Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 13th, 2019

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

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

Innovate Session at the (Zurich?) PM-Camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I recommend with respect to meetings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Roland Dürre
Wednesday April 5th, 2017

IT Upland BarCamp on May, 12th, 2017 in Holzkirchen!

The BarCamp on Digital Transformation and its Social Consequences

In those days, the author still thought in terms of hardware 🙂

Currently, the buzzword DIGITALIZATION is ever present. There is a Zentrum-Digitalisierung.Bayern (ZD.B) and in the Bavarian districts, state-subsidized digitalization centres are being established.

Except that digitalization was yesterday. Those were the days when clocks, tachometers and thermometers suddenly got digital displays. I think it must have been around 1985, when Apple 2 and MacIntosh were modern and the German computer scientists still earned a lot of money in their industry nostalgia with BS2000.

Today, the internet and google are old. Even a few decades ago, we dreamed of self-learning systems – due to our AI (Artificial Intelligence) euphoria. The more modern persons among us gave the German KI the English title AI, because we already knew that it was not going to have much of a chance in Germany. In those days, we dreamed of Lisp and Prolog. Now we have thinking systems that quickly learn by themselves – in areas like translation and traffic – because the hardware is so powerful that it starts to work properly. Even without Lisp and Prolog.

To this day, many new things happen. They happen at a speed that we can no longer follow. And it seems to only just start. An unbelievable wave of products rolls towards us. It will again radically change the world. Many laws and regulations will no longer function in the future. Many questions come to mind:

  • Today, everybody discusses the “self-driving car”. But I wonder if that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes in our lives. And maybe much more will, palpably and impalpably, change before that?
  • Aren’t we living in the time of sensor technology, which creates a totally new connection and interaction between informatics and the world? And will not soon the time come when this is no longer about the interface humans-machines, but about the interface world-machine?
  • Is it really possible to practice data protection rationally? Or is it just a chimera of those who eternally live in the past? What does it mean for our society?
  • What technological elements do smart solutions need in a modern IoT architecture? Incidentally, what exactly is the meaning of “smart” – and what exactly do we mean when we say IoT?
  • What about the rules for robots (self-driving cars)? What does the Federal Ethics Commission have to say about it?
  • What about fighting robots and drones? What does all this mean for war and peace?
  • Should we not be thinking new concepts with respect to many elements of our social order as a consequence of technological development? Or even define them anew?
  • What does this mean for our social framework? Will politics remain the means by which to form it, or have machines already taken over?

These and more questions will be discussed openly, honestly and considerately during the Oberland BarCamp in Holzkirchen – which is what we mostly do on barcamps.

That is why I registered for the BarCamp on digital transformation and its social consequences – aka Oberland BarCamp. It will be in the RSC Factory – Trainings- und Coachingzentrum für Digital Business & Innovation in Holzkirchen on May, 12th.

And I already look forward to meeting many friends!

(Translated by EG)


Roland Dürre
Monday January 25th, 2016

The Democratic Opinion Building Process

Bild vom wunderbaren PM-Camp in Zürich.

Picture of the wonderful Zürich PM Camp.

Ever since I remember thinking myself, I have been both impressed and confused by my own species. How we love and hate. How we wildly celebrate and mourn together.

How, because of totally irrational constructs, we fight each other to the death and are capable of the most unspeakable cruelty. How we quarrel and have arguments and then make up again. How we contradict ourselves. How, once in a while, we actually make some progress and yet then slide back again. How we believe in constructs we invented ourselves.

The more I learned, the more the twists of human history over time surprised me. For millennia, the course was a zigzag line and in between we went forward and back. Again and again, there was also some small progress. But we never really made the huge step forward. Consequently, humans are still incarcerated, cut up and tortured. And there is endless hypocrisy and lies. Collectively, as always, we murder and pillage in the name of God or in the name of the people or for a cause – or in the name of whatever.

It is quite fascinating to see how, on the one hand, we really made progress (I mean enlightenment and similar achievements), what great toys we developed in technology and yet how absolutely backwards and unwise (stupid) we remained at the same time. And how we find it quite normal that we are in the process of, as a matter of course, destroying our planet (and ourselves). Regardless of the fact that a different life would probably be a much more agreeable life.

To me, it seems that, especially collectively, we are stupid as one person alone could never possibly be. In fact, it is quite legitimate to follow Gunter Dueck and say that there is a very special collective sponge stupidity. Stupidity as in: the opposite of prudence.

Regardless of this threatening reality, I still believe in the utopia of a just society free of punishment, violence and war. But how to get there? If at all, it can only happen through communication and mutual understanding.

Would it not be nice if we were to manage peaceful solutions for all kinds of social challenges through teams and groups by way of consensus? And if, then, we could realize those solutions together? Following the Seneca motto:

Philosophy is not about talking, but about acting?

