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.

Roland Dürre
Monday February 23rd, 2015

Gone to the Island … #noweb

No Internet between February, 26th and March, 14th, 2015

Flag_of_Cuba.On Thursday, (February, 26th), I will fly to Cuba. We are taking the Air Berlin direct connection from Munich to Varadero. And our two Utopias, Silbermöwe and Roadster, will travel with us.

Barbara and yours truly will spend exactly two weeks riding our bikes as far as possible through the long island. During our preparations, we learned that, in Cuba, the internet is not yet very common. Apparently, the only way to get internet access is from special tourist hotels.

Typische Verkehrsszene auf einer Landstraße zwischen Santiago de Cuba und Holguín (2008)

Typical traffic scene on a secondary road between Santiago de Cuba and Holguín (2008)

I plan to turn misery into a virtue and live without the internet for two weeks. It will be a first since many, many years ago in my life.

So: #nointernet and #noweb. #noTwitter and #noFacebook. Away from the virtual world. Into the real world.

Also, I will not plan anything, neither will I have an agenda. No itinerary. Just living in the here and now and enjoy life. Simply strolling through Cuba on our bikes – with wide open eyes and ears and, above all, with an open heart. Enjoying the sun and the warm air. And of an evening, I will just have to see where destiny takes us and where we can find a place to stay.

It also means that, during those two weeks, I will write/publish no IF blog articles. So: also #noIFBlog!

Havanna – Blick auf das Kapitol

Havanna –the capitoll

I might write down a few impressions and take a few pictures of the travels. You will get to read them afterwards.

Other than that, I want to totally liberate my brains from everyday concerns. And leave everything back in Munich that belongs there. And live in Cuby one hundred per cent.

Neither will I write my memoirs, regardless of the fact that there might be some rather interesting things to tell, especially about the last few years. …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took all the pictures from Wikipedia.
“Flag of Cuba“
“Havanna  Capitol” – Author: Breogan67
“Traffic scene on a secondary road” – Author: Escla
All licenced under common property in Wikimedia Commons

P.S.1
Well, it would certainly be awesome – twittering from Cuba, wouldn’t it?

Roland Dürre
Sunday February 22nd, 2015

At Eye-Level – A Film about Work-Life in the 21st Century.

workhard117A team of five started an exciting project – and eventually it turned into a film: “At Eye-Level “ (Augenhöhe).

Here is the story: During a session of the 12th  intrinsify!me “wevent” in Berlin about the work-life value of the 21st century, the idea grew that you should not only describe everything in words at all times. Instead, you should show it to people – in a film.

Five session attendants remained together and got active. They made the film “At Eye-Level”. I first heard of this project on the Berlin 2015 PM Camp during a great impulse presentation by Ulf Brandes. Later, I saw parts of the film during the Munich 2014 PM Camp. Two of the protagonists playing in “At Eye-Level” are personal acquaintances of mine through PM-Camps.

Thanks to enormously well-used “social media”, the project quickly earned great acclaim, even beyond the internet. The successful crowdfunding for its financing, too, had enjoyed a huge amount of public awareness and was accordingly very successful. The opening night on January, 30th, in Hamburg, too, had a huge audience. More than 400 (!) persons came to watch the film at the Hamburg Museum der Arbeit.

The film is about good topics. Perhaps its professional quality cannot hold a torch to documentaries with similar topics, such as by Geyrhalter, Wagenhofer (among other things the trilogy We Feed the World, Let’s Make Money and Alphabet) or Carmen Losmann (Work Hard – Play Hard). But neither does it need to – it is more a refreshing production on the level of TV reports by the ARD or ZDF, for instance about shipping electric waste to Africa.

The film is about persons acting different roles in their work-lives: entrepreneurs, managers, founders. But above all, it shows employees happy to be working for “good” employers. Because they can, for example, due to innovative working hours models, dispose of their own free time more freely than is common and therefore organize their own lives as they wish.

Unfortunately, though, the highly praised project “At Eye-Level” is also one where not all is gold that glitters. Shortly before the film was finished, two articles about Adidas and Unilever were added to it.

