Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment # 59)

By the way, Gerlinde, when I accidentally met our friend Kurt last Tuesday at REWE, he told me – under the pledge of secrecy – that, regardless of his considerable age, he will separate from Hannelore if, like in the previous years, she insists as stubbornly as she always did that we again book our next summer vacation together, Carl said at 22.20 hours when the temperature was still 28 degrees Celsius directly in front of the ice bar. This must have been the eighteenth time he wiped over his forehead with the same paper napkin.

Mind you, he added while steering Gerlinde towards the interior of the parlour, the nightmare was basically due to the word ‘together‘ as Kurt had put it while simultaneously, with the usual anxious nodding of his head, he had stacked ten cartons of ‘Philadelphia Cheddar‘ into his trolley.

Because his lamentable experiences last year between October and the end of the year regarding this year’s summer vacation was decidedly over the top, even if said top were that of a huge pregnant dairy cow, Kurt had said as they stood in the middle of the air-conditioned food area at REWE!

Since, however, neither Gerlinde nor Carl were able to decide spontaneously which of the numerous unoccupied tables to take in the neon-yellow sub-tropically warm ice-cream parlour – which was wide open at the front towards the street -, Carl shortly interrupted his report about Kurt’s confidential separation revelation while meandering from one table to the next until Gerlinde flung herself on a chair at the very back of the establishment and declared with a moan: it will be either here or I will suffer a break down on the spot!

Carl raised his eyebrows in disappointment but then – still dripping with perspiration – , after having joined Gerlinde and in the process almost having toppled over the neighbouring table, said that Kurt had talked about 34 travel brochures from five different travel agencies. Hannelore had forced him to work through all of them meticulously, along with making him to listen to 18 presentations in various adult education centres and libraries about travelling through Patagonia and diverse pole regions, through Australia and New Zealand, doing a desert safari and three different round-the-world-trips, as well as four meditation courses in Austrian and Greek convents. And all of it just because Hannelore could not make up her mind about what sort of vacation she wanted in which region of the world…

Gerlinde – holding the open ice-cream menu and pointing at a vanilla ice-cream fruit cup with plenty of cream with her right, almost stiff, index finger – said that she was not really surprised by this lament of Kurt’s. In fact, she, too, had already noticed that Hannelore seemed to become more and more indecisive as she grew older!

Since this was already the third time the waiter asked for their order, Gerlinde finally, with a threatening look at Carl, ordered her fruit ice-cream cup while Carl, although sitting in front of the several-page long ice-cream menu, was not yet ready to order more than a bottle of sparkling mineral water. Beyond that, he asked for a little patience as far as his ice-cream order was concerned and told Gerlinde that, when they were talking about this ‘monstrous vacation choice procedure‘ at REWE, Kurt had, above all, been angry with Hannelore because they were now, as a result of all this tedious work, starting a two-week trip to Portugal. To be precise: to a wellness hotel in the Algarve, where currently you had to endure 42 degrees Celsius in the shade and there were already forest fires twenty kilometres away that looked like they were never going to end …

Great – was Gerlinde’s laconic reply, before she took pity on the desperate waiter and ordered a CARLOS I (which was the least she could do) while Carl now at long last started to really get involved with the ‘ice-cream varieties‘ on the menu. Without giving the waiting steward a single glance, he told Gerlinde that, basically, his order was very easy. After all, he only wanted three balls of ice-cream without anything on it and consequently the only thing about which to make up his mind was the choice between dark and light chocolate, or about vanilla, hazel nut, stracciatella, strawberry, yoghurt, latte macchiato, cream-cherry, mango, maracuja, lemon, banana, pomegranate, raspberry, dragon fruit, bounty, cream grit, cinnamon, raffaelo, and seaberry- chinaberry! Nothing could be easier than that, which he found really hilarious..

But since the waiter still stood before him like a vengeful deity, he said, to the surprise of everybody, that he wanted an espresso.

Double – or single?, the waiter asked.

No – but maybe two balls of vanilla ice-cream after all, Carl said.

So: vanilla ice-cream!, the waiter typed it into his gadget.

No – just bring me a CARLOS I like the one Gerlinde has ordered.

