Roland Dürre
Sunday October 29th, 2017

A Warm-Up for my Presentations … #noschool Tweet

This is how Christian and Daniel see me (© Visual-Braindump) – at least it was how they saw me during the last Dornbirn PM Camp in 2016.

I frequently host workshops, give “normal” presentations or an “OpenSpeach”. The term is my own invention: “speach“ is an old spelling of “speech”. I call this kind of presentation “open“ because I ask questions at the beginning. After all, I want to show my audience (or rather: my co-workers) the way to the solution through the answers.

😉 Mind you, the OpenSpeach is not really news. In fact, I assume that the ancient Greek Philosophers did it in the same way.

I particularly like using OpenSpeach for topics such as “entrepreneurship and future”. Then I work with my audience about what is an enterprise, how it lives, thinks and works, what characterizes it, how it depends on its environment, how it can go through the years successfully, how sustainability and resilience can be achieved, and much more of the same.

In order to make sure that all participants can prepare and know what to expect, I send them a preparatory text.

Here is an example for such an invitation to an OpenSpeach about Enterprises & Future:

Dear participants. Welcome to my presentation. I truly look forward to our meeting!
It is my goal to work out with you what characterizes an enterprise and to look for and find ways and criteria that show how we together can make your enterprise successful and resistant aganst crises. All stakeholders should benefit from what we work out, especially the people whose livelihoods depend on the workings and the success of the enterprise. Let me remind you of such terms as “sustainability”, “resilience” and “disruptive event”. Even though these are all buzzwords, we still cannot ignore them, because they point towards important aspects of our future.

If this is possible at all, I want to avoid a “classroom situation”. A “chaotic seating order” is far better, because it makes it possible to see each other. Besides, I would like to remind you of the following – or perhaps ask you for the following (this is simply because I want us to use our time together to optimality for everybody):

  • We are a team and not a group.
  • We meet at eye-level.
  • Everybody in the team gives and receives the same amount of respect and appreciation.
  • Not the person whose opinion differs from ours but the challenge or the problem we wish to solve is our enemy (problem being defined as a state of affairs that cannot continue).

Consequently, we imagine another’s theses are our own and then we mentally try to find out which are the requirements or conditions under which we could accept them.
We start on time. I plan with 90 minutes. When we are finished, we are finished. If we finish early, then we finish early. If we need more time, then we can take longer. But we must not stretch the overtime to more than half an hour.

It is explicitly allowed to use laptops/tablets/mobile phones. In fact, you are encouraged to use them. These gadgets support our work during the presentation and, for instance, make it possible for us to look up technical terms, remember what we had forgotten and see if facts and statements are correct. …
🙂 The time while I speak will be so exciting that nobody will want to read their emails. And if you are bored, then what is wrong with doing something useful?

Also: 
We are free agents, there is no compulsion whatsoever. If you want to take a nap, you are excused. After all, who knows that you cannot learn more sub-consciously while dreaming than while listening carefully? During the workshop, we move as we wish to – there is no obligation to sit down like at school. For instance, if someone has a biological need, then it is better if she/he leaves the room for a short time than if she/he is uncomfortable and spending the entire shared time sub-optimally.

Whatever happens happens and is a good thing. There are no planned pauses. Everybody can take a break when they feel that is what they want. And as soon as the majority believes it is time for a break, we will all take a break.

So:
WE ARE FREE AGENTS! 
But:
WE TAKE PAINS TO NOT GABBLE BUT INSTEAD TO LISTEN CAREFULLY, THINK PRECISELY AND SPEAK CLEARLY.

In other words: 
We mind our language. 
Everyone formulates concisely and, as a reward, is allowed to say all he/she wishes to say. 
Everyone listens carefully: the first sentence is just as important as the last sentence. 
Everyone relates to what the others said. 
Everyone strives towards being altero-centered, thinking in a focussed way. 
(“altero-centered” means being prepared to identify with another’s ideas and to continue from there). 
We are willing to question our certainties (truths). 
Because we do not want to be correct and see to it that our prejudices win. Instead, we want to share our knowledge and learn new things and change the world. 
We are allowed to be creative and are also courageous enough to actually say things that “basically” we would never have dared to say. 
We let ourselves be inspired and react positively to impulses. 
Instead of often saying “yes, but”, we prefer asking: “How could that be achieved?”.

