Roland Dürre
Wednesday October 12th, 2016

Would you like a presentation :-) ?

Meine Wenigkeit mit Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein im IF-Forum.

Together with Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein giving a talk in the IF-Forum.

It is one of my goals in life to share my experience and the knowledge I accumulated and that sometimes took me a huge effort acquiring with others – especially with young persons. Consequently, I often let myself be invited to present speeches and be part of dialogues – both in the classic surrounding and in the form of sessions at barcamps and similar events.

Currently, you can book me for the following topics.

On “leadership“:

What exactly is – leadership in an enterprise?
Sub-title: “People in the enterprise – it is all about culture“

A short time ago, this was presented at AMOS (Allianz) in front of more than 50 internal project managers.

On “digitalization and/or digital change“:

What is often forgotten when people talk digitalization.

Sub-title: “Potential effects on society and humans“

Or alternatively:

Digital Transformation – Paradise or Hell?
Sub-title: “The brave new world from the perspective of the entrepreneur, IT pioneer, blogger, father and biker“

I will give this presentation at the DOAG yearly conference in Nuremberg in November, as well as for an SW agency I know well during a “meet-up”.

On “SW development“:

“How we followed the principle of SCRUM in 1984 – even though at the time SCRUM did not even exist.
Sub-title: “How to lead a software team – answer: you do not lead a software team”

Given for a few smaller SW enterprises/start-ups.

On “payment“:

“We do not want to work, we want to make money!“
Sub-title: “How to be courageous and reap joy and success“.

Presentation for start-ups and freelancer. Delivered a few days ago at the PMCAMP BERLIN (a true pleasure).


These presentations are just a snapshot – as of October, 12th, 2016. Of course, the content undergoes change all the time, because matters, too, change all the time these days.
Feel free to pick one.
My presentations are for free wherever they serve a good purpose (students, universities, non-profit associations and the like). Whenever I speak for a system that hopes for an added value through my presentation, I ask for remuneration that correlates with the expected added value.

Digital Transformation and New Mobility – Paradise or Hell?

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

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

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

“Civil Society Initiative with Current Topics at the Lederstubn“

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


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

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

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

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

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday June 12th, 2016

Project Peace – Jolly!

Earlier this year, Jolly and I started the project PEACE. The video you can watch below is a wonderful result of our kick-off meeting.

It is a little longer than 61 minutes for you to absolutely enjoy. You will get positive inspiration and many impulses. So why don’t you take a little time and one of several beloved partners and just watch it? Find a comfortable position and relax in front of the screen.
You really want to totally relax – for those of us who like their alcohol, why not with a glass of red wine?

Because Jolly is really an exceptional person and first-class mentor. Consequently, his seminars and presentations are the reason why many people have become happier and more successful persons. I am one of them.

The project PEACE is the most ambitious I was ever involved in. We are at the very beginning and what we need is friends, partners and supporters.

I will also constantly write in the IF blog about our progress in terms of ideas, concepts and activities of the project PEACE. So far, all I know about it is that I never did anything more aspiring. For me personally, it is the greatest possible challenge.

The next thing I want to do is publish my kick-off presentation in the IF-blog!

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 24th, 2016

Project PEACE – Thursday, April, 28, 2016 – IF Forum

On Thursday (April, 28) at 18:00 hours, yours truly and Jolly Kunjappu will start our project PEACE. We look forward to welcoming our guests.

»Jolly Kunjappu – »Jumbo‘s first birthday. Celebrate your life.« Acryl und Wachskreide auf Leinwand

»Jolly Kunjappu – »Jumbo‘s first birthday. Celebrate your life.«
Acryl and wax crayon on canvas

On this day, we will “let the ideas flow freely”, give impulses and try to inspire “the nice persons” we like so much. We want to stir your desire to question all those things that go without
We want to promote your willingness to constructively work towards the necessary big changes in our society and way of life and in doing so make the initial situation a little better for a future that we can actively be a part of.

It is more important to act than to talk!
On this evening, Jolly and I want to bring something into motion and then, together with you, develop ideas as well as think about what we could do.
🙂  (Perhaps initiate a snowball system for peace and transformation?)

This is how we want to learn from our friends. We want to win insight and work towards our own enlightenment 2.0.
🙂  Indoctrination and religious wars are things we neither like nor wish to practice, because we are not missionaries!