And when, at long last, the incompetent waiter had left, Carl noted with a sour face that, for the first time, he now really pitied Kurt: because if he had a partner who was as indecisive as Hannelore, he would probably go crazy every single day of the year. With these words, he pushed the ice-cream menu towards Gerlinde with satisfaction. Gerlinde got up without a word and left.

Hopefully, she was only washing her hands?

(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday May 26th, 2018

Moderne Zeiten

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 24th, 2018

Why the DSGVO is moving in the wrong direction.

Roland als Insel-Philosoph mit (sauberer) Wäsche in Sifnos (Kykladen, Griechenland).

A philosophical analysis.

My theory:

We have too much property and too little common land.

We strive too much after ownership and too little after shared social life and survival, experiences, …

Here are a few facts that support my theory:

  • 62 super rich people practically own half the world.
    (62 Superreiche besitzen so viel wie die halbe Welt)
  • Why is it a matter of course that humans (“natural persons”) can acquire (buy) soil and property to their hearts’ content?
  • Why is everyone allowed to own a car that causes considerable damage to the common good? Or a yacht? Why can huge social systems with an economic goal be completely owned by few people or other social systems?

Something is rotten with property. To be sure, I understand to some extent – and even wish for myself – that people, who in our legal system are called “natural persons”, can own property to a reasonable extent.

But why do “legal persons” like capital companies (GmbH, AG, Company Limited … – in French, they are called  “society anonyme“) have the same rights?
If a “natural person” dies, the problem of inheritance is added, which strengthens the polarisation of “poor and rich”.

“Legal Persons” will not die naturally. But they can become bankrupt. And what then? Even with our modern bankruptcy laws, the protection of those who are owed something has priority over saving the enterprise.

In addition, money will usually increase by itself. That makes property more and more powerful and power richer and richer.

Now let us look at the components of ownership.

Initially you own objects. As I see it, that is ok as long as we are not talking objects that should belong to the community and as long as the situation does not do any damage to the common good.

It gets harder when we are talking the ownership of rights. Is it really fair that someone who, with his team and in a fortunate communication system, developed a patent and therefore has a huge income over many decades, can buy any property he feels he wants in Munich City every year? That the authors of bestselling novels or soccer stars will be billionaires after a few years?

To be sure, I understand that the effort of an artist should be suitably paid for. But why is the right to mental property given in the same way to “legal persons” as to “natural persons”? Why does the music of Bob Marley or of the Beatles not belong to all the people of this world, rather than to a few concerns? The same is true for the dramas of Bert Brecht?

And now we also have ownership of data? Isn’t that totally grotesque? As I see it, we do not need data security but the obligation to be transparent! And that we should not try to protect ourselves against institutions that manipulate us. Instead, we should abolish them.

(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday December 31st, 2017

Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann

Und wieder einmal stehen wir unmittelbar vor einem neuen Jahr.

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday August 17th, 2017

“Don Carl“ – or: the Heroic Fight for the Underpants

Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment #52)

Rarely had Carl stepped into his underpants more enthusiastically in recent years. It was this great feeling of ’being embedded’ and ’being protected’ that he enjoyed.

It was a pleasure he made himself aware of several times each day these days – and the feeling was strangely enhanced whenever, during the day, he allowed himself to re-position the private parts hidden therein by discreetly re-arranging his trousers!

Yes – it was “allowed himself to” – not “had to” – as he formerly used to look upon it!

Because ever since, apparently, a movement that originated in Southern Germany – headed by the usual suspects /1/ – had started discrediting men’s underpants – which, incidentally, had been establishing an excellent tradition in the Christian culture over almost three hundred years – with Bavarian relish, Carl had become alarmed for more than one reason!

Yes – it was really a ’shock with an aura’ that found its way to Carl when, on this 13th day of August in 2017, he came upon said IF blog /1/ in the social networks. In this article, the author talked about a world-wide underpants-free future for all men: a world where, from one day to the next, wearing underpants by men was abolished. As a reason, it was stated that, apparently, all chafing, uncomfortable itching, disgusting tickling and virility-threatening clamping between razor-sharp zippers was now ignored, denied or hidden under a ’caftan ’.

