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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weeks, I have seen that the employees of the public indoor swimming pool who were responsible for cleanliness have now been replaced by a service provider.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)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday October 3rd, 2018

BUSINESS Visualisation

THE BOOK by
Botta/Reinold/Schloss

Behind this really harmless title, you will find a truly exciting non-fiction book. I would call it a book for people between six and ninety who want to have more joy and success in life.

The sub-title

A tour guide for curious and visionary persons
already gives an idea about the book being something really special.

Special? Well, I read it and I would call it revolutionary. It is about a trip into a new world I very much love and cherish. It is a world full of creative and appreciative communication and of “living together”. And it leads into a world that will continue to change and grow.

Basically, it is not a book you will read, but more a book you will feel your way through. In an exciting and humorous way, the trip of a young lady whose name is Barbara (Babs) into an agile adventure is described. This trip brings her through the world of modern communication, beginning from listening and understanding and ending in a very rounded way via the creative when the results are documented.

For me, it is quite clear: communication is the basis for all kinds of “social systems”. And communication will work better if we make use of innovative formats (some of them are actually very old). Part of this concept is the use of images and haptic – as part of a new and very sympathetic mental frame.

During my activities, I am often surprised to see how many people simply ignore the “agile change” that takes place around them, or else they are almost overrun by it. The book, which was written as a co-operation project between Botta, Reinold and Schloß, could be a solid introduction to this “new world“ for non-experts. But also the “experienced agilest” will find quite a few innovative ideas.

I can guarantee that this book will remain exciting from the first to the last page. It is not one of those works where the message is clear after the first fifty pages and where said message is then artificially lengthened and repeatedly proven in a boring way. No – you will find something new on every page. It remains full of humour at all times and the joy of reading will never end.

I would wish that the authors were to write more books about more trips, because the wonderful world of modern communication is endless. The book really contains a lot of it – but naturally not all of it. Barbara (the hero an inspiration of the authors in real life) could easily take us with her on many more great trips.

That would be nice. But I already very much recommend the first trip. For entrepreneurs and (project) managers, the book is a must.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 31st, 2018

Modern Enterprises (Entrepreneur’s Diary #125)

 

This is my attempt at outlining a “modern enterprise”.

 

If you visit Antarctica, you will see the condition of our planet. We badly need change.

Because: The country needs new enterprises.

If we wish to improve our lives, perhaps even if we just want to survive, we will have to drastically change our individual behaviour and the fringe conditions of our society in politics, business, social and cultural areas.

🙁 In this article, I do not wish to write about social and cultural changes. In politics, I find the current tendencies towards demolition of the rule of law rather critical and dangerous. As far as business is concerned, I think we have now reached a perverse state of affairs that is really threatening. This is where we must start the process of change.

We managed to counter the destruction of our own bodies due to hard labour with the use of machines. Since the industrial revolution, we managed to drastically decrease the number of working hours per day.

Now the trend turns. Our growth ideology promotes an exploitation of both ourselves and others for stupid goals. The resulting burden is on our personal and social life (and on our families). By now, the process has reached a grotesque and fear-inspiring level (all-day care for small children, all-day schools for children and adolescents, several parallel jobs for grown-ups, full-time work for men and women, often in combination with hours of commuting that make the work day even longer, normal work on four or five days far away from home).

One would assume that it is the task of the state to change this situation. However, just like the unions, the state will not be able to do anything about it. Change is a task for all people who are concerned with the economy and who are responsible for enterprises – i.e. for many of us.

We must counterbalance the blind dogma of “productivity” with a new efficiency that promotes less waste (#nowaste) and more humanity. We must meet the wishes expressed by especially our young generation that say our work environments need some modification.

People are not here to serve the economy, but the economy is here to serve the people.

In this sense, our country needs new enterprises. There are quite a few communities and people who are concerned with the concept of #NewWork (#newwork) and who also try it out.

As early as in 1984, Wolf (Geldmacher) and yours truly, as the founders of InterFace Connection GmbH, aimed at establishing a really new and different enterprise. Unfortunately, we (and later I alone) only managed to do this during the first few years. Then the enterprise “grew up” and there were problems. Perhaps the time was not ripe, and/or I made too many mistakes.

Today, I at least feel competent to describe what such an enterprise would need to look like. I also know huge and small enterprises that show that modern enterprises, as described below, actually work quite well. This is true both for service providers (health, hotel, IT, mobility, care for the elderly and handicapped,… ) and the producing sector (bicycle technology, clothes, food, shoes, software, sports articles,…).

