Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 29th, 2020

(Deutsch) Brexit

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 14th, 2019

Does Anybody Still Believe in VUCA?

Whenever I attend events on #newwork or #agile, I hear people lamenting:

Our life becomes faster and faster. The high speed of change causes a high complexity that is overrunning us. Consequently, we have to become more agile in order to deal with it.

I reply that I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. Neither do I have to cope with complexity. Actually, I leave complexity well alone.

Protetion against vuca in Bonnaire in the Caribbean(Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

Then I hear the worried question:
And you, do you not fear VUCA?
Well, vuca really sounds worrying. A little like HORG (Hierarchical ORGanization).
Except that VUCA is also just one of the abbreviations that are so popular today. They have all become buzzwords.

In fact, in my book, a buzzword is an empty phase. Just like digitalization or sustainability.

Interestingly, the use of abbreviations was initiated by the NSDAP bureaucracy in the Third Reich and then used extensively. Subsequently, the abbreviations became export hits, following the motto: “Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen“ (Let the world heal following Germany’s example).


According to Wikipedia, VUCA is an Acronym for the terms volatility (Volatilität / Unbeständigkeit), uncertainty (Unsicherheit), complexity (Komplexität) und ambiguity (Mehrdeutigkeit).

The VUCA prophets use the harmless four letters as memory rhyme for their horror message.

But then, has the world not always been vuca from the perspective of a single person?

In the stone age and in medieval times, it probably started with food for humans. Will there be anything to eat today?

From the perspective of organizations, the world also has always been vuca. Just remember the medieval towns where people tried to protect themselves against vuca by building expensive walls.

Or take my favourite example: the Weimar Republic lastet no more than nine years – and the thousand-year Reich changed everything in only twelve years (and destroyed a lot in the process). What a speed! True vuca! Even the GDR lasted 41 years (from 1949 until 1990). And the FRD (from 1949 and ongoing) already managed seventy years. Basically, so little vuca is hard to believe, isn’t it?

Consequently, I find the world has always been vuca. More in former times than today. Because the operating systems of our social systems have actually had a stabilizing effect. They are also more stable because of their digital corsets. How would you ever be able to change a huge enterprise that cemented its processes in Office365 and SAP?

As I see it, our world has probably become more stressful. Or at least it brought a new form of stress. Except that stress does not sound as nice as vuca. Let me recommend the Book
Phenomenon Stress:
Wo liegt sein Ursprung, warum ist er lebenswichtig, wodurch ist er entartet?
(Where does it originate, why is it essential, why did it get out of control?)
by Frederic Vester.

It contains more substance that is worth reading than the entire vuca literature. And if you buy it second-hand, you get it for less than one Euro.

And here are my 10 cents worth of advice on stress:

The change from a nature-oriented to a culture-oriented world brought us a new form of stress.

We created a world where we are permanently exposed to noise. The air is polluted because of exhausts. Our bodies, including the vegetative (nerve-) system is exposed to many idiotic burdens (such as having to control a car without ever finding a physical outlet …) and limitations (we spend the entire day sitting around somewhere…).

We can change this. We only have to want it!

Because the things that give us problems are exactly the things we do not need, anyway. We would have to work a lot less and could do a lot more for our own health if we were better organized and ready to do without a lot of nonsense.

Today, we mostly toil for nothing. That is where I think it is a good idea for us to make our world less complex – in the sense of avoiding rubbish. However, we should not lament the vuca-ization of our lives. Because that, too, creates stress. So:

🙂 VUCA –> FGI (forget it)

(Translated by EG)

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.

(Translated by EG)

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.

(Translated by EG)

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

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.


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!

(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.


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.


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!
  • Break patterns!

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


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


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.

(Translated by EG)