Besides:
EVERYBODY IS EVERBODY’S BUTLER!

In other words: we help each other. For instance when we collect or process catchwords we then hang on the walls (perhaps with Stattys). We want to cluster and structure them together. Or when we re-arrange flipcharts. We will need volunteer “drivers” who are willing to take a certain role in the “documentation process”. (I took the term “driver” from mob-programming). Eventually, we will have a photo protocol of our results.

With these preparatory remarks, I hope to turn my presentations into something people enjoy, rather than “school”. After all, I do not wish to distribute my knowledge and convince others of my own prejudices. Instead, I want to inspire and give impulses. I want to make my audience thoughtful and once in a while I also want to annoy them a little bit ;-). This is all about questioning what is allegedly self-evident and about “breaking patterns”. It is also about instigating people to think beyond the rim of their own cups. Even if you have to break the cup in order to do so.

And since I am egoistical, I also want to benefit from my own work and learn as much as possible from my audience!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday October 2nd, 2017

QUESTIONS (NOT JUST) FOR ENTREPRENEURS

A no more quite “green” but still young entrepreneur in his Unterhaching office (1993 ?).

On June, 7th,
I asked several human and general questions.

And I supplemented them on October, 1st by writing a few theses about what it means to “be human”.

The current social consensus – if such a thing still exists – is something I understand less and less.

Today, let me ask a few questions concerning our “social market economy”. If that is something we here still want at all – because, for a long time, it has now only existed to a limited extent.

The economy is supposed to serve the people. Rather than vice versa. The same must be true for enterprises. They, too, are supposed to serve the people – instead of people serving the enterprise.

The Definition:
An enterprise is a social system that has an economic goal.
The goal of an enterprise is to create products and/or to generate a service. They develop structures and organize themselves. Enterprises have a structure that should actually serve the interest of the people and not work against it.

The Rule:
Common good is more important than profit maximization!
In a social market economy, the enterprises must realize a shared common-good economy. Bowing to the influence of lobbyists in order to increase your own profit is just as forbidden as externality (Externalität – costs being externalized). The principle that profit is privatized but losses are socialized cannot prevail!

And there are more questions:

  • Why are enterprises allowed to offer things that nobody needs? And why can they then artificially create the demand for it?
  • Why do enterprises that produce in the sectors armament and tobacco have the highest margins by far?
  • Why do concerns so often act criminally?
  • Why are criminal enterprises then even subsidized or socially accepted?
  • Why is it permitted that, for enterprises that work in the health sector (medicine, pharmacy,…), the shareholder value is more important than the mandate to make humans more healthy?
  • Why have so many enterprises (social systems with an economic goal) shed their human-based concepts and become systemically independent?
  • Why do we still have disciplinary bosses?
  • Why is work still measured in time units?
  • Why do even high-tech enterprises have punch cards?
  • Why is there no transparency to incomes?
  • Why do we need human source departments?
  • Why do top managers often earn many hundred times more than their employees?
  • Why do you need marketing if you offer high quality products?
  • What is the duty of marketing, other than manipulate people towards consuming?
  • What kinds of enterprises do we have if – with the help of lobbyism – they change the rules to their advantage and thus generate no end of damage to the common good?
  • Why is the “fear to lose your job” (without further consideration) a free ticket if you want to keep useless economic and social structures and if you want to destroy the environment?
  • Why is “change and modification” not at all possible if it threatens economic interests?
  • Why do they always point out how great the economic risks are, but ignore or question  the chances in all the discussions?
  • Why does the interest of the shareholders always have priority over the needs of the other stakeholders (employees, customers, providers, … )?
  • Why do so many people believe that privatization is the magic medicine that solves all problems?
  • Why are communal and/or state-owned enterprises still frowned upon and considered second-class enterprises, although, for example, many local providers show that they actually know what they are doing?
  • What is the practical advantage of “ethical fig leaves” like “CSR“ (Corporate Social Responsibility) or “BGM“ (Betriebsgesundheits-Management)?
  • Why do we not understand that enterprises, as social systems, are closer to being biological units than machines where, by turning the right screws, you can control and increase the turnout and profit to your liking?
  • Why is the consumer in theory the “protected holy cow”, yet in practice he is always more the “disregarded and hunted animal that consumes”?
  • Why is the stakeholder value still the end-all-be-all?
  • Why is everything just about growth and maximization?
  • And many more questions …

Basically, we all know what should happen. Isn’t it terrible that everybody knows it yet nobody is interested? Perhaps because money is the only metric unit that counts and that everybody believes in.