Basically, PEACE is simply our central metaphor for a necessary change, because peace has a three-fold impact: on every one of us personally; in our connections with the world we live in and consequently our environment; and, of course, also in our relations between individuals and collectively between nations and all kinds of societies of our wonderful world.

And without PEACE, a happy and content life is not imaginable.

For me personally, the project PEACE is extremely important. As of now, it has highest priority. It is to become the last big project of my life, which is why, in years to come, I want it to become my central topic. In order to make this happen, it is important for me to have the support of you all, my friends.

But regardless: first and foremost, we want Thursday evening to be a meeting of aforesaid “friendly persons” of our world who meet with great JOY and give us lots of courage and trust! Jolly und I are sure that, together with you, we will manage to do just that. And there will also be a few surprises…

Here is a link where you will find three IF blog articles on the topic, including the invitation the event. I would kindly ask you to tell me if you come, because we want to have enough food and beverages. Feel free to either register through a blog comment or send E-Mail to the InterFace AG or to me.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday March 20th, 2016

Invitation: IF Forum im & AktMobCmp – Augsburg

Dear Friends,

with this email, I would like to invite you to the IF Forum on April, 28th, and remind you of my project #AktMobCmp, which will take place on May, 20th and 21st in Augsburg.

Both activities are meant to show people the way to become happier and more successful, both individually and collectively.

IF Forum:

On April, 28th, starting at 18:00 hours, the InterFace AG at Unterhaching will again host the IF Forum in their office building.

The active parties will be Jolly Kunjappu and yours truly. We want to articulate our central and very special desire for a little more peace. The special occasion is Jolly Kunjappu’s new book ”Ask An Answer“, which, on that Thursday, will be the focal point of our performance. We want to use it for giving impulses and thus inspire people to find a little more “PEACE”.

Jolly is a good friend of mine, human being, philosopher and artist. During his eventful life, he left many tracks. As an inspired consultant for entrepreneurs, he fascinated top managers. Currently, his presentations provide important input and make many persons contemplative. His musical career brought him in contact with many relevant artists, among them Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

On April, 28th, during the IF Forum, we will have the kick-off for our project “peace”. You are all invited to come and actively participate. For more information, click here:

Jolly & Roland – On April, 28th, in the IF Forum: For LIFE and PEACE!


Mobility is a central and global determining factor of our lives. The development grew its own momentum in an absurd way, thus gaining power over our cities and the entire planet. We have all been forced under the same yoke and now often act contrary to our elementary needs. Our mobile habits develop lives of their own and destroy our means of life. Individual traffic based on private vehicles with a combustion motor has reached a dominant position. Public transportation gets more and more obsolete and “active mobility” (on foot, by bike or other means like skateboards or inline-skates) is only considered remaining traffic. While, especially in the latter section, e-mobility might well be a great chance, the one-on-one replacement of the combustion motor by electro motors is not a valid alternative.
The movement “active mobility in everyday life” (#AktMobCmp) wants to counteract this ever stronger development. On anti-conferences, we pool our ideas, build networks, find solutions and become active. The initial event earlier this year in Unterhaching was truly encouraging. Günter Schütz from Augsburg spontaneously decided to organize the next event on May, 20th and 21st in Augsburg. It is again two days and sponsored by Transition Town Augsburg e.V. with the friendly support of the local Agenda 21 of the City of Augsburg.

For more information, read the Flyer designed by Günter and visit the of  AktMobCmp website.
( or

I would like to invite you to come and attend the Augsburg  #AktMobCmp. But there is even more I would like to ask you: I am sure you know persons who, even today, are convinced that a lot needs to be changed about mobility or who already mostly go places “actively”.

Please inform these people! And there is even more of a plea of mine: The barcamp #AktMobCmp is an important event. On top of many participants, it also needs supporters. You are all welcome to sponsor or actively support it. If you know potential candidates, please inform them and hand them one of the flyers!

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday March 11th, 2016

“Inspect-and-Adapt“ Your Estimates!

td-logoI always like visiting the Munich Techdivision. For me, this event, organized by my PM-Camp accomplice Sacha Storz, is very attractive. The next event is on March, 16th, 2016, between 7 and 8.30 p.m. They finish earlier than usual, because they want the visitors to have the chance to be back home in front of their TV sets for the Bayern Soccer Game. The location is the TechDivision offices at 73, Balanstr. (building 8, 3rd floor) in 81541 München.

