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)

hy are you here? What is your goal?

That is the question you will almost always hear if you attend a personality-promoting seminar.

And, once, I heard the following reply.

“Power, Money, Women“.

To me, that sounded honest. At least as far as men are concerned, it seems to be the normal motivator. So it does not come as a surprise that, in such seminars, I almost exclusively meet men. In fact, it is also a match for our #metoo world. When all is said and done, everything will be as it will be.

I also heard many other answers to the question. They sounded nice. Mostly, however, they sounded like lies to me. Let me relate the following story.


You need to know that, like many other managers and consultants, I attended quite a few seminars and training camps on “promotion/building of personality for leaders and managers” during my active career. Initially, when I started my professional career with Siemens, I was more the engineering type person and was totally opposed to such seminars. I never volunteered to attend.

Roland on his way from the Jena Akademie-Hotel to the stadium (Carl-Zeiss).

When I moved on to the Softlab GmbH, my attitude changed. When I was around thirty, I attended a TPM (Training Psychologische Management) seminar. It was mandatory if you wanted to “move on”.

I was very sceptical when I went there – and returned enthusiastic. From then on, I was always the first to volunteer when a seminar “beyond the technological boundaries” was advertised. This is also how I first met Rupert Lay, who was going to become very important in my life. The same is true for other mentors.

The times when I was a newbie were not the only times when I witnessed that the coaches first asked the participants about their expectations. “Why have you come?“, or something like it is typically the first question asked at a seminar.

Today, I use this question whenever I open a seminar session, because I believe it makes a lot of sense. You get to know the seminarists and you can hear what their interests and needs are. If you are the coach, you can modify your own expectations to fit reality if they were too lofty. The question will definitely motivate people to think and it can also be used well towards introducing the really important issues that move us and that the participants are supposed to discuss.

During one of my first seminars under a famous coach, I heard the following answers to this central question:

… I am full of imperfections and want to improve on some of them. …

… I have a number of talents that I would like to give myself a chance to develop …

… at long last, I want to make that decisive step in my career I have been waiting for for such a long time. …

… I want clarity in my life and bring structure to same. …

… I strive towards an independent and responsible occupation because in my current job I am dependent on a systemic concern, which makes me unhappy. …

When questioned more persistently by the coach, some of the participants described in great detail what a great person they are and what a super position they hold. And that they want to climb up the ladder a bit more. And that, now, they want to learn how one can become even better and more important.

Well, that annoyed me a little. Everything was rather surreal, artificial and synthetic. Before I started, a gentleman (of course) spoke. Even his outward appearance seemed to radiate success. He also seemed absolutely charismatic.

His introduction was quite short:

I want more success!

When the coach asked back what exactly his definition of success was, his reply came immediately:

Success? For him, that was more power, more money and more women – in no particular order.

Wow! That was it. To me, this statement sounded somehow a lot more honest than what the men before him had said. Now they all looked like hypocrites to me. Perhaps this hypocrisy had annoyed him just as much as it had annoyed me?

I was the last to introduce myself. Prudently, I decided to say that

… I had not really given the question any thought and wanted to see what the seminar was going to do for me …

This statement was not really honest either. Instead, it was a carefully made statement that caused quite a few condescending looks from other participants. I read some incomprehension in those looks. How can anybody attend such an expensive seminar without having a goal at all?

These looks came especially from the hypocrites. Well, it was no surprise, because at the time I was by far the youngest participant and the only one who wore jeans and a polo neck sweater. None of the exclusive twine that the nobility wore. But I had learned: it is all about power, money, sex. It became clear to me at the time. And this insight is certainly something worth thinking about. Not just because of #MeToo.

After all, what is power? As I see it, power develops if you have special personal characteristics or if you have a special position or wealth. In our society, it is probably best if you have all three of them:

  • Personal characteristics
    On the plus side, this might include your good looks, your well-modulated voice, your height, elegant and suitable clothes, grace and authenticity, a good education, a pleasing personality, good manners and natural authority. People with these characteristics will certainly find it easier to get a good position than others.
  • Position

    Important positions in the state or in important institutions will “give you power”. The power of the office will transfer itself to the person. System agents pretend that the power of the system they represent is their own power.
  • Wealth
    Wealth gives you power. Others want a share of your wealth and consequently subordinate themselves. Incidentally, it was on purpose that I wrote wealth, instead of property. Because nobody is interested in whether or not the imperium has stability. The only thing that matters is its splendour. So what our protagonist wanted was more power (i.e., personality, position and wealth). But he also wanted that funny stuff.  Which is synonymous for money. Which brings us back to power.

In our society, only one basic right is important: the preservation of your achievements. We also have a mantra of faith: “If you have money, then there is nothing you cannot buy”. That includes power. You only need enough of it. This is how money and power become synonyms.