As we see on a daily basis, meetings are not really an appropriate means for making progress, are they? Perhaps it would be best to have peer-to-peer meetings with a fixed topic to discuss. Because everything begins with two persons meeting. But then you do not have a group or team effect.

This is how, as early as perhaps fifty years ago, Habermas defined the honest discourse. I described it in my presentation on “The Change in Management“ (Der Wandel im Management – see at the bottom of this article). And in fact, we have already come a little closer to it.

PMCampDOR Intro 2015My colleagues of Art of Hosting, too, sound encouraging to me, as do the PM Camps I was able to attend.

Barcamps are very “basic” events. The hosts create a setting in order to make it possible for their guests to have good conversations. The persons who come are those we want and they will be true part-givers. And they decide in which direction we are going. It is an anti-conference, the democratic opposite of a conference.

Barcamps and similar formats like “Open Space“ are precious concepts. In Germany, there are thousands each year. They are about many topics: Sometimes they are about re-activating life in the city or the solution of social challenges. Other topics often discussed in barcamps are the work-life, education, family, research, gender issues, society, health, innovation, life, mobility, entrepreneurship, change, diversity, the future and many, many more.

I often get the impression that there is no important topic today that is not taken up on a barcamp somewhere. And I understand more and more clearly that all these anti-conferences and barcamps are the places where persons can make a difference and have an impact on the future. After all, during these events, people meet in order to share knowledge and experience – and they build networks!

Since all these many barcamps are so important, I am rather glad that, so far, I never heard about a fascist or right-wing radical barcamp. Maybe the methodology of a barcamp is a contradiction to “fascism”, thus making them mutually exclusive? Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

I related those ideas to my friend and partner Eberhard Huber. His reply was:

I think the ideas of fascism and barcamp are, indeed, mutually exclusive. Fascism is always connected with some dogma. Said dogma always claims to possess the absolute truth. Dogmata and claiming to know the absolute truth need prophets you listen to. Given an open discussion such as they happen in a barcamp, the only thing that will inevitably happen to the status of the prophet is loss.

Well, this gives you hope, doesn’t it? And perhaps, some day, we will actually manage to fulfil the requirement formulated by Bertrand Russell. He said:

» All increase in technology, if you want it to promote, rather than lessen human happiness, causes the same increase in wisdom. «

Maybe, with new communication and new formats, we will, at long last, manage to gain the crucially necessary WISDOM. And then we might hope that, by the time our generation is extinct, the future generations will do a better job.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 17th, 2016

Video Recording: #AktMobCmp

I reported frequently about our project “Active Mobility in Everyday Life“ (#AktMobCmp) in the IF blog. The barcamp took place on January, 4th and 5th, 2016 and it was a great experience. I made the acquaintance of many nice persons and the event connected and linked many persons with similar motivations.

Friedrich Lehn ( did the filming. Now you can watch the trailer:

Enjoy! It is about five minutes.

You will find the results of our anti conference on our website, where you will also find a link to our twitter wall (tag #AktMobCmp). And here is the good news:

We will continue!

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday December 14th, 2015

More on Barcamp and Open Space

The Difference between “Traditional Conferences” and “Anti-Conferences”.

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnI understand more and more clearly that learning is a social activity. Formerly, I believed that I had learned a lot from individual persons and teachers. Now I notice that this is only partly true. Mostly, my teaches – even though I certainly learned a lot from them, too – were only the catalytic converters, initiating the contact between me and others, as well as communication.

If you see it under this light, then my life and learning was a continuing meeting with many people. Sometimes the meetings were rather intense, sometimes superfluous. But I always received some knowledge and experience, and probably also gave some in return. In all instances, we learned from each other and “impressed” something on the other party. Once in a while, we also rubbed against each other using different constructs. That, too, was helpful.

Experience, competence, knowledge, wisdom and prudence are often considered individual achievements. But this is not true. In fact, they are always the result of communication and collective socializing.

Seen under this light, anti-conferences are nothing but a tool for socialization. They enable you to promote intense and symmetrical communication through participation and thus to make the learning process considerably more dynamic. As opposed to traditional conferences that, to me, seem so much more strict and one-sided. Where the majority of attendants are forced to remain passive and consequently do not have as much fun.

A barcamp or an OpenSpace must under no circumstances become a conference, not even anything near it. Consequently, when organizing a barcamp, you should not overdo it by planning and preparing too much.

Two factors define an anti-conference: the session planning and the sessions. The planning of sessions is done together. It must consider the here and now and cannot come as a matter of routine. The same is true for the sessions: they must remain open. Yet they can be upgraded if all those wonderful formats like debate, Honest Consensus (Art of Hosting), Fish Bowl, Story Telling, Games, “prototyping” and much more are used more often.

Impulse presentations can be useful if they give mental incentive on the topic/motto, provided there is a topic or motto. Basically, this is not necessary. It is just as well if there is a good introduction making the people open up and thus creating the awareness for the requirements to be met if you want good communication, such as considerateness, respect, esteem, appreciation – that is: they make communication at eye-level possible.

