Roland Dürre
Wednesday September 13th, 2017

Entrepreneur’s Diary #123 – Appraisal Interviews

Evening Event BICCnight “it at media“ in the foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern. München, 22/07/2011 picture by Stephan Goerlich

For today’s entrepreneur’s diary, I chose a very banal topic: The Appraisal Interview.

Together with Wolf Geldmacher, I founded the InterFace Connection GmbH in 1984. Immediately, we had ten successful years as the producers of the software HIT-CLOU and quickly became the leaders on the market for text systems on UNIX in Europe. Because we were a great team. It was a true delight. In retrospective, those were the ten best years of my professional career.

Before we founded InterFace Connection, I had worked for Siemens and Softlab. I wanted to adopt all the things I found good in those enterprises in my own firm. It was quite a number of things. However, there were many more things that did not find my approval and I consequently wanted to handle them differently – those were the more important things.

Among other things, I am talking the chance to decide what tasks were delegated to whom and also of deciding what, when, how and where the work had to be done. At Siemens, the delegation of tasks was “from top to bottom”. That was not what I wanted. And during the first ten years, thanks to a high degree of self-organization and a huge amount of self-responsibility both of the team and the people at InterFace Connection, this worked (very) well.

Both Siemens and Softlab had things I liked. For instance the yearly appraisal interview. It gave you the chance to speak openly with the boss of a hierarchical system at least once every year. I found this a good idea and did the same at the Connection. Regardless of the fact that we always were an enterprise of “open doors” – which means that all employees could come and pour out their sorrows over me and Wolf at any time. Today, I still recommend the “open doors”. However, I no longer recommend the appraisal interviews. The reason is that you do not need them.

At InterFace Connection, this is what happened: after three months (shortly before your probation time ended), there was the first appraisal interview and then, always before a years was over, there was the next. Thus, depending on the time a new person was employed, the interviews took place all the year round. There was also a structure for the interviews. Looking back upon the last year was a considerable part of the interview, then came the exchange of feedback and eventually the negotiations of a new income. I always asked my employees to be well prepared and saw to it that I, too, was always well prepared.

Basically, it went quite well. Except that a few wise-cracks thought it was perhaps unfair. After all, the entrepreneurial context of one month might be totally different from another month. And this could mean that a rise in income based on the current situation might not be fair.

We reacted to this and re-scheduled all (!) the interviews to take place at the end of the year. This had considerable disadvantages and made the topic a sad one. The stress level in November and December climbed another notch. That caused lack of motivation and exhaustion. Nor did the direct comparison make things any easier. At the time, I did not yet understand that there is no such thing as justice (or: there are many definitions of justice).

Perhaps one could construct a “justice based on need”. But justice based on achievement is definitely nonsense.

Today, I believe you cannot set dates for interviews of any sort by following a rule. Let alone if the date is in the far-away future. No, you always have to have an interview close to the occasion, when you have a good reason or at least a current situation that allows or demands it.

Especially communication between humans always has to take place when the necessity arises. For instance, dissatisfaction must never be conserved until the yearly appointment in order to then open the frustration nozzle.

More money agreed upon in ritualized interviews is only the second-best thing. It is better to talk about distributing the success exactly at the time the success happened. And it would be best to let those decide who actually were the ones who made the success possible. At team level.

Wages are a difficult topic. I already wrote about it quite a few times and probably will soon again write about it. Because it is not really goal-oriented that, in Germany, you get more money every year until you are quite old – up to retirement – and, on the other hand, decreasing wages are not really possible during the active time of a work contract. Simply because the achievement curve, even of a programmer, cannot point upward all your life long. But I will write about this at another time.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Thursday February 23rd, 2017

Aphorism: HUMANS & LEADERSHIP

 

Many thanks to Christian&Daniel (© Visual-Braindump)

Two theses

(I)
If “hierarchical structures” dominate an enterprise, then a culture of “agile, digital, lean, open, social“ is not possible. There might be a few exceptions for start-ups founded by a private person, but they only prove that the rule is in general correct.

(II)
Human beings feel comfortable in social systems like enterprises if they experience, respect and appreciation and if they can take responsibility in a spirit of courage and joy. The counter argument that this cannot be true for persons who have been trained in obedience and dependence is not in accordance with my concept of humanity and consequently not valid for me.

I defend these two theses vehemently.

Two ideas

(I)

A good rule for entrepreneurs is

“Only employ persons of whom you believe they have at least the potential to do the job better than you yourself would be able to do it!“
I (almost) always stuck to this rule at “InterFace Connection”. And my experiences were very good. It is also true at Google and probably one of the factors that made this enterprise so tremendously successful.

