always wanted enough “leisure time” in order to do things that were important to me outside my “craft”, such as “family” and “life as such”.

So I asked myself what is the best method of earning money in this country. Legally, there are probably only two ways:

As an employee.

Either you are working for a firm – then you get a salary. You will have an employer and (at least) one disciplinary superior person – just take a look at the strange vocabulary. And, more often than not, you will then also be part of a rather strange social system.



Self-employed.

If you are not an employee, you have to do something that is billable. Then you will be self-employed and get the chance to be a little less dominated by the employer system – which in itself is already quite valuable.

So there are the categories “employee” (there used to be another category “labourer”) and “self-employed”. You can be self-employed either by working freelance or by founding an enterprise. Living totally by myself as a freelancer seemed (too) much of a risk, so I decided to look for a partner and found a company. .
Because the idea of being employed was really boring.

The legal status.

If you want to found an enterprise, you have to decide upon its legal status. One possible option is the civil law association. Among those are the ordinary partnership and those partnerships that lawyers, tax experts and counselling companies, etc., often establish. If I intended to found another firm, I would probably favour one of these.

Other options are the classic private limited company and its modern brothers (Europe private limited company, UG, …), the cooperative and the incorporated company. Mixed forms are not really relevant in this context.

Besides the employees and self-employed, there is a third group: that of public officers. However, I will not dwell on this group because a) they are the minority and b) they are a totally different group as far as the extremely high pensions are concerned.

So here is what you want to know about retirement money. The employees – supported by the employers – pay into the social insurance in order to later receive retirement money. The retirement money system is based on solidarity and, like all systems of this kind, it is rather ambivalent. Everybody thinks they pay too much and receive too little.

Retirement money.

Retirement money is often considered a bad deal because it seems to have a sub-optimal price-performance ratio. What is often forgotten is that, when disruptive events occur – as for instance WW-2 or the re-unification of Germany – the retirement money was often the only system that continued to provide the people with what they needed, regardless of the disruptive circumstances. It did not fail.

Besides, the poor price-performance ratio is not something that only the retirement money suffers from. It is also true for private measures you can take, such as saving money, life insurance or the ill-fated federal-private construct of the Riester pension. The strong instrument “company retirement money” of former times as a valuable supplement of the federal retirement money has by now turned into something of the past.

Social Insurance.

More and more people want to work freelance in order to avoid the high social insurance payments. The government and the retirement insurances do not like this at all – which is why the threshold is rather high. And in doing so, they make rules and laws (like the AUG) that put enormous pressure on the freelancers, sometimes even force them into illegality. Both the law and its treatment are full of contradictions and there is a lot of uncertainty. It is truly atrocious.

But then, there is also an absolutely efficient and legal method to avoid having to pay social insurance – even if it might seem absurd. All a freelancer has to do is find a few comrades in arms and found an incorporated company with all the individual persons becoming managers of the company. Then they will not only be exempt from social insurance, it will even be forbidden to them. Mind you, this is totally legal and probably invincible in to the current state of the art in jurisdiction. Basically, this is totally illogical for people who use their common sense.

Fewer and fewer high quality jobs.

The outlook given by many wise persons I listened to tells us that tasks that require a high degree of training will become fewer and fewer and that the “service proletariat” will grow considerably. Migration through the different education levels will become less and less likely. This means that in the future the highly qualified persons will come from the upper social classes more and more often. They are also typically those who stand to inherit. They will not need income and consequently can just work “because that is what they like” and invest time to do the nice things in life in order to really benefit later. Or perhaps not.

Working for free.

And more and more persons will seem highly qualified yet work for free. I mean people who do not take money for their work. And I am not talking all those who work in an honorary basis in clubs and our society. Neither do I mean the young persons who are exploited during what we call practical training.

What I mean are young and old people who do something for the future without having any kind of contract and without writing an invoice. I, too, am one of them. As I see it, I move a lot, trying to help people and enterprises on their way towards happiness and success.