A ’caftan’ that allegedly was only invented to give more freedom – that is, freedom for the ’unrestrained dangling of the male privates’ and consequently freedom to enjoy the ’so-called feeling of comfort’ that went along with it!

Of course, this had unimaginable consequences for the body – life – health – morals – society and economy! Not just for Germany and the European Union, but, when all was said and done, also for the entire Christian Occident and thousands of underpants-producing workers.

And was the time really chosen at random?

Had not just a few months ago Putin forbidden all activities around ladies’ underwear for the entire Eurasian Economic Zone, which had had disastrous consequences for TRIGA?

Maybe this was the balance against the male half of creation that was necessary due to gender-equality, after the first hit had devastated the female half of creation?

And was it really totally by accident that this campaign started in Bavaria of all regions? Or was it perhaps part of a long-planned conspiracy by Putin and Seehofer?

But when Carl, a few days ago when they had a meeting to discuss the ’development of new market strategies’ at TRIGA, mentioned these aspects, he was appalled to notice how his colleagues could not have cared less. Bernie – i.e. Dr. Osterkorn –, who was the head of the hosiery sector at TRIGA, in particular, did not seem to understand the impact of this event at all. As often before, he, again, lacked the antennae for trends in fashion and society!

Incidentally, the same was true for Gerlinde during their breakfast in the morning!

She, too, only had a laugh for him …

And – almost sympathetically – called him, Carl, a maniac who, once again, was chasing ghosts. And when Carl reacted offended and left the breakfast table without having drunk all of the morning coffee she always brewed for him with special love and care, she cried after him that she was not going to believe in the threat to occidental culture before Horst Seehofer appeared wearing a ’Caftan’ for the next Political Ash-Wednesday in Vilshofen!

Luckily, Carl knew what needed to be done in such catastrophic situations when everything was in danger of tumbling down: ’nothing’!

Now that was one aspect where, as always, he found himself in the best company with the others …

(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Friday July 21st, 2017

The Power and the Glory

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Thursday June 22nd, 2017

ex post

Marc Haber zeigt eine mir bislang unbekannte Seite des Dr. Helmut Kohl auf:

Roland Dürre
Sunday February 12th, 2017

The Unavoidable Unpredictability of the Future!

Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, master of agility and my photographer.

On February, 10th, I gave a presentation for the FAV (Forum agile administration) at the Stuttgart Hochschule der Medien. The audience was terrific and I would like to take this opportunity to express my special gratitude. The twitter tag was #fav17 – it is a convenient way to find more information about the workshop.

My presentation was about the “unavoidable unpredictability of the future”. The title is not originally from me – and the same is true for the following sub-title. Nonetheless, I tried to stick to the pre-defined ideas:

Agile methods are especially useful if the uncertainty about the desired goal is huge. In private businesses, uncertainties increase. Is that also true for public administration? Do agile methods really make sense in this sector?

As a service for those who watched and those who were not there: a summary of my presentation. It is a little shortened and sometimes just in catch-phrases.

I started the presentation with an outlook and by explaining terms that seemed important to me. So the first thing I did was pin a cross with five words to the white-board: in its centre stood “agile“, flanked by  “digital“, “social“, “newwork“ and “network/community“. I defined the terms and explained how, in my understanding, they belong together.

When I give a presentation, I am always a little nervous initially. In Stuttgart, I forgot the important terms lean and open. The next time I talk about “agile“ I will start with the central “smart“ cube “agile“, “digital“, “lean“  and “open“. And I will add “social“ to build a pentagram.

For instance, in #newwork I collect all the efforts we make towards giving work a more humane appearance that help us “not to suffer from burnout” even in our modern working world. It is all about consideration, cooperation, appreciation and participation. These are all values that movements such as “Augenhöhe“ (the Film), common good economy, intrinsify.me, “democratic enterprise”, “EnjoyWork“ and others demand. For me, “smart” includes the combination of “digital“ and “social“, with digital being the basis for “network/community“ and “agility“ doubtless only having been re-invented in the “digital world“.

However, the digital change (digital) is only the logic continuation of the Industrial Revolution and consequently the ever more accelerating technological progress. The acceleration of the development is no surprise, because thanks to digitalization, we have more and more powerful tools; what follows is that digitalization is the basic cause for the very fast drastic social change.