(II)
If you have employees who, following (I) are “better” than their bosses, then how can a system and its agents come up with the idea that control “from the top”, central ideas, set rules, division of labour, set and structured processes and a formal systematized communication might be better for the enterprise and its stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, ..) than an agile self-organization of the teams and informal networks. Especially in times of rapid change!

Incidentally, there is also a method (or rather: a procedure or culture) called: “Kanban”. I believe that both theses and ideas are true for all areas where humans work together, be in as a software engineer or as an elderly care nurse.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday November 7th, 2016

Entrepreneur’s Diary #118 – Employee Involvement

A short time ago, I received an email from a young man who is also an entrepreneur and a friend of mine:


During the last two years, a lot has happened and our small IT company now has seven employees. For next year, we are again seeking new employees. We are also wondering how to improve salaries in general without threatening our financial situation – in case matters will at some time not be so rosy.

Now I would like to ask you if you have experience with employee involvement or if there is somebody you could refer me to. Since we do not specialize in one product, generate a lot of cash flow with custom-made goods and also do not wish to sell our company, the question might be a little more complicated than it initially looks.

Would there be a chance for you to feel like and have time for coaching us in this matter in the near future?


Naturally, my answer was YES. But it was not because I wanted to coach them. That is something I refuse to do as a matter of principle. I also do not like to give advice. After all, advice can turn vice. Instead, I share my knowledge and ask questions.

Hoch die GREAT WALL mit Käppi nach hnten.

Once in a while, being an entrepreneur is like climbing the GREAT WALL.

First and foremost, I checked If I had ever before written anything about employee involvement in my entrepreneur’s diary (Unternehmertagebuch). Since the answer is no, I will relate the results of my discussion here in the blog.

Let me start with my own experiences:

As a matter of facts, fairly shortly after the foundation of the InterFace Connection GmbH (for us, the name Connection was more than just a name, it was programmatic) in 1984, Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly decided that we wanted to offer all employees (and even in 1986, we are talking around twenty) shares of the enterprise.

At the time, we were four partners in the firm. The “active” ones were Wolf and I. We were both employees of the Connection as managers and both owned 30% of the capital. The two “passive” partners in the firm were Dr. Peter Schnupp (a man who had written IT history) and the InterFace Computer, represented by Claus M. Müller. They had 20% each. At the time, our capital was as much as 100,000.- DM and our legal status was limited liability company.

Dr. von Hase was “our” counsellor-at-law. He accompanied our enterprise during many years. In retrospect, I can certainly say that his advice was always very good advice for the company. It did not take long for him to convince us that the limited liability company status was not the best possible for an enterprise with several partners. Especially if some of them are also employees. Conflicts that, for example, might arise from the enterprise-employee relation might easily have a negative effect on the partnership level.

Consequently, 17 employees of the IF AG founded a share association that took 10% of the capital (10,000 DM) out of the entire sum (100,000).

The sales price for the 10% was 60,000 DM (10,000 DM for the shares plus an extra rate of 1:5 , i.e. 50,000 DM). At the time, our enterprise was easily worth 600,000 DM. The money remained in the company as backup, which improved the capital situation (from 100,000 to 160,000 DM). The total shares situation changed as follows: Wolf and I now held 27% instead of the 30% we held before the transfer. InterFace Computer and Peter Schnupp now had 18% each instead of the 20% they had had before. And 10% were now owned by the shareholder association of employees who then mathematically held a share of 1/170 each of the enterprise. It was a good example for a successful employee involvement.

For the employees, one disadvantage was that they could not directly own shares of the enterprise, instead “only” indirectly holding shares as an association. This limited the fungibility of the shares. When, in the late 1990ies, the InterFace Connection GmbH became the InterFace AG, the shares of the employee association became stock of the InterFace AG, which meant this limitation was no longer active. Whenever I meet InterFace AG employees today on general meetings, they tell me that the employee involvement was the best investment of their lives.

In the 1980ies and especially in the 1990ies, many persons worked with option models in Germany that were rather dubious affairs as far as tax was concerned. The procedure was particularly attractive for young and quickly growing enterprises that wanted a speedy entry into the stock market. I have a few scattered friends who actually – to their own surprise – became millionaires because of these models. Mostly, however, the persons I know who did it tended to lose money, rather than profit.

Today, I believe cooperatives are probably something to keep in mind when this is your purpose – especially if you want to think sustainable and long-term. Even though originally the cooperative model was not intended to be beneficial for employees. Initially, they wanted to share the use of production machinery and buy said machinery. But it will also work if you want to make it possible for employees to share the success.