I would like to remind the reader that the following text describes many patterns that would be “ideal“ if realized. You will not find them too often in their purest form. It is already quite some progress if an enterprise leans towards the proposed direction.

I would also ask the kind reader to keep in mind that the following impulses are not supposed to be a textbook (which, with this topic, would have hundreds of pages). Instead, it is a lose document that wants to inspire a little bit and make you a little thoughtful!


 

Characteristics

Here are the outstanding characteristics of a modern enterprise

  • Common-good economy;
  • Networking idea;
  • Core competence and core business;
  • Customer and product centred;
  • Structure;
  • Processes;
  • Teams;
  • Infra-structure;
  • Requirements;
  • Culture and values;
  • Dynamics.

These are the important issues I would wish to discuss today!


 

Common-Good Economy

As demanded by the Bavarian Constitution, the priority of a modern enterprise must be to contribute towards the ” Gemeinwohl“. In other words, the products and services provided by an enterprise must, first and foremost, serve the people.

You will find something absolutely worth reading with Christian Felber, who is perhaps the most important protagonist of the common-good economy in the German-speaking world.


 

Common Good beats “Shareholder-Value“.

The common good principle limits entrepreneurial diversity and creativity.

Not everything that can be done is desired.

That is the price we have to pay for the common-good economy.

If you follow this principle, it is, for instance, hard to imagine how an enterprise that develops and produces weapons or mines can be common-good oriented. The service provided by private enterprises who “lease armies” or produce such things as “fighting robots“ – which is quite common today – cannot be in accordance with the common-good economy.

Less harmful examples for a clash between the common-good economy and products are the production of tobacco and e-cigarettes, or a farming concept that ruins the basis of its own existence (the soil and the country) in a predictable and sustainable way. I could make a long list of examples for existing misuse.

However, common-good economy not only takes the customers into consideration. It also considers other stakeholders, such as the employees and providers. The exploitation of employees violates the principle just as much as does the extortion of providers.

Also, in a common-good economy, the balance of “extremities” must be given. It contains and enumerates all the damage an enterprise does to its environment during the production process. The waste of water caused by a cheap production or the pollution of living space through wastewater are good examples.

However, damages caused by the products you make are also part of the extremity balance:
Example: If pre-defined threshold values for cars have been confirmed during examination but if they are then ignored and significantly higher when the cars are actually driving (exhaust scandal), then this is not simply fraud, but a huge damage in terms of the extremity balance by those enterprises that produce and are responsible for the cars.

Social damage caused by the enterprises (along with positive effects, if there are any) are also part of the extremity balance.

Examples: Damage done by enterprises if they grant credit to people although they know full well that those people cannot serve them. Manipulating people towards buying nonsense products (so-called marketing), making grown-ups addicts of gambling and children addicts of sweets, and much more of the same kind that happens every day.

Modern enterprises can follow the common-good principle!!!


 

The Idea of Networking

The networking idea means that an enterprise is willing and capable of promoting a special “added value“ to a number of cooperating enterprises, rather than wanting to develop highly complex system all by itself.

Partnership on the market beats dominating the market.

Example: The goal of a modern enterprise should not be to completely develop and produce an electronic car. Instead, it should provide an important part.

In general, you will want to say.
P (partnership) beats S (superiority)!

This is how, probably, dynamic alliances of small enterprises can make “better products“ that might well be complex and satisfy the basic needs of humans. Yet they can at the same time be sustainable and in harmony with the common good. In other words, they need not be detrimental to other people or, as is common today, to all of us.

Without – as is the practice of the huge concerns – manipulating the customers in advance and telling them what they have to need and then selling them those things.


 


Core competence and core business

There is a clear competence based on which a clearly defined service is offered or an actual product is developed or produced. In this business model, we need modern virtues such as self-restriction and the focus on your own strengths.

Example: An enterprise focuses on the development of electric motors (or perhaps even just an important sub-competence like the necessary software) or (rather than and) the efficient production of the entire motors.

Concentration and focussing beat “do-it-all-yourself“.


 

Customer centred and product centred

The customer and the product must be the centre of all entrepreneurial considerations. Consequently, all employees must work together towards one goal.

If you have a service enterprise, the person who receives the service must be the focal point of all creativity.