Adidas

Suddenly, you see Christian Kuhna in the film. I first met him at the open-up Camp in Nuremburg. His job with the sports giant is about social media, Moocs and the like and he has a small but very efficient team at his disposal

I am sure that the work-life attitude in Christian’s team is good and modern. Also, I am always impressed by the competence and positive attitude of all the salespersons in Adidas shops. But I am sure this is not true for the huge majority of persons producing for the concern.

Consequently, including Adidas in the film was a source of controversy among “crowd funders”.

Unilever

At the very end of the shooting, Unilever, too, was added. Even as early as the meeting in Munich, I was surprised to find the food giant presented as a positive example. There, Sven Franke – one of the protagonists – told us that Unilever had contacted “At Eye-Level” because they had established contact during the film “WORK HARD PLAY HARD” by Carmen Losmann. In that film, they had not made a particularly good impression and consequently, they wanted to make up for it. Well, no matter what, Unilever definitely is not the best material for this kind of film.

Sven’s reasoning was as follows: they wanted to show that even a huge enterprise can have a few niches where work-life might happen at eye-level.

Well, this might be a matter of taste. To be sure, every huge enterprise also has a few “islands of blessedness”. Even if it is only the team of directors.

However, it is also possible that Adidas and Unilever were included because they are “big names”. Which might have made the producers think makes the film more attractive. This is certainly also an acceptable decision. But if so, you should also communicate it as such.

When talking “big names” and these kinds of ideas, Tomas Sattelberger, too, comes to mind. He, too – just like he also currently seems to be publicly visible all the time – appears in the film. After all, everybody wants to hear and see a repetition of the Saul-Paul story. I do not know Tomas Sattelberger personally, but only from what I read about him in the press. Consequently, I cannot give a valid estimation. But in his roles as director of famous DAX concerns, he did not look like the typical representative for “eye-level” to me.

Well, so much about the small stains on the otherwise clean slate.

Mind you, please not to misunderstand me: I find the topic “eye-level” as formulated by Sven Franke or Ulf Brandes an excellent idea. The same is true for the activity and the result. Also, the enterprises concerned are welcome to the gain in reputation they got from it and I would be happy if those who initiated the project were also reimbursed in a material sense for the huge amount of energy they put behind it.

It is a true delight to discuss the individual film scenes under the “entrepreneurial” light. Especially the founder’s enterprises shown in the film might suggest that a proper firm is only possible where you have the “good tyrant”. The question I ask is: how can the entrepreneurial culture shown in the film also be structurally included in our social system – for instance in the sense of a “democratic enterprise”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The picture is not from the film “Augenhöhe – At Eye-Level”. I took it from “WORK HARD PLAY HARD” by Carmen Losmann.

Roland Dürre
Friday February 6th, 2015

My “New Life” – ROADMAP

RolandSchwimmen1As of January, 1st, 2015, I am no longer actively involved at InterFace AG. My “New Life” has started. I spent the last few weeks structuring it. Now I know what I want to do and will do. Perhaps I can manage to make a difference during the last phase of my life.

My mental concepts are still those of a programmer and software architect. Consequently, I made three columns representing my future domains:

My private world, personal activities and central projects.

Private World (Column I)

I can afford to live on my “jobless” income. For me, having a nice life means enjoying the time with Barbara. Part of it is to witness how our grandchildren will grow and to travel to many beautiful places of this world by bike. For instance, late in February, we will spend two weeks in Cuba with our bikes. More bike tours in Austria/South Tyrol, France and the Czech Republic are planned.

Of course, IF-Blog.de is one of the things especially close to my heart. Besides, it is important for me to remain in active contact with my many friends and to broaden, rather than restrict, my social horizon. In this area, I already made some progress, for instance by attending an exciting meeting on the island of Sylt in February.

I wish to integrate the important things in my life, such as reading, swimming and playing chess, into my “daily routine”. Other than that, I would like to minimize stress and yet remain active. And I want to continue learning all the time.

And this is how I arrive at the second column: my actual personal activities.

Personal Activities (Column II)

For me, my role as a mentor features high on the list, both for young persons and teams, for instance start-ups. I am well under way as far as this is concerned. The best about sharing experience is that I learn so much myself. Also, I am constantly stimulated towards being creative. This is true both in my dialogues with young persons and with “my” start-ups.

However, I am also “officially” involved when it comes to “founding enterprises”, for instance as a member of business contest judging panels. This, too, is very important for me, because the work is a source of new knowledge. Once in a while, I am also on a “special mission”, for example trying to find partners for young enterprises. My “Asia Connection” is of special interest in this area.