Here is the official call for participation:

According to estimations by User Stories, project planning still plays a central role in agile software development. Imprecise estimations will, for instance, cause higher costs than planned or a longer production time than originally agreed upon.

During a TechDivision study, we investigated the User Story Estimates in four different projects. The goal was: identify problems and propose improvements. It is a rather well-known principle – after all, there is always an “inspect-and-adapt” framework in Scrum.

But: how can it be adapted to estimates? And how are the results of the study related to the #NoEstimates discussion?

I find the topic rather interesting. After all, I am a supporter of the provocative theory: “don’t estimate“– and I can find numerous reasons for this theory. In addition, I find it quite motivating that my own son Rupert will be the speaker.

About the speaker:
imagesRupert Dürre is a consultant at the Swedish IT company Netlight. His interests are various areas of agile software development in requirement engineering and development practices, such as also the question how to organize teams in order to make an effective cooperation possible.

There is no admission fee for the event. Please register at the website: event.

Well, next Wednesday at 7 p.m., I will be at Balanstrasse and I look forward to seeing many friends!

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 24th, 2016

Jubilee – A Hundred Videos Downloaded to Youtube!

I have now had a Youtube-Channel for a few years. As with almost all my internet activities, I call myself rolandduerre or Roland Dürre. I just noticed that I published my hundredth video on January, 13th, 2016. It makes me quite happy to celebrate this jubilee. Consequently, I will now write a short post about it.

Among other things, I publish the IF Forum presentations on my YouTube channel. But you can also find considerable parts of Rupert Lay’s works on the channel. I was there for many of his presentations, especially on the Ronneburg with Bernd Sielaff  behind the video camera. There are also some of my own presentations about current topics around InterFace and IT. And more often than not, my friend Friedrich Lehn (fhlcinema) was the man behind the video camera and the mixing console.

The jubilee video is a short report on the barcamp for Active Mobility in everyday life #AktMobCmp of earlier this year:

The uncrowned champion is: Klaus-Jürgen Grün. He tops all other recordings with his presentation of “The Art of Negative Thinking”.

Personally, I consider the presentations by Rupert Lay extremely important in our times. He established his philosophical heritage in two presentations. Here is part 1, where he demands a New Enlightenment.

Very much a current topic – even though already recorded a few years back: Wilfried Bommert:

My favourite video recordings are, for example, those with Eberhard Huber or Roger Dannenhauer  …

But there are many more great orators on the channel. I do not want to name them all. So why don’t you just visit and browse through my Youtube-Channel?
Incidentally, I also find this presentation of mine rather nice.

(Translated by EG)

On Tuesday, February, 16th, 2016, Dr. Martin Held and my friend Jörg Schindler will give an exciting presentation on:

Cheap Oil – Motor for the Economy or Obstacle on the Way to Transformation?

at the orange bar.

Admission from 18:30 hours | starting at 19:00 hours | finale at 20:30 hours in the
orange bar, Green City Energy, Zirkus-Krone-Straße 10, (6. OG), Munich

Admission: free.

Jörg Schindler im IF-Forum der InterFace AG

Jörg Schindler at the InterFace AG IF Forum

Are you a car driver, property owner or entrepreneur? Everybody is happy about the low oil prices and the resulting cheaper energy.

It saves money and, in the short run, has the effect of a great global economic stimulus plan. For the economy, they also expect positive impulses.

Except – the central traffic sector will remain extremely dependent on oil. This is a problem that cannot be solved by simply pulling the lever, following the motto “no more oil, electricity instead” (keeping everything else as before).

Instead of triggering the transition to post-fossil mobility, the oil production is now extended to arctic seas and ever lower oceanic altitudes at a high ecological risk. The low prices are misinterpreted and seen as fortuitous boom boosters, providing an extra motivation to again do some serious “upgrading”.

What are the reasons for the oil prices falling so drastically? What price will our society have to pay for this prolonged fossil resource consumption? Will this make a halfway tolerable transition towards a post-fossil, sustainable development (Great Transformation) even harder to achieve?

The speakers Dr. Martin Held and Jörg Schindler say that the most important factor for a successful Great Transformation is in danger: the adaptation time. What are the alternatives? Who could start working on said alternatives? What is the role of the civil society when it comes to the future transformation process?

