Roland Dürre
Friday October 18th, 2019

(Deutsch) Leseproben.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday October 3rd, 2019

(Deutsch) RUPERT LAY LESEBUCH

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

 

Let me invite you most warmly to the following event!

 

“My life after digitalization and InterFace“.

On May, 6th, you can hear me as an invited speaker at the monthly event of the regional group Munich of GI and GChACM at the Hotel Eden-Wolff.

Here is the Link. The presentation will start at 7.30 p.m.. Food and drinks will be served earlier.

This will be the third time for me as a speaker at this event. There was one time when we did a wonderful sketch on our adventures with banks as entrepreneurial founders. Along with my entrepreneurial friend Norbert Weinberger and my very much appreciated banker Alois Wolferstetter, I played ”true stories from the life of an entrepreneur“. It was truly hilarious, we all laughed a lot.

My last presentation at the Hotel Eden-Wolff was on April, 6th, 2009 for the Gesellschaft für Informartik and German Chapter of the ACM. That is now more than ten years ago. At the time, the topic was a little more serious.
Life, knowledge, computer science and ethics.
You can find a short synopsis in the IF blog if you click here.

Now I am happy to see that the main topic of the last Informatik-Spektrum (that is the official GI regular magazine) was “computer science and ethics”. It only took them ten years.

If I remember correctly, then my presentation at the time was a pleasure both for the audience and for myself. I want it to be the same this time.

Here is the official pre-view:


Turn of an Era: The End of the Digital World?

On the post-digital society

Synopsis:

The presentation around digitalization will inspire you, give impulses and motivate contemplation:

What exactly is digitalization and transformation? Where exactly do we benefit? Who owns the internet? What influence does digitalization have on our lives? What will happen when the digital era is over? What are the consequences of digitalization in our work-life and our society? What is AI (artificial intelligence)? Where is Bavaria (Germany, Europe) in the process? Who will rule the world in the future?

Speaker:
Roland M. Dürre (ex-programmer, IT entrepreneur, blogger, business angel)
Born: June, 20th, 1950 (married, father and grandfather)


I will try and make the presentation very open and interactive. Perhaps we will manage to answer a question or two together. Besides, my goal, as always, is to inspire people, to give impulses and to motivate contemplation. And, of course, I also want to provoke people a little bit.

It would make me happy to see many of you. There is no admission, you need not register. If the lecture hall is full, the hotel will have enough extra chairs.

I very much look forward to seeing all and any of you.

RMD

Roland Dürre
Monday February 18th, 2019

Love it, change it or leave it!

The Projekt Magazin invited me to enter in this year’s blog parade.

Since I like the organizers of Projekt Magazin, Petra Berleb and Regina Wolf-Berleb very much and since I also love their product, I agreed with pleasure and will write down my ideas here.

The Blogparade topic is:
Our work is now agile/digital/self-organized! 
More success through new freedom in the project, or just much ado about nothing?
I will just copy and paste the questions and ideas from the invitation and then give my own comments.

Here are the questions and my answers:



What flexibility for trying other approaches and consciously choosing new and easier ways do you have in your projects?


During my years as an employee at Siemens and Softlab, I was extremely lucky in that there was a cooperative trust culture in the areas I worked in, which means I had a lot of leeway. And since I usually worked successfully, the freedom grew.
;-). Because if you are a success, you are mostly right. That was in the 1970ies and the early 1980ies.

Except that the situation in the enterprises started to get worse. As I understand it, the reason for this lay in the widespread systemic increase of various trends that complemented each other. For instance when priority was given to the shareholder value  and when there was an increased belief in the introduction of processes. I also mean the use of  Key Performance Indicator systems (KPIs) for enterprise control that increased bureaucracy and the certification of all sorts of processes. More and more Taylorism created silos that paralysed each other.

The goal was to get rationally controlled, perfect and powerful enterprises that were thus brought into a position that gave them the chance to not only survive, but also become number one in the harsh competition. The employees were provided with target agreements, which was based on the assumption that you could motivate people through material promises. What a concept of humanity is that?