To me, partner models such as those used for entrepreneurial counselling look rather innovative. Especially the varieties where you can buy shares upon entering the firm and have to hand them on as you leave sound exciting, With them, you will profit from the success and growth of the shared enterprise in all the time you are part of it. If I were ever to found a new company, I would probably try the BGB company partner model.

During our discussion, we also looked beyond the “pure earnings”. To be sure, a market-oriented income plays an important role when it comes to the employees’ motivation. In fact, salaries and continued education are the most important costs in service companies. It goes without saying that enterprises find it easier if they only need to pay part of these costs if they are actually successful.

However, money is only one (even if an important) part of what constitutes the relationship between the enterprise and its employees. The entrepreneurial culture and the values lived in the firm are just as important. Catchwords are openness and transparency, the possibility to participate, as well as respect and appreciation of all the persons in the firm being a foregone conclusion.

In an enterprise, you should feel that all the employees share the courage for the future and find pleasure in doing what they are doing. “Strategy” should be something like a shared feeling, rather than just words. The enterprise should not just create value for the shareholders, but also for all the stakeholders. That includes the families of the employees. For partners and children of colleagues, the enterprise should be something they can “touch”.

And also – this is very important:
Success should (as often as possible) be celebrated together!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 10th, 2016

Bavarian Constitution, Common-Good Economy…

… Eye-Level, Intrinsify.me, Democratic Enterprise in Management, Holocracy – and Buddhism in Management .. These are all Things I Like. 
- but, please, no CSR!

Vajrasattva (Tibet)

Vajrasattva (Tibet)

Most of us want the same thing: an economy that serves humans. As opposed to humans serving the economy.

That is why I love the Bavarian Constitution (Bayerische Verfassung), where one article explicitly states that it is a huge privilege granted in Bavaria to do business in a community – and how this right is an obligation for the enterprises and entrepreneurs, making it a must for the goods and services they provide to first and foremost be useful for the people.

And in another article of this wonderful constitution, the entire thing is repeated and emphasized again for the finance sector! However, said finance sector could not care less, instead mostly doing things that would be unconstitutional – at least in Bavaria.

I am talking about Articles 151: business is linked to the common good; principle of contract freedom and 157: amassing capital; money and credit. But those are far from the only articles truly worth reading; there are quite a few more of them in the Bavarian Constitution…

I equally appreciate the Common Good Economy around its protagonist Christian Felber. They came up with a common good matrix that makes it possible to check what contribution the enterprise you work in or even perhaps “manage/own” makes for the social life. And it is worth the effort of informing yourself about it.

The project eye-level, along with the film is something I admired because it showed that there are actually enterprises practicing eye.-level successfully.

The brave ideas of the people at intrinsify.me, too, are very close to my heart, as are the clear concepts introduced by Andreas Zeuch who was the inspiration for entrepreneur democrats (Unternehmens-Demokraten). They show that democratic enterprises work better. And they also came up with the wonderful slogan:
ALL POWER TO NOBODY! 

Even the friends of holocracy make a huge impression on me, even though I see the danger of a tiring democracy that might easily lead to “holocrazy”.

A short time ago, however, I met a young entrepreneur. His name is Julian Sametinger and he wrote a Bachelor Thesis  (Bachelor-Arbeit, click here to read it, it is really very much worth reading) on “Buddhism in Management“. It is a wonderful piece of work and more exciting than some criminal stories. And, basically, it covers all you need to know. It is also the reason why I write this post.

I have a huge amount of respect for all these ideas. Their very existence makes me enormously grateful.

But, please, to not offer me CSR (Corporate Social Responsity). It is hypocritical, produced by university ethics-talkers and rehearsed with ethics commissions appointed by the state. I mostly find it pompous gibberish as we know it from politicians and lobbyists. Except that it has been graphically beautified with federally financed high-gloss transparencies and posters of the important associations.

If you want names, I will gladly provide the details about some evil and not quite so evil professors, along with their often absurd concepts and more or less ridiculous activities. Since, however, this blog is supposed to be more about the positive ideas than the negative, I will end this article here.

Thank you for reading it and goodnight to you all!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday March 24th, 2016

Entrepreneur’s Diary #115 – A Personal Interview.

A short time ago, someone asked me to answer a few questions in writing as a preparation for an event. Here are my answers (in cursive letters):

Beim IF-Forum "Jean Paul" (2013)

During the IF Forum “Jean Paul“ (2013)(2013)

We would be interested in who you are and what exactly is your interest when talking the conflict between leadership and cooperation?

