Carl and Gerlinde (installation #50)

Carl always knew that he would never ever spend a single day, not even a few hours or minutes and seconds vacationing on the Canary Islands – and definitely never on Lanzarote!

After all, what business did he have in this pitch black lava excrement where absolutely nothing reasonable grew, yet where ever new overfed hordes of tourists from Germany and England bent their backs in ecstasy whenever they saw a small green blade of grass making its slow way from the cold magma towards the heavens after no more than two hundred and fifty years. Said blade of grass was certain to speed towards the sun during the next few centuries at a growth rate of at least nine-tenth of a millimetre per decade …

Well, what else was that blade of grass supposed to do, since there was no ground water at all in this holiday resort? And the ah-so-life-giving rain, too, only deigned to fall in minimum amounts on a maximum of eighteen days each year. Which is why even the twenty-five million years old volcanic cones next to the magma deserts also managed no more than a quasi-whispered shimmer of green on the sparse volcano sides. After all, there was no other volcanic region in the whole world where similar masses of tourists have ever experienced fewer drops of rain, and would continue to witness as little rain in the future – as on Lanzarote!

No – it was definitely not a place Carl wanted to see first-hand. Not at all!

His sitting in a Condor machine to Lanzarote with Gerlinde nevertheless was more a blunder than anything else and perhaps exclusively due to the fact that, after the last agonizing forty-three weeks at work, he needed a few days away from the firm and away from Gerlinde’s constant Canary Vacation pestering. Nothing more needed to be said on it! Except that the Iberostar Hotel with a view of the ocean that Gerlinde had booked, at first sight and if you made a few concessions, did not seem to look all that bad, did it?

Mind you, all this ocean in front of your nose tended to get a little boring after no more than five days, regardless of said ocean being really wonderfully blue and showing it, too. The water then again looked grey and grey-blue with white foam crowns and, of course, totally pitch dark at night unless a sliver of moon was mirrored in a strange way therein. But this baroque game of colours still could not contribute towards a drastic change in Carl’s emotionally unbalanced frame of mind, because when all was said and done, it came down to simply being water, water, and again water – instead of a mountainous landscape with glaciers, ravines and aeries. That much remained facts, even if Gerlinde was not prepared to admit it and immediately countered all his grumbling about the ocean with a pout as big as a huge wave.

And as far as this aforementioned ocean was concerned – there was no way you could avoid it on Lanzarote, not even on the endless boardwalk!

No, it was absolutely impossible!

Because if Carl moved from south-west to north-east next to his Gerlinde, he had it on his right side – and vice versa: when he moved from north-east to south-west, it was, naturally, on the left side: the ocean! And whenever he sipped his elaborately served and beautifully warmed brandy ’Carlos I’ in one of the millions of pubs along this boardwalk, it was not to his left or to his right, but, of course, right in front of his nose. And the same was true when he ate his ’shrimps with garlic’. And when he ate pizza with Cortado, it was no different – except if he quickly disappeared to the toilet. There was no other way to avoid the ocean.…

And, naturally, this ever-present ocean was also constantly accompanied by a just as ever-present wind. In fact, more often than not is was quite a storm that raised Carl’s hair to point south-east whenever he had forgotten his baseball cap. In the afternoon, the same wind was camouflaged as tepid ’Calima’ and had come all the way from the one-hundred-and-forty-six kilometres away Africa to direct his no-longer-abundant hair towards the west. Quasi as a free extra, it also filled both his nostrils with the most fine-grain Sahara sand. The same was true for Gerlinde’s golden nostrils.

It goes without saying that the ocean also had a word or two of splashing to contribute when they ate their lunch: the battle was far from won when Carl and Gerlinde, after having waited ninety minutes before a table near the ocean that had then been cleaned by a diligent waiter and set with cutlery and the menu by another before a third one took their order of ’Cervezas’ and the next waiter that of the actual food, finally sat down. After all, the suddenly occurring change of waiters around noon naturally necessitated a totally new ordering process of the desired garlic shrimps and sardines.

But then: so what? After all, Carl and his beloved Gerlinde were on vacation and they had this absolutely heavenly view of a very blue ocean that, even far out on the horizon, never seemed to lose its blueness…

But when, at long last, the ordered Sardines arrived thirty more minutes later, which was considerably after Gerlinde’s sizzling ’garlic shrimps in the pan’, they looked surprisingly good even to Gerlinde’s sceptical Carl. Unfortunately, they also seemed to look good to the not-at-all bashful seagull that sat on the dangerously close boardwalk fence. Said seagull was even quicker to grab his second sardine with its beak than Carl had been to pick up the first one on his fork.

Carl was quite perplexed when he gazed after the bird as it hastily flew out onto the damned ocean with its pickings. Since Garlinde, full of laughter, did the same, he at least managed to alleviate his unfortunate situation by pinching a few of her garlic shrimps unnoticed and accompanying them with some of her Cerveza.