The enterprises wanted to be in a position where they can control (manipulate) the market – and eventually the consumer. Today, they look like over-regulated and trained powerful elephants. Creativity, courage and joy have disappeared like the multitude of species in nature. To these enterprises, it comes as a surprise that they are now overtaken and left behind by new enterprises.

As a small programmer, I was not able to change my elephants. In order to prove that shared work is also possible with another philosophy, I had to found my own enterprise.

My first step towards founding an enterprise was trying to find a like-minded partner. That was not easy. After I had found him, Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly founded the InterFace Connection GmbH (today: InterFace AG) in 1984. In the IT sector, it was easy to found an enterprise, partly because we were in the possession of superior knowledge that was very well paid.

The name Connection stood for a group of conspirators who wanted to move together and do something great in an agile way and at eye-level. And I still believe that you have a lot more leeway as an entrepreneur – if the incoming money is more than the outgoing money. And in those days, this was certainly possible in the sector digitalization, even and especially if you did some unconventional things.

 


To what extent do enterprises leave their project leaders, scrum masters and product owners and counsellors enough leeway when it comes to their choice of procedure in project planning, communication and the way they organize the cooperation in the team (self-organization)?


Naturally, this depends very much on the enterprise. Especially huge concerns have problems with this. For a successful medium-size enterprise, it is often something that goes without saying. For instance, some huge enterprises have decided they want more agility and want to achieve this through Change Management. They often invest a lot. More often than not (almost always), the concept fails. If they are lucky, they get biotopes, but those will soon dwindle and disappear.

I get the impression that it is very hard or even impossible to change huge, often non-personalized social systems. Especially, it will not be a success if the initiative comes from above. Personally, I am not sure if you can actually teach the elephant to dance  (Elefanten tanzen lernen cited:  Dr. Marcus Raitner).

 


And what are the successful approaches?


That is very easy: you have to trust that the people in the enterprise can actually do it. You need no experts. Everybody must be competent in their specific trade (in our company, this was programming). But everybody should also be willing and allowed to also deal with the special topics, such as delivery on time, quality, knowledge about the customers, integration, the building, security,… And you want to ask everyone to participate in everything: writing the manual, teaching customers and planning the product. Even ambitious goals. 
And you will want to let people participate when you get the result. You will celebrate successes, but you will also have a party after a downfall, by way of consolation.

 


The underlying question is also whether or not the hype about agile enterprises and the demand to have a culture that puts more the humans into the centre will be taken up and realized in the long term by organisations. Project teams in particular have the chance to initiate change in an enterprise. Can and should they simply work changes? Will anybody appreciate it if they try to break obsolete processes, strict hierarchies and silo-thinking – or will they then be considered saboteurs who bring disorder to an enterprise?


I am trying, both in private life and in projects of my professional life. After all, I want to be happy, don’t I?

What you need is joy at what you do. That includes work. For joy, you need courage. If I am in a situation that I do not love, then I need to change it. And if I can see that this will not be possible, then I need to leave it.

However, I am well aware that the principle “love it, change it, or leave it” is often easier said than done if you are dependent upon someone. The problem is that you are dependent.

 


Apart from this, I am interested in your motivation if you try innovations in your projects. Are you doing it because you get the impression that the old processes are not what we need in the future? Or are you doing it because you want to have a sharper profile as an project manager and entrepreneur? Or is it because it is what your boss and the members of your team want?


For me, this does not need motivation. All we need is openness. And if I attend a Barcamp such as PM-Camp where other people report what innovative things they did and if I like what I hear, then I am keen to try it myself.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 9th, 2019

“Business Theatre“ (Entrepreneur’s Diary #128)

On this picture, the person in uniform does not look happy at all.

I spent 18 months serving the country (in the army) and in these 18 months, I learned to drink and chill. To be sure, I also learned how to survive in a sick system.

However, these 18 months also showed me how enterprises should not be yet how they mostly are (perhaps because enterprises often follow army patterns when it comes to their organisation).