About the Danger of Generating Bubbles.

Once in a while, people talk about the danger – also in the wake of the Dornbirn PM Camp – that “bubbles” might develop during a barcamp. The participants might get isolated from the rest of the world or become inbreeding.

To me, this seems quite possible. Because whenever humans meet in intense communication, they can easily lose their objective view of reality. Thus, a bubble can develop and, due to all those shared ideas, a group can establish itself (see: class reunion) or technological inbreeding (see: exclusion) can happen.

This is quite logical, because, naturally, similar-minded persons will tend to maintain their prejudices, rather than talk each other out of same prejudices. To be sure, I see only a minimum danger that is not a threat to good results. But here, too, you can try and counteract by trying to promote the desired pluralism through newbies. Because if the new recruits have the same mental concepts as the old ones, then change will be hard to achieve.

However, I think there is an easy way to counteract the development of “bubbles” in open movements. It is openness as such, which must be demanded and supported. And you should always take care that the participants have different sex and age, as well as social and technological background and also that otherwise a huge variety is promoted. This is only possible if your invitations are simple and transparent, thus appealing to all groups and classes.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday December 11th, 2015

For (even) Better Barcamps!

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnThere is still potential for improvement for Barcamps such as #AktMobCmp or #pmcamp. After all, also anti-conferences – like everything in life – can be worked on.

The first rule might well be:
A small barcamp is better than a big one!
Following the motto “small but powerful”.

The most important thing is not that as many persons as possible come!
Even though we rather like it if many people come. After all, we have all been brought up to appreciate more and more growth, which means everything has to be as big as possible. But that is not what is best.
Note: Big barcamps will probably not be a problem. You would have to organize them as an n-tuple of many small ones.

What we really want is that people as a social unit have a lot of fun together during two days!
And additionally, we want them to understand, comprehend and discover many things that were new to them.
And those are things you will accomplish more easily in a small group.

Except – how to go about it?

I am sure that those who organize the event will have to come up with ideas in their invitation letters. You will want to precisely describe what the barcamp is about – i.e. you will clearly define the topic. Yet you must not restrict it, but instead keep it as open as possible. And you will want to choose a clear motto. That is exactly what we tried to do with AktMobCmp.

This is not about the right or wrong persons attending. It is about female and male, young and old. It is about sharing experiences, opinions and knowledge during the barcamp while accepting that you are part of a social unit and prepared to communicate at eye-level, respecting and appreciating each other. You should bring heart, competence, interest, enthusiasm, criticism, technological competence, tolerance … in a provocative and constructive way, considerately and openly, tentatively and courageously, optimistically and pessimistically, curiously and boldly, transparently and in a simple way.

The organizers are also in a particularly challenging position. Because the barcamp is the host and “only” provides the frame that makes it possible for many ME-s to become one WE. The two days commonly set aside for a barcamp are a short time and you want to use them optimally. The environment and atmosphere must be just right and the initial phase must be a success.

However, the organizers are not responsible for the selection of topics. The topics will be provided by the participants. That is why we also call them “part-givers”. This is how what really matters is the shared work during the “sessions“. It has to be done individually for each day. Within a day, something may also change dynamically. But you have to be careful not to violate the interests of individual participants.

The better a session is (pre)qualified, the better it will turn out. Especially the format of the sessions is something you should definitely discus and decide in advance.

So the most important session is the one where all the sessions of the entire day are discussed and decided upon. This includes determining what actually is the problem, how we want to work on it together and what you want to harvest at the end of the day.

The potential session formats are:

  • Debate
    Also known as “battle”. It is a dialogue between two groups – totally in the sense of the classical dialectics – where both parties always try to respond to exactly the arguments of the other party in their replies. This means there are two opposing parties and a “referee” who takes the time. There is also the audience voting on who won which step. The specialty is that the dice are thrown in advance to decide what side you have to be on – this is how you also have to practice negative thinking.
  • Honest discourse
    There is a simple rule by Habermas: Everybody gives his opinion, it is all exclusively about arguments, regardless of what a reputation or position a person has.
  • Fishbowl
    You will also find the term in Wikipedia. If you asked me, then I would say the “fishbowl” is the normal discussion, moderating itself in a creative way.
  • Modern consensus finding
    There are numerous methods. If I wanted to name them all, the available space would not be enough. Let the example of the “Art of Hosting Method” as we used it rather successfully at the 2015 Dornbirn PM Camp suffice.PMCampDOR Intro 2015
  • Creative Space
    It is always nice to see something being created that actually lasts. It might be a workshop of the design session where, for example, you create a cartoon or a video film. With a good team, this is often done at surprising speed and quite well.
  • Story-Telling
    A few nice questions, a quiet room and then the stories will pour out. The important thing is that you do not discuss or debate anything. Instead, someone tells a story and the others listen. Here is a report  of one event of this kind I was part of.
  • Games and prototyping
    As we all know, there are all varieties of approaches, starting from the famous SeriousPlay with Lego bricks.