I supplemented this image by adding the two terms “courage“ and “joy“ – as a prerequisite for a successful (work) life –, along with the two terms “give impulse“ and “inspire“ as the two central agile means of leading (see below). And then I evened it all out by adding “trust“ (left) and “change“ (right). Finally, I wrote “happiness“ and “success“. After all, it is my goal to make other people – be it audience or mentees – at least a little happier and more successful

After that, my presentation had six steps. Here is a description in catch-words.

    I introduced the “Agile Manifesto” as it has been written by software developers and talked about the influence of IT on technology and our society. It was important that it became very clear how agility is not just a method, but a “philosophy” or “way of living”.
    There is no ideological discourse about, for instance, whether “scrum” or “the waterfall method” (V model) are better. Agility is such a natural, basic and so very human concept that both methods can be useful, depending on the individual task.

    • The medieval cathedrals, as well as the Rome Colosseum were built in an “agile” way: 
Builder, master and craftsmen met (networking).
    • Not agile: Daimler Museum 
(only new computer speed made it possible to build it, otherwise the static could not have been calculated. But then fire regulations intervened).
    • How agility got lost: 
The industrial revolution changed our view of the world. After having seen the Chicago slaughterhouse, Henry Ford got the idea to produce cars, too, in the assembly line. His huge plants had a great need of workers that were not available. At the same time, many farm workers lost their jobs due to more machines in farming. However, they were “stupid”, not even familiar with the concept of “time”. Consequently, the caste of engineers had to regulate everything. This is how the “caste of engineers” developed. They had to do the mental work for their slaves in all respects. A hierarchical system, paired with extreme division of work (Taylorism) became the formative organizational structure for enterprises.
    • Example: Werner von Siemens, born 1817: he organized his enterprise (Siemens) following the model of the German Army.
    • Another factor: time is a special commodity. As soon as it is over, it is gone. Now, all of a sudden, it is measured. In units, like kilograms! 
Note: sailors knew no schedules. They were only introduced for postal coaches. Only steam ships and the railway made schedules possible. This is how people came up with requiring “shared time” in common areas.
    • Before the industrial revolution, clocks were mostly used for navigation on the ocean. Now begins the time when they dominate (rule over) life.
    • In the plants, there was a common time. To make sure the rhythm was not interfered with, you had to leave your watch at the gate. If someone retired, his farewell present was a watch. “They returned the time to the people”.
    • Before the industrial revolution, nobody had a feeling for time. As early as 1900, there were only few countries with a shared time. For planning, the parameter “time” is extremely important.
    • In an agile world, communities take the place of organizations
Example: movements such as #newwork versus unions.
    • In an agile world, the needs of the customers have priority over the contract:
Example S21 – the plebiscite was positive because the people had understood that facts had been set – simply because contractual obligations had been caused by those who had signed the commissioning.
    • Fake agility 
A good example for this is the car as master of all individualized traffic. Having a car without a driver will not make you free. What happens if all automobile drivers realize this and want to become “agile”? They say that, if that happens, the economy will collapse. However, this is nonsense, because innovation is creative destruction.
    As a general rule, agile persons are less fearful. Because fear happens between your ears. Usually, agile persons know the moment when they have to stop weighing arguments and instead should start and try things. Agile persons know that all they have is certainties, rather than truths. They are prepared to first give trust (“first give, then take”).
    Agile persons enjoy their work more and are more modest and happier. Perhaps they are also more humble and grateful. There is a rule: the more fear, the less agility and vice versa. A superior serenity is the pre-requirement for agility. It grows if you live an agile life. Consequently, agile persons are usually happier and more successful.
    In the last two decades of the last century, people and managers believed you could predict the future. All you have to have is enough information and then process it in a precise way. That would make it possible to develop valid scenarios for the future, too (for instance through think-tanks).
    And then you could come up with the right solutions and decisions in a totally rational way. 
This is how they believed an enterprise (and a public office) could become a determining system that gets input and gives output – and how the management could be controlled optimally through simply adjusting the right screws.
    What an antiquated point of view! 
The future cannot be predicted. But then, how are you supposed to plan and control the future if you cannot see it?