They drafted me on April, 1st, 1970 and assigned me to the air force at Lagerlechfeld. After a stop at Landsberg, my army career as “Flyer Dürre” started in Ulm on April, 5th. I ended up in a battalion that had its small barracks area at the Lower Kuhberg not far from the Centre of Ulm. The barracks had been named after the war-hero Boelcke (see Militär in Ulm).  It was an old barracks venue, some people actually believed they could still see the (removed) swastika over the entrance.

The barracks I landed in after Landsberg belonged to the training regiment of the air force. The air force was one of the three weapons categories they had in the German Armed Forces: they also had the navy and the army.


 

The organization was quite simple:
The battalion (Bataillon) consisted of three companies and a few staff positions, for instance the medical group, the vehicle service group and the supply group. The battalion commander was only a major. That indicated that our battalion did not have much military significance.

Each company had three platoons. Each company had a company commander (usually a corporal) and the master sergeant, usually in the rank of sergeant major. He was the boss of the administration, including the typists’ office and he had the operative task of organizing order, which also consisted of drawing up the guard service list.

Each platoon had a platoon commander and three units. Usually, the platoon commanders were non-commissioned officers, once in a while an ensign was among them. Each unit had its unit commander who led ten learners for three months of basic training. The unit commanders were generally rank and file.

In summary, you can say that about a hundred recruits (about 3 x 3 x 11) were facing a small group of thirteen (9 + 3 + 1) coaches. Since, basically, recruits are difficult soldiers, the group had to stick together and was often a tight-knit community.

The business model was part of the compulsory service model and also very simple:

Whenever a new quarter year began (on the first of January, April, July and October), the German conscripts had to go under weapons in hordes – they were drafted. They were put into barracks distributed all over the country. Whenever a unit had problems with one of the recruits they had been assigned (regardless of the reason), then said recruit was sent to us in Ulm. That is how I, too, ended up in Ulm.

One of the problems was that the people who came a few days later were totally different from me. In July, most of the new recruits were successful high-school graduates who had been taken out of their units because of insubordinate behaviour or because they had other problems (such as drugs). At all other times, we always had many people with social disadvantages, often they had not finished any school education. Every three months, the mixture was totally new.

Our task at Ulm was to make proper soldiers of these problem cases. They were to be turned into air-force soldiers with simple tasks such as object protection (sentry) or in typing offices (today, you would probably call it back office).

During my first home visit in my parents’ sitting room.

Three of the recruits always had to be upgraded to become future commanders of each teaching regiment. I was selected because I was the only one in my regiment who had successfully graduated from high school (most of the others had not finished school at all). They needed someone who could actually teach (civics, military ranks and structures, learning to use a weapon). This is how, after no more than three months of basic training, I became unit commander with special tasks such as teaching the regimental recruits.

Our staff unit:
The staff units were responsible for the entire battalion.

  • Medical unit
    The medical unit consisted of two doctors and a few paramedics. Besides the general health care, they were responsible for giving out sick passes and, especially problematic, for giving someone the status of “unfit for service“. Many wanted this certificate, but the ratio allowed for each battalion was rather low. Besides, everyone who had been declared unfit by our doctors had to get a second opinion. And if one of the recruits actually managed to get both documents, he was the happiest person on earth or at least on the barracks.
  • Vehicle service group
    This unit consisted of the mechanics and the drivers who serviced our vehicles (regardless of being part of the air force, we had no airplanes). They also moved the vehicles. 
The fleet had a few lorries with which the recruits were driven to the manoeuver or to shooting practice, a few accompanying vehicles, a kitchen truck and a few limousines that were used by the driving service to take the officers where they needed to go. I think we also had a bus, but it mostly sat around. As far as I know, the entire drivers’ service of the German Armed Forces (including tanks) is now outsourced.
  • Supplies
    The supply department was responsible for everything the company needed: clothes, weapons, office hardware, toilet paper. After all, a hundred new soldiers had to get their uniforms every three months. Food, however, was only organized by the supply unit (planning, procurement). The cooking was done by civil servants, of which the German Armed Forces had plenty on top of their 500,000 soldiers.