There are probably others – one of them, of course, is the normal presentation.

Naturally, the topics are provided by the participants. If they already come with topics, then they can choose in which form they wish to present or interactively process said topics. Of course, it is best if matters develop during the event.

Using such methods consciously is meant to increase the value for the participants, because they can experience new things, but there will also be new results and insights.

All I can say is: I promise that you will find quite a few things to talk about during the ActMobCmp or AktMobCmp (both spellings are correct).

Zum Vergrößern aufs Bild klicken.

To enlarge the image, please press on it.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 28th, 2015

PM Camp Dornbirn – Between Pretension and Reality?

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnIn retrospective, the Dornbirn PM Camp was rather a success. Most (well, basically all) of the participants felt great and drove home with a feeling of satisfaction. In my opinion, this is great.

Also, many participants filled in our feedback forms. This is how we (the organizational team) received many constructive comments. I am currently working my way through those, along with the twitter “timeline” of our anti-conference. You can read the timeline under the hashtag #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, it is a lot of fun: a retrospective view with many useful links.

Statistically spoken, the feedback was just as positive as the individual comments. This gave the organizational team a boost. Barcamps are something special. They are based on freedom, eyelevel, participation, equal rights. You can also see those factors as “weaknesses”. But then, they are weaknesses I personally find rather attractive. A barcamp lives from the moment. You cannot control them, the sessions rise from the context of what you have just experienced. And that is a good thing!

In other words:
Freedom and diversity can also polarize. You might get focal points and conclusions that not everybody will always like. Well, you have to cope with this, just like freedom is not always something you can easily cope with. It takes tolerance.

Democracy, too, has its problematic side. Even the question how to best organize democracy can be a problem. Just remember the passionate discussion about “direct versus parliamentary democracy” – one of which is considered the solution (for instance in Switzerland) while being considered extremely dangerous (for instance here in Germany, because we believe the people are stupid). On the other hand, many are no longer at all happy with our “parliamentary democracy”.
Anti-conferences are democratic. Their dynamics depend very much on the persons attending. As opposed to conferences, you meet in a rather free room with only little formatting. This might trigger group dynamics that not everybody will welcome. But then, every participant can feel free to counteract.

PM Camps are very pluralistic meetings. Males and females meet, old and young persons, starters and almost-pensioners, successful and not-so-successful persons, persons who studied at university and persons who learned their trade in apprenticeships, no-nonsense types and laughing types, “not so wealthy ones” and “rich ones”, etc. Maybe these barcamps can manage to bridge the gap between ME and WE and thus reduce the tension between “individual” and “collective” needs.
And what is true for projects is also true here: technology and tools are no longer the problem. The existing methods, too, are mostly more or less suitable. Yet most of the projects fail because of the “human factor”. This is also a danger with barcamps. You can never please everybody. Consequently, both the tweets and the feedback forms showed us that some details were highly praised by some, yet criticized by others.

Besides the positive feedback, there was criticism and recommendations for improvement. Wherever the recommendations for improvements do not counteract the barcamp principles, we will take them very seriously. Just as we will take the criticism to heart. But then, you could also say:
If someone criticizes something about a barcamp, he is also criticizing his own behaviour.

Here is a list of feedback with my comment:

Positive Feedback:

The positive feedback is by far the majority. Even though I would enjoy citing all of them, I will restrict myself to a few:

If the PM Camp would not exist, one would have to invent it!!

I will be back!

I was able to learn a lot, make experiences and meet very interesting persons!
Continue in this way, no regulations!

There was a very homely and cosy atmosphere, the discussions were all at eye-level!

I could continue I this way – and very often, there was a
Huge Thanks!
and 100 % of the participants replied to the question:
“Would you recommend the PM Camp to a colleague?“
With a Yes .

Of course, reading this made us truly happy. We in the organizational team will process all the positive feedback with care and diligence. After all, what is true for persons when it comes to “personality development” (often also called management or leadership training) is also true for communities: first and foremost, you should promote your strengths, instead of always trying to work on the weaknesses. Because the latter will never be a success anyway and the former is so much more promising. Consequently, we want to make those things better that are already quite positive.
But I also have examples for

Negative Feedback:

The WLAN on the Camp was a catastrophe …

Yes, that is true. But I know how Stefan, in particular, took pains, both before and during the event, to improve the situation at the university. On the evening before, I also had a dialogue with one of the experts who had explained the problem to me. The specialists at the university, too, tried their best, but again, they did not manage it. Due to highly complicated security aspects, the systems are programmed in such a way that the technicians cannot do it. Naturally, we will try to do better in this respect next year. Yet we should also appreciate how much the Dornbirn Fachhochschule as a sponsor of the event is doing for us. Maybe we can be a little lenient in return.

