Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Friday September 15th, 2017

My USP :-)

What is my value?

When I was young, some adults called me a good for nothing who, they were sure, would never amount to anything. One of them was my mother. She said it to my face more than once. At the time, it annoyed and hurt me. On the other hand, it was not so bad, because I definitely preferred becoming a good-for-nothing to becoming the same type of adult person I sometimes saw in my vicinity. In my mother’s eyes, those were definitely no good-for-nothings. And it must be said that eventually, I, the black sheep in the herd (as I often felt) did not turn out too bad, anyway.

Being able to drink your beer in peace is of huge value.

Today, I voice my opinion on many topics, often give presentations and impulses, inspire young and older, female and male persons. This is how I want to help them towards becoming a little happier and more successful.
Some young start-ups and also some already quite established enterprises can rely on me as an actively involved party. I help them to find the right questions. Because these are the requirement for change and innovation.

I build networks for people all the time (if I believe they should be networked) and then I am happy if everybody benefits.

Once in a while, I ask myself:
Am I qualified to do it?
It is a question I myself cannot answer.

But, during the thinking process, I at least found my personal USP (“Unique Selling Proposition“).

I owe my unique selling proposition to a combination of three specialties of my life-line:

  • Firstly: I have been working with, at and for computers since 1969. The Germans call it informatics. During the first ten years (in the 1970ies), I mostly did “industrial informatics”. Consequently, I missed out on the “toy” computers Commodore and Atari to some extent. As soon as UNIX found its way to me (or I found my way to UNIX), I caught up in the pc sector. That was in the 1980ies. During those years, I did many things. For instance, I had an intense involvement with several operation systems, such as process computers, communications computers, main frames and distributed data processing. At the time, it was called MDT and had originated at companies like Kienzle, Nixdorf,  Olivetti and, of course, also Siemens. I was also part of software developing teams for remote data processing, storage, banks, transaction monitors and many other applications. And in the process, I used and sometimes also developed various assemblers and higher languages.
My personal highlight was the development of a window manager where I was part of the developers’ team. It ran both on graphic and digit-based end devices and was called Collage. Collage was also a Siemens AG product. However, as was – unfortunately – so often the case during the phase of the slow downfall of the sector data processing at Siemens AG, it had no chance on the market
    Matters continued in the same way and this is how I basically experienced everything that is important in digital life first-hand. This is why I call myself – not just in jest – an IT pioneer of the second generation. The honour of having been part of the first generation belongs to the founding fathers of electronic calculating systems: Konrad Zuse and my first informatics teacher in 1969, Professor F. L. Bauer of TH Munich (today TUM).
    In the 1990ies, my programming shoes were hung on the wall in more than just the symbolic sense. I remained true to IT – well, nothing else was imaginable – and I tried to remain up-to-date as far as possible when it came to digitalization.
  • Secondly: all my life, I was extremely lucky in that I always learned a lot, especially during those phases of my life that came after school and university (unfortunately, university was not at all where I learned a lot)! Mathematics certainly helped me to remain a critical spirit. However, in many fields, I acquired the most precious knowledge initially from older persons and later also from persons my own age and younger. 
Quite a few teachers, also outside my professional field, became friends with me. Examples are Klaus-Jürgen Grün and Rupert Lay. There were other great persons too who accompanied me as teachers. It started with my time at Softlab – where I had a very wise boss. I had to attend “personality-promoting” seminars, because it was a requirement if you wanted a managerial career (at the time, I still wanted a career). From that time, I remember an enterprise that called itself TPM (Training Psychologic Management). It was situated in Frankfurt and their founder was named Uhlenbrock (or something that sounded similar). He was in charge of my first seminar on the beautiful lake Starnberger See, from which I really personally benefited a lot. In those seminars, I not only learned from the trainers, but also from the other participants I met. 
I also want to thank the many colleagues whose professional competence I looked up to and from whom I learned so very much for the craft. Later (in the 1990ies), I often went to workshops with Simon Grand of RISE, an institute at Hochschule St. Gallen. Again, I met many nice persons and great enterprises and had terrific verbal exchanges with them.
  • 
I spent the last ten years mostly on Barcamps, besides playing an active role for the development and propagation of PM-Camps. I had a great time and met even more wonderful people than in the years before.
    Last not least, I also have to thank my children. It made me truly happy that I was given seven children. More often than not, I believe that I learned more from and through my children than from all the rest. Consequently, I know that living and learning are synonymous.
    As long as you live, you learn.
    And as long as you learn, you are alive!