I see myself as an entrepreneur, activist, impulse giver and inspiring counsellor.

For us, your motivation is particularly important: where do you get the energy for what you do?
From all the people I meet on a daily basis and from the cooperation with many other persons.

What are your current projects/initiatives?
I coach and support enterprises (including the ones I am myself part of), help start-ups and mentees, am involved in (almost) anything that pertains to “digital transformation” – it used to be called information and communication technology – and I try to promote social topics such as “active mobility in everyday life” (as our future mobility) and “peace” (as my life’s goal).

What are the topics you would wish to discuss and exchange opinions on?
How to make enterprises more successful and humans happier.

What are the topics you can tell us something about from your own personal experience?

In fact, many things come to mind.

What would your statement on leadership and cooperation be?

Leading is an enterprise, an enterprise means inspiration, giving impulses and making it possible that everyone can be part of the team – and that this is what actually happens. Courage and enjoying what you do will guarantee your success.

As you see it, what should be the formative factors in leadership and cooperation today?

Humility in the face of the task and respecting the people.

Can you give a personal story or an example from your practical experience?

One of the nicest stories in my professional life (for me) was the foundation of InterFace Connection GmbH with the development of the product Hit/Clou.

Where do you see the future of work-life?

Giving up working against each other and instead working together.

What is your dream/vision when it comes to innovative working models?
Networks and participation, instead of hierarchy.

What is necessary in order to achieve this?

It is important that an enterprise is agile, open (transparent) and lean, both in concept and actual realization.

What do we already have that makes you enthusiastic?
Especially in “young” and medium-sized enterprises, you will more and more often find “dialogue at eye-level”. But in big enterprises, you constantly get (successful) biotopes that live just as well.

Where do you see the special challenge for an enterprise if they want “dialogue at eye-level”?
The ability to listen and the willingness to accept that other persons are different should be a self-evident part of the entrepreneurial culture.

If you imagine an enterprise where cooperation happens at eye-level, what emotions does that stir inside you?

The feeling of shared responsibility, trust into the future, enjoying my work. I am very happy that, in my professional life, I mostly enjoyed this kind of atmosphere.

Can you define: dialogue?

Listening is more important than talking.

What is “at eye-level”?
Appreciating each other and actively respecting each other.

What challenges do big concerns face?
That all employees should identify with the system they are part of in a “healthy” way and that they can all be part of the decisions in a “meaningful’” way. This should happen voluntarily and without indoctrination and centrally controlled manipulation.

What questions arise in connection with this issue?
I wonder if this is even possible after a company has reached a certain size. Are mega-concerns at all capable of realizing such a concept? Can growth actually be the absolute standard? But then: can an enterprise be successful at all if it does not grow? I am not sure if it is possible to do the balancing act between growth being necessary and growth being potentially detrimental in a sustainable way!

Have you already found answers or are you still looking for them?
Sometimes I believe that enterprises should have an upper limit to the number of employees. And as soon as they reach this number, they should split into smaller units wherever this can reasonably be done.

What are your successful concepts for the future?
It might make sense to consider enterprises more like “living organisms” with very individual values and their own individual culture, rather than “machine-like” systems you can control by “pulling a lever”.

What are the ideas/methods you are trying to find?
Here is what I could imagine:

  • In general: realize even (mega) big tasks and projects through networks comprised of small systems.
  • Less and – above all – shorter meetings in the organizations.
  • A lot of peer2peer work (truth begins with two).
  • Anti-conferences will generate more results than, for instance, strategic kick-off meetings or workshops.
  • Barcamps and OpenSpace are strong regular formats for sharing knowledge/experience and gaining insight.
  • Using more haptic (serious play) and visualization techniques (one picture will tell more than a thousand words).
  • And much more …

For me, a barcamp was a success if…

… all participants go home with a sense of achievement because a new common denominator, along with added insight, was created through trust and sharing.

What is special about a barcamp?
As opposed to a classical conference, a barcamp is self-organized and has no hierarchies. There are no presentations that have been prepared beforehand and all participants are responsible for the topics. This is how the discussions can be kept up-to-date and very dynamic.

Why have you registered?

Because I received such a nice invitation.

Is this the first time for you to attend a barcamp, or are you returning?

I first experienced anti-conferences, such as barcamps, a long time ago and then I founded my own barcamp movements (for instance PM-Camp for entrepreneurship and project management or AktMobCmp for “active mobility in everyday life“. But at InterFace AG, too, we organized barcamps and OpenSpace with all the colleagues at frequent intervals. And they were always rather a success, both for the enterprise and the employees.