There was no information about parking!
Yes – we forgot our dear car drivers.

More precise information on the event (start, end) on the website, please. 
Yes, that is certainly something we can improve.

Pictures of those who organize a session would help with the orientation.
Unfortunately, “Aebby“ (Eberhard Huber) had to cancel on short notice – consequently, his polaroid camera, too remained in Stuttgart.

Criticism and recommendations on
Ice-Breaking, Moderation and an introduction round,
very diverse. Some wanted a round of introductions, others not. Some wanted more moderation and/or ice-breaking, others less. I would say it was about equally distributed.

Many ideas and recommendations for improvements in the feedback forms were about

“Newbies“ and “class meetings of old PM Camp attendants and how one could, maybe, improve the quality of sessions, for instance by coaching, mentoring or moderation.

A narrow majority wanted an explicit support for Newbies. The others thought it worked quite well automatically. To me, it also seems that this is easier with small PM Camps – such as Barcelona – than with big ones such as Dornbirn. So this was almost indirectly a criticism that Dornbirn is getting too big.

There was also some criticism on individual sessions and how they were offered.

Too much IT in the sessions.

I missed the games.

It would be better if the sessions of the second day were better based on those of the first day.

The principle and variants of sessions should be better explained beforehand, especially for the newbies.

I support whatever improves the session concept. Yet I believe that the organizational team should not meddle with the content of the sessions. They belong to the “part-takers”. The organizational team has the chance to motivate those who are interested in the messages or want a controversial discussion about them by formulating the mottoes and selecting the impulse given before the event. That should be enough.

But there are some challenges for the future. I particularly liked one of them:

It will be THE ONE challenge of the future to maintain the high standards.

That is exactly how I feel!

Incidentally, there is a lot of praise and some criticism of the Dornbirn PM Camp on the official GPM Blog. Reinhard Wagner reported on the Dornbirn PM Camp in a post, actually writing a few rather negative things in his last paragraph (…PM Camp only partially managed to deliver what it had promised. …).

Since I see a number of misunderstandings in this article and also because my name appears in it, I will now discuss Reinhard’s theses “dialectically” and also try to explain a few things.

This is where I start with the text of the last paragraph written by Reinhard in the GPM blog. The sum of all the cursive text elements is the complete last paragraph, copied from his post 1 one 1 (RW). Whenever I use “normal” font directly afterwards, then those are my comments (RMD).

(RW) … The motto of this year’s Dornbirn PM Camp was “breaking with patterns” (What patterns should we break and how can we do it?). This is something the PM Camp managed to deliver only to some extent. As I see it, that is also the dilemma of the entire “PM Camp” movement.

(RMD) Not only PM Camp, but the entire human society has the dilemma that it cannot manage change to a reasonable or at least desired extent. Current history alone is a good proof of this (wars, terrorism, the destruction of the planet…)    .
The problem I have with what Reinhard writes is that, for me, the only thing a PM Camp is supposed to deliver is a) to be a good host and b) to find the right participants. That is also what the organization team for “our” Dornbirn PM Camp aimed at. And as I see it, the same is true for the entire “PM Camp Movement”.
Each year, we meet at the PM Forum (our strategic organ for all PM Camps) amd discuss how to best do this. Here, the representatives of the regional organizational teams (the operative event managers who organize the Camps) and the core teams (the normative founders) meet. During this meeting, we exchange ideas on what could be improved in order to make it even easier for you – our guests and visitors – to exchange knowledge, find consensus and gain insights.
The basic role of an organizational team for a PM Camp is that of host. It looks for sponsors and, finances the event where it costs more than the participants’ fees have brought. In addition, we, as a group, try to come up with mental concepts (for instance a motto like the metaphor of “breaking with patterns” before the event) and to promote the success of the entire affair through impulse presentations during the Camp (what?) and ideas about the methods of presentation (how?), without ever jeopardizing the core ideas of a barcamp.
We are very careful about not clandestinely turning our “anti-conference” into a conference or congress.
Please remember:
A PM Camp is nothing other than a barcamp directed towards project managers, entrepreneurs, leaders – basically all those persons who are prepared to take responsibility for our future. It provides them with a platform for the exchange of opinions and ideas and thus supports their networks.

(RW) The “young wild ones” (sorry Roland Dürre) try with all their might to distance themselves from the established big ones in the field, primarily from the GPM, the PMI and the PRINCE2-Community.