The highest human right in the elderly FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) is no longer the “dignity of man“; it has become “the protection of acquired possession“.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Wednesday September 13th, 2017

Entrepreneur’s Diary #123 – Appraisal Interviews

Evening Event BICCnight “it at media“ in the foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern. München, 22/07/2011 picture by Stephan Goerlich

For today’s entrepreneur’s diary, I chose a very banal topic: The Appraisal Interview.

Together with Wolf Geldmacher, I founded the InterFace Connection GmbH in 1984. Immediately, we had ten successful years as the producers of the software HIT-CLOU and quickly became the leaders on the market for text systems on UNIX in Europe. Because we were a great team. It was a true delight. In retrospective, those were the ten best years of my professional career.

Before we founded InterFace Connection, I had worked for Siemens and Softlab. I wanted to adopt all the things I found good in those enterprises in my own firm. It was quite a number of things. However, there were many more things that did not find my approval and I consequently wanted to handle them differently – those were the more important things.

Among other things, I am talking the chance to decide what tasks were delegated to whom and also of deciding what, when, how and where the work had to be done. At Siemens, the delegation of tasks was “from top to bottom”. That was not what I wanted. And during the first ten years, thanks to a high degree of self-organization and a huge amount of self-responsibility both of the team and the people at InterFace Connection, this worked (very) well.

Both Siemens and Softlab had things I liked. For instance the yearly appraisal interview. It gave you the chance to speak openly with the boss of a hierarchical system at least once every year. I found this a good idea and did the same at the Connection. Regardless of the fact that we always were an enterprise of “open doors” – which means that all employees could come and pour out their sorrows over me and Wolf at any time. Today, I still recommend the “open doors”. However, I no longer recommend the appraisal interviews. The reason is that you do not need them.

At InterFace Connection, this is what happened: after three months (shortly before your probation time ended), there was the first appraisal interview and then, always before a years was over, there was the next. Thus, depending on the time a new person was employed, the interviews took place all the year round. There was also a structure for the interviews. Looking back upon the last year was a considerable part of the interview, then came the exchange of feedback and eventually the negotiations of a new income. I always asked my employees to be well prepared and saw to it that I, too, was always well prepared.

Basically, it went quite well. Except that a few wise-cracks thought it was perhaps unfair. After all, the entrepreneurial context of one month might be totally different from another month. And this could mean that a rise in income based on the current situation might not be fair.

We reacted to this and re-scheduled all (!) the interviews to take place at the end of the year. This had considerable disadvantages and made the topic a sad one. The stress level in November and December climbed another notch. That caused lack of motivation and exhaustion. Nor did the direct comparison make things any easier. At the time, I did not yet understand that there is no such thing as justice (or: there are many definitions of justice).

Perhaps one could construct a “justice based on need”. But justice based on achievement is definitely nonsense.

Today, I believe you cannot set dates for interviews of any sort by following a rule. Let alone if the date is in the far-away future. No, you always have to have an interview close to the occasion, when you have a good reason or at least a current situation that allows or demands it.

Especially communication between humans always has to take place when the necessity arises. For instance, dissatisfaction must never be conserved until the yearly appointment in order to then open the frustration nozzle.

More money agreed upon in ritualized interviews is only the second-best thing. It is better to talk about distributing the success exactly at the time the success happened. And it would be best to let those decide who actually were the ones who made the success possible. At team level.

Wages are a difficult topic. I already wrote about it quite a few times and probably will soon again write about it. Because it is not really goal-oriented that, in Germany, you get more money every year until you are quite old – up to retirement – and, on the other hand, decreasing wages are not really possible during the active time of a work contract. Simply because the achievement curve, even of a programmer, cannot point upward all your life long. But I will write about this at another time.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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


I learned much from Rupert – also how to build syllogisms and vexilla (I took the picture before 2010).

My first introduction to building vexilla was through my teacher and friend Rupert Lay. He closely accompanied my learning and my development for far more than ten years.

Through him, I made the acquaintance of quite a number of the important managers and entrepreneurs who were active in the German economy in the 1970s and 1980s. I also learned to appreciate them and they taught me a lot.