    • In his 1982 “Theses on Change in Management”, Hans Ulrich (the founder of the St. Gallener Management Model) states in his first thesis: “The future cannot be predicted!“
    • In St. Gallen, business scientists ask themselves how managers can ever make the right decisions à priori if it is often not possible to determine à posterio if a decision was right or wrong 
(Definition of decision: its consequences are serious and it is made under uncertainty).
    • Vuca (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) 
All of a sudden these terms appear as abbreviations for the “real world”. But has the world not always been like this?
    • Futurology: 
I, too, am guilty of having believed analysts (Diebold, Gardner), especially when they confirmed my own assumptions (prejudices). Almost in all cases, the predictions were wrong: 
Here are two examples that were detrimental for me, as well: 
Bildschirmtext (BTX) and Print on Demand (PoD). In those days, the market predictions were totally wrong. Entrepreneurs who believed in them made the wrong investments.
    • There are two personal friends of mine who are worth listening to: 
Klaus Burmester (@foresight_lab) and Lars Thomsen (future-matters.com/lars-thomsen/). They are both probably among the world leaders in research about the future. Klaus is a twitter recommendation. (#FF). 
Matthias Horx (www.horx.com/) is rather famous, but I do not personally know him.
    • On Lars and predictions about electro mobility: 
Several years ago, during a bike meeting in Sylt with entrepreneurs, managers, counsellors. It was about innovation and change, also e-mobility. 
Lars fascinates us all with his presentation on e-mobility. Two years later, almost 20 % of all the participants are proud owners of a Tesla, but all his prognoses were totally wrong.
    • Incidentally, the definition of futurology, according to Lars, is the extension of trend research. Based on this, futurology becomes the search for the Tipping Point (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipping-Point) in technologies.
    • My conclusion is: futurologists are not much help when it comes to predicting the future.
    • The innovation as advertised by everybody can best be described as “creative destruction”.
    • The reform that is so often called for is nothing other than “non-violent change“.
    • And more and more buzz words are making their rounds:
      Transition, Transformation, Revolution, Disruptive Changes, Anti-Fragility, VUCA …
However, none of those are really new and agility is the only concept that can help.
    Enterprises will die if they cannot cope with change. Especially in IT, there are many examples. Some enterprises “only” go bankrupt. Others leave behind them – even if for many years they privatized their profits very successfully – huge damage that will then elegantly be socialized (see EVUs – for many years they had been the DAX heroes – now they try to move the remaining problems, such as nuclear plants, to the public sector).
    Public office and administration cannot melt away either after having failed to adapt to change. After all, life in the community will continue. Consequently, the public offices – also due to their political and social mandate – have to cope with all change.
    But then, how is the survival of public administration supposed to work without an agile concept as its underlying idea? A concept that has an agile philosophy as its value orientation and that develops and lives an agile culture…
    The understanding that future and change are not predictable grows. Even today, planning fails more and more often, in surprising dimensions. (many big IT projects, S21, BER). You are probably correct if you assume that change will be more frequent and more intense in the future. The trend seems to confirm it. In many areas, we see an enormous acceleration, the speed increases all the time and will continue to do so.
    Some drivers of change could be:

    • What is demanded of politics/society; 
Trump, “laws” that have to be immediately put into action …;
    • Economic Change; 
Car industry, export downfall, excise tax …;
    • Infrastructure & our habits; 
Mobility consumer behaviour, …;
    • Determining factors; 
Rising interest rates, more poverty, …;
    • Disruptive events; 
Refugees, the climate (warming and cold, water and droughts,…) epidemics, war (terror)???
    • Technology;
smart solutions, virtualization, electrification, passports as app;
    • And much more.
    Digitalization as the high-speed continuation of the “technological progress” has only just begun – and the same is true for the social change caused by it. Cultural technologies, such as “being able to do calculations (by heart or on paper)” disappear. 
Machines are now “intelligent”.
    Using “intelligent machines”, we can build machines that otherwise could not be built – and they can themselves build yet more intelligent machines. Thus, the technological acceleration caused by digital progress will continue to grow. 
“Pandora’s box” is probably a nice metaphor for digital technology. The box is on the table. The table starts vibrating, the box begins to wobble. Before you know it, the lid will be askance and something crawls out of the box. Because there is plenty brewing inside the box. 
Soon, the lid will fall from the box and the box will topple over. Its content will spill all over the table. We do not yet know if all the things that spill out are caterpillars that will become beautiful butterflies. Or if they are evil worms that Medusa sent us?
    Well, my hopes are on beautiful butterflies.