(RMD) As to the “young wild ones”: personally, I must say that I do not see myself qualifying for “young”. I meant quite a few young start-ups with this metaphor. They approach things totally differently from what I am used to with the “established enterprises”. And whenever a start-up is a success, then it is definitely not because it thinks in terms of projects.
But back to the text. The very phrase “established big ones in the field” shows how problematically Reinhard is positioned. Personally, I do not see the PM Camp movement as competition of any “established big ones”. Because we are not an association. If anything, we might be an alternative to it, meeting in a free area and exchanging knowledge and experience. During a PM Camp, what you do is motivate each other to start thinking. The “ME”s will meet as part of the “WE”s. That has nothing in common with an association or similar structures. This is also one of the reasons why the organizational team must not and will not give proactive recommendations.
Incidentally, the PM Camp Movement also always coordinates whatever they do with openPM, the open portal that provides a platform for the free exchange for all  project managers. openPM is a non-profit-making club that, as I see it, is no competition for the “established big ones” either. Consequently, openPM has nothing to do with those clubs/associations.
My personal reason for shunning clubs and associations is that, to me, they all seem to think they alone possess the “truth”, then they mould their truth into rules and laws and earn their (horrendous sums of) money with it. That is something I do not want to be part of. But I am not trying it with all my might. I am just clearly stating the fact.

(RW) The pattern “agile” versus “traditional” is used far too often. In almost all the discussions, you get the comparison between “industrial age is old and evil” versus “information age is young and good”, the same is true for “waterfall” versus “Scrum”.

(RMD) Here, Reinhard probably misunderstood something. It is quite possible that, years ago, there were such frontiers. In order to stop this nonsense, however, we started a PM Camp in Dornbirn in 2011. Its motto was “building bridges“.
Consequently, I hardly noticed any conflicts between “agile” and “traditional” during the Dornbirn PM Camp. On the contrary: all the persons I heard – including the impulse presenters – made it quite clear that anything can be justified. All you have to do is consider what you want to use when for which purpose.
Incidentally, I believe that all you need to know about “agile” has been written down in the “agile manifesto“. What you find there is a recommendation to use “common sense” in an “honest” way. And I cannot see where this is supposed to be a method. Basically, it should be something that goes without saying. Just like it goes without saying that you can make many mistakes in projects.

(RW) One presenter spoke against all rules and “patterns”, before, a few pages into the presentation slides, saying that you should actually not do any projects (#noprojects).
(RMD) If this is referring to the impulse by Robert Weisgräber, then I have to say that his was one of the best presentations I have watched in a long time. This can also be seen from the feedback statistics. But perhaps the metaphor #noprojects  is not all that easily understandable. Yet I did not really hear that you should not do any projects. What I heard is that you should think twice before deciding what to do.

(RW) In a workshop on “organizations as living organisms”, they tried to show how such an organization works. When I asked if we could perhaps exemplify this with the – unfortunately very successful – organization “Islamic State”, my request was rudely denied with the (killer) argument that this is not really the time to discuss that general topic.
(RMD) Naturally, what someone says in a session cannot meet the total approval of all participants. It has something to do with democracy. On the other hand, I would also not think it goal-oriented to discuss the IS as an example. Not just because, to me, the IS looks like a criminal, fascist organization (The Third Reich, too, was fascist. And still the “GröFaZ“ generated fear for all the established generals with agile warfare).
To be sure, Reinhard Wagner could have organized a separate session on the IS, or perhaps, more precisely, a session about “modern guerrilla war of fascist organizations as a successful method for fighting against technologically superior armies”. But I would not have attended such a session (or if, then just to tell everybody that I find it absurd).

(RW) Then, one participant tried to discuss the Cynefin framework. This discussion ended with the categorization of engineers and business economists on the right side (simple or complicated systems) and software developers, those creative wild ones, on the left side of the framework. Well, this does not really help anybody, does it?
(RMD) Again, this is about the content of a session. It has nothing to do with the Dornbirn PM Camp. Personally, however, I see it like Reinhard Wagner, considering the entire discussion about complicated/complex, left/right, blue/red more or less esoteric nonsense. However, I am sure that you can actually conclude right things from wrong assumptions  …

(RW) Instead of breaking patterns, they dress old clichés in new clothes.
(RMD) I do not really understand this sentence. But I find it rather over the top to say something like this about the entire Dornbirn PM Camp. To me, this sounds a little like culture pessimism. But I admit that our entire society suffers from us constantly, again and again, using the same patterns. And that fantasy and creativity are things we tend to push away. Perhaps Reinhard and I actually lament the same state of affairs.

(RW) Finally, I have to ask the question what, in practice, the PM Camps actually want to achieve.
(RMD) Once again: PM Camps offer the general framework for meeting, communicating in an atmosphere of trust, sharing knowledge, gaining insights through honest discourse. There is no promise from the side of the Camp. If there is any goal, then it is that the persons who attend make each other look bigger – instead of smaller, as we have known it from many teaching systems. However, I believe it is amore valuable or practical application to “share knowledge” and to learn from the “other party” than to earn certificates or, what is worse, from the “certification of the world”.