Examples: In an enterprise that offers home-care, the people you are assisting must get the optimal support and care. In a hospital or hotel, everything must be about the guests getting well soon or feeling absolutely comfortable. An enterprise that, for example, helps a medium-sized enterprise to cope with all the problems that can arise if you use IT, the service must give the customer time for his core business (the round-the-clock-worry-free solution).

Similarly, an enterprise that makes a product must make sure that all employees work towards making the product even more perfect on a permanent basis (functionality) and nicer (design) and easier on the eye (emotion), simpler, more efficient, less costly, etc.

Examples: You want to develop the electric motor for the low-volt sector, the best gear hub for the bicycle, the best e-velo for travelling, the best pair of shoes for making it easier to stand and walk in. Or to produce new e-cars by combining the simplest and best components available on the market.

If ALL employees in an enterprise are enthusiastic about a core competence and willing to work towards it – then true innovation will happen. The positive consequences are that the employees will identify with the enterprise in a healthy way and that being an active part of the enterprise (often simply called work) will give them courage and joy. That is what a modern enterprise needs in order to survive.

And this is how the customers can get so fascinated by a product that they recommend it in such a way that makes marketing (which basically should be banned) and sales promotion (the very word!) obsolete.

A shared enthusiasm for what you offer will move mountains.


 

Structure

I use the word “structure” as in “organizational structure”. I no longer use the word “organization“, because a modern enterprise organizes itself intuitively. They no longer need disciplinary bosses and an organigram that describes the organization.

A modern enterprise has no hierarchy. There are no panels such as directorate or work council. The legally binding positions of the enterprise (director or chairperson) are more representatives than decision makers.

All teams have a maximum size and are self-organized. They are well connected, interact directly and learn from each other. They are also responsible for their communication with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, …).

All decisions are team decisions. The teams are responsible for guaranteeing quality and time of delivery, as well as efficiency and further development.

Depending on the size of the enterprise, there might be a (small) back office. Possibly, some value adding teams are necessary in a direct or indirect way. Persons who mostly achieve the added value indirectly, however, will not give pre-defined requirements. Instead, they will give impulses and inspiration, or, in times of crises or problems, they help with actual moderation or support.

There are no main departments such as strategy, marketing, sales, human resources, product planning. The same is true for entrepreneurial processes and pre-defined methods. Neither are there any central services that get out of control and suddenly set their own standards. Simply because everyone uses their brains and actively participates. And because the services and products have a quality that sells by itself and because the promotion by those who bought it and tell the tale creates more demand than can be met.

Local & flexible beats central & inflexible, iteration beats planning!


 

Processes

I use the word “process” as in “process organization”. As before, I no longer use the term “organization“ because modern enterprises control themselves intuitively.

In a modern enterprise, you have no processes. Something that worked in practice and well-trained behaviour will always dynamically be adapted to change. Rules and regulations are not necessary, because the idea underlying every employee’s activities is their knowledge, their experience and their mental concepts. They all want to achieve the best goal – the best service for the customer or the best product. Social interaction is determined by values, rather than rules.

Common sense and intuition will beat processes and rules!


 

Teams

They realize the achievement of an enterprise, which means they render the service or make the products the enterprise thrives on. All employees in the teams must know and be competent in the core competences of the enterprise.

Example: There was a time when google only employed people who could actually program. That included administrative and managerial jobs.

Besides the explicit added value, all employees and team members also take responsibility for others

and for all the factors that make success possible.

Example: In a software team, everybody can program. Each team member takes responsibility for important fringe issues such as quality control, configuration, delivery on time, customer interaction,… on top of his original duties. This is how all competences and talents can be used for filling different roles that will contribute towards the success of the team either after mutual agreement or without even having had to talk about it.

Depending on the size of the enterprise and the challenges, it is possible that, apart from the teams that directly cause the added value, others will be necessary for the indirect achievement of added value.

Example: There might be service and moderation teams. The moderation teams are made up of particularly experienced employees with moderation competence. They can help if a team has problems or if a team becomes too big and cannot really cope with how to divide itself. However, their support should always be restricted to moderation and perhaps help towards finding solutions.

The teams are the central elements of the enterprise!


 

Infra structure

The entire enterprise is part of one intranet (software system). Said system provides a wiki or social media system. However, I would not call it “knowledge management“ (the term has been used up). Instead, I would call it a common basis of communication.

Example: A system such as Google+ is very mature and offers all you need. If you have a bigger enterprise, you might consider customizing or even develop your own system. If you have a small firm, I would recommend you take one of the many systems available.