Another part of this column is the InterFace AG. Together with Barbara, I own the majority of shares in the enterprise. Consequently, our shares of InterFace AG are a major part of our property. Regardless of totally withdrawing from the operative part of the enterprise, I want to remain faithful to the enterprise and preserve it. Currently, this means I still support it as a member of the Supervisory Board.

And apart from this, I try to remain in contact with all the many nice guys I know and maintain my networks. There are many opportunities, for instance at ISARNETZ, The Munich Web-Week, in the vicinity of Open Source or at PM Camps. This sort of free movement is very important for me and I would categorize it under “private activities”.

Central Projects (Column III)

I also want to do a little business – but always based on social motivation and in the sense of a common-good economy.

For these yet again operative activities, which perhaps might even grow to larger dimensions, I will use the IF AGORA platform. Basically, the IF AGORA has no mercantile profit goals. The Agora will be a “non-profit” enterprise accumulating excess money. I will try to introduce potential successors as early as possible, because I wish to remain active only for about three to five years.

However, I only want to get active with projects that actually render excess money. And I want to pay all those who work for us fairly. The platform itself is supposed to grow stronger and stronger based on this excess money, thus strengthening itself for greater challenges. All projects and activities of IF AGORA will be transparently open. Partners are welcome.

As far as my central projects are concerned, my actual plans are three-fold: active mobility, democratic enterprises (working title) and peace. I want to work on them serially.

Active Mobility #AktMob & #AktMobCmp

First and foremost, I will promote the project “active mobility”. As an abbreviation for active mobility, I chose #AktMob – on an international level (for the future) #actmob (active mobility). It already started and develops nicely. Besides others, I won Eberhard Huber as a partner.

Personally, I firmly believe that, especially when it comes to traffic, we have to start a massive about-face. And we will also have to behave in accordance with new concepts. As I see it, individualized motorized traffic has come to its end. Even electricity in mobility – if at all, offers only limited solutions.

In the future, active mobility (movement mostly under your own steam) must become as much part of our mobility as possible. Also, the infra-structure of public transport must change and improve drastically. There are numerous reasons for this on all kinds of levels.

As part of #AktMob, I wish to organize barcamps (#AktMobCmp) and similar events with many people who feel the same as I. PM Camp is a nice sort of model for #AktMobCmp. During my work at PM Camp, I learned many things I want to use again for #AktMobCmp.

Above all, there will be time to promote the issue “Active Mobility” (1). Connecting the protagonists and users is also an important concern of mine (2). Building bridges between many associations, administrative instances, lobbyists, institutions and numerous communities is my third goal (3). Because when all is said and done, they are the ones who also determine what politics will decide about mobility.

I already came a long way with the project #Aktmob. The organizational basis should be finished by the end of these three months. All other measures will be a matter of routine. Now we have to find many supporters and comrades-in-arms.

”Democratic Enterprise“

In this area, I wish to work towards improving the working conditions in enterprises with a small circle of hand-picked friends. As a working title for the project, I chose the title of a new book by a good friend of mine – Dr. Andreas Zeuch.

Here are the topics and catchphrases I have in mind:
anti-fragility • fear-free areas •  work • eye-level • decision-making • experience •leadership • concept of mind • common good economy • intuition • management •organisation • control • business and society • enterprises as networks, instead of hierarchies • values • knowledge
…
all in the context of enterprises and institutions.

As I see it, this project should also reach educational institutions. This means that our final goal is a university.

There is not yet a final concept. I would like to start with events in a very creative and interactive format (face2face combined with modern web technology). These events need not be cheap, but they should be worth the money. This is another area where I feel we should manage to pay the protagonists appropriately.

My vision would be some kind of “I-University“ including Moocs etc. – strictly focussed on the topic described above.

A number of great partners together with whom I would like to work on the concept for “democratic enterprises” during the second and third part of the year come to mind. The next thing I am going to do is talk to them.

“Project Peace“

This is my personal utopia – to contribute towards a little peace for all of us in this world. I would like to approach this project during the fourth part of the year, as soon as all other projects have been started and are well under way. So far, I held two sessions on barcamps on the idea of “project peace”. The feedback gave me much hope for my ideas. Some people very much in favour of the idea already contacted me.