  • Thirdly: I have always been a revolutionist who got considerably more criticism than praise for his “strange” opinions. Today, I have a positive explanation: I think that total breaking in, as it was practiced on children as early as during the 1950ies, did not manage to erase everything in me. A bit of autonomy, joy of life and basic trust remained in me. And quite a few attempts at indoctrination were in vain.
    Well, when I was an employee at Siemens and Softlab, I soon discovered that this was not my world. And I had the wish to become an entrepreneur and was lucky enough to make a success of it. Consequently, I had the chance to build my own world, the InterFace Connection GmbH
    The first ten years were like a dream. Our success came around almost effortlessly and we went beyond all borders. Unfortunately, I later made a number of entrepreneurial and human mistakes. And a few times, luck just was not with me. The enterprise survived these misfortunes quite well – and I now have a few more experiences of the kind: “what you should not do” . I am happy to let others benefit from my own experiences.

So I will continue for a few more years and enjoy doing so. And a little feedback will always make me happy. 
Especially positive feedback.

RMD

Hans Bonfigt
Thursday May 11th, 2017

Entartete Kunst

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

In the autumn of 1985, I was the first to bring this book to Munich after having bought it at the Uniforum fresh from the printing machine.

A short time ago, I retrieved it. It reminded me of having been at Uniforum conferences with friends of mine in February 1985 (Dallas, Texas) and in 1986 (Anaheim, California). It was great. In those days, the Uniforum was the one and only UNIX conference in the USA. We were thousands of enthusiastic visitors from all over the world. I experienced a huge atmosphere of dawn at the time.

There was also a small sensation. Copies of the very new book on C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup (see left on the picture) right from the printing machine were delivered in the middle of the conference and sold directly from the palette. I bought a few of them and took them home. They were probably the first C++ books to ever reach Munich.

This brings to mind: in the 1980s, I constantly gave presentations on software development. At the time, the change in programming was the central topic, and the catchword used most often was OBJECT-ORIENTED.

I also wrote quite a few presentations on “OBJECT-ORIENTED” for IT managers. Among them was a “high-up” at Siemens AG in UB D at D AP (or was it already SNI at the time?). He was asked to tell his “team of leaders” what exactly OBJECT-ORIENTED meant. Afterwards, he said the presentation had been well liked – but it certainly did not really make a difference.

Today, everybody programs object-oriented. In fact, it is even a little too much for my taste.
Later, I gave up my “programming career” and became something like an “entrepreneur”.

Now I was no longer preaching the gospel of technology. Instead, I spoke about leadership and management. And in particular, I talked about the “smart” pentagram that consists of the terms “agile”, “digital”, “lean”, “open”, “social” and how they interact.

For instance, I related why courage and joy in those working for an enterprise is also a central requirement for economic success. And I also told the people how necessary mutual respect and appreciation of each other are (not only) in an enterprise. Why meeting at eye-level and shared participation and responsibility are the basic requirements for innovation. And why humans are not resources. And how change can only happen in an agile environment.

“Pro Agile“on the DOAG Podium /Yearly Conference in 2013.

I explained why processes, rules and bureaucracy are obstacles to the necessary change. I also explained what a huge damage Taylorist developments cause in an organization and how much waste (as opposed to “lean”) is created by an overwhelming administration and the rising bureaucracy in an enterprise as a consequence of those developments. And that it is totally useless to have endless meetings.

And that departments such as “human resource”, “customer relationship management”, “marketing”, “legal service” etc., basically do not guarantee the success of an enterprise. In fact, they come closer to endangering it.
And that the young and well-educated persons of today prefer working in an enterprise the central element of the culture of which is trust.