And it all worked quite well. The teachers (Ausbilder) in the three companies mostly managed to keep all the recruits alive (regardless of recurring suicide attempts). They even made tame soldiers out of them in three months. As a general rule, we delivered the soldiers to their new companies, where they then patently served their time (usually fifteen or twelve months) as sentries or office service persons for German barracks.

We always were within the limit when it came to the number of recruits who were declared unfit. Once in a while, we even discovered a talent who later went to serve at the musical unit of the air force, and the same is true for some top players that we found for the company and battalion sports teams.

We also never starved. To be sure, the quality of the food that was served to the recruits was abominable, but we of the staff were luckier than that. That was definitely something the procurement units managed very well.

So what exactly was the task of the top management?
The company commanders had a fine life and were able to focus on the important things. They often changed (as I said, the battalion had a very good reputation). The only one who stayed long was the commander, the major. He waited for his retirement money.

We occasionally saw the decorated officers when big events were scheduled (solemn oaths, final manoeuvres, celebrations). Other than that, they were not much of a hindrance to us.
But the officers were also quite industrious and diligent. The company bosses and the battalion commander often had long meetings in the battalion mess. They worked late into the night. Once in a while, higher officers from the regiment and from higher up were also among the participants. Occasionally, even a general came, which always caused a disruption in the normal barracks procedures.

And our highest bosses were often on business trips. That was when they had to leave the barracks and the officer’s mess and travel to important Armed Forces or NATO meetings. In military life, international contacts are extremely important. And since they were leaders, they had to attend numerous courses, because, as we all know, leading is not at all easy. And when they wanted to relax, they sometimes flew. After all, the airplanes of the air force had to be moved around.

There are many questions our officers had to answer:

  • How can we make sure the world remains at peace?
    Again and again, they tried to find a good reason for the existence of the German Armed Forces (and, basically, to this day, they never found one).
  • What can we do to promote the reputation of the German Armed Forces?
    That was particularly difficult in our case. Among the teaching persons – especially if they were non-commissioned – we had quite a few tough fellows. Again and again, some of them made the local news because of misconduct. But mostly, they were only mentioned anonymously. However, since we were so important when it came to taming the recruits, we had nothing to fear. 
When the German Armed Forces had huge events, the community of Ulm also was very interested.
  • How can we create a feeling of corporate identity with other units?
    I remember a visit of the Bavarian Mountain Soldiers (Gebirgsjäger) from Mittenwald. It ended quite badly. What I mean is: “some of the equipment was lost, but luckily, with the exception of a few injuries, none of the soldiers became casualties.“
  • How can we become friendly with the other NATO states?
    To me, this seemed to be a particularly important task.
  • Once in a while, they had to approve our decisions.
    Mostly, they did that without reservations. However, it always took time, which caused emotional disputes among the parties concerned.
  • Special attention was given to the athletic activities in and beyond the air force.
    For instance, every company had a soccer team and a handball team. We specifically chose and kept recruits that were a precious gain to the teams. And whenever you have one of these athletic competitions, you have reason to celebrate.

I remember a soccer match against the US Army. At the time, no American was able to play soccer, so we won by 21:1. It was the highest win I ever actively witnessed in field soccer. In fact, it turned out that the biggest challenge was how to get them to score their one counter goal. Imagine all the things you do in the name of peace among nations and brothers in arms.


 

Why do I tell you these things? Because, with the German Armed Forces, I experienced a huge stage where big military theatre was playing. However, it was no more than what I would have expected from the German Armed Forces.

After my service time, when I continued studying and working at Siemens, I also experienced business theatre. It increased all the time and that really did surprise me.

These days, I am also perplexed when I see that many small enterprises are no longer there for the people (employees and customers). With all the business theatre, there is no time left for anything else.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Only two pictures of me were taken during the entire time I served (April, 1, 1970 until September, 30, 1971). Both of them were taken during my first visit home; the first in front of the parents’ house and the second at the dinner table.

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

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 22nd, 2018

At the DOAG

IOnce more, I was the speaker.