For registration, please send an E-Mail to or call 089/890668319.
The speakers are:

Dr. Martin Held (discussion group: Die Transformateure – Akteure der Großen Transformation, board member at ASPO Deutschland e.V. and long-time head of studies at Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, Tutzing) 
Jörg Schindler (discussion group Die Transformateure – Akteure der Großen Transformation, board member at ASPO Deutschland e.V. and long-time managing director of Ludwig-Bölkow foundation, Neubiberg)


(Translated by EG)
If you cannot come to the presentation but still wish to invite the speakers at another time, I will gladly connect you. Just send me an E-Mail .

Now I returned home from Dornbirn and it is the weekend. It was a truly strong week. First, I spent two nights in Nuremberg with a long day on the #DOAG2015 and then, between Thursday and Saturday, I enjoyed a very intense PM-Camp in Dornbirn #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, the two hashtags will link you to the tweets for the two events. It is well worth taking a look.

Last Wednesday, on the DOAG 2015, I was again permitted to speak. I talked about:

“Creative Room – Healthy Room!“

Here are the picture by Christian I used and the short outline of my presentation.

"created by Christian Botta"

“created by Christian Botta“

Today: More often than not, the work situation in enterprises seems to be insufferable. There are (many) employees who mentally already have given notice. The salary is considered compensation for personal suffering. But then, they have neither the courage nor the strength to say: “Love it, change it, or leave it“.
Useless meetings, feeling powerless and the burnout syndrome are the consequences. Now they want to do something about it, see also: BGM (company health management).
Consequently, we find change all around us. Conferences are replaced by anti-conferences. I prefer attending barcamps…

And I will now present the story of my presentation. I had to hand in a short version. Then the documents for the presentation. Also the transparencies. But I had none. Because I always speak without.

Christian Botta of VisualBraindump made a picture protocol of my presentation. Thanks a lot!

Today, I give my presentation. Perhaps I will call it “Complexity, Innovation and Burnout in Enterprises”. In fact, that would have been a better title than the one in the proceedings. Or perhaps “How to Keep Humans Species-Appropriate”. Because, basically, I was talking about the same principle as the “key speaker” Gunter Dueck.

I started with the impressions for the presentation from early this year. That was when Dietmar Neugebauer (President of the DOAG) asked me if I would again like to speak in November on his conference. I certainly gladly accepted. Then there were the thought-provoking impulses. One of them was OpenInnovation at InterFace AG , realized with the Nuremberg FAU, chair of Prof. Möslein. During the final event of this project, there was a presentation by Dora on “creative rooms”. After this, it became pretty clear to me how rooms (and organisations) should “look” if you want them to provide innovative inspiration – both physically and virtually.

Apparently, they have something to do with participation, respect, eye-level, culture, breaking patterns, joy and happiness.

A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with Dr. Marius Poersch. Marius is a psychologist, head doctor in a hospital with many patents who have suffered from burnout. He wants to be more than just a “repair shop”, so he also does some scientific research on what humans and organisations can do in order to minimize the burnout risks. After his presentation, I have a good idea what a “burnout-free” room should look like.

Surprisingly, but basically also logically, the result is: the rooms are exactly the same. The “room” as described by Dora for promoting innovation looks exactly like the one presented by Marius for keeping us healthy.

So what are the reasons for all this frustration we suffer from? We assume it is the complexity that gives us fear and the bureaucracy that is generated in our society as its consequence, trying to give us some dubious sense of security.


As an example: my own frustration as an entrepreneur (because at oracle in Nuremberg), the story of DocuMaker and the Federal Agency for Employment.

Failure due to stupid rules, the Oracle middleware product manager does not know the product, prediction about the future of Oracle by Larry Ellision … lots of frustration, immense loss for all. Thank God no Distress for us, because the success would have been Oystress.

A complex world with quick change gives us problems. And then there are the processes, rules, protocols, processes that are supposed to help with the complexity but all they do is make life harder for us.

About the Berlin PM Camp (complex versus complicated).