I can easily give you good reasons for all I said. After all, I myself was part of the scenario when we software developers made a (as I see it: central contribution) towards a new understanding of work that now spreads more and more to other sectors (#newwork). And this is how it helped to change the world.

I wonder if my call for “agile, digital, lean, open, social” as a “smart” pentagram will do any good? I am not sure.

I also got the impression that my audience mostly saw it in the same way. In fact, it would make me happy if we in the German Industry were to talk less about industry 4.0 and more about entrepreneurial culture. Be it 2.0 or 5.0.

Even the big bosses must understand that our enterprises and we ourselves can only survive well if we are prepared to question what we used to consider certainties and to change what we were used to.

Of course, I understand that it hurts to question hierarchies, cherished sinecures and structures you have become used to. Especially if you are the boss. But please keep in mind: we no longer live in the times of Henry Ford’s conveyor belts and even the prime time of the Chicago slaughterhouses is coming to an end.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the star from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons.

Digital Transformation and New Mobility – Paradise or Hell?

Or:
Our Brave New World seen with the eyes of the entrepreneur, IT pioneer, blogger, father and biker Roland Dürre.

When he still worked at the GLS bank, Carsten Schmitz often invited me to attend nice events. I met urgewald and Katrin Frische when she was “telling stories”, and many more people of interest. Now a board member of the HOHENFRIED e.V., Carsten is responsible, among other things, for networking, fundraising and financing.

One of the things he initiated is a loose series of presentations in Berchtesgaden:

“Civil Society Initiative with Current Topics at the Lederstubn“

And he asked me if I would be interested in supporting his project by giving a presentation. Which, of course, I will gladly do. After all, this is an excellent opportunity to thank him for all his hospitality and at the same time do something beneficial for a good cause.

Plakat13Juli-Lederstubn

Since I assume that the audience will be quite diverse, the first thing I plan to do is ask them about their interests and then sort the input. And then the resulting list will be discussed in good order, a little like an OpenSpeech.

Consequently, I expect it to become a really open and interactive event that will be great fun for all participants – and that will also make people thoughtful.
I will go there by train and use the Bayern-Ticket.

Currently, I plan to take the S-Bahn train S7 from Neubibert on July, 13th at 14.31 hours and then change at Ostbhanhof and in Freilassing, arriving in Berchtesgaden at 17:30 hours. I plan to return on the same day, starting from Berchtesgaden at 20:31 hours, which means I will be back in my bed around midnight.

Of course, I would be delighted to welcome friends among the audience. I will gladly take you if you wish to use part of my Bayern-Ticket.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Three years ago (2013), one of my sons attended a “bootcamp” in the USA. Even in those days, he and his colleagues (perhaps all of them “techies”) had discovered Snapchat. And they used it to play with. In a strange way. They sent each other questionable “selfies” – sometimes in the nude. Just because they found it great fun. And also because, on this “Instant-Messaging–Service“ (Instant-MessagingDienst), messages can only be sent once (with one repetition) before being removed.
But there was certainly always one in the group who spoiled everything by making a screenshot (à propos IT data security).

 Snapchat, Inc. Gemeinfrei - https://twitter.com/Snapchat

Snapchat, Inc. common usage free https://twitter.com/Snapchat

By now, Snapchat has also reached me. I find it very appealing and use it more and more often. Mostly I use it in a circle of persons I really like.

And I truly enjoy it.

Consequently, my verdict is:

Snapchat is another revolutionary piece in the big and colourful mosaic of evolution when it comes to social media.

Let me give you a few reasons on several dimensions of the product that make me reach that conclusion:

 

The Logo:
The very logo of Snapchat is extraordinary. It is very simple and sparklingly yellow. Pleasantly obtrusive, it suggests anonymity.

User Interface:
Snapchat is so stunningly easy to use that the user who has been educated in complex IT applications (like me) initially does not know what to do at all. Only after some time, you really start enjoying a game of Snapchat. And all of a sudden, you realize what a poor user interface most other apps have.