For many years (that felt more like decades), my friend Dietmar (Neugebauer) was president of the DOAG. DOAG is an acronym for Deutsche Oracle Anwender Gruppe. Every year in November, the DOAG has its big and legendary yearly conference and exhibition in Nuremberg.

Thanks to Dietmar, I was there many times and gave presentations. Last year, I wanted to create something different and, together with Christian and Knud, showed everybody how modern communication could work (there is also a video recording: Video).

With the 2017 success, I was going to terminate my DOAG career (after all, you should end when you feel at the top). But then, Dietmar kept pestering me. Consequently, we did something together in 2018 (on November, 21st) – this time it was about “functional communication”. And we invited people to join “our fishbowl”. And, again, it was really nice.

A fishbowl is organized as follows:

Choice of Topic

If you communicate “functionally“, it might help if you have a topic. But how to find a topic? Our first idea was to establish a topic finding commission for coming up with something. But that is nonsense.

The rules and the intention of our fishbowl were described shortly before the event in my  communication article. We simply checked the newspapers and listened to the radio in the morning to see and hear what were the most important events of the day. After all, the paywall – sorry, the media – are assigned the task of providing the news that concern us every day. Which means they should be a good source. Then Dietmar and yours truly, along with Dr. Marius Poersch and Wolfgang Taschner, took a close look at those topics and selected four of them.

Selection of Topics

Here are the four topics we found in the radio and press of November 21st:

  • How does #newwork fit into our lives
    (work-life-balance, motivation, experiences, how does it actually work)
  • #diesel ban control
    (protection of the environment, data protection, total control, human dignity)
  • The youth is #scared of the internet
    (mobbing, addiction, data and the ownership of your own data getting out of control)
  • Copyright
    (upload filter due to new EU legislation, access to youtube as commonly experienced reality, reaction of the youtube management because they feel threatened.)

Selection of a Topic by Vote

We had prepared four flipcharts and added an important idea to the four topics before announcing the vote. Dietmar gave a short explanation on what the topics were about – and then everybody voted.

Everyone in the room had a round red sticker that he/she could attach to one of the posters. Since my topic was “copyright protection”, that is where I put my red sticker. In the end, unfortunately, (for me), there were only a few red stickers on my topic, while the #newwork poster was overflowing with round red stickers.

Consequently, now we had a topic – a topic which the absolute majority of the people gathered at this place was in favour of on this day. That is a good start for a fishbowl. It was done in no time and totally self-organized.

The Fishbowl

To begin with, the four “experts“ (Dietmar, Marius – who actually was the only real expert – Roland und Wolfgang) took their seats on one of the six chairs (we had spontaneously decided to add a chair because so many people had come). Everybody made his/her statement and then we left things to flow.

And there was a nice flow. In 45 minutes, including preparation time, many wise things were said. We had great results, the participants stuck to the rules (be concise, let everyone else also finish with what they want to say and take up the idea of the person who spoke before you).

The exchange went very well in both directions and the coordination was excellent. My personal conclusion as a “normal participant” was that I rarely had been at the receiving end of so many ideas, impulses and food for thought as during this fishbowl.

Feedback Round

The feedback round confirmed that most of the other participants felt like I felt. Dietmar wrote to me saying that he had received plenty of praise throughout the entire evening (when I had already left).

At an Aside

Directly after us, there is always the central keynote. Yesterday, Lars Vollmer was scheduled as the next DOAG conference speaker. I had never met Lars before and only knew him from his publications. In his presentation, he described the business theatre that you often get today. And I mentally filtered quite a few ideas of his that actually blended quite well with the ideas we had generated during our fishbowl.

And that made me wonder: Why don’t enterprises more frequently organize a fishbowl with their employees in order to get an awareness of what stupid nonsense they sometimes talk?

RMD
Translated by EG

Joy and courage as a basis for business. It is important to enjoy life. Especially if you are a role model.

As far as I remember, the ancient Greeks had a very simple theory of virtues. Let me describe it as I remember it.