But I am not doing it for the money. Instead, I do it because I hope and know that I will get a lot in return. And because I know for certain that all the contacts and knowledge I gain will one day bring me true money, which means that I will benefit financially, as well. For instance when I invest in a start-up and then can write a huge invoice for a true added value I created. And this is how work becomes an exciting and nice game.

I know a number of persons who do the same. They are often younger than me. They perform super for free. Because they know that, sooner or later, there will also be a financial reward. I also know young entrepreneurs who take the establishment of a start-up very seriously and want to promote this step with a huge amount of enthusiasm. Yet they could not care less where the money will come from – for instance because they have inherited enough money.

Not a bright future?

This is what I expect the future to be like: more and more poor persons who, by doing menial jobs, can barely manage to make ends meet and fewer and fewer persons who, with or without income, really enjoy what they are doing and get richer and richer. If I am perfectly honest, I must say that such a future gives rise to many questions and really worries me.

Here are some recipes for success:

These are the best ways to earn money:

  • Always give more than you get!
    and
  • Break patterns!

I will soon write another article, including a recommendation by Gebhard Borck how to best determine your own price (value). …

RMD

P.S.
If you are interested at all, I would suggest you read the Wikipedia articles on Industrialisation and Digitalisation.

The picture is also from Wikipedia. The copyright is with Aspdin – Own work by uploader (own original personal amateur photograph by ancestor). It shows the coal mine Sterkrade, the picture was taken around 1910–1913, free under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Roland Dürre
Friday May 6th, 2016

Tips

Currently, I am again travelling. I ride my bike in Italy. Almost a week ago, on Sunday morning, we exited the night train with the endearing name LUPUS from Munich to Rome in Orvieto. Starting from there, we rounded the beautiful Rome on our way to a congress in the south-east of Rome in three days. Our first overnight stop was in Viterbo, the next night we slept in Tragliatella.

castelcardinaleThe congress was in a wonderful congress hotel Castel Cardinale high above the Albanian Ocean, facing Castel Gandolfo. Now we spend two more days vacationing with friends before another nice round trip is to get us back to Rome. From there, we will go back to Munich – again in the night train – on Wednesday.

Well, the typical question is again to be asked:
Do you tip the sleeping compartment conductor?

Whenever I go abroad, what about tips? Who knows all the customs about tips in Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria or even North Africa, Turkey and many other countries?

Do some countries know a difference between, for instance, eating out and staying in privately led quarters? I am often unsure: what is the custom? Will I perhaps even hurt someone’s proud feelings if I leave a tip, even though I certainly meant well? Or am I behaving shabbily if I refrain from leaving a tip?

As we all know, there are some countries where leaving a tip is an absolute “must do”. Among those countries is the USA, where the tip is part of the actual salary and you cannot leave without having given something. Well, that makes it pretty clear what to do and what not to do. But even in Germany, I am not always sure. How is it possible that leaving a tip is not obligatory and yet there is a generalized tax rate for the restaurants?

Now I am riding my bike through Italy. As far as I know, it is totally unusual to leave a tip in this country. Consequently, I do not have a problem.
But what to do about the conductor in the night train from Germany to Italy?

My solution was: I leave a tip that is a little more than just symbolic. On the way out, it was 5 Euros for the two of us (i.e. for the compartment). And I told him that this was supposed to tell him how I appreciated his work. Later, I heard that, basically, night train conductors used to receive tips as a matter of course. Only it got less and less fashionable.

As I see it, leaving a tip makes sense if a) it is in accordance with the rules of the country and b) the “gift” is also clearly communicated as a symbol of your appreciation. And I am quite glad whenever my thoughtfulness gives me such clear results that make life look a little more joyful to me.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Monday November 2nd, 2015

(Deutsch) Kommunikaze

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday August 23rd, 2015

Entrepreneur’s Diary – #112 Useless Meetings

“My Post-InterFace life?“

I enjoy telling you about the times when I was active in my job. About what I felt enthusiastic about and about what depressed me. So here I am, sitting in Greece and vacationing, yet writing a small article for my entrepreneur’s diary:

On the negative side, there are, for example, all those many useless meetings I had to/was permitted to attend. Some of them actually lasted the whole day and occasionally the participants did not even want to stop in the evening.