User Communication:
I have hardly ever experienced such pleasant first contact when starting a dialogue with an internet instance:
The very assurance that I will not receive additional emails from snapchat when they confirmed my identity email went down extremely well. And the assistance (which, due to the simplicity of the tool is only necessary for the oversophisticated user) is as situation-oriented as the introductory video is brilliant. You really want to watch it before you start. Of course, that is not what I did, because guessing complicated user paradigms is my true strength… Only the really easy things were a problem for me.

Orientation:

The message is very clear – the future belongs to video recordings. Consequently, the video recording is the central medium in snapchat. And snapchat is some sort of asynchronous image telephoning. Of course it includes moving images. To me, this seems to be important.

 


Note
Today, young persons (between 13 and 18 years old) who have smartphones and tablets will no longer use the telephone. They are into image telephoning. After all, this is much nicer, because you can see your partner’s face and gestures. That is also why the kids have to be online at all times. The world changes.

Whenever I propose to my older partners (between 20 and 50) to use FaceTime, Hangout, Skype or, if necessary, the Citrix or Cisco tools, instead of the telephone for a meeting with me over a long distance (be it between Haidhausen and Neubiberg or between Tokyo and Munich), they are often surprised. And, more often than not, I get the reply: let us use the telephone, I am not really used to working with the other tools.

The german economic miracle managers never wrote a word. They always had at least one assistant to whom to dictate their correspondence. Thanks to stenography, these assistants were well able to follow the spoken word (managing a three-digit number of syllables per minute when taking down texts) and type away on the typewriter extremely quickly (three-digit number of keys per minute when processing the document on paper).

Above all, however, they knew their boss – and they experienced him “live” while he told them what to write. Consequently, they knew what he wanted and always “corrected” his letters appropriately. Our generation was the one that started the habit of writing everything yourself – which killed a lot of time. And, quite probably, many formulations were rather sub-standard, at least worse than what the typists used to produce. Then came the dictaphones and finally the computers, where the managers had to write their own letters.

I used to feel self-conscious when I had to talk into an image telephone. But as it turns out, this is all just a matter of practice. Using the telephone was something I practice rather well and early in life. But before cell-phones were invented, I also had a problem leaving a message on answering machines. Now I prefer talking into the image telephone to writing. Because there is no doubt that the latter is a lot harder. On top of being more time-consuming. And that is even true for me, who can type blindly and with ten fingers.

Consequently, it seems to me that, on the internet, writing will be more and more often replaced by video recordings. Just like doing calculations in your head was finished when pocket calculators were invented. It is totally irrelevant if that is something we want or not. We simply have to accept these evolutionary processes. Developments come and go – just like humans are born in order to live and then die.


 

The Transientness of Information:
Now that snapchat exists, it is high time for data protectors to fear that they will no longer be needed. To make up for it, the user no longer needs to fear so much that he might violate copyright regulations, for instance if a Beatles-song can be heard in the background. And if you give your own emotions a little leeway or a few foreigners are on a picture, you need not have sleepless nights.

There would also be an end to Facebook & Co earning such huge sums with data and algorithms. If this is true. Because sentences like “data are the raw material of the future” are just nonsense. Maybe you should replace the word “raw material” by “crude oil” or “food”. Data are just as inedible as money, and nor will they be any good when it comes to filling up your Porsche fuel tank.

I also know several cracks (real experts) in the “big data business” who learned and told me that BigData is basically not a machine where you fill in the data on top and then the dollars will come popping out at the bottom. On the contrary – as a general rule, the usable results from BigData were always rather a disappointment in practice.

Change:
In the future, Geo-Filters will beat Hashtags! This, too, is a snapchat principle that might well be trend-setting. After all, the general development is more and more towards regionalization and away from central or even centralistic concepts. We all want a world of regions at eye-level, don’t we? And we want to develop our own spaces. 
In social media, we always primarily thought in terms of Hashtags. Examples are #pmcamp, #AktMobCmp, #tatort and all those many abbreviations for all kinds of events, such as #FCBBVB or #32c3 … Except – I want to know who is currently in my ends of the world. And the #hashtag comes only afterwards.

Business Model:
I do not (yet?) understand the business model of snapchat. After all, adverts are not endless. And as soon as we get a generation that is immune to advertising, it will not look good. They say that snapchat earns its money through geo-filtering. I wonder if this is a solution.