It was also where I learned how many fundamentally important things were achieved in his seminars. In these seminars, you practice the ancient Greek dialectics based on the construction and analysis of syllogisms (Syllogismen) and on the dialectic technology of building vexilla (Fahnenbildung).

In the Projektmagazin – which, incidentally, I find quite a stroke of genius – there is also an article (one of them by Elisabeth Wagner) that is very much worth reading. It describes how, through building vexilla, you can develop ideas and solve problems in a very baffling way and very efficiently.

Basically, building vexilla is just a dialectic philosophical method and has been used in this discipline for thousands of years. As we know, philosophy tries to analyse, understand and give meaning to the world  and the human existence . In a nutshell, I would say it tries to answer the questions: why, for what reason, to what end, how? And that will also help you when you are looking for new ideas and solutions.

The combination of “agile” and “classic dialectics” is a stroke of genius – in almost all cases, it will render excellent results. This is how you can actually achieve “empowering of the people“.

Again and again, that was my experience when moderating start-ups. Especially for an agile team where the individuals work at eye-level, building vexilla is a fantastic tool for gaining new insights in a creative way. Once on a while, you will even mange to get rid of wrong (and often deeply rooted) prejudices.

Here is how you want to proceed in eight steps if you build a vexillum. I like applying them.

  • Formulate the desired theory and define the central terms of the theory.
  • Collect requirements that need to be met at first sight if you want agreement with a certain and exactly defined event or project. You want a list that is as finite as possible.
  • Definition of the terms you used and common agreement.
  • Evaluation of the requirements following the criteria: useful, necessary, sufficient.
  • In case of different opinions with respect to the quality or applicability of requirements, you need to look for alternatives until all the requirements get a consensus. It is permitted to delete requirements that turn out to be unnecessary.
  • Test if all requirements belong to one language game and determine the end function. 
Example for an enterprise: 
regulative – keep the common good out of danger; 
ethically – realize biophily, 
economical – improve the results
  • Test if all the requirements are met or if they can be met with acceptable cost. 
You want to keep in mind that only the actual realization of a project will show if your assumptions have been correct. Consequently, the vexillum can also contain requirements that make a later correction or omission of an earlier decision necessary.
  • In the ideal case, you will find a sufficient requirement as the result of building a vexillum. You will not always manage that. But the sum of necessary requirements that, taken together, will qualify as “sufficient” is also a satisfactory result.

If you wish to try the technology of building vexilla and need assistance, I will gladly help you.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

How not to practice innovations management.

It is quite possible that I still believed in institutions and administration when this picture was taken.

Bureaucracy and administration paralyze concerns and medium-sized enterprises. Agility gets lost, Taylorism flourishes. This is how all systems will, sooner or later, make their survival the central goal of their thinking, functioning and behaviour. The interests of the important stake-holders “customer” and “employee” will be suppressed, the enterprise will become inflexible and fragile.

Then the determining factors and environment will change, once in a while even disruptively. The “management” is totally surprised by what happens. A business model that used to be very reliable and beloved is suddenly questioned. There is no better one on the horizon. More and more helplessness grows. Everybody expects a miracle. Innovation and agility are praised as the saviour. Everything must get better.

As a consequence, nothing happens. Except that new programs that follow old patterns are created. The administration gets one or several additional staff departments. They will then be responsible for “change” or innovative management. The new world is now communicated by the central administration with lots of noise. The propaganda machine starts running. On a slide used by the director, you will, for example, see:

„The board identified priority areas to improve in 20xx to become the company we want to be.“

Then comes a list of innovations. As a general rule, you will find CSR (corporate social responsibility) and similar nonsense. Mostly, you also get something about performance or profitability. Once in a while, the customers are also mentioned: you want to become customer centred. Occasionally, they will also sing the praise of “new values” and a different “culture”. But above all, you will always find lots of buzzwords in these works. And that makes you wonder why expensive counsellors get so much money for such weak formulations.

The best case is if things that have been looked down upon for years suddenly become epiphany. I mean terms such as taking responsibility, eye-level, respect and appreciation. Agile and lean, openness and transparency are repeated in mantra fashion. Modern methods and informal communication are propagated. Except that nobody tells you how this is supposed to work. Neither is anybody keen on actually installing these concepts, because the system does not really want any of them. In fact, the system wants to establish and improve its own power. No matter what it costs.