All members and teams contribute towards the content.

Example: A team found potential for improvement at the tag and tells other teams about it.

Ideally, the system should be available to all stakeholders (customers, providers, sympathizers and the competition), usually with reading and comment enabled. Because transparent systems are an advantage for all parties concerned.

In addition to the system, you organize meetings (face2face) at regular intervals and with a reasonable format, for instance barcamps. Basically, the internet only makes sense if you also see each other once in a while.

For the infra structure, the following is true: It always has to be a means to an end, rather than its own end. It must be capable of adapting to changed needs quickly and be absolutely simple. So here is what we need:

No more than the amount we really need and as much as necessary!


 

Requirements

From the business point of view:
The only element we know from classic enterprises and that has to remain intact in a “modern enterprise“ is the strict adherence to business control principles. All teams must have positive balance sheets. If a team has problems, it has to either solve them or ask other teams for help. Budget deficits are only tolerated for short time intervals. If they do not disappear quickly, the team will be suspended.

Any surplus will be used for financing the (low) infra-structure costs. A considerable part of the profit

remains with the team, the team members decide the quota and extent to which profit is distributed among the team members. Dependent on the individual situation, a suitable part remains with the enterprise or/and with the shareholders.

Example: If a team has a problem, for instance with coming up with a decision or with dividing itself into smaller parts, they will contact the moderator. That is also true if a team notices that it has technological problems or quality deficits. The team will choose its own moderator.


 

Structure:

The size of a team will be mutually agreed upon. Depending on the task or challenge, I would say a team should be between seven and fifteen employees.

As the situation requires, a moderator should be able to work for between ten and twelve teams. If you have a small enterprise, for instance only one team, then members of the teams will also play the moderator role.

Example: The enterprise Buurtzorg (The Netherlands, Home Care) has 1,000 teams with ten employees in each team (i.e. 10,000 employees), for which fifty moderators are totally adequate. They have many teams that never need a moderator and some teams that often need a moderator.

If you have founders (which, naturally, is only relevant for a young enterprise, since after a few decades the problem solves itself biologically), then they can, of course, be moderators, impulse givers and inspiratory, as well as achievers.

Example: At InterFace Connection GmbH (which was the predecessor of InterFace AG), I did consultant work for other companies and at the same time contributed towards building up CLOU/HIT (”product owner“).


 

Knowledge:

All experience is shared. This should at least happen online and, if we are talking important experience, also in person (peer2peer or in a barcamp).

Example: Best Practice concepts discovered by one team will be published for all teams on a shared website.

Merkantile clarity, the willingness to support each other and the absolute readiness to share all knowledge are indespensable requirements!


 

Values and Culture

Similar to the entrepreneurial culture, values are also best described by stories. It makes sense to remember the culture onion  (Kulturzwiebel).

Example: There are enterprises where the employees share the belief that all they do and all their decisions should be agile, slim, transparent, pragmatic, professional, uncomplicated and similar things. They also believe that listening is just as important as – or maybe even more important than – talking. The values they live are eye-level and respect. Self-organization, self-responsibility, participation and error tolerance are normal behaviour. They all share the basic assumption that all form of indoctrination can be avoided if you use your common sense and emotional intelligence. And, last not least, they all believe that the “heroes” that every social system will inevitably create will turn exceptional employees into models.

In summary, one could say that a modern enterprise is a social system with a respectable goal that masters the art of not producing system agents. Because diversity beats simple-mindedness. Together, the employees know and understand more than the “boss“ alone can ever know or understand.

Thus, “corporate identity” will not be decreed from above, but instead develops mutually, just like the future is also shaped by mutual agreement. This is possible in a modern enterprise. Bureaucratic detours like holacracy, („Holokratie“ – in my opinion, the concept is crazy) must be avoided. Because the cooperation in teams and in an enterprise must not be dominated by bureaucrazy.

In a modern enterprise, it must be clear that there is no control through set goals and that nobody tries to motivate anybody by explicitly holding out a prospect of rewards by granting material favours (extrinsic motivation). Both measures will not work and in the end they will be more detrimental than beneficial.

The employees are motivated because they experience an environment where they can work with courage, joy and confidence in a self-organized and self-responsible way. This is how an intrinsic motivation will grow. And because they know that they can and will be successful together and that, at the end of the day, the success will be shared fairly and in a self-organized way wherever possible.