I can also easily imagine that a service, as soon as it really offers high-quality material and has made its customers addicted, will introduce fees. Perhaps it is only a question of time before the “all for free” society comes to an end. And then you will have to pay real money for high quality material. Provided real money will still be around by then.

Social Consequences:
We all want to live here and now, don’t we? We want to experience the moment and, if possible, enjoy it. That is also one of the five things you should know before you die. See also my article on a great book  by John Izzo.

Snapchat is still a little better than real life. I can take a second look at what my partners wrote – then it will be removed. It happened quite often in my life that I would have liked to again hear a sentence someone who was important to me had uttered …

But apart from that, snapchat media is a lot like real life. It is not an archive for eternity that probably soon nobody will be interested in any more.

Potential Use:
Without having though very much about it, a number of potential usages of snapchat come to mind.

* Close dialogue with much-loved friends.
Snapchat is an ideal way to exchange ideas with friends:

  • It cannot get any easier.
  • Empathy, feeling with them and contributing.
  • One video recording will say more than a thousand words.

* For subtle and powerful marketing 
Again, the USA and the modern sports millionaires are a good example:

  • Nasa
    An example for an institution that does excellent marketing for its product and visions through snapchat.
  • After the cup finals, soccer starts will offer their emotions when still staying in the changing rooms through snapchat. 
If someone wants to make many millions of Euros each year, then he has to know a little more than just how to play soccer. He must have other competences, too, and, for instance, be a master of self-marketing. Those on the soccer field probably do a slightly better job than we do.

* As a supporting internet tool for Barcamps 
It is quite possible that snatchap will replace twitter in this area.

  • We used to take advantage of twitter.
  • Snatchap might well add extra incentive.

* In order to send important messages. 
Many good reasons are in favour of snapchat.

  • Snapchat might well become the platform for our project “PEACE”! Because:
  • We want to reach young persons and
  • We must transport both “rational arguments” and emotions!

That is it from my side on snapchat and social media.
But Snapchat will not be the end of the evolution of social media. Something new with new qualities and potential will arise here, too.
I already look forward to watching what comes next.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

On August, 18th, 2015, there was an article by Christian Sebald on street construction in the County Munich Section of the SZ:

B 15 maintenance will cost more than twice as much

It said:

“that continuing with the work on the controversial new B 15 will cost more than twice as much as had been anticipated. This can be concluded from a reply by the Federal Traffic Secretary Dorothee Bär (CSU) following a question from the Representative from Landshut Thomas Gambke (Grüne). According to this reply, the nine kilometres between Ergoldsbach in Lower Bavaria and the motorway A 92, will cost around 182 million Euros. Before now, they had estimated 88 million Euros.“

Well, this is more than a hundred per cent increase.

According to the SZ,

“the new B 15 between Regensburg and Rosenheim is one of the most controversial street construction projects in Bavaria. First plans were made in the 1960ies. In those days, it was planned to have 130 kilometres of motorway connecting Regensburg, Landshut and Rosenheim. Later, they modified the project to make it just a Federal Highway.

But with its four lines and two hard shoulders, it is a Federal Highway that looks a lot like a motorway running through the scenery over the 30 kilometres north of Landshut.”

I do not understand why these kinds of projects are still executed. If we invest into streets at all, one would expect the focus to be on the infra-structure we already have.

Our future will not improve by building more streets. The car as a basic means of transportation is becoming obsolete. The structures of our co-existence change. And nor do we, due to the challenges we face in educational and social politics, have the money to build new racing tracks for the die-hard reactionaries. Another reason is the demographic situation – even if today it is mostly the elderly persons you find on the streets with their status symbols. Because this generation will die – and many things will be done in a totally different way by the new generation (at least that is what I hope). I am not even mentioning the climate catastrophe that will also bring quite a bit of change for us.

Neither is the fact that those living close by the streets suffer from the traffic an argument in favour of building new streets. It is easy to come up with plenty of reasons for building streets around something or other! The first thing the communities should do is reduce the “home-made traffic” – which is always a considerable part of the problem, before laying the groundwork for a reduction of the through-traffic.