I have come to that stage where I can relate numerous stories about how enterprises have become more and more bureaucratic and administratively complicated. On the other hand, I do not know a single instance where they successfully returned to the simple, agile and open enterprise.

That is the reason why, in social systems – be it enterprises or societies -, I no longer believe in transition or transformation towards less bureaucracy and more life. Basically, it cannot be done from the top, anyway – and they will not allow it from the bottom. Consequently, I will no longer waste my time and energy in old structures. Instead, I will only support concepts where something new is created. Innovation is creative destruction. As in evolution, new things will only happen when an old generation dies out and a new one evolves. That is just how it is.

Please understand my article as an optimistic message. All you have to do is have a little patience, then everything will work out just fine.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
Thursday February 23rd, 2017

Aphorism: HUMANS & LEADERSHIP

 

Many thanks to Christian&Daniel (© Visual-Braindump)

Two theses

(I)
If “hierarchical structures” dominate an enterprise, then a culture of “agile, digital, lean, open, social“ is not possible. There might be a few exceptions for start-ups founded by a private person, but they only prove that the rule is in general correct.

(II)
Human beings feel comfortable in social systems like enterprises if they experience, respect and appreciation and if they can take responsibility in a spirit of courage and joy. The counter argument that this cannot be true for persons who have been trained in obedience and dependence is not in accordance with my concept of humanity and consequently not valid for me.

I defend these two theses vehemently.

Two ideas

(I)

A good rule for entrepreneurs is

“Only employ persons of whom you believe they have at least the potential to do the job better than you yourself would be able to do it!“
I (almost) always stuck to this rule at “InterFace Connection”. And my experiences were very good. It is also true at Google and probably one of the factors that made this enterprise so tremendously successful.

(II)
If you have employees who, following (I) are “better” than their bosses, then how can a system and its agents come up with the idea that control “from the top”, central ideas, set rules, division of labour, set and structured processes and a formal systematized communication might be better for the enterprise and its stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, ..) than an agile self-organization of the teams and informal networks. Especially in times of rapid change!

Incidentally, there is also a method (or rather: a procedure or culture) called: “Kanban”. I believe that both theses and ideas are true for all areas where humans work together, be in as a software engineer or as an elderly care nurse.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 15th, 2017

Entrepreneur’s Diary #119 – Your Personnel Records

Ard Leferink for buurtzorg in Stuttgart at #fav17 (agile)..

Last week, on the Forum Agile Administration #fav17 in Stuttgart, Ard Leferink of buurtzorg was the Key Note speaker.

On the evening before, he had told me that buurtzorg has no HR-Department (human resource), just like they have no marketing department, no sales department, and, naturally, also no CRM System (Customer Relationship Management).

Well, I actually know a few companies that have no human resource department. As a general rule, however, those are small enterprises with a number of employees that does not exceed the two-digit scope. In the Netherlands alone, more than 10,000 people work for buurtzorg. Well, I guess that can be considered a little bigger, can’t it?

Yesterday, I discussed this with an entrepreneur I am good friends with. He immediately replied by asking: “So what do they do with their personnel records?“  To which my reply was the question: “What do you need personnel records for?“

I actually believed – and have believed for some time – that in an enterprise that is agile and based on trust, personnel records are as unnecessary as a personnel department, not so speak of a “director personnel”. For the administrative processes (paying the salaries, …), a list of employees with very little information would absolutely suffice. Everything else is unnecessary “overhead”.

But before I give you reasons for my opinion, I will describe for you all the things a personnel record consists of.