But our protagonist also wanted sex. Because in his (or in our general) concept, you can assume that there is nothing you cannot get if you have enough power and money.  Including all women.

Perhaps our successful protagonist just saw it as a good joke. Just like they do when they sell realty. They have three central criteria:
Location, location, location.
And perhaps all he wanted to say was that power, money and sex, in our #MeToo world, are synonymous anyway?

I fear that this is what characterizes our society. It polarizes. Money makes power – and – power makes money. And if you have both, you have everything. This is how our society and our planet will collapse.

And what is our reaction? We get upset about sexism. Perhaps even rightly so. But it would be better if, just because of a little sexism, we would not totally forget the other catastrophe that ruins our world (money and power…).

Incidentally, if you work as a mentor, the question is also a good warming-up strategy. For instance, I often ask new mentées what they would wish to achieve as a result of our mentoring in the future. I often hear quite appealing replies.

At one time, a young man answered that it is his goal in life to fight extravagance. Because he detested “waste“. And that this was actually the reason why they selected me as his mentor! Because everybody knows that I, too, detest “waste“!

That is true. And it made my day. We started our work. And it turned out well!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday August 13th, 2017

My First “Coming Out“

Today as a: “Sunday Column “!

It is really about time to break with patterns and taboos. Consequently, I will now start doing so. Also in the IF Blog. I will start small and very softly… But as time goes by, things may develop.

Here is who I am: a male mammal. Of the species “human”. Humans are descendants of humanoids who, earlier, developed from some apes. They call them “primates” – as opposed to the wise and beautiful elephants, cows and pigs, which is incomprehensible for me.

Male mammals have genitals. The same is true for me. A male sexual organ has many disadvantages. One of the probably more harmless ones is the question: ”how to cover it? “.

Selfie under difficult conditions – but definitely without knickers!

Consequently, “homo sapiens’” created underpants. And they founded the underwear industry that really makes good money with underpants. Clothes became a moral issue (“this is how you have to dress” or “this is absolutely impossible”). Among other things, there is a moral code that says that you (especially men) cannot run around without underpants.

Except – underpants are uncomfortable. To be sure, trousers are even more uncomfortable. And if you do not wear underpants, they might actually hurt. Just think of Lederhosen. Incidentally, they can even hurt if you wear underpants.

For the male humans, a special obligation to wear underpants has been established. Women wore skirts. So it was easier for them to go “without knickers”. What is impossible for men is considered “erotically bold” for women.

So what I did is wear underpants for more than 50 years and change them on a daily basis if possible.

Roughly ten years ago, I discovered a full-body dress for men in India. Perhaps they call it Caftan. I bought two of them (one green and one blue) and used them instead of a bathrobe, especially in summer. And I quickly realized that you need not wear underpants under such a Caftan. All of a sudden, I discovered a totally new feeling of well-being. Now everything is so free – and centralized.

Hans Söllner at the Erding Sinnflut-Festival, 2004, still wearing trousers.
(dkeppner@freenet.de)
GNU Free Documentation License, from Wikipedia.

Since I am a coward, I rarely wear my Caftan in public without underpants underneath. One of the reasons is that – naively – I used to believe I am the only man who likes running around without underpants.

Well, this is how we men are. Because we always think we are the centre of the universe and nobody else ever had the same idea as we. But that is not how it is.

Then came the Bayern-Sound Festival, which I attended. And Söllner Hans played there. He wore a skirt. And he assured us that he was “absolutely underpants-free”.

Hans had more good arguments for wearing a skirt and no underpants. He also said he wanted to make it easy for those “who could screw him”. And that the number of them was rapidly increasing.

I feel similarly. For me, too, the number of those who “can screw me” increases all the time. Especially if they forget that they, too, have been born as mammals and not as system agents. And if they really push themselves to the front and think they are true heroes. Then they can really …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday April 13th, 2017

IT-Treff – Nostalgia 1999 – It was Awesome!

Among the IF Blog documents, you can find a very special article. For a long time, it was hidden at the very bottom.

It is a satire on New Economy – a theatre play titled:

“Can we be saved?“

Norbert Weinberger and yours truly wrote it. The idea originated when we were on a flight from Munich via Zurich to New-Delhi with Swiss Air.

Swiss Air was a compromise that had taken long to agree upon. My friend and partner Norbert always flew Lufthansa Business Class as a matter of principle. And, just as true to my principles, I always flew Economy. Since we wanted to fly together, we compromised on Swiss air Business Class, because at the time the price was almost exactly halfway in between.

Incidentally, the reason for our flight was the official opening of our joint subsidiary company “AMPERSAND limited“. The trees grew into the heavens at the time.