But let us continue with what it says in the SZ article.

There are several reasons for the cost explosion. First and foremost, the former
estimation is almost ten years old and therefore obsolete. “You have to calculate two to three per cent increase each year”, a speaker of the Autobahndirection Süd, which is responsible for the planning process, says. “This is due to the general inflation”.

This is also something that constantly annoys me. Allegedly, we have no inflation, but for all cost explosions, you give it as a reason.

On the whole, the article is truly worth reading. Just like I am a true fan of the online Süddeutsche Zeitung. As soon as you have access, your login can happen from all places (Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8). You no longer have old paper to dispose of and neither do you have to get rid of all the many advertisement before starting to read the SZ.

Consequently, I have no problem doing a bit of advertising for the SZ:

So – if you feel like it, just try it:
Now 14 days free testing under
www.sz.de/apptesten

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday January 24th, 2015

#Enterprise Foundation – Hurrah, Let Us Write an App…

Except:

If it were as easy as that, not almost all of them would fail, would they?

Here is a little story:

A start-up team wants to found an enterprise. Based on an APP, it is supposed to realize a profitable business. There is an industrious team and an intensely discussed idea, and the persons involved have more than enough enthusiasm. They are all prepared to really get under way and accept material hardships. Even nights spent working and, if necessary, postponing or even sacrificing goals of life are accepted.

Accidentally, I get involved. They asked for my help because they feel the project has come to a dead end, yet none of the parties concerned is willing to admit it. After only a few sessions, I discover that the project is off course. The team is already in the middle of implementation, which is especially painful.

During my long life, I already witnessed quite a few founders who ran aground – in the truest sense of the word. Consequently, I now have a lot of responsibility. Yet at that moment, I cannot life up to said responsibility, because the founders are trapped in their own ideas and no longer willing or able to listen. It might well be understandable that they no longer wish to hear bad news.

In this case, I give a warning and leave. And a few months later, I hear that they have “run aground”. This is why I will now give founders a few pieces of general advice.

First advice:

You cannot do it without a blueprint
What are you supposed to do in a project if you discover that there is no “shared direction” in a team? Or even worse: if every one of them has his/her own idea of what they want to achieve?

Admiralty carriage mount for a British 18-pounder carronade

Admiralty carriage mount for a British 18-pounder carronade

I would recommend in such a situation that you immediately stop implementing anything and go back to the beginning. In other words: return to the phase of requirement engineering. It will certainly be painful, but it is the only way to save the project. As a consolation, you can remember that you can later benefit from all the experience.

But this time, it must be a modern, agile, empathic and educational requirement engineering! When defining the requirements for new and innovative solutions, you will have to “experimentally learn a technical situation”. If you want to succeed in innovation, you have to ask the right questions. And before you can ask them, you have to find them. Which is not at all easy.

Only after having finished this, you can start with defining your requirement. And only after that, you can think about solutions. You will find solutions by dividing the goal into the “right” user stories. You want to start with one of those and then analyse the underlying use case. They can be analysed and described. But, please, use the “wisdom of the masses”, rather than the “simple-mindedness of the individual person”. Especially when we are talking the future and innovation!

“Learning the market” is only possible if you use “technological empathy”. Yet we have to know the market. After all, it is where we want to sell and use the product. Especially the market of the future must be discovered through trial-and-error and experiments. Against the dogmatic brain concepts of an individual person. This is how you want to keep learning at all times. Using an honest and optimal discourse: open and agile.

If you forget this important initial work, you will program (or build) things nobody wants to buy. Whatever the team thinks will then revolve around a product that is questionable, at least on the market and that – with its technological and other problems – will detract from the main goal and eat up all the combined energy of the team.

The failure of the product is often delayed through missing functionality. Allegedly, all you have to do is even more programming, then the success will come. This is a misconception. When those seemingly so important functions are finally available, nothing changes for the better. The failure will then be attributed to poor sales and marketing. All you need is a few millions for sales and marketing …which you will never get, because there is no potential sponsor you can convince with the already existing results.