Of course, this fight about food continued in the evening when they sat at dinner: in the dining room, however, it was not the seagulls who emptied the half-empty plates for Carl and Gerlinde but the overeager army of diligent service persons who apparently were paid at piece rate. What else could have caused them to take the plates of their guests away so dextrously that said guests frequently rammed their forks into the table by mistake whenever they tried to pick up the last remnants of meat or baked paprika? And it was quite normal that tables were cleaned and newly laid three times during a single breakfast – and all this while Carl and Gerlinde kept getting new breakfast eggs, small bowls of marmalade, butter, croissants, poppy seed rolls, fried bacon, cans of tea, coffee and orange juice!

It was really bad news – almost as bad as the damned tv program, where, due to the hell of a time shift, Carl missed all news about Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan, and often even the national soccer league and the ’Tatort’ that, after all, for practically all Germans – except Gerlinde – had replaced the church visit when it came to marking a Sunday – which was even worse. …

But the worst of all was this terrible fuss they made about that strange César Manrique’ on Lanzarote!

Apparently, he had lived exclusively in magma bubbles and implemented an entire concert hall for an audience of six hundred into his bubble, along with a discotheque in his subterranean dungeon where, next to the dance floor, white, fingernail-sized, almost blind albino crabs crawled in a totally clear pool of water. Normally, those crabs only existed a thousand metres below in the ocean, but here and now in this pool, they spent all their lives eating the algae that grew there on these few square metres of lava. Mind you, they did it day after day, week after week, year after year in total darkness – what a terrible life this must be, thought Carl, who felt a cold chill go down his spine whenever he thought about it. Compared to such a life, his life with Gerlinde – even here on Lanzarote – was actually a gift of God, wasn’t it?

KH
(Translated by EG)

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.


Note:
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.

  • AGILITY
    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.
  • AGILE LIFE
    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.
  • FUTURE
    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.
  • The DIFFERENCE between ENTERPRISES and ADMINISTRATION
    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…
  • DRIVERS of CHANGE
    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.
  • DIGITAL and CHANGE
    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”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 24th, 2016

(Deutsch) Frohe Weihnacht

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Friday June 24th, 2016

The Birthday Address I Never Delivered.

Vielleicht hilft ja die Lektüre dieses Buches?

Well, perhaps reading this book will help?

My birthday was a few days ago. Now I am 66 years old. I very much appreciated all those many good wishes I received and would like to thank you here and now. It felt nice to know that so many people remembered me.
Unlike so often in my life, we did not invite anybody to celebrate a huge party with us. Regardless of 66 years being a nice number for a celebration, I somehow did not feel like celebrating.

Maybe there will be a party next year. Basically, there is the rule: “no party, no address”. But still, as is my habit whenever I celebrate a birthday, I prepared a short speech. Because I enjoyed doing so.

🙂 Here is my “virtual birthday address” for all my virtual guests:

It took 66 years for me to really learn how to be absolutely happy with my lot. I learned to really enjoy my life. Now I have felt truly happy for more than one year. Even happier than I used to, although I certainly had a wonderful life and everything was basically very nice, indeed.

To be sure, I still get annoyed when something irrelevant, where it is totally useless to get upset, happens. Besides, I sometimes still feel aggression growing inside me where it is absolutely inadequate. And I also often despair because of something that should not really be a reason for despair.

But other than that, I am happy. There are two exceptions.

The first is the fact that I really hate to realise that my life will inevitably move towards its end. And I still fear death and at times really am extremely anxious about it. But then, death and dying is part of all life. You cannot change this and that is why I simply try to accept it and not make a huge affair out of it. Even if this is hard, I manage to cope more and more often.

The second is actually worse. I understand less and less what happens around me. Both on a small and huge scale.

A short time ago, a friend I had been able to recruit for my “project peace” wrote to me. We had been talking “tolerance” and “neutrality”. Those are certainly basic requirements for peace. However, he asked if maybe the fight for resources was not the biggest threat for peace. He also gave a few examples.

  • Water shortage in the Near East.
  • They accuse the USA of having fought the Iraq War because of crude oil (regardless of the fact that, according to the BR, no US enterprise is oil drilling in Iraq. All the drilling is done by the French, Canadians and Chinese).
  • The Neue Zürcher Zeitung visited displaced Jesides in their camps and asked them some questions. The answers were that, no matter what happens, they cannot return home, because both the terrorists and their Sunnite neighbours had knocked them out. Due to high birth rates, the Sunnites needed the extra space.
  • Gentrification shows that the fight for resources (a place to live) also concerns the social freedom in cities like Munich.

You could add to the list without ever stopping. Both on a small and a large scale.

For me, it is always painful to see that good food is simply thrown away while somewhere else in the world people go hungry. Or when I see the dead hedgehogs and toads on the peaceful streets where I live. Or when people die on the motorway because someone absolutely needed to drive 200 km/h. Or when I see what in general happens to our planet.

I just read that a functionary of the IHK umbrella organization said environmental protection was the opposite of quality of life. He asked if we really wanted to go back to the times when we went over the Brenner with 34 PS.

Or how about the Polish minister who found words in favour of a policy that does not want the Polish people to become a nation of vegetarians and cyclists.

These are all things that make me sad. We live in a society where waste is made a behavioural maxim. And where wars and violence are the consequences of the fight for resources. Can this really be true? And I am truly devastated. I would really like to do something to change this state of affairs. Because then my heart, too, would feel (even) better. But I have no idea about the What and How.

This is more or less what I would have said if there had been a party.

RMD
(Translated by EG)