But as I said: one step at a time. And currently, the top priority is on #AktMob – Active Mobility.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday January 16th, 2015

Golden Barbed Wire

Currently, it seems like both institutions and enterprises are in a state of inertia. And humans always seem to suffer. At least that is what diverse polls tell us. Also, I hear many laments during direct conversations. Frustration at work increases, more and more persons succumb to inner resignation.

I can easily understand that. The collective life in enterprises is increasingly subjected to being moulded into processes. This development has been going on for several years, step by step and consequently not really easy to make out. Yet it keeps getting stronger. Nobody can escape it. More and more regulations and written rules of behaviour are generated. There is a simple answer for every question.

Those who are still capable of feeling it feel dependent and incapacitated. A feeling of powerlessness spreads, dissatisfaction grows, you are frustrated and often do not even know why. At the same time, the systems protect you as never before. Security is all, risks are undesired. The total care through the system is the slogan of the hour.

Actually, the care is something those who enjoy it gladly accept. After all, it provides a comfort zone and promises security. Because you are in a protected area and basically there is nothing you need to worry about. Because you are part of a big “community” – one of many.

This is how the concern employee will feel comfortable. Yet this is often quite treacherous. But then, how does this situation arise? Both as a student and later as a regular employee, I spent almost ten years working for Siemens, where I personally made the experience of gliding into the world of security.

For me, the “lulling process” started with eating in the cafeteria. Usually, that was where I got good food at fixed times and for a reasonable price. And, like most people, I found “my” company cafeteria quite good. Also because it made my life easier.

Well, it means the cafeteria was the central point of the work day. It decided what we were going to eat. There were two standardized meals. At Siemens, we had one “simple” meal (green voucher, 1.20 DM) and a “higher-quality” meal (red voucher, 1.50 DM). The vouchers looked like those coins you can use instead of EURO coins when you need a trolley in the supermarket.

The vouchers were available from a very basic machine. If you paid 6 DM, you could choose between getting five green vouchers and four red vouchers. The same vouchers were available in yellow – for dessert. The price was 0.30 DM. For 1.50 DM, the machine gave you five of them. In those days, even dinner was available in the cafeteria – very comfortable.

The daily choice between green (basic) and red (better) meal became the most important part of daily life. The question “what’s to eat today” certainly gives diversity to the day. It suggests decisiveness and some last vestiges of freedom. Besides, going to the cafeteria at noon provided a break in the work routine.

This is what you get with big companies and institutions – all is provided for. You get food and warmth. The cafeteria as the tip of the iceberg consisting of a complete all-out provision by “Mama Siemens” or similar. “Mama Siemens” (as a metaphor for huge concerns) gives their people a place to work, a good income, warmth and light, and nice offices. At the gate, the security guards keep a watchful eye. The boss will select the courses his employees might find useful. And if an employee had a health problem, he or she could feel free to consult the company doctor. What more do you need?

This is what I experienced as part of the working population during my first years. I sat in a golden cage. We were domesticated and mollycoddled, like tamed pets. Until all this care – and if I am honest, there were other reasons, too – made me leave.

Many of my friends and colleagues did not manage to escape. They became prisoners inside the “golden barbed wire”. Initially, it was the company retirement money that attracted them. Then the dismissal protection. Without noticing it, they became zombies of the system that provided everything. Everything was pre-conceived and pre-arranged. No problems, no challenges.

Today, we also have set processes for everything: vacations, appraisal interviews, the hours you work, business trips, meetings, employments or notices, personnel-related issues, social media: everything is ready-made and served conveniently.

As soon as they reached their 50th birthday, if not sooner, they started looking towards the end with anxiety. And many were permitted to leave before they were sixty – well provided for, but basically too young to stop doing something meaningful.

And as systems always work: 
As soon as the regulations have started, they will never stop. Be it communication, creativity, development, marketing, sales: everything is standardized. „Best practice“ gives way to processes, bureaucracy will flourish endlessly, lateral ideas are not welcome.

Instead of “common sense” you get “this is how we are going to do it”. Creativity is replaced by planning. Transparency becomes an unwelcome threat. Everything must be measurable, even the suggestions for improvement. Customers’ wishes and the needs of your providers will fall victim to the Shareholder Value.