Scenarios like these will always happen when the “start-up” has no valid and flexible blueprint to start with. You have no shared interest you actually live up to and consequently you cannot convince anybody. So what you need is a blueprint. In former times, the blueprint was called “specification sheet”. As opposed to the specification sheet, however, the blueprint only specifies the essentials. And it remains active.

The word “requirement engineering” will easily give you the wrong ideas. Just like the term “specification sheet” is not modern, especially if it is understood as following the idea of the “V- model”. Modern “specification sheets” will have to be agile and improve iteratively and incrementally!

If you have a small but nice blueprint, you can test it on the market. It is easy to come up with a good blueprint. It will develop a life of its own and therefore become more and more resistent. Mind you, I would not wish you to misunderstand my argument in favour of the blueprint. I definitely would not wish to speak up in favour of the antiquated waterfall model.

On the contrary: the implementation, too, must begin at an early stage. But only with a simple and important, perhaps extremely small, user story following the blueprint. With a little luck, you can perhaps quickly gain the first “quick win”, which will carry you towards a successful future.

Consequently, founding an enterprise is a linked tightrope walk in many dimensions.

Here are some more recommendations for start-ups:

Find the right target groups

User software (like many other products), if seen exemplarily, will always have at least two target groups – the “technological department” and the users. Incidentally, that is also the difference between user software and purely technological software development, such as the construction of a compiler.
The technological department wants to achieve a simplification and improvement of the necessary processes with the product. The user is supposed to accept this solution. The product must give him a noticeable help. He can do a better job in an agreeable way.

Business Case

It is of central importance. We need a story. If you found the right target groups and have a nice blueprint, then you can develop the business case. You want to wrap it in a good, even a fascinating story. You want to fascinate potential partners, possible sales and marketing routes, multipliers and others. And then you can approach all the many chances the market offers.
Technology

Only after you have a really good blueprint (perhaps supported by the Oldie Rapper vulgo called „dummies”), only after you made the surface and the functions “understandable”, only after you determined the target groups and the business case, only after your prototypes have shown individual functions does it make sense to build the “King Version”. This “King Version” will then have to be developed quickly and goal-orientedy. Directly to the point, without much ado.

And then the agile tire can start rotating. The main purpose of such a “King Version” is to learn through and with it – on all levels. And the idea to advertise the product. Perfection is not important. Developers and engineers have to be careful, because they often think in terms of technology far too soon. That is something you can do later, after knowing what the evolution will actually accept.

Design

You cannot be too early with picking a logo. It will become the symbol of the team and send a message. As a shared team symbol. Consequently, the entire team should be consulted when the logo is determined.

When trying to find a design or a pattern or prototype, you should orientate yourself towards modern applications. Images and pictures will play an important role with the surfaces of the future. Beauty can do no harm, but is only of secondary importance. The product message is the most important thing. This will also be helpful for the founders when they have to coordinate their constructs.

Financing

More often than not, founders think about the financing far too soon. If I want financing, I first have to have something to offer. Meaning more than a business plan – which mostly is no more than a poor profession of faith. I need all the things that have been written down: the blueprint, the business case, the pattern, a beautiful design – all those things have to transport an idea and fascinate the people. Consequently, external money cannot be expected before you build the “King Version”. And that, too, is rather hard – as a general rule, only special friends will help in this kind of situation.

And above all: you have to be a strong team. VCs, SCs, federal financing, but also partner enterprises or private investors are less interested in your actual product. For them, the business case, the story, and above all, the team, are important. Incidentally, a team is only a strong team if the members themselves are truly and still realistically convinced that their product is top quality.

General Notes

There is no “stroke of genius” when it comes to ideas. Such a concept is and has always been a fairy tale. A stroke of genius is a dream which will only too quickly become a nightmare. Visions will often become hallucinations.
The success of start-ups and innovative founders has many parents. Developing a successful product means hard work. The path includes many setbacks and errors. You cannot force success. You just have to try and create the ideal environment for it to come one day.

Actually, it might even make sense – especially if you cannot operate with cost-covering turnover from the outset – to pave the way through the purgatory of a “Business Plan Contest”. As a general rule, you can benefit hugely from the experience. Finding out that a project is not realistic, too, is of huge value. It saves a lot of money and time. Taking part in such a contest can also help to create the “right” networks and find the “right” mentors.