The social goals of the ancient Greeks were justice and equality. They differentiated between arithmetic and geometric justice. Arithmetic justice means totally linear justice. In a very stringent way, it means that everybody gets the same. As opposed to this, geometrical means that there is more justice if you use some criteria. Consequently, what you get is not “the same for everyone”, but instead “for everyone what is appropriate for him”. And this is true both for what you and what you have to

In the ancient Greek philosophy, geometrical justice was considered the better option.

For social systems, for example for the state, their philosophy was:

The powerful in the government will have to be characterized by the virtue of wisdom

The warriors are characterized by the virtue of courage.

The  middle classes are characterized by the virtues of sober-mindedness and frugality.

So only the slaves remain. They are characterized by the virtue of .


? This is how I remember it from my days at school.

If you transfer this simply model of virtues to enterprises, you will probably get:

In management and in the board of directors you have the “wise ones“.

The salespersons are the warriors who courageously fight on the market in order to make the products and services something everybody wants and who also see to it that money flows in.

What remains are theemployees – who are supposed to be 
and frugal. In this context, being frugal means you have to treat the resources with consideration and you want to be sustainable.

In modern enterprises, we do not want slaves (although some employees certainly feel enslaved and consequently consider their salaries as compensation for damage).

This is how I feel about it. Basically, it is a very simply concept.< Today, we have progressed. Many people, as well as most of the directors and “leaders“, believe entrepreneurial myths:

  • You have to act and make decisions!
  • You have to be agile!
  • You need to develop an actual strategy and then you must implement said strategy!
  • You cannot do without a hierarchy!
  • Rationality beats emotional concepts!
  • >You have to develop your business systematically!
  • Success is the result of hard work!
  • You need strategical departments!
  • You need people who have charisma in order to make the employees follow you!
  • If you have enough money and the right kinds of employees, you can successfully master all challenges!
  • You have to know EVEYTHING that happens in the enterprise and you need to be able to control everything!
  • In order to be fair and just, you need clear rules for drawing up collective contracts (employee agreements)!
  • The power can and must be guaranteed through a stringent organization (line, matrix)!
  • Improvement is possible with processes, methods and certificates!
  • Entrepreneurial culture and values can be changed and generated through “culture engineering’!
  • All problems can be solved with rationality!
  • Equality and justice are possible!

 

  • And many more.

 

  • Why don’t you try and apply these rules to the social system “family”? – You will immediately notice what is wrong with them.
  • As I see it, these are all just myths that can and need to be questioned. They might well sound nice, but they are wrong and counter-productive. One of the reasons is because they are based on the belief in a general determinedness of life. Consequently, I can counter every single one of the aforementioned arguments with a good reasoning – and thus state why all these myths are incorrect.
  • But let us remain positive: my concept of a good and multi-dimensional enterprise is totally different! For me, an enterprise, and in particular the leaders of an enterprise, are, above all, hosts. They invite people to promote something special together and create the necessary environment for starting an enterprise.
  • An entrepreneur does not really need special characteristics. As I see it, the only requirement is that he is good at communicating. To be sure, this is hard enough and not to be underestimated – many persons do not find it easy, especially when it comes to the listening part. If an entrepreneur can also inspire and give impulses, then this is really a great thing.   
    ? Perhaps a bit of the ancient Greek wisdom would also be helpful when it comes to leadership. That would be absolutely top!
  • And here is how leadership in “new enterprises“ can be practiced:
  • Values and culture beat framework agreements and rules.
  • The effect is more important than the plan and the goal.
  • Thinking and understanding will prepare the way towards doing.
  • Nobody has all the power (citation by: Dr. Andreas Zeuch).
  • Self-organization and responsibility are possible and, where necessary, promoted and supported.
  • Joy and enthusiasm are essentially important and will be encouraged.
  • Teams are supported in such a way that they can experience the “flow“.
  • There are people in the enterprise who can actually support or even coach a team when this is necessary.
  • Since I am not a dreamer, I know pretty well that this all sounds a little utopian. There actually is a restriction. Since we live in a capitalist world, it is absolutely necessary – in the interest of survival – that you have a clear mercantile and always current report system for all the individual teams and for the entire enterprise. After all, many people have to work in order to make sure they can live. Which means they – justly – want a good salary. And that is only possible if the enterprise where they work, too, earns good money and remains a healthy business.RMD(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Sunday November 4th, 2018

We Replace Many Others.

