Roland Dürre
Thursday July 4th, 2013

My Agile Manifesto …

🙂 … it might look like this or similar:

The more I think about “acting and behaving in an agile way”, the more I believe it to be a basic principle that makes the difference between the “old world” and the “new world”.

Consequently, “AGILE” might well be the next logical step after “enlightenment” and “using your brains”. Being AGILE also means you have to move consciously all the time between the two opposing ends individuality (what do I want, what can I do, what am I permitted to do,…) and the collective (what do we want, what can we achieve, what are we allowed to do,…).

“AGILE” describes our wish to live our lives in freedom – which, at this place, means “being prepared and capable of living your life in responsibility”. At the same time, you have to follow the principle “promote your own and the life of others, rather than reducing them”.

Being “AGILE” means knowing how to deal with responsibility. Being in favour of what change we need and opposed to what change is detrimental for us.

Being “AGILE” also includes the wish to increase your knowledge and then being able to apply them.  Naturally, models and approaches, methods and concepts are an important result of additional knowledge. …

Consequently, in order to become “AGILE”, we will constantly have to learn new things, do things we are not used to, try strange things and collect experience. We have to understand and comprehend how processes in our social systems function. Thus, the “integrative and systemic understanding” of our enterprises will become the requirement for successful “leadership”.

This is it for now in a nutshell …

I was motivated to write this outpouring on agility by an article in openPM by Stefan Hagen.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday October 20th, 2012

Video: Dr. Eberhard Huber at the IF Forum “Project Coaching”

Our last speaker at the technological IF Forum on September, 25th was Dr. Eberhard Huber. He managed to summarize all the results and information gathered during this wonderful afternoon in an excellent manner before we finished with a discussion in the “Fish Bowl”.

Now – “at last but not at least” – the recording of his presentation is also available on Youtube.

The Third Technological IF Forum was about “Project Coaching“, with the motto “best of PM-Camp“. So now we have made all the videos from this event available.

Many thanks once again to Eberhard for his presentation. It contributed hugely towards the success of our IF Forum.

Eberhard’s motto is “project“ in a team – here is the link to his  blog “projekt (B)LOG“.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

In less than tree weeks!

On September, 25th, there will be another very special technological IF Forum in our Unterhaching building. After 2010 (AGILE) and 2011 (LEADERSHIP), this is the third “Technological IF Forum”.

In 2012, the protagonists of the PM Camp will visit Munich (Unterhaching) on the 12th of September. They will bring with them the “Best of PM Camp”.

The day is about:

Projects and work, coaching and success!

Here are the agenda and a short introduction of all speakers and their papers:

Presented by – Roland Dürre

14:00  – 14:15  Welcome (Kornelia Hietmann)

Segment I

14:15  – 14:45 Integrated Project Management (Dr. Stefan Hagen)

14:45  – 15:15 Post-Industrial Project Management (Dr. Marcus Raitner)

15:15  – 15:45  “Fishbowl” on Segment I

Break

Segment II

16:15  – 16:45  Systematic Creativity (Jens Hoffmann)

16:45  – 17:15  Purpose, Nonsense and Chances of Life (Nadja Schröer-Petranovskaja)


17:15  – 17:45  “About Onions and Cultures” (Dr. Eberhard Huber)


17:45  – 18:30  Fishbowl on Segment II

Afterwards:

Happy Hour (discussions, fun, laughter, beverages and snacks)

Now let me introduce the speakers to you and give a short summary of their presentations:

Dr. Stefan Hagen will open up the first section with his presentation about “integrated project management“.

Stefan is the founder and owner of the Hagen Management GmbH.

In the truest sense of the word, Stefan lives his life

Project Management – Organization – Strategy

Consequently, he is also the author of the perhaps best-read German project management blog (pm-blog). In his IF Forum 2012 opening statements, he will plead for “integrated project management“. Here is a short summary of his theses:

  • Problems arising in project management can probably only be solved using a conventional approach and methods. Just look at the poor success rate.
    • Integrative approaches will be necessary. Basically, this means we have to look beyond our own horizons.
    • Horizontal Integration: classic and agile approaches;
  • Vertical Integration: humans in (social) systems.
  • Stefan will mainly discuss systemic principles currently neglected in an unpardonable way in most projects.
  • His conclusion is: we need a “change of level“ in order to generate better frameworks for successful project and team work.