Regardless of the fact, or maybe due to the fact, that the meeting had been going nowhere all day long already. And I – like all the other participants – had no way of influencing the entire round in a useful way.

Whenever I tell these things, I inform my audience that the only consolation with these kinds of meetings was that my “time clock” kept counting the hours. Which means that I was actually reimbursed for my work in those cases with compensation for damage.

Well, this is only partly true and rather a cynical excuse. But then I remember that my own enterprise, too, was full of useless meetings. And there is the question why I allowed this to happen and even attended.

Perhaps it was lack of civil courage? Was I too much of a coward to actually put myself outside the system and break with traditional rules and patterns? Isn’t the obligation to attend meetings part of the enterprise morals and written down in the rules of procedure? And who wants to violate law and order? I never had the courage. Because there was also the desire:

“We need to communicate more with each other!“

And that is something I definitely agree with. Also in retrospect. But it should not happen in lengthy and formal meetings that will then have written minutes – of course because you wish to be on the safe side!

If you need meetings, then they should be short SCRUM-like meetings. If possible, you should not sit down and have them outside the enterprise in a free area.

But talking definitely will no longer make sense if all you do is repeat yourself and if you are not making any headway. In those cases, the only thing that will probably help is a lonely decision and a quick separation.

In a nutshell:
I think the rules and rituals of an enterprise should permanently be questioned. This is especially true for all those meetings, which, more often than not, are also just a consequence of rituals and processes. The questioning should happen all the time and continue all the time, always on an objective level, isolated from individual interests.

And if you find out that you are not making any headway, you need the courage to actually do something about it. Just like, incidentally, KANBAN demands it in its last and – for me – most important rule.

And that is not only true for the enterprise and its projects, but also for politics, for our social systems and for our private lives.

Last not least, I have a very cynical suspicion:
If we did not have all those meetings in our enterprises, all our work-days would end at noon and we would not know what to do with all the remaining time.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

CGu_W8WUgAI8wlMYesterday evening, I arrived back home from the PM Camp in Zürich #pmcampzue. It was a small but very exquisite PM Camp and gave me two great days.

The first day was opened by Nadja Schnetzler who is also co-chair at word and deed. She bewitched the Camp participants with her wonderful postcards: and she showed us how you can “Embrace Chaos” in a very unobtrusive and serene way.

To me, it seemed that this nice impulse presentation went a long way towards many other sessions considering it important to talk about the situation of humans in their various roles whenever project-typical tasks are concerned.

Consequently, much was about the change in our society and consequently also the change in our projects that progress brings in its wake. It was all about intended and unintended change – and about “Innovation as creative destruction”.

CGzS2XBVIAApMhUOn Saturday, which was the second day, we all started the day with a drumbeat. Bruno Gantenbein, owner of Unschooling.ch, who has been a successful business counsellor for many years, started the day early in the morning with a strong impulse on “learning, too, is part of evolution”.

And his way of doing so was so emotional that some of the audience were moved to tears of emotion and joy.

And then he, too, spanned the bridge between what he had said and project management – asking the for me absolutely central question: “How, where and what do projects managers actually learn?”

Toni (Anton Maric) in Aktion.

Toni (Anton Maric) in action.

It was no surprise that the second day eventually led to a broad exchange of knowledge about the question how meaningful, efficient and humane learning might, should or must be.

As you can see on the pictures taken at the PM-Camp Zuerich, it was a great event. You can also see the pictures on the Flickr Account of the Zurich PM Camp!