There were also many abstract discussions about the difference between complex and complicated. According to Niels Pflaeging, it is quite simple: as long as it is just complicated, the classic methods of project management and problem solving can help us. But this is no longer true when it gets complex.
I think it is not as easy as that. I did a session with Maik Pfingsten (Blogger, PoD-Cast) and rather enjoyed Maik’s definition of complexity (from the perspective of the system engineer)
x – axis: degree of complicatedness; 
y – axis: speed of change;
The more you get of both, the more “complex” it is;
I extended this to also include the 
z – axis: “human factor” degree in the project.
This means: the more complicated and dynamic and the more of a human factor you have, the more complex it is …

Seneca said: Philosophy does not mean talking, it means acting.

What can we do? Whenever it gets more and more complicated, when matters change ever faster and when the human factor becomes more and more apparent?

There are no cooking recipes or Best Practice, neither are there any methods or technologies. All I can offer are a few ideas to think about.

As an engineer, software person and technologist.
Let me refer you to the: Agile Manifesto (2001)As an entrepreneur, manager and leader:
Hans Ulrich – Eight Theses on Change in Management (1982)Insertion:
Here are his “Eight Theses on Change in Management” in a nutshell with a few additional notes:

  1. Accept not knowing and not being able to predict the future as a normal state of affairs!
    Well, you simply cannot predict the future …
  2. Broader horizons for your thinking!
    Oppose “You cannot do this” or “This is how we always did it”. Do not suppress the freedom of ideas. Share knowledge.
  3. Move in the category “both”, instead of “either-or”!
    Black-and-white is out, colourful is in.
  4. Think multi-dimensionally! 
Your balancing of values must be ethically responsible. Basically, humans can only deal with three ideas at one time.
  5. Use self-organization and self- control as your basic formative model for your enterprise!
    Responsibility, subsidiarity
  6. Consider management as a function that gives and promotes meaning!
New management image.
  7. Focus on what is really important!
    Work economy.
  8. Make use of group dynamics!
    Cultures, symbols, rites, rituals …

As a human being:
John Izzo – five things you should consider before you die!
I strongly recommend the Review  of the book.

Or the experiences made by Bonnie Ware:
Here are the five things he found out people wanted:

  1. “I wish I had had the courage to live my own life“
  2. “I wish I had not worked so much”
  3. “I wish I had had the courage to show my emotions“
  4. “I wish I had remained in contact with my friends“
  5. “I wish I had permitted myself more happiness“

Those are the five insights Bonnie Ware collected when he accompanied dying persons. As I see it, there is a lot to be learned for life from these statements …

Yet none of all these things will help you if you are not prepared to actually live. Something is still missing.


One of my mentees works for Osram: They are already in a permanent crisis, anyway. Additionally, their move from near the 1860 stadium to Garching looked a little stupid to me. My mentee lives in Unterhaching. His daily way to work is now four times as long as it used to be. He feels how his mood gets worse and worse. .
He arrives at work in a bad mood and returns home in a bad mood. Dialogue: How is your boss? – He is in a good mood! – What is he doing differently from you? – He rides his bike every morning from Trudering to Garching! – So why don’t you, too ride your bike! – Cannot! – Cannot is not defined! 
He then bought an e-bike and went to work riding it every day. And ever since then, he arrives at the office in a good mood, and the same is true for when he arrives at home. And he feels so much better …

In simple terms:
Our body needs exercise and fresh air. And time with nature. And you can have it so easily – with active mobility in everyday life. See also AktMobCmp.

Seneca, too, taught us: 
Follow the laws of nature.
(Seneca was a teacher who wanted to make his students successful and happy. Unfortunately, this has never been the first goal of my teachers).

How is anybody supposed to come to terms with his own life if he cannot even come to terms with his own mobility? And driving a car is definitely not something that makes you free, nor will it bring you fulfilment in life … (Even if that is what a seemingly overpowering industry tells us in a gigantic brainwashing process).

So: what we need is nice and regular exercise!

But not the kind of exercise I experienced after the Eldorado cinema in the Sonnenstrasse. I had tears in my eyes when I exited after having watched the great “Die Kinder der Mme Ann“. And just imagine, right across the street, there is a fitness studio on the first floor. It has huge windows … And you can see in the light of the windows how the persons do their “work-out”. According to the motto Work Hard, Play Hard, WORK OUT …

For me, this is a horror vision. Planning fitness like an entire life. So why not change your life! You will see it can be done. Because, as Seneca said:

The reason why we do not start doing something is not that it is hard. Instead: Things are hard because we do not do them.