The Business Class of the Swiss Air plane to New Delhi was completely empty. In those days, Swiss Air was still an independent airline and suffering from losses – but that did not matter to the friendly crew. The service was excellent, we were really mollycoddled. During the entire flight, charming stewardesses served us champagne. That was also one of the factors that made us bold. Consequently, we developed the rough concept for our theatre piece while flying.

Together with friends of ours who were also entrepreneurs, we had the first performance on June, 29th, 1999 with an audience of considerably more than 500 at IT-Treff 99 in the over-crowded Munich Schlachthof. It was great fun and the audience were enthusiastic. For us – the cast – it was mania. And additionally, it was a great outlook towards what happened around the turn of the millennium.

How did the IT Treff come about? In the mid-1990s, it was not always quite so easy for IT enterprises in Germany. The general feeling was not too good. Consequently, a few courageous IT entrepreneurs wanted to do something to improve the mood.

Their names were: Muschka Utpadel-Domdey, Alfred Bauer, Hans Nagel, Dr. Christian Roth, Markus Winkler and yours truly.

Our idea was: let us celebrate against the crisis. So we initiated the IT-Treff and invited the entire Munich IT scene. And alas – they all came.

Stars with names like Gerhard Polt and Django Asül performed for us and extended their programs to include IT-specific topics. The Bavarian Government was always on board – I remember well how Secretary of State Hans Spitzner gave us very special welcome addresses. There was always hot music – we even produced our own CD in the Schlachthof with the George Greene Hotline Band. In fact, to this day I enjoy listening to it.

And the entire IT sector danced. That was in the years 1996, 1997 and 1998. We had our last IT-Treff in 1999 – and we (the organization team) made our own cabaret IT-Treff Satire (1734) “Can we be Saved?“ – for you to read and imitate.

Since is it such a nice piece and was such a huge success, I offer a bonus for small and big theatres if they play it. You can call it a “negative performance fee” (royalty), which means you do not have to pay 10% of the turnover, but instead get something back. It is short and very much to the point – the prelude can also be used for other occasions besides celebrations.


 

Here is the IT Treff 1999 flyer from the outside

And from the inside

RMD
(Translated by Evelyn)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday December 6th, 2016

Soon, I will be electing a Federal Chancellor …

Not true, because basically, I only vote for a party …

Hier mit Klaus Hofeditz bei der Strategie Klausur 2016 von PM-Camp.org in Berlin.

Yours truly with Klaus Hofeditz during the strategy meeting 2016 at the Berlin PM-Camp.org.

… who then, along with others, will decide about the Federal Chancellors. And maybe then the top candidate of the party that got most of the votes will also become Federal Chancellor. But that is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

For next year’s federal elections, there is a shimmer of hope for my super-ego  #Dumusstwählen. Because my super ego says I, as a person who believes in democracy, have to vote. Yet my conscience forbids me to give my vote to any of the “normal” parties. Consequently, I have a dilemma.

But there is hope: Serdar Somuncu will be a candidate for “die PARTEI”. I looked for information that might tell me if he is a valid alternative. And that gave me the idea of running for the Federal Chancellor candidacy myself.

After all, if I become a candidate, then I will definitely know whom to give my vote. Let me be cynical: it is not all that difficult to become Federal Chancellor. It is probably easier than it has ever been before. After all, Trump, too, managed to become president. And populism is something I am quite good at. Better than some might believe.

But then, at my age (66), I do not at all feel like burdening myself with all the things that a candidacy would involve. And the almost senile candidates, all of whom pretend to be young (not just in the US election campaigns) are really something I abhor.

So:

There will not be a Federal Chancellor Roland Dürre. But perhaps Serdar Somuncu? At least, he likes Woody Allen and Bert Brecht. That means he cannot be all that bad, doesn’t it? Nor do I mind him being Turkish. I rather like people with other cultural backgrounds.

Most likely, he is better qualified for Federal Chancellor than I. After all, I have too much “morbid joy when perverse systems die”.
RMD

Roland Dürre
Wednesday July 27th, 2016

Project PEACE. Meeting in Ulm.

We met directly beneath the venerable Ulm Cathedral. There were six of us: all mature men, meeting early on a sunny afternoon in order to work towards peace. Unfortunately, there was no woman amongst us, but then: maybe there will be in the future.

Here is an attempt at writing the minutes of the first meeting.

Das Ulmer Münster 1887

The Ulm Cathedral in 1887

July, 19th, on a nice summer afternoon in front of the coffee house beneath the Ulm Cathedral. Parties meeting:
Daniel, Eberhard, Guido, Jolly, Roland, Wolf.

After a round of introductions where everyone said what motivated him personally, we started developing and discussing first ideas on how we would like to and actually could approach the problem.

Idea of active involvement

We want to reach many persons and encourage them to openly work for peace. For us, this is more important than missionary work towards convincing non-peaceful persons.

We want to use the network-based media.