The system overshadows everything. Only what is useful for the system can ever be good – even if this is only allegedly so.

Consequently, the enterprises wear a mask that gets stronger and stronger. It is a fir tree they used to call structure organization – with mistletoes of structural concepts hanging from it.

To be sure, from the inside, those enterprises look different, because the industrious colleagues will ignore the fir tree with its mistletoes where necessary (which is quite frequently) and instead directly communicate with each other. This is how they see to it that the enterprise will be a success, after all – in violation of the rules.

Many enterprises remind me of the image of a city where the pulsating life starts to be structured by the construction of signs and barbed wire fences. Yet they leave enough – basically unlawful – holes for everything to still function.

It is called bureacracy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Ulf D. Posé
Saturday January 3rd, 2015

Post by Ulf Posé on MINIMUM WAGES!

Hello and a good day to you all!

I also wish you a happy new year. On top of this, I would like to send you my ideas on the minimum wages. After all, the regulations regarding same have become active yesterday. This article is also available on Politik-Poker. Why don’t you take a look at the website anyway? You might find some things worth reading.

ULF D. POSÉ | 02.01.2015

At long last, we now have it: the minimum wages legislation!

I am sure that the occasional Sylvester rocket was launched to celebrate the minimum wages legislation. At long last, millions of persons can now afford to buy the necessities of life without federal subsidies.

At long last, the exploitation has come to an end. But is that really true? Are minimum wages really fair and do they actually make sense?

It is certainly a good idea to think about income minimums. But then, thinking about them should eventually result in a responsible judgement. There are two questions you need to ask:

1. What is the purpose of a minimum wage, and will the legislation actually help?
and
2. Can we all afford to pay minimum wages?

Well, the purpose of a minimum wage is that people can live without needing federal subsidies. This is not possible with the minimum wage set to 8.50 € by federal law. Not for singles, and definitely not for families with only one breadwinner.

As early as 2004, the border value for a minimum wage you would need was 1,704 Euros before taxes per month. That equals an hourly rate of 9.78 Euros. Even at the time, there were 44,000 regularly employed persons who earned more than that and still had to rely in extra support by the state. The independent “Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB)” formulated in 2005 in rather clear words: “Depending on the household context, we (might) still have to talk indigence, even if someone earns more than 7.50 Euros per hour”.

Consequently, the goal to make it possible for everyone to earn a living without state support has not been reached. That remains true for a minimum wage set to 8.50 €. And it also concerns far fewer persons than is always said.

In the past, it has been postulated – primarily by the unions – that around two million persons need Hartz IV money, regardless of having work. That would be almost one out of twenty.

According to a study by the independent Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB) in the year 2005, that is indeed the number of adults who get additional money from the state. But among those were masses of persons who only held 400-Euro-Jobs. Of those who really worked full-time, only 495,000 persons received Hartz-IV money.

In April 2006, the number was around 473,000 and in 2007 it was 526,000. That is still an enormous amount. But then, among those 495,000 full-time employees who needed to add Hartz IV money to their income, there were only 14,000 singles who could not live on their full-time jobs. That is 0.035 per cent, rather than 5 percent – which would have equalled 2.1 million persons if one had believed the unions. This is how you manipulate people when they make up their minds.

Consequently, what counts if you are talking federal support is the marital status. If someone has a partner who earns no money, and if, on top of this, he has two children, then he cannot feed the family with a wage of 8.50 Euros per hour. Not mentioning this in the public debate is probably making the people look stupid. It is definitely dishonest.

Now, politics introduced the minimum wages for all areas starting with January, 1st, 2015. Yet if I look at how public projects are assigned to companies, then I see that the cheapest one gets the deal. This alone is sufficient to make you wonder. How the authorities lie!! Moreover, a legally fixed minimum wage unfortunately supports the Marxist idea that achievement should be honoured regardless of its usefulness/uselessness. This might be understandable as a humane concept, but at the same time it distorts the concept of what is truly the underlying idea of earnings.

The next step is to answer the question if people can afford to pay a minimum wage. If you determine minimum wages that an enterprise cannot pay because their sales situation does not yield the necessary return, you will only promote illicit employment and fake self-employment.
If work is not desired because it is too expensive for the entrepreneur, then it will disappear from the market – and the entrepreneur along with it. This might be a bitter truth, but it follows a very simply economic logic. Income is created through supply and demand on the workforce market, along with the added value achieved by the work.