On this picture, you can still see me at the Uhg Outdoor Public Swimming Pool (no cameras allowed).

? Here is a non-fiction story.
It shows to treat employees and how you save money these days. Since it is slightly embarrassing, I will not give you any names. Except the name of the enterprise that plays the major role in this story. It is the Weva, which is an anagram for the German 
“Wir ersetzen viele andere“ (We Replace Many Others).

Maybe it already tells all you need to know. Just as it says in Wikipedia: Nomen est Omen.

So here is my story …


I try to swim regularly. During the summer months, I visit the public outdoor swimming pool There are times when, in summer, I manage to go there every day. With the seasonal ticket from the Unterhaching Civil Office, I really enjoy the pool.

During the cold months, from Mid-September until May, I visit a public indoor swimming pool that has been more or less privatized. Since it is a private indoor swimming pool, it is obvious that they have to economize wherever they can.

Regardless of the fact that I find the entry fee slightly overpriced, I am totally happy. I can easily overlook the occasional flaw and manage to go swimming several times a week. After all, I am quite glad that there is still an indoor swimming pool somewhere near home that I can reach by bike.

In this indoor swimming pool, they have strict rules. For instance, you are not allowed to shave at the sink. For hygienic reasons. I did it once – without knowing about the rules – and then a lady who was responsible for the cleanliness of the place told me in friendly but no uncertain terms that this is forbidden. Even though I cannot really understand the prohibition, I have stuck by the rules ever since. Because that is what it says in the regulations.

Now this changed. Over several weeks, I have seen that the employees of the public indoor swimming pool who were responsible for cleanliness have now been replaced by a service provider. Now the people who clean in the swimming pool area wear blue polo shirts with the logo “Weva – We Replace Many Others” (in German: Wir ersetzen viele andere). To me, this logo looks like a true threat.

Then I witnessed something. After my early morning swim, I got back my breath in the ante-room and checked my smartphone for what happened in the world during my absence. The ante-room was empty, I was sitting alongside one of the walls and a WEVA employee was vacuum cleaning the ante-room. He was working quite systematically, from left to right and top to bottom. He was not making any noise. Soon, he was finished with half of the place. I was close to revising my opinion about the enterprise that calls itself WEVA: “well, this is good news, at least they use soundless vacuum cleaners”.

My contemplations were interrupted. A lady – she, too, was wearing a blue WEVA shirt – appeared on stage and talked to the vacuum-cleaning colleague in a language I did not understand. However, he did not seem to understand her. Consequently, she started gesticulating.

Since this, too, did not seem to help, she took the electric plug that hung from the vacuum cleaner, pulled it out and applied it to the nearest electricity outlet. With an unmistakeable gesture towards the man, she left the room. Now there was a lot of noise – so this was not a “soundless vacuum cleaner”, after all. The vacuum-cleaning employee continued with his work where he had stopped. And I fled from the ante-room and rode my bike home.

On the whole, I do not get the impression that the place has become cleaner over the last few weeks. Perhaps it even became a little worse. I am not complaining, it is still ok. And I certainly do not want to be finicky, because I am glad that the life-guards always have a watchful eye on critical situations and always look after minor flaws.

However, I believe that now, if I feel I need a shave, there is no reason for me to fear being scolded. I find it hard to believe that the WEVA service persons know the regulations and that they will point out my offense to me in a language I understand.

? This proves how there is no bad thing that does not come with a good thing.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday October 29th, 2018

Sugar Coating (Entrepreneur’s Diary #126)

Last week, I learned some new vocabulary – sugar coating.

Following the motto “having a soccer table in your office does not in itself constitute #newwork“.

For me, it is quite clear that, in our social life as well as in our work-life, transparency within the enterprise and the participation of the relevant stakeholders (employees) are very important.