That was my presentation. Since the audience seemed to like it, I will probably give the same presentation a few more times, perhaps a little modified with the focal points “agile mobility” or “agile enterprise”.

(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Thursday February 2nd, 2017

Entschuldigung eines alten Sozialdemokraten

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Friday October 7th, 2016


Weiße Taube auf blauem Grund, eine Variante der Friedenstaube: Seit den 1980er Jahren verbreitetes Symbol der westeuropäischen, vor allem der deutschen Friedensbewegung, entworfen im Kontext des Widerstands gegen den NATO-Doppelbeschluss.

White dove on blue background, a variation of the peace dove. This has been an established symbol of the Western European, and especially the German Peace Movement since the 1980ies. Originally, it was developed in the context of opposition against the NATO double track decision.

A short time ago, I was alarmed. A friend of mine told me he had heard I am no longer active in the project PEACE. He asked me if that was correct.

It seems that, in some way or other, I caused a misunderstanding with the last article of mine. Quite the opposite is true and rather important!

I am and will remain true to the idea of PEACE. In fact, in the future, I want to do even more for PEACE than ever before.

During the last few weeks, however, I learned a lot.

For instance, I no longer believe in the “project PEACE”. The term “project” implies “management”. And I mean management in the worst meaning of the word. And that is something I am actually ABSOLUTELY FED UP with! I also understand now that PEACE is not something you can just “manage until it appears” or “make it happen”. Just like the “crusade for PEACE” is nonsense. I will also gladly acknowledge the perhaps cynical but rather correct comment of my friend Dr. Jörg Rothermel after he had read my article:

“I seem to remember a proverb:
“Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity“ …(by Dr. Jörg Rothermel on Facebook).
😛  What a nice metaphor from the 1960ies.

Aebby (Eberhard Huber) proposed to substitute “enterprise” for “project”. That is something I can easily agree with, especially if the “enterprise PEACE” is the sum of the individual effort of many persons, all of whom start their own “enterprise PEACE” and want to live “in PEACE”.

In other words:
I will now, first and foremost, focus on my own life and give it all my strength. I decided that I will no longer let negative things affect me and influence me. After all, the more things that frustrate me I do, the more frustration I collect, and then it seems unavoidable that said frustration will again have to find a way out – in the form of enmity in whatever form, which then again will frustrate other persons. And I think “living in PEACE” first and foremost means not to collect frustration inside and then having to hand it on.

I spent many years of my life believing that this is unavoidable. I thought you had to “eat crow” again and again and even act against your own values and needs, for instance in order to come to mutual agreements. I used to believe that this was an unavoidable part of both my private and my business life.

Now I notice that, indeed, I can avoid negative input that I have to vomit up later in order not to do damage to myself. When all is said and done, it is only a question of courage on my side.

To be sure, I will have to kiss quite a few fixed patterns good-bye and change things I have become used to. Luckily, however, my first experiences on this path are rather sensationally positive, at least that is how I perceive them. Consequently, I will continue to practice.

I learned all this during many discussion, especially (but not exclusively) with Jolly. And it makes me happy.

So here are both my old and my new message: 

Whenever people want to live in PEACE and, for instance, send messages that promote PEACE, then I will be part of this. If and when Carmen makes a sensational film “PEACE”, then I will, of course, be part of it. Just like I will gladly join Gudrun wherever she lives “PEACE” in her own way.

This is also true for Aebby who moves so much in beautiful multi-dimensionality and for Wolf who keeps embedding PEACE in his great and beautiful media/internet work and for Daniel whenever he draws pictures for PEACE. And, if possible, for all those who want PEACE, as long as I enjoy it and my strength is enough.

And it will be my special pleasure to keep inviting you to be a part of the wonderful and important dialogues with experts and especially with Jolly on PEACE.

(Translated by EG)