In former times, I often invoked the term “fear-free zone” as something an enterprise must realize. Today, I have progressed and now I demand a “zone that leaves room for unfolding“.

If you want to have it, you will, first and foremost, need absolute mutual appreciation of everybody’s value. It must be lived and shown by the models. Most likely, something else must be added to this element, for instance maybe that the expectations are not ”too trivial“.

Culture and values are the “operating system” of a modern enterprise.


 

Dynamics

Since the world changes at an enormous pace and is also perceived as more complex than in former times, there must be a high willingness to change in a modern enterprise. The wisdom of an enterprise should ideally consist of the wisdom of the masses. The right questions are asked before you start working on the solutions.

Nothing is as constant as change!


 

Utopia?

Some readers will probably not understand this article and judge it as utopian. Freedom makes them insecure because they know another world and feel comfortable with this other world. They prefer clear statements by third parties, instead of accepting responsibility.

That has also been my experience with some of the people who started out with me. They considered my ideas utopian. Regardless, my experience with self-organisation and self-responsibility were always excellent.

There is another argument that, sadly, I have to accept:
Huge success, exceptional growth and the thus achieved enormous dimensions will corrupt an enterprise and its culture.
It is perhaps some kind of entrepreneurial natural law.

Well, all I can do is provide a nice counter-argument and a solution:

I notice all the time that huge enterprises that had medium-sized beginnings work better than the concerns I know.

And perhaps there is a counter-measure: You could decree that companies that grow too fast have to divide into smaller ones according to their core competences and determined by the teams that were built inside the company?

Today, I know a number of firms that show that it really works and that you can be very, if not fear-inspiringly, successful with utopian ideas. You can really earn a lot of money with this kind of company for your employees and for your enterprise.

Thank you very much for living and having discussions with me.

RMD

P.S.
I often and gladly give presentations on this topic. I always defend my theories. Strangely enough, though, I seldom have to do a lot of defence work to do. Instead, I usually get a lot of consent and support.
🙂 To my surprise (or not), this support often comes from very conservative leadership personalities.

P.S.1
For more articles of my entrepreneurial diary, see: Drehscheibe!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 10th, 2018

What Tools do Leaders Need?

Roland explains SCRUM. Not SCRUM tools! It has been some years.

A short time ago, I read the article that was supposed to answer the question:

”What tools does a product owner need?“

It was a long article. Quite a few reasonable things can be found in said article and it is not bad. Much of it sounded thought through.

However, the more of it I read, the less comfortable I felt. Because somehow or other, it did not seem to be correct. To be sure, tools can certainly be useful once in a while. But today, we use so many tools that, more often than not, we do not see the wood for all the trees.

Consequently, I asked the “tool question” for other white collar jobs from my professional world:

“What tools does a scum manager need, a project manager, a quality manager, a requirement engineer or a leader in general, who today is also called manager and who even needs to be know “digital leadership“?
(You all know my reservations about all these buzzwords you can formulate as you wish by using the words digital, smart, manager, leadership, project and others of the kind.)
And I feel confirmed that we believe too much in tools. They are not really all that useful and they mostly distract us from what is really important – which is hard enough to find.

As a next step, I tried to remember what role tools have had in my life. I can no longer remember the tools I worked with when I built sand castles. At school and at university, however, I used (my) handwriting and books. In some few cases, there was a pair of compasses, a ruler, a slide rule, a logarithmic table and, once, the typewriter (when I wrote my diploma thesis).

The bicycle was extremely important – without it, I would not have been able to reach the school. Yes – I almost forgot – in mathematics, my common sense was also necessary.

Immediately after my intermediate exams, in the early 1970ies, I started programming for Siemens as a working student (at TUM, it had been more like playing games). I became a software engineer.

My tools were programming forms and paper. I also had one of the famous Siemens pressure pens the secretaries were always so reluctant to hand over. The form had 80 columns that were printed following the assembler syntax.

Incidentally, the assemblers for the Siemens Series 300 process computers were called “prosa”.


🙂 Warning: the following part is for experts, for instance programmers.

If I remember correctly, then the first 8 columns on the form were for the “jump marks”, also called “labels“. Then there were special columns where, among other things, you marked if the left or the right accumulator was to be used. The last 8 columns (numbers 73 to 80) were for numbering. When starting a new program, you were well advised to execute it in a hundred steps, which left room for extra additions. Column number 72 was for the start of the next card. This, or something like it, was how you did it.