The ideas introduced by Stefan will be completed by “post-industrial project management” as introduced by Dr. Marcus Raitner.

Marcus wrote his dissertational thesis in Informatics at Passau University.

After five years as a senior project manager with a huge IT service company, he started a new career as senior partner and board member of the esc Solutions GmbH in 2010.

His focus is on IT project management and IT project coaching.

Dr. Marcus Raitner has his own quite famous PM blog. He is on the organizing team of the PM Camp  and initiated openPM.

Read what Marcus says about his own presentation:

Many projects are two-class systems: a few persons do all the intellectual and leadership work, while all the rest of the people just execute it. That is what I call planning apartheid. You cannot miss the similarities with the organization of huge enterprises: industrial project management with the main goal of efficiency. Industrial project management will work quite well if the complexity is so small that the creativity of the planning class is sufficient for overcoming obstacles. Except that most of the projects are far beyond this level of complexity. What then?

After the presentations by Stefan and Marcus, we will conduct the “Fishbowl”. Together, we will process all we have heard.

Then, we will take a break.

The second part will be opened up by Jens Hoffmann.

Jens, born 1967, is managing director and founder of the Hoffmann Consulting GmbH. Originally from Düsseldorf, he started his career very young – at 20 – with Munich Microsoft, before joining Roland Berger & Partner in 1987. He soon advanced to the posts of project leader in Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich.

In 1999, he founded the Hoffmann Consulting GmbH. It specializes on consulting services for IT communication. His main areas are governance, risk management, compliance and business innovation (Business Model Design, Product and Service Innovation).

One of his most important topics is creativity. That is why he will talk about

Systematic Creativity

Identify new challenges and solve problems efficiently.

Here are some ideas on his paper for you to take a look at in advance:

Just like the enterprises that provide them, products and services, too, get more and more interchangeable. Technological and social competence are matters of course, but creativity is the one skill currently most on demand. Your competence at identifying and addressing the needs of your customer – and then to solve problems efficiently – will certainly determine whether you are a success or not.

For many people, the connection between creativity and business is something they find hard to get used to. Jens will give you an overview about how creativity can be integrated into business as a process and then be developed and used systematically, either by individual persons or in a team.

When Jens has finished, we will all be looking forward to hearing Nadja Schröer-Petranovskaja speak.

This is how Nadja sees herself:

Human, Russian, psychologist, project leader, business muse, photographer, mother, author, blogger.

She is always looking for something and finding it between countries, (entrepreneurial) cultures, along their inhabitants and sectors. Nothing is pre-assigned with her, except that:

It must make sense.

Freedom-loving, lazy and courageous.

She will tell us her ideas about:

Purpose, nonsense and chances in life!

Nadja’s presentations are always very special affairs. I very much look forward to her impulse presentation. Said presentation will give us new questions, combine facts and introduce new propositions about how we might design the rest of our lives.

Incidentally, this is the one question that I am mostly concerned with these days.

Our cycle of presentations will be closed by Dr. Eberhard Huber.

Dr. Eberhard Huber is the embodiment of experience and knowledge. He can look back on: 25 years of project leadership, having been trainer and coach for project management, group dynamics and team development, project management in research and education (at the universities of Mannheim and Magdeburg), and practice.

His Credo is:

Making a team out of a group of people, developing cooperation that is more than just an accumulation of individual competences, often depends on a few lucky coincidences, the leadership qualities, or the project leader’s charisma. This is where team-oriented project leadership  comes in. It accompanies the process of building a team during the project.

Team-oriented project leadership that leaves room for and promotes self-organization will enable you to really make proper use of all the potential you have at your disposal.