(Translated by EG)

During my presentation, I made two more insertions: about terrorism and about the asylum seeker situation. And I gave a short summary of what caused both. But most importantly, I described why I am not at all happy with how we react to both problems. However, I will write two separate articles about how I feel about these issues in the near future.

Roland Dürre
Thursday October 8th, 2015

Vintage Project Management #1 – My First Project

Das war erst viel später und da war es schon vorbei. Das erste Projekt war noch in Koppstr. (Nahe Hofmannstr.)

What you see on this picture did not yet exist – it only came when my project was over. My first project was realized in the Koppstr. (Hofmannstr.)

During the Berlin PM Camp, I told the stories of four projects from vintage times that were very important for me. And I also announced here that I was going to publish all four of them in the IF Blog.

So here I am now, beginning with the first small project:

Project #1

The first project of my life was but a small one. It was scheduled to last six weeks and it was my first professional activity in data processing.

In those days, I was a student of informatics starting for the second time. The first time had been in 1969, when I started studying mathematics and minored in informatics at Technische Hochschule München (THM). The only alternatives for the minor subject would have been physics – which I did not like – and business. However, I was a little sceptical, because I had been attending and graduating from the Jacob Fugger “Business Grammar School” in Augsburg. And at that school, accounting, which I was quite good at, had been an A-level subject. On the other hand, the knowledge taught in business and economics seemed a little questionable to me – which, incidentally, is even more true today. Consequently, the only thing to minor in left was informatics – and that sounded really exciting, too. Professor F.L. Bauer actually succeeded in whetting my appetite in the fall of 1969.

And then, on April, 1st, 1970, dark powers and a mixture of ill luck and ill advice forced me to serve in the Federal Army. That was not at all an April’s Fool Jest, which meant that I had to spend 18 months in rather questionable surroundings as a conscript.

And when, late in September 1971, I regained my freedom, I just started anew. Again in the first semester, again with the same combination of subjects, and again at the same college, which suddenly was called TUM (Technische Universität München).
But there was nothing new except the name. And I knew almost everything because in 1969 I had still been a rather diligent student who had listened attentively and learned with enthusiasm. Consequently, I was doing well and the Olympic Games of 1972 came along. Besides studying, I had a great job with good money at the German Railway (at the time still called Deutsche Bundesbahn) as a customer service person for guests from all over the world. And in some way or other, the entire world was mine for the asking …

In 1974, I finished my intermediate diploma successfully and again needed a little more money than I made as a TUM tutor (teaching Linear Algebra I and II and a programming course). I narrowly missed being eligible for BaföG and my parents – also working at the German Railway – said I could easily continue living at home in my room and commute to Munich like my father always did. But that was not what I wanted. Consequently, I was looking for a summer job – and, naturally, the favourite prospective employer was one of the leading high-tech and computer companies.

In those days, that was what Siemens was! Seen in retrospective, it is hard to believe what immense know-how was present in this company in a huge number of areas. They took me in at Siemens and so I was in the middle of the real high-tech world, first for six weeks in the summer of 1974 and then for the entire duration of my university education. I had direct access to computers, operating systems and programming languages – and I mean I was filled up with them to the brim, which was totally different from what they offered, for instance, at the so-called TUM.

And I got my first project at Siemens on my very first day! My (department) boss was Mr. Bieck. He was a hardware person and later became development head at one of the upcoming German computer manufacturers: Kienzle.

Kienzle was only one of the smaller Siemens competitors – but it was certainly remarkable to see what these enterprises – just like much larger enterprises, such as Nixdorf, or many smaller ones managed to accomplish in those days.

During my six weeks as a summer intern, I had total freedom – provided the actual task I had been assigned got finished. And they also told me that the problem I had been given might not be solvable at all. But that it would indeed be very much appreciated if I managed to solve it. It was actually the same I heard over the last few years from people about google: you give yourself unachievable goals, yet you get a nice tolerance for possible failure, which means you will be truly happy when eventually you actually manage to solve the problem.

The task was easy to formulate: 
The department wanted the highest possible Mersenne prime numbers. For a hardware prototype.

For non-mathematicians:
A number is a Mersenne prime number if it is a prime number derived from a power of two minus 1. In other words if (2 power n) – 1 or (2 power m) – 1, is a prime number.
That is my spontaneous definition.