What do you like about barcamps (in general)?
The fact that it is based on democratic ideas and the usually quick development of a great openness and familiarity between all the participants.

What topics are you concerned with?

Entrepreneurship, leadership, project management, the future of mobility, peace.

If you are asked such nice questions, it is really a pleasure answering them!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Friday February 12th, 2016

Three Phrases that can Destroy all Joy and Courage.

And I mean both for yourself and for others.

So klein ist der Mensch. Am linken Rand Muhamed, Führer und Freund.

We are back home! Humans are such small creatures. On the left, you can see Muhamed, our guide and friend.

Last week was the first time I saw the tombs and temples of the Pharaos. I learned many new things and had time to ponder.
I became aware of three phrases that can make life harder. The first one is

Yes, BUT …“
Early in life, I learned that it is probably not a good idea to say “yes, but” too often. It happened while I underwent management coaching.

In entrepreneurial everyday-life, I sometimes suffered under the “yes, but” attitude of the people around me. It probably never gained us very much.

When we decided
Hurrah, we will go on our first ever cultural Nile river trip!
the phrase re-surfaced.
I often heard it – sometimes I even heard myself saying it.

Yes, but what about our carbon dioxide footprint …
(a problem I take rather seriously) 
Yes, but aren’t cultural trips always so tedious …
(a temple a day, and sometimes two…)
Yes, but what about the long travel until we get there …
(it took almost 13 hours, first the train to Nuremberg, then the flight to Hurghada on the Red Sea and from there the bus to Luxor – another 380 km).
Yes, but we cannot do it because of the terrorist threat …
(while two trains collided in Munich)
and so on, and so forth …
And how stupid we would have been had we abstained from this trip!
The second phrase I mean is
Being opposed to something!

How often do I catch myself opposing something?
I oppose the gigantic subsidies of business cars. I oppose fascism. I oppose the stupidity of politicians. I oppose the coal harbour on the Barrier Reef in Australia. I oppose waste of food. I oppose bureaucracy. And so on, and so forth …

Just a few years ago, my friend Jolly Kunjappu declared that “being opposed to something” is a negative concept that will push you down. Why don’t we, instead, focus on what is nice, what we like and what we appreciate? This concept will give us courage and joy.

The third phrase is one that I was made aware of by Moslam last week. Moslam was our guide during our Nile river trip. We became friends. He regularly travels to Germany. Consequently, we also talked about his experiences in my home country and he told me how it always moves him when his German friends keep saying:
“We must …“

I know very well from my own experience what he means. I must go and buy some milk. After that, I must write an IF Blog article and evaluate business plans. And then I must meet Barbara for lunch at the Artemis (the Greek restaurant just around the corner). And in the afternoon, I must meet friends from the university at the Forschungsbrauerei for the brown ale initiation. And tomorrow, I must go and attend the F.re.e

But then, isn’t it wonderful that I can go and buy milk. After all, it is not at all a matter of course that, just around the corner, you can buy good milk in the brown bottle with 3.8 % fat. It actually still tastes like milk! And I always enjoy dining at the Artemis, because there the food tastes excellent and the Greek landlord and landlady are always so friendly. The Forschungsbrauerei, too, is always worth visiting and at the F.re.e , there are so many impulses waiting to tell me what I can do – thanks to the diversity of cultures and regions on our great planet.

These are all things I enjoy doing, because they are just wonderful – so why would I have to do them?

In a nutshell, I would say:
It pays to think and write in a “positive” way. If that is what you decide to do, you will feel and think more and more like it!

Pure luxury between Luxor and Assuan. Isn’t life just great?

Luxus pur von Luxor nach Assuan. Das Leben ist schön!

Luxus pur von Luxor nach Assuan. Das Leben ist schön!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 21st, 2016

Bernd Fiedler – K-Working

I am sitting in the ICE 1682 from München to Berlin, on my way to the PM-Camp-Orgateam meeting. Again, the WLAN does not work in the train (no IP) and I do a little “tethering”. The Deutsche Bundesbahn will not repair the WLAN before tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. (according to a @DB-Bahn tweet in reply to my complaining through twitter), although a simple “reset” would probably do the job.

But, luckily, I have the new book by Bernd Fiedler on me. Bernd is a good friend of mine. I like coming along when he goes on presentation tours, or else I meet him playing cards. He is one of those persons who never create new problems. Instead, he always talks of things and the future in positive terms. Consequently, meeting him is always a delight.