(RW) To be sure, my own workshop impulse for “project management for social purposes” instigated a lot of discussion and enthusiastic comments,…
(RMD) Question: “What is an enthusiastic comment?“! 🙂

(RW) … but then my question what we could actually do was rather quickly cut short because everybody disappeared (wanting to have lunch).
(RMD) Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? This is something the second day – with its actual sessions – could have been used for.

(RW) To be sure, it was also rather hard to make the participants actually put into practice what we had been talking about at the GPM.
(RMD) I cannot imagine why it would be easier at the GPM than in real life.

(RW) Yet this is where they could have been proved that they can do more than “give nice Sunday speeches” , letting “beautiful words” be followed by “actual behaviour”.
(RMD) Even Seneca said: “philosophy is not about talking, it is about acting”. And we can all see that we all talk a lot yet do nothing from the climate change caused by the burning of fossil raw materials. But again, I discovered that I have something in common with Reinhard.

(RW) That is what I would wish for, but perhaps it will just remain wishful thinking at Christmas Time.
(RMD) My hope (I do not know if it is wishful thinking), not only at Christmas Time, is that humans become a little wiser.

Even though there were many objections to what I had done in his article, I would like to explicitly thank Reinhard for writing it. And perhaps this is the beginning of an enthusiastic and wonderful discussion about:

How badly do we really need all those associations and clubs?
Because to me, it seems that many of them are totally unnecessary and I would certainly expect more from grass root movements.


(Translated by EG)
The heading of this post is not my wording. It was directly taken from Reinhard.

Now I returned home from Dornbirn and it is the weekend. It was a truly strong week. First, I spent two nights in Nuremberg with a long day on the #DOAG2015 and then, between Thursday and Saturday, I enjoyed a very intense PM-Camp in Dornbirn #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, the two hashtags will link you to the tweets for the two events. It is well worth taking a look.

Last Wednesday, on the DOAG 2015, I was again permitted to speak. I talked about:

“Creative Room – Healthy Room!“

Here are the picture by Christian I used and the short outline of my presentation.

"created by Christian Botta"

“created by Christian Botta“

Today: More often than not, the work situation in enterprises seems to be insufferable. There are (many) employees who mentally already have given notice. The salary is considered compensation for personal suffering. But then, they have neither the courage nor the strength to say: “Love it, change it, or leave it“.
Useless meetings, feeling powerless and the burnout syndrome are the consequences. Now they want to do something about it, see also: BGM (company health management).
Consequently, we find change all around us. Conferences are replaced by anti-conferences. I prefer attending barcamps…

And I will now present the story of my presentation. I had to hand in a short version. Then the documents for the presentation. Also the transparencies. But I had none. Because I always speak without.

Christian Botta of VisualBraindump made a picture protocol of my presentation. Thanks a lot!

Today, I give my presentation. Perhaps I will call it “Complexity, Innovation and Burnout in Enterprises”. In fact, that would have been a better title than the one in the proceedings. Or perhaps “How to Keep Humans Species-Appropriate”. Because, basically, I was talking about the same principle as the “key speaker” Gunter Dueck.

I started with the impressions for the presentation from early this year. That was when Dietmar Neugebauer (President of the DOAG) asked me if I would again like to speak in November on his conference. I certainly gladly accepted. Then there were the thought-provoking impulses. One of them was OpenInnovation at InterFace AG , realized with the Nuremberg FAU, chair of Prof. Möslein. During the final event of this project, there was a presentation by Dora on “creative rooms”. After this, it became pretty clear to me how rooms (and organisations) should “look” if you want them to provide innovative inspiration – both physically and virtually.

Apparently, they have something to do with participation, respect, eye-level, culture, breaking patterns, joy and happiness.

A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with Dr. Marius Poersch. Marius is a psychologist, head doctor in a hospital with many patents who have suffered from burnout. He wants to be more than just a “repair shop”, so he also does some scientific research on what humans and organisations can do in order to minimize the burnout risks. After his presentation, I have a good idea what a “burnout-free” room should look like.

Surprisingly, but basically also logically, the result is: the rooms are exactly the same. The “room” as described by Dora for promoting innovation looks exactly like the one presented by Marius for keeping us healthy.

So what are the reasons for all this frustration we suffer from? We assume it is the complexity that gives us fear and the bureaucracy that is generated in our society as its consequence, trying to give us some dubious sense of security.


As an example: my own frustration as an entrepreneur (because at oracle in Nuremberg), the story of DocuMaker and the Federal Agency for Employment.

Failure due to stupid rules, the Oracle middleware product manager does not know the product, prediction about the future of Oracle by Larry Ellision … lots of frustration, immense loss for all. Thank God no Distress for us, because the success would have been Oystress.

A complex world with quick change gives us problems. And then there are the processes, rules, protocols, processes that are supposed to help with the complexity but all they do is make life harder for us.

About the Berlin PM Camp (complex versus complicated).