”Sugar coating“ as part of ”culture engineering“?

In my book enterprises are social systems where people work together in different roles for an economic goal – i.e. the goal of offering products and services that they will benefit from to people. Just like the Bavarian Constitution says.

Basically, enterprises are not machines that can be mechanically controlled by “management” that tries to minimize the input and maximize the output. Instead, enterprises are composed of humans.

A Great Team – InterFace Connection GmbH 1986: Celebrating.

That is extremely important. Just like I also consider values such as appreciation, respect and general considerateness when dealing with each other absolutely relevant in an entrepreneurial culture.

#newwork needs just as much communication as it needs civil courage and constructive disobedience. The elite of an enterprise should not be system agents. Instead, they have to be coaches, inspire people and give impulses. And the vast majority of an enterprise also has to try (and be able) to live the values they formulated.

For me, these are the pre-requisites and the basis of #newwork.

Especially in my sector, I discover more and more enterprises that “sugar-coat themselves”. Regardless, they still move at the edges of the German work legislation. And they form their processes and the entire system with an absolute priority on profit. For them, “entrepreneurial health management” is basically just an investment that is supposed to minimize the number of people who call in sick. For them, modern work environments are just a means to save on the rent for office space. And their decor is a sugar coat with great design and life style, both of which are supposed to impress the employees.

If you want #newwork to have any effect, then you cannot make it part of a strategically planned, human resource controlled ”enterprise culture engineering“. Instead, it must be lived by the employees –with intrinsic motivation.

This is what I have been preaching for decades, both because it is my personal experience and because of what I see in many enterprises.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Sunday October 28th, 2018

1969 – 2019: Fifty Years of Computer Science.

It is now autumn of 2018 – which means that, before long, we will have 2019. 2019 minus fifty is 1969. In the autumn of 1969, I had my first intense contact with “computer science”. I started studying at TUM as a mathematics student, minoring in computer science. At the time, TUM was still Technische Hochschule München (THM). In fact, I found that name even nicer that TUM, but that is neither here nor there.

This means that, next year, I will have a very special personal jubilee – fifty years of computer science in my life. In the light of this, it is probably justified that I consider myself an IT pioneer of the third generation. In my view, the first generation was represented by people like Konrad Zuse, whom I was lucky enough to meet in 1985 during the InterFace bike tour to Hünfeld (where Konrad Zuse lived at the time).

The second generation is represented by people like my teacher Friedrich L. Bauer, who, among other things, gave the first lecture in computer science at THM (now TUM) in 1969. I was there.

I think that fifty years of contact with IT are definitely something special. There are so many stories I need to tell.

However, the current digitalization hype is something I am fed up with. For me, digitalization started happening when they came up with a method to write down what you said. And what we today call digitalization is basically nothing but normal progress.

And I intend to tell many stories from those fifty years in 2019. I will relate anecdotes that are quite useful when it comes to understanding how things were done in those days. Without internet and wikipedia. And I will also talk about the influence our entrepreneurial cultures had on society. And how we ourselves were influenced and changed.

It will be a potpourri of individual contemporary stories that go well with each other and that describe many different aspects of change. Since there are many exciting stories, I will make two presentations out of them. Part one will be the first twenty-five years from 1969 until 1994. Part two will relate the time from 1995 with the change of the millennium until today. However, I will not only speak about yesterday and today. There will also be some tomorrow. I really look forward to it and I will see to it that both the audience and the speaker will enjoy the presentations.

Well, I already told some of the stories in the IF blog, didn’t I? For instance when I wrote about Tools Making Tools …  (Werkzeuge machen Werkzeuge …) in 2017 or when I wrote about My First Project (Mein erstes Projekt) in 2015 or My Best Slide… (Meine schönste Folie …)  of 1981 (written down in 2008) – but these are all only examples. Of course, my presentations will not be quite as lengthy as my IF blog articles.

And the occasional missing story will also become an IF blog article. And, of course, I will also tell you in the blog where and when the presentations will be given.

RMD
(Translated by EG)