With the pressure pen, I drew some sorts of “process images” onto the white paper, and then I transferred these into orders on the form. Then, some assistants transferred the form into punch cards. There was one punch card for each line. The line was typed twice. First the holes were punched and then, during the second phase, the punched card was controlled. This is how the program was created as a series of punch cards.

A box or at least a rubber band for the punch cards were also important tools. Later, I was also given a portable punching machine, because I was allowed to patch corrections when seeing a customer. This was a huge distinction and I was truly proud of it.

Additionally, I had another tool of a totally different category. It was the thin and very well-structured Siemens calendar (for the OFK, the upper leadership, it was leather bound).

That was all and it was totally sufficient as far as tools are concerned. I still remember how, at the time, I bought a luxury tool from my private funds. A Texas Instruments wonder calculator. But that was more of a hobby and not really necessary – which is why I had to pay the approximately 600 DM from my own pocket. But my enthusiasm, and apparently also my income, were huge enough to cover it.

This calculator offered the octal (numbers 0 – 9) the se-decimal, and also the hexa decimal system (with numbers 0 – F – where numbers 0 – 9 were extended with A, B, C, D, E and F) and also made all the transformations. It was occasionally a useful tool, but above all it was something you could really show off with.

Please note what goes without saying: 
Of course, all calculators were based on the binary system and could only compute zeros and ones. They used the binary system (0 and 1). The first “dumps” were only zeros and ones and we needed to be able to read them.

Since in the binary system the notation tends to become rather lengthy, they quickly established bigger units that consist of two half-words, the bytes. For the process calculators, the “word” had 2 times 3 bits (so the byte still had three digits), whereas most other systems had the basic unit 4 Bit (= 1 Byte). The languages with the three bits were octal, those with the four bits se-decimal.

Consequently, the dumps became smaller and, depending on the assembler, consisted of the numbers 0 to 7 or 0 to 9, extended by the letters A – F.
To this day, I remember that one of the assemblers I programmed had the se-decimal word 07FF (binary expression: 0000 1110 1111 1111) for the machine command “release control”. I forgot everything else.


🙂 Here comes more for managers.

Later, I replaced the Siemens calendar with an “Löhn Kalender” It was a small ring binder (also rather expensive) with many compartments that more or less had the functions of today’s outlook. You could buy it in plastic or real leather. It did not take long before I had the leather version. This tool supported my lengthy metamorphosis from being a programmer to being a manager/entrepreneur.

There was a huge disadvantage to the “Löhn” calendar: it could not talk. Consequently, I missed appointments in my life as a manager because I was so fascinated with my work as a programmer that I never realized how quickly time had flown.

This is why I did not remain faithful to the “Löhn” calendar and substituted it with an electronic assistant. It was a Texas Instruments device that used to be part of the Electronic Organizer family (Personal Organizer).

Its functions were fewer than those of the “Löhn”, but it could make a wake-up noise. Thus, I always heard it when, shortly before my appointments, it gave a bleep, which meant that my arrival on time for my appointments was drastically improved. And if you compare the price with that of my TI calculator for octal, decimal and se-decimal calculations, the small miracle system was almost cheap.

Incidentally, these devices were later combined to become the, also new, mobile telephone. For me, the mobile phone and the organizer are something like the father and mother of our modern “Smart Phone“.

So much on my own tool history, which later continued with the use of my laptop, airbook and tablet.

What tools does a leader need?

This question is about as silly as asking: “what tools does a cook need?”, without mentioning what the cook is supposed to cook. The only answer I can think of is: “his common sense and probably a kitchen knife”.

The correct question would be what tools will a person need in order to prepare a certain meal. If I want to feed my guests cheese fondue, then this is totally different from potato dumplings or fried chicken or raspberry ice cream or goulash out of the tin! If I want cheese fondue, then the most important ingredient is high-quality cheese with the right taste (which is also true for Swabian Käs-Spatzen). And the right wine. And the right white bread. As you see, it is not the tools that make the difference, but the ingredients!

Now you might counter that you cannot really compare a leader personality with a cook. Because, after all, the latter is a craftsman who, in the end, will serve something tangible and hopefully reasonable.

So we are looking for a job that comes closer to that of a leading personality? The pastor comes to mind. It is probably a better fit, because you do not get a result you can eat. The same is true for the manager.

SO: What tools does a pastor need?