K-Working-FiedlerNow he wrote a small book. And thanks to DB, I have time to read it. Like its author, the book is constructive. The title is: K-Working. It describes how brain-workers might and should cooperate in a “new world”. Reading it really gives you courage and delight.

Yet it is also a book full of critical remarks, containing surprising and often very precise theses. For some persons, Bernd produces a merciless mirror to hold in front of them. And more often than not, some of the actual (bitter) situations are exactly what I, too, experienced in the past, which is why I find myself sharing the analysis in in the book.

From the outside, the book looks small and unpretentious. But somehow or other, all you need to know about brain workers and leadership can be found in it. And he says it all in a very simple and commonly comprehensible language. It is exciting and an easy read.

That is because it does not want to be a missionary advertising highly elaborated and complicated theories. Instead, it remains rational, focussing on what is really important.

Even the font is nice and large – basically, my reading is almost exclusively digitally these days and reading my old pocketbooks is often a hug effort for me. K-Working, on the other hand, can easily be read in the half-light of an early January morning and the (very much appreciated) diffuse ICE illumination.

All that is important can be found in the book. It is concise and has no endless repetitions as you often find them in US management literature. In those, you often know after the first fifty pages what will follow. And on the remaining 300 pages, you get it all again and again several times. Well, K-Working is not like that!

The book was published as a pocketbook by the epubli publishing house, the language is German. It has 140 pages and the ISBN is 9783737566599. And for 14.99 €, you can already buy the second edition (!), also at epubli.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 16th, 2015

Five Weeks to Go until #PMCampDOR

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnLate in 2010, a small group of entrepreneurs, nearly all of whom incidentally were also bloggers, met. They shared an idea and wanted to try organizing a project management barcamp. They called it PM-Camp (PM short for project management). The persons involved were: Kornelia, Eberhard, Jens, Marcus, Stefan and yours truly.

It was our intention to host a free meeting of persons, entrepreneurs, leaders and all kinds of “managers” in order to exchange experience and knowledge beyond conferences and workshops. Totally democratic and at eye-level. With a good mixture of female and male, young and old. In 2011, also in November, we had the first PM Camp world-wide in Dornbirn.

Time went by in a hurry. In exactly five weeks, the fifth Dornbirn PM-Camp will start. That means we celebrate a jubilee! In fact, we are a little proud of it. We are also proud about a movement having sprung from the first PM Camp. It is now thriving in many European places with local PM Camps.

For all of you, it is now about time to order tickets. Otherwise you might end up empty-handed. Because PMCampDOR is definitely something like the mother of all PM Camps – where many wish to attend.

This time around, we chose the metaphor “breaking with patterns” as our impulse. Consequently, the hashtags are #PMCampDOR and #musterbrechen.

🙂 Maybe will become and will turn into … Because you never know what is going to happen on a PM Camp.

Naturally, the Dornbirn organizational team wants to celebrate the jubilee with a particularly nice and successful PM Camp. Consequently, we want to make it especially easy for our “newbies”, meaning those guests attending their first PM Camp or even their first barcamp to really get under way. So I now point out to you a series of articles I wrote as early as 2013/2014 – but it is certainly still up-to-date. In these articles, I am telling you what happens during a PM Camp.

Here are the links for the five articles:

My continuing education story – personality promotion, seminars, workshops barcamps

(how I first was introduced to the barcamp idea.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (2) – why they are such a success.
(because they are great fun and all participants are happy when they go home.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (3) – typology and sessionsbarcamps and PM-Camp (3) –

(what kinds of sessions are there?)

barcamps and PM-Camp (4) – Twittering is part of it .

(why PM Camps and social media complement each other so well.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (5) – rules

(on a barcmp, you can have freedom, because people behave socially responsible.)

Another article is a general one:

The Story of and guideline for a PM Camp

(and barcamps in general)

And for all of you – not just for the newbies – I would once again wish to point out our values as we summarized them in our guidelines.  You will also find them in document.

I am sure it will be useful for you to take a second look at these materials. And perhaps you have a few recommendations for change, modification, improvement? The #PMCampDOR will definitely be the right stage to discuss all those things.

And here is a short Video on PM-Camp.

RMD 
- also in the name of the Dornbirn organizational team
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday September 14th, 2015

PM-Camp Berlin (Report)

pmcampberlogoLast week, on Friday and Saturday, Berlin hosted its already third PM Camp. If you wish to find it ion twitter:  the hashtag is #PMCampBER.