  • As a general rule, the personnel record is started when an employee is hired. That is old knowledge as it has been handed down over the centuries.
  • When a new employee is hired, a master data list is made. It contains all the data about the employee necessary for realizing the working procedure, such as his/her birthday, sex, social security and retirement number, religious belief, etc. The work contract is added and sometimes the (successful) application letter with the CV and diverse diploma (school, education, academic grade). And, of course, the protocols of one or more job interviews is filed here as well.
  • Then the personnel record is updated all the time by adding:
    • All extensions of the work contract;
    • All goal-oriented agreements;
    • Organisational changes,
    • Gratifications and social support (costs  for child-care);
    • All documentation pertaining continuing education;    
(the many “private educational measures” that, for instance, a software developer is doing all the time are not part of this);
    • Documentation of sickness and health insurance;    
In Germany, all employees who have been sick for more than three work-days have to bring a doctor’s testimony. To me, this looks like a method for creating work and money for doctors – I never knew a doctor who did not write such a testimony when asked by the patient,
    • Special events (change of marital status…) and activities (presentation, …) will also be written down.
    • Protocols of yearly evaluation interviews and all other relevant discussions;
    • Interim job references;
    • All “disciplinary” things such as misbehaviour and/or written warnings;
    • In former times, positive letters were also kept in the personnel record. For instance if a colleague received a special tax-free payment because of a jubilee (company employee) or the birth of a child. However, now that these are no longer tax-free, there is less motivation for the employers to pay any special gratifications.
    • Today, less agreeable data are also part of the personnel record. They suggest a strange concept of humanity. Because humans, too, are now considered a measured object. For instance, we find the results of strange tests (Score-Cards as results, for example, of the Reiss-Methode), as well as “psychological” reports about the employee’s personality and numbers that indicate his performance for the enterprise. I do not know if this is legal, but I know it is done.

(In some companies, they have agreements that state what may be added to the personnel records and what may not be therein. And the works committee controls in regular intervals).

If someone has been an employee for many years, then this report folder can become quite extensive. It might weigh a few kilograms. If you have a hundred employees, you need quite a bit of storage space. That is why you have to have a digital HR application. And, incidentally, you will also get quite some problems with “privacy protection“.

Because, by definition, IT systems are not secure. To be sure, the drawers with the personnel files in locked rooms were not very secure, either. I actually remember some creative employees who managed to get the keys. And I also remember a personnel file lying around on the desk of a “boss” overnight. But in those days that was not a problem.
In IT, you have to introduce processes that define who can read what under what conditions. It has to be documented. And again, you have one of those coffin nails that will do damage to an agile and slim enterprise and give you yet a little more bureaucracy and administration.

In other words – everything you do not really need is something you better avoid!

Incidentally, the dialogue with my friend continued. His reply to my question why you need personnel records was (after some hesitation):
“For writing references?“
Indeed. As we all know, in Germany the employer has to write a reference for an employee when he leaves (or whenever he wishes one). That reminded me of when and how I used to write letters of reference. Here is what I did:
First and foremost, I asked the employee to write down everything he did for the company and mark which of those things were important to him. Then I took this input and added my own knowledge and estimation, before finishing with one of those famous phrases taken from a book that lists all the relevant phraseology.

But I only ever took a look at the personnel folder when I needed a birthday for wishing someone many happy returns.

RMD
P.S.
For more articles of my entrepreneurial diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 15th, 2017

PM Camp Meeting 2017 – #pmcamp – Jan, 20th, 2017

It is certainly not breaking news, but next Friday, we will have our 2017 PM Camp meeting.

Once a year, the representatives of all organizational teams for PM Camps meet. This year, the organizational team Dornbirn (Eberhard, Marcus, Stefan, Roland), are the hosts. InterFace AG supports them logistically.

Consequently, representatives of the organizational teams for the PM Camps at Barcelona, Berlin, Dornbirn, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, München, Rhein-Main, Stuttgart and Zürich will meet on Friday, January, 20th, 2017 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Unterhaching InterFace AG building.

The PM Camp meeting is traditionally where strategic questions concerning the future of the PM Camp movement are discussed. Consequently, the goals of the meeting are:

  • Looking back:
    What was the development of PM Camps over the last year? 
Reports about format experiments in 2016.
  • Status Quo:
    Where are we now? What is CURRENTLY important for us?
  • Looking towards the future:
    What do we have to be careful about and what do we need to actively promote to make sure that the PM Camp movement continues to give relevant impulses for the PM scene on the whole?

I am telling you the date because I want to enable all friends of the PM Camp movement and visitors of PM Camps to voice their opinions and ideas during the PM Camp Meeting.

If you have suggestions that might impact the future of PM Camps, please do not hesitate to send me an email. I will collect all emails and introduce the ideas during our meeting.

I look forward to many impulses by and inspiration from you!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
On the evening before (Thursday, January, 19th, 2017), those who arrived early will meet for dinner at 7 p.m. at the Unterhaching Althaching restaurant. If you feel like meeting old friends, please come and join us.