There were also many abstract discussions about the difference between complex and complicated. According to Niels Pflaeging, it is quite simple: as long as it is just complicated, the classic methods of project management and problem solving can help us. But this is no longer true when it gets complex.
I think it is not as easy as that. I did a session with Maik Pfingsten (Blogger, PoD-Cast) and rather enjoyed Maik’s definition of complexity (from the perspective of the system engineer)
x – axis: degree of complicatedness; 
y – axis: speed of change;
The more you get of both, the more “complex” it is;
I extended this to also include the 
z – axis: “human factor” degree in the project.
This means: the more complicated and dynamic and the more of a human factor you have, the more complex it is …

Seneca said: Philosophy does not mean talking, it means acting.

What can we do? Whenever it gets more and more complicated, when matters change ever faster and when the human factor becomes more and more apparent?

There are no cooking recipes or Best Practice, neither are there any methods or technologies. All I can offer are a few ideas to think about.

As an engineer, software person and technologist.
Let me refer you to the: Agile Manifesto (2001)As an entrepreneur, manager and leader:
Hans Ulrich – Eight Theses on Change in Management (1982)Insertion:
Here are his “Eight Theses on Change in Management” in a nutshell with a few additional notes:

  1. Accept not knowing and not being able to predict the future as a normal state of affairs!
    Well, you simply cannot predict the future …
  2. Broader horizons for your thinking!
    Oppose “You cannot do this” or “This is how we always did it”. Do not suppress the freedom of ideas. Share knowledge.
  3. Move in the category “both”, instead of “either-or”!
    Black-and-white is out, colourful is in.
  4. Think multi-dimensionally! 
Your balancing of values must be ethically responsible. Basically, humans can only deal with three ideas at one time.
  5. Use self-organization and self- control as your basic formative model for your enterprise!
    Responsibility, subsidiarity
  6. Consider management as a function that gives and promotes meaning!
New management image.
  7. Focus on what is really important!
    Work economy.
  8. Make use of group dynamics!
    Cultures, symbols, rites, rituals …

As a human being:
John Izzo – five things you should consider before you die!
I strongly recommend the Review  of the book.

Or the experiences made by Bonnie Ware:
Here are the five things he found out people wanted:

  1. “I wish I had had the courage to live my own life“
  2. “I wish I had not worked so much”
  3. “I wish I had had the courage to show my emotions“
  4. “I wish I had remained in contact with my friends“
  5. “I wish I had permitted myself more happiness“

Those are the five insights Bonnie Ware collected when he accompanied dying persons. As I see it, there is a lot to be learned for life from these statements …

Yet none of all these things will help you if you are not prepared to actually live. Something is still missing.


One of my mentees works for Osram: They are already in a permanent crisis, anyway. Additionally, their move from near the 1860 stadium to Garching looked a little stupid to me. My mentee lives in Unterhaching. His daily way to work is now four times as long as it used to be. He feels how his mood gets worse and worse. .
He arrives at work in a bad mood and returns home in a bad mood. Dialogue: How is your boss? – He is in a good mood! – What is he doing differently from you? – He rides his bike every morning from Trudering to Garching! – So why don’t you, too ride your bike! – Cannot! – Cannot is not defined! 
He then bought an e-bike and went to work riding it every day. And ever since then, he arrives at the office in a good mood, and the same is true for when he arrives at home. And he feels so much better …

In simple terms:
Our body needs exercise and fresh air. And time with nature. And you can have it so easily – with active mobility in everyday life. See also AktMobCmp.

Seneca, too, taught us: 
Follow the laws of nature.
(Seneca was a teacher who wanted to make his students successful and happy. Unfortunately, this has never been the first goal of my teachers).

How is anybody supposed to come to terms with his own life if he cannot even come to terms with his own mobility? And driving a car is definitely not something that makes you free, nor will it bring you fulfilment in life … (Even if that is what a seemingly overpowering industry tells us in a gigantic brainwashing process).

So: what we need is nice and regular exercise!

But not the kind of exercise I experienced after the Eldorado cinema in the Sonnenstrasse. I had tears in my eyes when I exited after having watched the great “Die Kinder der Mme Ann“. And just imagine, right across the street, there is a fitness studio on the first floor. It has huge windows … And you can see in the light of the windows how the persons do their “work-out”. According to the motto Work Hard, Play Hard, WORK OUT …

For me, this is a horror vision. Planning fitness like an entire life. So why not change your life! You will see it can be done. Because, as Seneca said:

The reason why we do not start doing something is not that it is hard. Instead: Things are hard because we do not do them.

(Translated by EG)

During my presentation, I made two more insertions: about terrorism and about the asylum seeker situation. And I gave a short summary of what caused both. But most importantly, I described why I am not at all happy with how we react to both problems. However, I will write two separate articles about how I feel about these issues in the near future.

Hans Bonfigt
Monday November 2nd, 2015

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