Weeks before the event, the Camp was sold out. Everything was fine. This time, the “anti-conference” took place at the Alexander von Humboldt University, where the impressive halls gave the PM Camp a wonderful glamour and beautiful patina. I was there and, again, it was just great.

This time, I was a little less active than usual, only in charge of two sessions. The first of them was early on Friday afternoon. I called it “PM Vintage” (project management vintage). Having prepared four stories about projects in my life between 1973 and 1985, I presented them to the audience. It was “story telling” with a little background information. I started with a small project I had been put in charge of all by myself when I was a student worker, then came more complex ones…

Here is an overview of my four projects:

  • We need high Mersenne Prime Numbers for developing a random generator on HW basis (winter semester 1973 – WS at Siemens)!
    This is where I learned the importance of decisions. Even at a time when there was no internet, etc. And that you can achieve nothing without courage.
  • Responsibility for a language in one of the teams that – in cooperation with many other teams – achieved great things (APS, Transdata, PDN – 1977 – 1978 – employee at Siemens).
    This is where I made the experience how fast creativity and success can go down the drain if there is an excess of processes and Taylorism.
  • Technological responsibility for a huge project at Siemens for the Bavarian Police (DISPOL – 1979 – 1982 – originally as a Siemens employee, later as a Softlab employee)
    This was the first time in my life I came to know a “true” project manager. He had to appease the overhead, which was not a very nice job. However, he could not contribute to the project success.
  • Foundation of a company and generation of our own product, the HIT/CLOU (starting 1984 – at InterFace Connection GmbH – today InterFace AG).
    This was where my partner Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly were lucky in that there were many things we did right. Consequently, we had a really great team.

As soon as the opportunity arises, I will write down the story of those four projects and publish them here on the blog (including the links).

The second session was a spontaneous one on Friday evening during the great PM Camp Party at the Microsoft “Digital Eatery“ not far from the university. I met Maik Pfingsten during one of those many “after-the-pm-camp-conversations” of the evening event. And we decided to initiate a session together on the very next day.

We truly got into complexity. The title of the session was “Living/Loving Complexity”. I was going to recommend that all those confusing discussions about complexity and complicatedness should simply be forgotten or ignored. Because you always get all those complicated (complex?) mind games. And consequently, I was going to recommend that you should not spend a lot of time thinking about whether or not a project is complicated or even complex. Instead of talking, I was going to recommend you should act. And in preparation, I formulated some simple, behavioural theses which will make us successful and happy – regardless of the world being complicated or complex.

I guess Maik and I succeeded – and I was truly happy with the positive feedback I received after our presentation. The next thing I will do is write the article about this session “Living/Loving Complexity”. I hope to finish it by the day after tomorrow. Then you can read it in the IF blog. Of course, there will be a link.

It was a great PM Camp in Berlin and, for me, those were two happy days in Berlin. Consequently, I would like to thank the fantastic organizational team: Ralf Eicher, Christian Vogel, Fabian Fier and last not least Heiko Bartlog!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
After the event, they gave me a book because I had been the first to register. So here is what you want to do: register extremely early for the then fourth Berlin PM Camp. It is well worth the effort.

I am glad to announce that now the video recording of the great presentation by Bruno Gantenbein at the St. Gallen IF Forum of July, 23rd, 2015, is available on youtube and can be watched by all of you:

The presentation ”Learning in Innovation“ held by Bruno Gantenbein at the IF Forum left me deeply impressed. Many of the audience felt the same. But some who also were very impressed by Bruno’s theses came back with the important reply that what he spoke about was not something “normal people” can live in a “normal life” in the “real world”. Because your normal Jim and Jack cannot really manage it. And it simply cannot be done. Once in a while, it sounded really like people were despairing.

To me, it seems the reason is that
“most people cannot really imagine living in another world than the one we are living in“
and that
“we are no longer capable of distinguishing between what is important and what is not important. Consequently, what is unimportant is dominant in our lives.“

To me, this seems to be the major problem both for us and our society. A degree of external control through marketing and lobbyism as we never had it manipulates us in a totally new way. It is totally different from, but certainly no less dangerous than, for instance, religious indoctrination of persons in the Middle Ages or, if we are unlucky, the manipulation as practiced by the Nazis.

The formatting of our lives through a super-powerful but not tangible system took away our autonomy. Now we get nervous and start talking change. Yet we lack all desire to start another life outside our comfort zone. In fact, more often than not, we are not even capable of imagining such a life. For instance, the strength to develop utopias for the future seems to have left us. Looking for values and visions no longer plays a role in our society. In fact, if we do look for visions, it is actually something others are belittling us for. The attempt to re-create a new “social consensus” is smothered in the very first stages. Consequently, we assume that the status quo is true and there is no alternative.