I would say:
The bible and his spectacles if he cannot see too well any more. But perhaps, today, he has a bible download on his tablet. And if he needs an excel, then he made a mistake. Just like the leader.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 23rd, 2017

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN (Presentation)

On October, 26th, 2017 I gave a presentation at the Augsburg “Hotel am Alten Park” in the Frölichstr. 17 for the Bayerische Akademie für Verwaltungs-Management GmbH / Bayerische Verwaltungsschule (BVS) at 2 p.m. – it was the final presentation of the event MQ4.

I spoke about –

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN 

– where I wanted to and was supposed to answer the following questions:

What is agility – yesterday, today, tomorrow? 
What do organizations need in order to react to change in the correct way (and with due speed)? 
What concepts, methods, tools and competence is the idea based on?

The presentation was recorded on film, please see below. My memories of the presentation are not exclusively positive ones. For me, the day was not an easy day:

Motto of the institution (according to the Website): 
Health, education, care, friendliness towards guests and spirituality are the main agenda.

The event took place at the hotel am alten park, which is part of a huge building complex that belongs to the  evangelischen diakonissenanstalt augsburg (diako).

In this “deacon-house”, as we used to call the hospital in our childhood, my father had died on a grey late autumn night in 2008. At the time, I had heard about him being admitted into the hospital in the late afternoon and immediately driven to the hospital in Augsburg by car.

My father was poorly, but according to the doctors, his condition was not life-threatening. Consequently, I drove back home at night – on a dark autumnal motorway with snow storm – to Riemerling. And when I arrived at home, I heard that my father had died.

Now, roughly nine years later, I was again standing in front of this building – and had to enter. This is how my presentation visit to Augsburg became a sad trip into my past. I remembered that I had been robbed of my totally intact tonsils in exactly this “Deakon House” in 1960 because I had suffered from several colds in the winter of 1959/1960. I remembered that, at the time, I fought against the operation, but naturally I lost and still suffer from the consequences (see my IF-Blog article). And I remembered much more that I had experienced in this town. Before my presentation, I had a wild emotional bob-rally through all the years of my childhood in Augsburg between 1955 and 1969.

As I watched this video, all my memories were refreshed. In my own perception, my presentation was occasionally a little lacking in concentration. Considering my personal experiences, I can forgive myself for this and will publish the presentation regardless, because it looks rather authentic to me.

However, my less than perfect emotional situation was not the only reason for the perhaps missing clear line. On the way to Augsburg, I had also considerably restructured my well-prepared presentation. The reason for this was that I had spent intense study time with Bitcoin and Blockchain during the preceding week, which had led me to some insight that had been totally new to me before.

I had not understood (and still cannot understand) why they demand and want to realize things on the internet that are rigorously withheld in real life.

Why can you participate in profound activities, conduct transactions and even own money on the internet while you are well camouflaged behind identities? Mind you, you can do all this totally anonymously! On the other hand, this is exactly what they deny you more and more in real life.

Or are there good reasons after all? Reasons that justify that it is still possible on the internet? For me, that is a very central question!

Bitcoin is a good example how, due to wrong requirements and poor execution, the wonderful idea of “democratic” money was perverted and became a criminal betting and fraud system. “Well meant but poorly executed” – as I see it, this is how you can describe the phenomenon.

Now I am eight weeks on into blockchain and bitcoin and thus can better explain my reservations and ask my questions with more precision than eight weeks ago.

I also wanted to point out in my presentation that we are again in times of a grandiose digital change. It is no longer about human-machine, but about machine-world.

Let me describe it: I have been programming since 1969. Initially it was basically about algorithms and technologies such as compilers, operating systems, batch runs, transactions, data transfer and databases, along with a few applications.

Then almost everything was about the interface between humans and applications (human-machine). That brought us from the punch card to the tablet and from typing to voice and gesture recognition. There was a virtual explosion in the number of applications.

Today, it is all about autonomous systems that often no longer need an interface with humans. Instead, they focus directly on the “environment”. That also explains why sensor technology explodes, making things possible that were held to be impossible until now.

All those things together were a little much for one short presentation. Consequently, I am quite happy that the presentation actually was more or less a success. Because “not feeling too well and free from the manuscript” is twice as hard for an orator. There were a few moments when I noticed how I did not really concentrate. If you watch the video, I would kindly ask your forgiveness.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Yesterday, we had our yearly InterFace AG Christmas Party. As always, it was a nice party – with lots of music, dancing and communication. We were in the Rock-Café in the heart of Munich.