This time, Eberhard will tell us about

“Onions and Cultures”

His “onions“ will actually close the circle opened by Stefan. Culture and the active promotion of culture can serve as one solution for the change of level Stefan demands. Eberhard chose the title “onions and cultures“ deliberately, because the plural is important for what this will all be about.

Now is the time for our second “Fishbowl“. We will finish the exciting afternoon together and recuperate from the strains of the intense work during our Happy Hour!

I find it great to have the chance of presenting this super event. I look forward to an exciting and beautiful day with Stefan, Marcus, Jens, Nadja, Eberhard and many friends and partners.

RMD

(Translated by eG)

During weekends, I enjoy reading the blogs my friends write. For example, Dr. Stefan Hagen (Stefan) informs you about the Nürnberg PM Forum 2012 by GPM in his PM-Blog. He also wants to attend it, because he thinks it is time for him to remember what a traditional conference feels like.

I already look forward to hearing what Stefan is going to tell me about the GPM PM Forum, both from reading it in his blog and meeting him in person.    
And I can already predict to some extent what he will probably tell me.

Personally, I no longer like traditional conferences. Still, once in a while, I attend them. Depending on the actual event, I usually end up more or less disappointed (or rather, my prejudices turn out to be correct). Once in a while, you will see some brilliant speakers. You also meet people you would like to see again, but that is usually about it.

What I find remarkable about the PM forum is its title:

“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”

Now that already causes the first disagreement in me:

I am actually fed up with hearing catch-words such as “Eventful Times” or “Crisis”. Today, we are all better off than ever before. If this is what you call crisis, then crisis must be a beautiful thing. In fact, it is a pretty nice life-style – if you ask me, I would say let us remain there!

As opposed to common sentiment, I think we live in a time of luxury. Unfortunately, however, this luxury made us collectively (and probably also individually) obese and inactive. We live beyond our means – and on borrowed money to boot.
The only movement I can discover is society trembling with fear of losing prosperity and our desperately clinging to what we own. Is that what you call “eventful times” or “crisis”?
And then here comes the association preaching:    
“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”
To me, this sentence sounds strange, both linguistically and with respect to its content. Maybe people should think a little harder before creating and publishing these kinds of slogans.

So what exactly is the meaning of “remaining on course”?

Doesn’t a reasonable and courageous “remaining on course“ necessitate a lot more than project management? First and foremost, you would have to know where you want to go, wouldn’t you? You want to know which business model you aim at. We are talking culture and values, responsibility, knowledge, courage, pleasure, respect, tolerance, civil courage…
I could just as well come up with the motto:    
“Remaining on Course with Requirement“.

Or, even better:    
Let us install an association for course finding that certifies course finding. The motto might be: finding your course through dominance-free and upright discourse. (Adorno, Habermas).

Of course, this is not entirely meant seriously. But give me a break: “Remaining on course with project management“ might sound nice, but all it is is a complex and confusing shell of words. First and foremost, you have to find the path you want to tread on. Or at least you have to find your direction. And this is certainly a very difficult project. You cannot sell project management as the trivial solution for the problem.

Suggesting that “project management is the compass in eventful times“ sounds adventurous to me. Or at least very simple (or a technocratic concept?). Why don’t you go on to say:
“With PM, we will solve all our problems!”?

But so what. As I see it, the slogan is more like advertising a milky bar. And that is probably all it is – simple advertising nonsense as we will find it all over the place. Except I do not know if, maybe, the association is harming itself by this method, rather than promoting its interest. Even if, being the powerful system “association”, you already think (and perhaps that is what you have to think) you own the certified truth cut up into standards.

I would find it truly outrageous if, for example, the PM Camp, for which I feel partly responsible, would advertise itself with such a primitive slogan. Among my own friends, I would fight such a slogan.

If you want something that brings a smile to your face, here is the original introduction from the PM Forum program brochure 2012 Programmheft PM Forum 2012 (pdf):

Internationally spoken, the weather is still inclement and the general outlook will remain stormy.  To be sure, in Germany, the economic outlook is positive enough, but here, too, the entrepreneurs will have to be prepared to fight rough seas. During this stormy up and down of the economy, we now need to remain on course. It is a good thing that the enterprises invested in project management, thereby improving their position among the competitors. Through project management, you can achieve convincing results, both in time and in budget. For German enterprises, professional project management becomes more and more the success guarantee. It turns into being the compass and provides orientation, it levels out minor disruptions and keeps the enterprise flexible and agile, even in volatile times.