We no longer have the courage for change. We accept our dependence and are happy to be “enslaved”. Be it by technology or as our social concepts of life (our lies of life) determine it. We believe you cannot live without a car, a TV set and electricity all over the place. We believe in the omnipotence of medicine. That the federal administration must and has to guarantee our security and safety. And that the planet will certainly find a way to survive it all.

Except that so many of the things we take for granted can be easily disproved. There is no absolute security. We experience it all the time. The sudden death of an important partner or a surprise illness totally throw us off balance. We can easily fall victim to some mishap.

But then, there are also harmless examples. The stamp collection we inherited
from our grandfather that was so precious, but for which now not even the wastepaper trader is prepared to pay, shows us how difficult it is with security. Many things that used to cost a lot are totally valueless today. I made the same experience when pay day came for my direct insurance. What a discrepancy between the money I received from what I had expected when, decades ago, I first signed the insurance contract. Instead of the imagined free-hold apartment, the only thing I got for it was a medium-size car…

Regardless of all this, the (alleged) security of our modern financial world suggest for some that we actually are in total control of the risk of our material life through retirement money and savings. Except where will the Euro be ten years from now? Will we be able to solve future problems with it? What will money be worth? Have we not learned a long time ago that “you cannot eat” money? Especially if it is just virtual money and perhaps out of the blue will have to be shortened by the occasional digit.

To make up for it, we capitulate for fear of terrorism. And we are prepared to sacrifice our present freedom for these kinds of mind games. Sacrificing freedom for what we believe is an investment in increased future safety! And we are even prepared to start a modern (crusade) war for it.

This is how we follow the stupid and brazen battle cries of politicians and economic leaders who, more often than not, are no longer sane. We swallow pointless laws they serve us with, regardless of the fact that we know those will do more harm than good. And we surrender before the stupidity of our “representatives”. In fact, I actually yearn for a German or European Spring. But I do not mean one triggered by hunger or poverty like the one in Northern Africa – which inevitably dooms it.

Why do we believe them when our politicians tell us that “without the Euro, there would be no Europe” and that the so-called “Grexit” would ruin us all? Why do the politicians tell us such fairy tales? We know as well as the politicians that the Euro is good for those who stand in the light. And it is detrimental for those standing in the shadow. Just as we all know that the exploitation structures, both globally and within Europe and Germany, must fail or cause conflicts, either in the near or not-so-near future.

But we get the impression that we cannot do anything about it and perhaps that is really what happens. Also, we no longer have the courage to oppose the structures of the administrative and economical systems that rule over us. And we no longer stand up against this, even though we know that human beings – which is we! –, and not system interests that have de-personalized and de-humanized themselves, should be the centre of the society, politics and economics. First and foremost, the economy and the state must serve the interests of the people. Just like it is written in the Bavarian Constitution.

The system of the oligarchy of the parties (Oligarchie der Parteien ) – see Jaspers -rules over us and the morals of mercantile metric in economy sharpens the boundary conditions of our behaviour. Thus, the systemic mills will continue to grind, making the restrictive nets of bondage tighter and tighter. It happens in small portions, which means that we often do not even notice it and almost consider it normal.

Consequently, here is what we need to do:

Let us also get back to remembering that we, as “natural beings” are also part of the “natural world”. To be sure, the “cultural world” we created makes some things easier for us, but it also took a lot from us. It made us lazy. And we forgot that the price we are paying is rather high.

As I see it, we should return – and radically so – to thinking about whether, perhaps, we could also live in other worlds and probably even be happier living in other worlds. As you all know, my favourite example is the “away from the car” and turning towards active freedom through “active mobility”. Yet it is just as important to take a close look at the working and living conditions we subjugate ourselves under, be it in social systems such as families or otherwise. We need to question all that seems self-evident and draw conclusions from the answers. Formerly, one would have said: Destroy what destroys you.

Part of this is also to live a “life in harmony with nature” as Seneca formulated it. And he meant more than just the biological nutrition process and the preservation of the environment. He also meant we need to listen to our inner voice.

After all, Seneca was a great teacher who wanted to help his pupils on their way to become successful and happy persons. So let me finish this article with another sentence by Seneca that might perhaps make it a little easier for us to start travelling towards other worlds:

“It is not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It is because we dare not venture that they are difficult”.

Yet – there is hope. What is currently happening on the internet is actually something I rather delight in.

RMD
(Translated by EG)