Consequently, I would like to say many thanks to the PM Camp Zürich Orga-Team, namely Dagmar, Bruno, Christian, Matthias, Silvio and Toni, who initiated the Zurich event.

And in less than one month, from July, 2nd to July, 4th, the next PM Camps are waiting. They will be held in Bad Homburg! Then the day will be called #pmcamprm!
I definitely also want to be there and, of course, you will also read my report on it in the IF Blog!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday March 29th, 2015

LOCKED IN THE TIME CAGE.

Eisenkäfig (hier: Florenz, ausgehendes 17. Jahrhundert) als Folterwerkzeug

Iron Cage (here: Florence, late 27th century) as a torture tool.

A short time ago, I wrote the article “Golden Wire” (Goldener Stacheldraht), where I described how enterprises take total control of their employees, thus making those persons totally dependent over the years. And it happens in a totally comfortable, even agreeable way.

This article triggered a number of exciting discussions. The time cage in which most of us – be it as employees or as freelancers – are locked in is another issue worth discussing. After all, we measure everything in terms of time: work, mobility, leisure time. And it robs us of our live time.

How absurd is the concept that you have to provide a certain amount of hours each week, no matter what needs to be done? In a “Tayloristic System”, this might make sense. You stand at the conveyor belt, execute certain motions and get some money for each unit you worked on. But shouldn’t Taylorism be a thing of the past for many of us?

The alternative of this system, which by now seems like a matter of course to us, was the system of task-work, which followed the achievement principle and was certainly not easy to work in, either. In this system, you are not paid according to time, but according to the number of items you produced. In structures based on Kaizen, you find the group task-work system. It has a positive side (team work) and a negative side (group pressure). I cannot really think of any more alternatives.

The so-called brain workers, too (formerly known for their white collars and ties and now by the fact that they prefer turtleneck pullovers) are paid by time. They get a fixed income for which they “work away” a number of hours, which means that they have to spend the time either in or for the enterprise. In addition, they get a variable income which is determined in the target agreement (a modern sort of task-work).

This “concept of working time” is so deeply rooted in our brains that we consider it absolutely normal. In my role as InterFace AG managing director, I made the same experience. On some weekdays, I only spent very few hours in my office. Yet sometimes I achieved something really important during those few hours. On returning home to my children early in the afternoon on days like these, my super-ego kicked in and gave me a bad conscience.

In my new life (neuen Leben) I discover what nonsense that is. I try to shape plans according to my priorities. And I use as much time as I need for successfully finishing the tasks. And I feel a lot freer than I used to.

I know many freelancers who feel absolutely autonomous, yet they are locked in the time cage as a matter of course. Why don’t you try to calculate your income as what you earn per hour or per day?

During one of the aforementioned twitter discussions, one person was wondering why the “freelancers” hate to call themselves by that name. In the internet, they often introduce themselves as senior consultant, expert for something or managing director (of their own one-person company). One of the answers to this question was that maybe “freelance” is often considered synonymous or “potentially jobless”. Which definitely did not have a nice sound to it, did it?

In my opinion, a freelancer is a day labourer – and as I see it, this is a rather honourable and not at all a bad word. Even if it sounds a little like “slave”. But then, aren’t we all slaves when all is said and done? Aren’t we all serving a master, a system or a mania?

But then, one might also imagine other (more modern?) systems for income determination. Gebhard Borck, for instance, in his book Dein Preis proposes a value contract as an alternative. This is not at all stupid and I rather like the concept. Due to many time cages installed all around us, however, these and similar ideas are (still?) utopia or at least hard to realize for freelancers.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the picture from Wikipedia. It is of an iron cage (Florentine, late 17th century) on display at the Freiburg im Breisgau Torture Museum (Foltermuseum). The copyright is with Flominator. P.S.
Das Bild ist aus Wikipedia, es stellt einen Eisenkäfig (florentinisch, ausgehendes 17. Jahrhundert), der sich im  in  befindet. Der Urheber ist Flominator.