Words, words, words! Why don’t you go and get me a philosopher? And, please, do not ever let an owner of a medium-sized enterprise read this. Are there any buzzwords you have not read in this paragraph? Who would ever write this kind of thing? Or, even better, who will ever believe this kind of thing? What nonsense! But at least, now we know how an enterprise can be saved from collapsing. Isn’t that some achievement?

Mind you, the event costs 1,150.00 Euros for non-members at GPM. Members pay 200 Euros less. Some of the things you get in return are that you can, for example, hear our eternal German-French journalist and author Prof. Dr. Peter Scholl-Latour talk about “International problem areas and the challenge they pose for German policy“, or the self-promoting extreme mountaineering expert Hans Kammerlander about “Hanging on the satin thread. From Southern Tyrolia to Jasemba (7,350 m): 40 years on course!”.

I know both speakers and wish you all a good time!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Questions all over the place …

For me, the terms “project” (P) and “management” (M) are a phenomenon. And the same – even more so – is true for the term “project management” (PM).

Would it not be better to talk “planning“ and  “realization” instead of P and M? And then we might talk PM as an attempt at controlling said realization, which means: making a success of it with a minimum of (transaction) costs?

Is PM a job description? Is it a craft? Or is it, maybe, a process?

In order to get high-quality PM, do you, above all, need “experience” and “knowledge”?  You get experience through “best practice”, knowledge through “knowhow”?  Does that mean high-quality PM is mainly using experience and knowledge?
Is it a necessary requirement for high-quality PM that you have ”experience of life“ as gained by interacting with people? But what exactly is – “experience of life” and how can you get it?

How can you measure experience and knowledge for PM. How can you certify it?

Doesn‘t PM basically mean “work and keep informed“? Including a certain kind of job-sharing? And to “do your own thing” for yourself and perhaps with others?

What role do tools actually play with PM? How relevant are methods? Which methods do actually help?

Should it not have top priority for high-quality PM to formulate and communicate the “things to do“? Strengthening values? Respecting cultures and creating culture? Improving communication between authorities and persons? Helping to solve conflicts, or even better: avoiding them? Creating fear-free spheres and promoting individual unfolding? And, where necessary, being courageous enough to fight anti-social  and intolerant tendencies?

Is it possible at all to plan individuals and groups? Or do you have to let them grow? Will the result ever be what you had planned? Or is it the sole purpose of PM to later justify why the result is not what had been expected? In other words, is it just there to modify the original plan?

How rational are the world, humans and evolution? Is it not more like things happen, rather than being made to happen? Is it really possible for PM to do more than just influence evolution a little bit? Does not thus PM basically become a sub-division of philosophy?

What is the relationship between M and PM on the one hand and entrepreneurship and leadership on the other hand? What about decisions and responsibility?

Is the P not a self-evident part of all human activity? Does it make sense to limit a central concept to entrepreneurship (social system with an economic goal/gain)?

Is not every attempt at changing something consciously a P?  Does a P always need an actual purpose and a defined goal?

Could not the journey be the reward when we are talking P? Isn’t the modification of goals in a P yet another P? Will that not give me a recursive P-P situation? How am I supposed to live with that?

Is not the change a person plans to manifest in his or her own characteristics or his or her situation in life already a P?
What is the difference between plan and goal, vision and utopia? Can I “bargain” with the future?

Is achieving the end really of such paramount importance for PM? Or is, perhaps, the improvement made through P already the success? Thus, will it be the main job of PM to modify the goal and adapt it to the actual need?

Is PM just one way to travel the “journey towards the end”? Where, (once again), the journey would be the reward? Just like death cannot be the goal of a person. Instead, life from the beginning to the end has to be the goal.