If the wages are higher than the added value, then it can no longer be financed: the demand dies. As soon as an entrepreneur is forced to pay wages he cannot earn by fulfilling his orders, the enterprise will have to close down – or else the state will have to support it. We experienced this over and over again when, after the East-West unification contracts, equal (or almost equal) payment was made obligatory in East and West Germany. Eventually, we had some areas with almost 40 per cent unemployment.

Just take the example of temporary employment. A temporarily employed person who has been leased to a car manufacturer in the metal/electronics-industry will get the high metal/electronics industry wage for putting products onto shelves. If, a week later, he does virtually the same thing, but instead of putting buffers for the metal/electronics industry onto shelves, he now puts water bottles onto shelves for a retailer, he will get less money – for the same job.

Wages are all sorts of things, but they are certainly never fair.

The immediate outcry is that this is not fair. Unfortunately, according to Ulpian, justice is the wish to let all people be treated fairly. But the truth is that wages can never be fair. Nor will they ever be fair. They are based on what is appropriate, not on what is fair.
Whether a wage is appropriate depends on the demand and the added value. Consequently, the added value of putting water bottles onto a shelf can be considerably lower than that of putting buffers onto a shelf.

Just like fairness is never a basis for wages, the same is true for achievement. If it were otherwise, then putting buffers onto a shelf would have to be considered the same achievement as putting water bottles onto a shelf.

The achievement principle is Marxism in its purest form.

Performance-linked payment is not an invention of capitalism. In fact, it has been invented by Karl Marx, who used it as a polemic argument against the market-value-utilization-value principle as propagated by capitalism. Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten about this.

Performance-linked payment ignores that the usefulness of work is its determining factor when it comes to wages. If performance were the determining factor, then a managing director who does 100 per cent of what he is supposed to do would get less than a skilled labourer who does 130 per cent of what he is supposed to do.

I believe that in this ideological dispute, many persons follow Bernhard Shaw, who once said: “Some people are only prepared to die for things they really cannot understand”.
Minimum wages – so what about the self-employed?

If you wanted to be strict, a minimum wages law would also have to include a law that enforces that certain products must be bought, where the price is also regulated. Introducing a minimum wage would have to make it obligatory for all customers to pay a suitable price. No economist would ever consent to such a drastic Marxist measure. At the same time, the example makes quite clear what a grotesque discussion we are into.

When talking minimum wages, we totally ignore a huge part of the work force: the entrepreneurs and self-employed. We in Germany have 100,000 self-employed persons whose income is below the legal seizure exception limit. All of them are extremely hard workers.

They work an average of 59 weekly hours and they have extremely little vacation time: around 15 days each year. There are around 600,000 self-employed persons who earn less than 7.00 Euros per hour. On top of those, we have 213,000 freelancers who learn less than five Euros per hour. And those ‘rich‘ entrepreneurs are supposed to be paid the 8.50-Euro minimum wage in the future? Well, it seems that politics have no problem with self-exploitation!

In the debate about minimum wages, the political care for freelancers is totally forgotten. Why do we want to deny employers and self-employed persons something that is considered fair for wage earners?

I presume that our politicians do not wish to admit that they consider self-employed persons as second class citizens who need no support. Perhaps it is also a little unfair to constantly put pressure on our politicians. They have to meet the demands of the current lobbyists at all times.
And still it might be worth consideration from an ethical point of view if full-time work that does not enable the worker to meet his needs at the level of social welfare payments might not be humane after all – as even the social court of Berlin decided.

Is the minimum wage a job killer?

And there is something else you want to remember. Even if the purpose of the minimum wages, namely that you can feed your family, cannot be achieved; telling people that the minimum wages will always and exclusively kill jobs is not absolutely true, either. All over Europe, the experiences they made with minimum wages are as diverse as the amount of said minimum wages. Eighteen out of 25 EU members introduced minimum wages a long time ago, among them are England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Ireland.

Even in the United States, we have a minimum wage per hour. So you can see that, by now, we stood rather isolated. So far, the increase of unemployment everybody feared caused by introducing the minimum wages has not yet happened in countries where they have it. This can be proved empirically. At least that is the argument of the politicians and unionists. Unfortunately, however, pointing out how the minimum wages function in other countries as a good example is also accompanied by several information deficits.