But above all!

A start-up is not an elegant way towards self-actualization. Instead, it is a very risky and massive challenge. What you need is an enthusiastic team where every member is prepared to accept the task and open for change. If this is not the case, you should keep your distance. Because if founding your enterprise were as easy as some seem to think, we would not see so many founders, even in the IKT sector and the world of elegant APPs, ending as a failure.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
In this article, I related my personal ideas based on my individual experiences. They do not claim to be the one and only truth. I believe that every founding process is different from the next and they all have their individual stories.
As I see it, there is no general cooking recipe for “successful” founding. However, if you follow my description, you might actually succeed. Whereas you can assume you will fail if you try a different approach!

P.S.1
About the picture: It is from 1808 and titled “Admiralty carriage mount for a British 18-pounder carronade”.
Source: Scanned from Chappelle, Howard I., The History of the American Sailing Navy: The Ships and Their Development, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1949, ISBN 1-56852-222-3, Plate VII, facing p. 152.
Unattributed, apparently from U.S. National Archives

Roland Dürre
Thursday June 12th, 2014

Innovation Means: Creative Destruction

Innovation is praised all over the place. In order to let our economy grow. As a rescue from the climate catastrophe. In order to guarantee our future and save the world.

And how many start-ups do I already know that give everything in order to be innovative.

And they all want to become rich. And how many enterprises come up with innovation programs. In order to preserve their competitiveness. They profile their employees, separating the innovative class from the non-innovative class. Universities, politics, opinion formers and protagonists of all disciplines, and of course also the Sunday preachers: they all want innovation.

And I, too, believe that:
“This is how we always did it!”
is a very dangerous sentence in our language. We certainly should avoid using it. It is better to constantly try new things.

But I still do not know what innovation means. Another sentence comes to mind:

Innovation means creative destruction!

I first heard this sentence from Simon Grand during one of his grand presentations. And it is a sentence that makes sense to me.

Because innovation is a term which describes a fundamental event. It includes a relevant result as a consequence of huge change. Something new develops. Something old is destroyed.

The destruction is a massive one. As with every change. In fact, looking for examples of real innovation, I always find an enormous degree of destruction after innovation has taken place. Not just in technology.

Change and destruction are the two requirements sufficient for innovation actually taking place. However, we can never judge if the state of affairs after the change is really better or worse than what we had before. The components which might make a human life look a success are just too multi-dimensional.

Which is where, again, I have to think of my well-loved friend Bertrand Russell. He said:

»Every increase in technology will cause an increase in wisdom, provided it also means an increase in human happiness.«

Today, I would formulate the sentence as follows:

»If innovation is intent on adding to human happiness, it will also mean the same amount of added wisdom.«

And from this sentence, I would conclude that an increase in wisdom is a necessary dimension of innovation.

Which means I have come to terms with the word: innovation.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday March 7th, 2014

IF AGORA and the Knowledge Workers

For several years, I have now nourished the IF AGORA as a market place of knowledge. On this market place, I asked speakers who fascinated me with their presentations to publish their “knowledge opportunity” in order to make it possible for other persons to benefit from this knowledge and experience. Depending on the situation, customers either paid for their service, or it was provided free of charge.

knowledgeworkercamp-w799From left to right: Bernd Fiedler, Thorsten Schlaak and yours truly.

I did it all more or less whenever I had nothing more important to do and every few weeks, I added a new “knowledge opportunity”. There simply was not time to do more than that.

Now three of us decided to let IF AGORA also get a real life. First and foremost, we wish to organise a Knowledge Worker Camp, where hopefully  many persons offering knowledge will participate, along with many other persons who are prepared to take a little responsibility for the future.

But before starting to plan and organize such an event, we want to find out what actually moves us all today. Consequently, we started a survey – and we are quite excited about the result.

As soon as we have the results, we will plan how to structure the event and when it should take place. And we will invite many, many people. We will assume that those who come will be exactly the people we needed.

RMD
(Translated by EG)