Maybe PM only protects us against having to admit how imperfect we are? Thus, does PM perhaps make us believe we are in control of everything? Are we embracing a self-illusion?

Does such a thing as – P (project) and M (management) exit? Do we need PM (project management)?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here are a few more articles on project management.

#64 – Project Management goes Brecht

#65 – Was ist das eigentlich – Projekt Management? (Definitionsversuch I)

#66 – Was ist das eigentlich – Projekt Management? (Definitionsversuch II)

#67 – Was ist das eigentlich – Projekt Management? (Definitionsversuch III)

#68 – Wie entstehen eigentlich Projekte?

#69 – Projekte sind schädlich für die Gesundheit Ihres Unternehmens!

P.S.1
For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday February 21st, 2012

Entrepreneur’s Diary #72 – Unloved Meetings …

We live in the age of meetings. Most of them are unnecessary and just create frustration.

We spend far too much time in meetings. Mind you, this happens regardless of the fact that this is the era of telephone, email, internet, iPad and Kindle, and, last not least, ”social media”, also in enterprises. Shouldn’t we, therefore, be able to collaborate quite well without all those meetings? Well, it can be done!

But, of course, the public calendars (outlook/exchange) and a seemingly democratic company culture open up countless opportunities to fill even the last free time slot of your business friends (and enemies).

Consequently, we are now more into “meetings” than ever before, regardless of the fact that, due to networks in communication, they are less necessary than ever before. You have so many meetings that there is absolutely no way you can still enjoy them! All you do is suffer through the marathon. Well, it has to be done, doesn’t it? And mostly there is not really much you gain by them.

:-)So here are some reasons why some meetings are doomed to be a failure:

  • The meeting is arranged for formal reasons, as part of a legal obligation or part of a process.
    Basically, you do not need it. After all, its only purpose is controlling. Consequently, you come up with some, mostly questionable, reasoning why you personally have to do it. You actually meet and then you try to, perhaps, give it some purpose. Who wants to admit to oneself that he or she is wasting his or her time with nonsense? Not that there were not something much more sensible (or enjoyable) you could do at the same time. Well, that will have to wait or be cancelled.
    So: if a third party or “some anonymous agent” has forced you to arrange a meeting, then this is a perfect emotional requirement for its failure.
  • The meeting is a jour fixe in your calendar.
    It is hard to imagine that a meeting might be necessary on a daily, weekly, monthly or three-month basis. Perhaps the daily meeting in order to know where you stand in a process like SCRUM is an exception. Except that this is usually done standing up, so it will never take long. Because woe to those who sit down… Or else you just start your work if nothing important needs to be discussed, anyway.
    The normal “periodic” meetings are mostly board meetings. The very equidistance (Äquidistanz) will inevitably mean that some of these meetings are unnecessary. They are the ones you should cancel.
    On the other hand, with these periodic meetings there is also the danger that you sometimes cancel them even though they are necessary. In that case, you must invite the parties concerned to an “extraordinary” meeting.
    If, however, for example, you have four yearly meetings and would actually only need two, but on the other hand there is a high chance you will need an extraordinary one, then it is probably more efficient to call a situation meeting. And nobody is allowed to lament that this is not possible because all the parties concerned have a calendar that is too full (with meetings).  So what is the problem if there are only five persons attending a meeting, instead of seven? Especially in the internet age?
    
So: a periodical meeting, perhaps planned in advance for the entire year in regular intervals, is something questionable per se.
  • The planned time-table is precisely adhered to.
    Do you, for example, plan to eat your dinner between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.? And do you call it a success if it is finished at 10 p.m. on the dot?    
This criticism is related to the last point. It is hard to imagine that tasks to be discussed will always need the same amount of time. More often than not, you will invent “pseudo problems” in order to try and fill the time. Or else, true problems will not be discussed because there is no time left.
    Beware: if you manage to precisely end a meeting when it was supposed to end, then this is not an indicator that the quality of the meeting was high. On the contrary, maybe you should get sceptical about the results when that happens.
  • There is always the same agenda in a meeting.
    This is another good chance for you to ruin a periodical meeting over some time once and for all. It leads to boredom and routine. All you do suffer through a duty. The formal character dominates and the added value is lost. A pity that the time has been wasted.
    My advice: always have at least one special item on the agenda. But, please, make it one that is relevant und perhaps even interesting for those who meet.
  • It is always the same problem that is discussed in a meeting
    A problem has to be solved. Afterwards, you no longer talk about it. Or else, it cannot be solved. Then it will do no good at all to have it on the agenda again and again. If you do that thoroughly, there will certainly be few participants left who will not get fed up. Because there is no way some of the participants will not hate it.
    