Well – and my boss wanted as many n-s and m-s as possible. He was not interested in being shown how I did it – as long as I did it at all.

The background:
In those days, a lot of people were really active doing “research and development”. It was truly great. But it was not some R&D totally remote from practice. No: in almost all cases, your work would serve to promote actual applications and projects. That made it truly cool.

Practically applied R&D needs theoretical background. Business got that from the universities (in those days, there was still something you could get from them). And, naturally, Siemens AG also looked across the borders – particularly across the inter-state borders. Because the GDR universities were not so bad at all. And they gave us lots of great results.

For instance, there was a scientific work sitting on my desk – I think it had been written in Leipzig – in which someone had given the theoretical proof that it is possible to build an accidental generator from a ring connection with n binary switches.

And if you short-circuited the structure at the right place, the system would generate a maximum period of random numbers.

It would happen if and only if the number of used switches n is a Mersenne prime number. And if the short-circle is after the m-th switch – and if m is a Mersenne prime number. 
(please forgive my clumsy description, I was never much of a hardware person).

I never understood this work. Also those six weeks would probably be far too short. But then, this was totally irrelevant for my job. All I was supposed to do was deliver very high prime numbers of the type 2 power n -1. Even the prime numbers were unimportant. All that mattered were the m and the n.

For my software friends:
In the early 1970ies, it was totally utopian to build such a thing as random generator software. After all, the device was supposed to create the bit patterns rather quickly, because they were supposed to test the maximum flat modules for large-capacity computers. And those were rather fast gadgets, considering the times.

Also, Herr Bieck could not have cared less how I solved the problem – that meant it was up to me if I programmed something for the calculation or if I found the big Mersenne prime numbers somewhere else in the world. All options were open.

Consequently, I spent the next few days in various libraries (Siemens, StaBi, Unis – you have to remember that, in those days, the internet did not exist). And I quickly realized that there was no chance for me finding Mersenne prime numbers in this way, even if someone on this planet had already calculated them.

This is why I forced myself to come to a quick decision. I was going to forget the world around me and try it by myself – by just programming. I still had more than five weeks to go.

This was the first thing I learned about “project management”: 
Decide quickly, especially if it is a really hard decision and you basically know no way out.

Then I tried to do some traditional programming. I thought in terms of the decimal system, looking into integer and arithmetic calculation systems. And after two weeks, I noticed that I was never ever going to succeed with this strategy.

And this was the second thing I learned for future projects and for life: 
Whenever you do not know how to continue, you have to try new ways! Kiss old concepts and patterns good-bye, and do not hesitate!

So I decided to no longer look for huge numbers. Instead, I just saw a number as a field of bits. And all of a sudden, all those big numbers became small numbers. For instance, 2-to-the-power-of-256 was now a binary field with the length of 32 bytes. And you can calculate rather elegantly with bit fields each of which has the length of 32 bytes. All you have to do is some shifting. And suddenly, the huge number had lost all its scariness …

I told you this story for two reasons.

Firstly, because all of a sudden it became clear to me that, on top of deciding quickly and courageously, you also have to leave old mental concepts if you want to achieve something special. And I often suffered under this and under the typical “But this is how we always did it …”, because it blocked the way.

And because I am living proof that, more than 40 years ago, Siemens actually worked in the same way as they sometimes say Google does today. And that in those days they achieved really great things and that there was not much competition world-wide, perhaps IBM and Xerox or Hitachi. All the others were just in their initial phases.

In a short time, you will read my next Berlin #PMCampBER story on vintage project management. It is from a time when I had a contract as an employee – at the Siemens laboratory. That was in the late 1970ies. I will relate how Siemens did everything, and I mean really everything, to destroy its greatness.

It happened because they kissed their old virtues good-bye and introduced division of labour (Taylorism) in the creative areas such as product planning (Requirement Management) and quality management, specialized DV/IT teachers in their D-schools, manual copy editors and many more such roles.

And, above all, whenever there were things to decide, the questions they asked were: “What is the profit of this?” and “What is our advantage?”, instead of the question: “Why do we do this?” – as in former times.

At the time of my first project, there were no such things as project managers. The first project manager you will find in the world as I perceived it will come with my third project management vintage story. That was in the early 1980ies.