For instance, in the US, the minimum wages are not a tool for fighting poverty. The income is increased through a negative income tax. Until the end of 2014, the minimum wages in the USA were 7.25 USD. From January, 1st, 2015, it is 10.10 USD (which equals 7.48 €). But will that be enough without federal support? In 2012, families with two or more children received a maximum extra amount of money to the tune of 4,716 USD (3,218 €) in the United States. The Brits gave their poor earners up to 1,730 British Pounds per person (2,342 Euros).

These additional support sums are actually in the same spirit as the one that underlies the Hartz-IV regulations. In other countries, too, the minimum wage system does not automatically make it possible for a family in the United States or Great Britain to be able to live on one income.

At the same time, the amount of the minimum wage is a determining factor. Years ago, the OECD found out that minimum wages can only marginally influence the poverty line. Among young persons, unemployment rather increased through the introduction of minimum wages. The OECD took a closer look at the consequences of minimum wages in nine countries and concluded that the minimum wage had a negative effect on the job situation in 24 cases. In 15 cases, there was either no effect or sometimes a positive effect.

Then the “Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (SVR)” investigated minimum wages. The result is truly interesting. If less than two per cent of the employees were affected with the minimum wage (like in the USA and Great Britain), there were “usually no or only small negative effects on the job situation. Sometimes there were even positive effects”. But here is the clinch: in France, the situation is totally different. There, the minimum wage is so high (9.53 €) that 15.6 per cent of the employees are affected. The consequence: increase unemployment among women and young persons.

In the eyes of the SVR, France is a good model of comparison for Germany. So maybe we should start being afraid, because the SVR also said that the increase in unemployment was rather drastic after they increased the minimum wages. A survey by Laroque and Salanié points in the same direction. If the minimum wages are increased drastically, you get more unemployment, if you increase them moderately, that is not likely to happen.

Mind you, the minimum wages can also be a defence instrument against competition. Just think of the Post AG. They got rid of their most important competition for letter delivery through introducing the minimum wage. For good reasons, the Post AG was in favour of the minimum wage. In the Netherlands, the Post AG is a rather small service provider. And their opposition to the minimum wages was rather vehement.

In Germany, however, there is another sad factor: our love of regulations. So far, nobody can really say to what extent the extra bureaucracy of documentation will be a burden for the enterprises.
And yet: even if you take all these factors into consideration, you should not make it too easy for the enterprises. An enterprise that cannot pay wages above the amount paid according to the Social Welfare Legislation either suffers from poor market circumstances, or else it will have to ask itself if mistakes were made in management.

The market and the competition decide about the final profit an enterprise can distribute. If an enterprise cannot pay its employees sufficiently, then it is either operating in the wrong market segment or offering the wrong products or producing at the wrong place, or else it has made wrong decisions. A good example from the past is Schlecker. The crises cannot be the reasons why the employees are financially ruined by the management.

udp

Roland Dürre
Sunday December 21st, 2014

:-) At Leisure, Available and For Sale …

… but not for any price and everything!

Yes – that is what I am!

From January, 1st, I am at your disposal and willing to sell my skin. Here is a list of the things I probably can do quite well (at least those are the areas where my credentials are not too bad).

Aufgenommen am 3. Oktober 2012 in der Waldwirtschaft mit meiner neuen aus China importierten Mütze

I am not sure if this is the best picture to promote myself:-)

  • Giving presentations on leadership and management which question quite few dogmata.
  • Advertising a New World with more “agility, leanness and openness”.
  • And one which, above all, will be there for humans and the creation.
  • Offering entrepreneurial and human mentoring to open and creative people (both old and young, female and male).
  • Working against social systems that became self-centred.
  • Setting impulses for transformation.
  • Organizing Time-Out in times of crisis in order to gain room for creative ideas and solutions.
  • Finding all those stupid questions which might actually help start-ups and enterprises.
  • Waking people up and opening their eyes.
  • Questioning so-called truths.
  • Finding a new basis for communication..
  • Bringing people together and connecting them in networks.

And more of the same!

So if any of you can offer something in those areas, thank you so much. And know that I am always willing to share the success.

RMD
(Translated by EG)