If that is your practice, you will find every team member quit  inside!
  • Someone has to write the minutes with a to-do list for the next meetings.
    Well, that sounds nice, but it is not a good idea. Because the world changes. And it is basically a fact of life that working on “open issues” has nothing in common with the “open issues” of life. Especially if three months have gone by between the two meetings. Because what seems very important to us today will mostly seem relatively unimportant tomorrow. Among other things, this is because the human brain is so easy to manipulate.
    So – mistrust the obvious professionalism of great minutes and action items that sound wise as homework for the participants. Especially if we are talking someone has to fill paper and create numbers!

Here is some more information:

As you all know, I like talking about the old and the new world. In the “old world”, meetings were actually important. They probably worked well even in a strictly hierarchical and mechanical leader, management and enterprise culture. In those days, it was not possible to communicate quickly and be cross-linked – as is common today.

Now, however, times have changed. In the “new world” the opportunities of networking are countless. We have another concept of human nature, society and enterprises. The speed has increased drastically. Decisions have to be made in a flexible and time-critical way.

But meetings turn more and more into ghost conferences. They cost time and keep the people away from important tasks.

In other words:

I consider it absolutely necessary that humans have to meet “face-to-face” in order to exchange ideas, talk about future activities and assign tasks, both in projects and in real life. Meetings along the lines of old patterns, however, are something I consider contra-productive and sometimes even catastrophic. Because they create far too much frustration and will hinder positive momentum.

It is a tempting idea that problems might be solved rationally, well-tracked and with clear “action items”. But, unfortunately, that can only happen in an ideal world. Which is something you do not often get in real life, or maybe never …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Click here Drehscheibe for all the articles of my entrepreneur’s diary. mehr »

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 15th, 2012

Entrepreneur’s Diary #64 – Project Management goes Brecht

There are many wise songs in the Threepenny Opera

In his blog 23actions, Jens Hoffmann wrote an article titled

Projects have a detrimental effect on the health of your enterprise!

His introduction contained the provocative sentences:

“Projects are a thing of the past. Their days as organisational unit are numbered. Agile Coaches think that projects are not suitable tools for solving current entrepreneurial problems. They undermine customer-oriented value creation and cannot control permanent change effectively. So what gives project the right to even exist?

Instead of the classic line and project organisation Agile Coaches demand the agile Transformation of the entire enterprise. The term agilen project management is also considered unsuitable (Begriff des agilen Projektmanagements wird abgelehnt), because it only further strengthens the idea of a deficient concept being a good concept.”

Well, in my opinion, these sentences deserve three exclamation marks and three question marks? !!! ???

I was truly moved by what he wrote and therefore also took a very active part in the discussion by writing many “comments”.

In order to try an artistic approach, let me write two songs from Threepenny Opera (basically, in this opera, every song is a stamped piece of worldly wisdom!).

mehr »

Roland Dürre
Thursday December 22nd, 2011

Entrepreneur’s Diary #59 – Personal Setup

🙂 Nowadays, some people ask strange questions!

1st question: Who are you? What do you do?

Roland M. Dürre. Founder of “InterFace Connection GmbH”, today “InterFace AG”. Started with software development early in 1970. Third generation IT pioneer.

Websites:
Private duerre. de Blog and IF-Blog.de. Company – www.InterFace-AG.de.

Motto:
read&think – talk&blog – act&do

2nd question: What is the basic self-organisation concept you follow?

mehr »

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.