On the preceding evening, they asked me to say a few personal and Christmassy words. I worked very hard on formulating something nice and I presented it yesterday evening. You can find the text under the picture.

I took my inspiration from ALTO, Knud Johanssen’s saxophone. It accompanied us beautifully during our performance on October, 22nd, 2017 at the Nuremberg DOAG.

Here is what ALTO – Knud Johannssen’s saxophone, said.

Here are my ideas on Christmas 2017. I gave it the title:
WRONG or RIGHT?


It started with my early childhood. My educators wanted to make a perfect human of me. I was to be a model person! Every mother’s pride. I was to be nice, honest, obedient, polite, well-combed at all times; I was to stand upright at all times (“do not stand like a hunchback”), as well as talk in a loud, distinct and correct way – but only when asked. And, above all, I was to be a good student.

With many of their attempts, my suppressors failed. But nevertheless, it was far from nice for me. And what had been required of me certainly marked me for life.

Later, I wanted to be a “good” person, a diligent employee, a quick (and error-free) programmer, a loving husband, an understanding father, a top manager and a super entrepreneur.

Perfection was my motto. I wanted to be a “professional”, not a “dilettante”.
In other words – I wanted to do things “right”!

Then I understood that it is not so important to do everything “right”.
It is much more important to do “the right” things!

My reasoning is simple:
What happens if I do the “wrong” things totally “right”? Can’t it easily end in a catastrophe?

🙂 Consequently, I am now glad that I remained a dilettante through my entire life. Because that means it is not so bad if I occasionally did or do the wrong things!

But who knows what is “right” and “wrong”?

I live in the NOW. More often than not, I do not know if what I did YESTERDAY was “right”. So how am I supposed to know TODAY what will be true TOMORROW?
Today, everybody talks about TRANSFORMATION and INNOVATION. People suffer under the COMPLEXITY of life (it does not matter if said complexity is imagined or real). COMPLEXITY does not make it any easier to decide whether something is “wrong” or “right”. As I see it, the only way to deal with COMPLEXITY is PARTICIPATION. And the same is true for TRANSFORMATION and INNOVATION.

So:
The only way to find the “right”, i.e., the nice way is if we try to find it together. As many persons as possible must contribute by giving their hearts and their wisdom. We need to share knowledge and pull at one string.

As an inspiration, here is a small anecdote:

In 1985, everybody who was important in music met in order to record the song “We are the world” for Africa. At the door of the music studio, they had hung a note that said: “Please leave your ego out!”

Well, that takes us back to right or wrong. Because, of course, you need to contribute by bringing the “right” parts of your ego. You only have to leave the “wrong” parts back out.

So here I stand feeling gratitude and love and wishing you a nice holiday, a good start and a successful year 2018! Thank you for everything, in love!

WE ARE THE WORLD!

If you feel like it, you are invited to hum and/or sing. Because the message is:
DO NOT LAMENT, JAM (= TOGETHER)!


Now I wish everybody and especially those who are in some way or other connected to InterFace AG a wonderful and nice Christmas and all the best for the New Year 2018!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

October, 22nd was a rather challenging yet nice day for us (Christian, Knud and yours truly). We met in Nuremburg in the morning because we wanted to try something in the evening. The idea was to “communicate in a really creative manner”. We simply wanted to say a few things that would remain with us and be sustainable.

We, that is Christian Botta, Knud Johanssen and me. We met in a small apartment at the Nuremburg congress centre. Because on this Wednesday, we wanted to star in a small show in the evening. Consequently, we had to practice a little bit.

Before that day, we had met exactly three times. We had worked on the idea and then developed the content and the dramaturgy in a “shared document”, because that seemed the best way to overcome the space-time-distribution.

Starting at 11:00 hours, we practiced “jamming”. It took until 16:00 hours, then we relaxed. At 17:00 hours, the time had come: as the finishing number of the DOAG Yearly Conference #DOAG17 “soft tracks”, we went onstage. With “creative communication”.

On this photograph, you can see us after hard work:
Christian,  our “host” Dietmar Neugebauer, Knud and yours truly
(from left to right).

But before that, the motto was:

“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and above all 
“Do not lament, instead jam!“



Here is the premiere of November, 22nd, 2017.

With and by us: (man with the pen), (with ALTO, the alto saxophone, or rapper and ventriloquist). And I ( – at the “speech“) was also part of the team!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is the link to the video:
https://youtu.be/JZPp_OCiZPU
And for those who prefer reading about it I will publish my texts in my next post.