Based on the works of Wolf, we want to make a certain amount of interaction possible. We want the contributions of people to influence each other and yet we want them to have their own individual value. Participation is open and has a low access threshold. Yet the participation should be more than just a simple “like” or similar phrase.

Weiße Taube auf blauem Grund, eine Variante der Friedenstaube: Seit den 1980er Jahren verbreitetes Symbol der westeuropäischen, vor allem der deutschen Friedensbewegung, entworfen im Kontext des Widerstands gegen den NATO-Doppelbeschluss.Applying the snow-ball principle, we want to reach VERY many people. Our final goal would be to, perhaps, some day, have created the critical mass that can change society.

Our idea is based on views and convictions each of us finally put into short words once more:

I want peace through neutrality and respect for all living creatures.
Hatred and enemy images should disappear.

I have no enemies. Humans have no enemies. We create our own enemy images.

Appreciation. Peace has a value.

Peace is a precious commodity, no more enemy images!
More empathy!

An open society is a pre-requirement for peace.
Awake peacefully, let peace grow.

Next steps:

Find more like-minded persons -> this process has already started.
Fill ideas with actual behavioural patterns.
Design a logo.
Work on a manifesto – see a few fragments below.

Manifesto Fragments

Peace is valuable and needs no justification.

Peace is based on appreciation and respect.

Only those who appreciate their own self can appreciate others.

The peaceful solution of a conflict is always the better solution.

Humans have no enemies, they only have enemy images.

You can overcome enemy images.

einfach so - #lass_deine_waffen_fallen WNH 2016 - Wolf Nkole Helzle Social Media Art

Just like that – #throw_away_your_arms WNH 2016 – Wolf Nkole Helzle Social Media Art

 

Join us! Let us break the “pattern of war”!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Since we want to make the “project PEACE” absolutely transparent, I am simply publishing the Ulm minutes. Thank you Eberhard for the nice summary.

My appreciation for the powerful in our society is dwindling. The population no longer understands how they act and, what is more, how they govern us. After all, it seems like they react more than they act. And how they reign over us and control us.

What is the reason for the growing dissatisfaction with what our politicians, managers and representatives of associations do? Mind you, it happens regardless of all of us basically being good-natured and being quite prepared to overlook the weaknesses and incompetence of our compatriots.

Let me try to explain the phenomenon.

20160602_160932_resized

Here are a few characteristics of human nature.

Some people impress me. They are successful and still humble and humane. They create new things, radiate joy and courage, act and make a difference on a daily basis.

Here are a few ideas of mine – again, they are model-like and I know full well that there is no black-and-white. Some characteristics make humans happy and successful.

  • Experience

    Numerous things belong in that category: 
Experiences from living with a partner. The experience of having you own children. The willingness to exchange the enmity you harbour against yourself and others against joy. The readiness to also embrace extreme situations, as well as to personally take pains, even until you reach a border. The experience of good and poor cooperation in teams. Practicing authentic communication. Gaining and working towards principles in life, such as the ability to be happy and the readiness to accept love. Knowing that you always should first be prepared to give, rather than take. Inner contentment that you can only reach if a necessary amount of physical exercise is reached. Connecting with nature.
    My playful comment on this concept, which I actually mean quite seriously, is that humans need to be “kept species-appropriate”. However, it seems that the heads of our society cannot manage to do this at all.
  • Education
    Today, I define education mostly as the conscious tackling with questions of humanity and society, because everything else can directly or indirectly be found on the internet. If you want a “good education”, you need to be lucky enough to meet the right teachers. It can be individual persons or teams. You need to learn from masters who help you to ask the right questions and to unveil your own prejudices. You need to learn how to be a critical listener and how to quickly discover rhetorical tools. And then you need to practice, practice, practice. All through your life.
    I sadly miss all these things in the heads of our society.
  • Autonomy

    First and foremost, autonomy is the willingness and capability to take responsibility for your own life. 
Looking at the lives of (not only) our “powerful”, I discover that these often seemingly so successful persons, in particular, often live a “second hand” life. External manipulation creates their needs. What they want, what might be good or bad, is controlled from the outside. Artificial reactions beat sadness or joy about things that happen in real life. For instance, it is easier to cry when watching “Love Story” in the cinema than when you bury a friend. They no longer understand that consumption is not the path towards “happiness”. Empathy is replaced by an intellectual, ethic-rational definition that tells you when and how you might show your emotions. And they believe in endless growth. …
  • Freedom
    They exchanged their freedom for being famous and having a career. They are no longer the masters and mistresses of their own lives. They can no longer do what they really would like to do and, even if asked to, cannot do what their individual needs demand.

Especially the powerful functionaries, politicians and business managers are subject to an enormous control from the outside. As a general rule, they have become slaves of their own system. Their lives are controlled by an excessive calendar and an accompanying team of humans who tell them what to do for months in advance.

This is how I perceive the powerful of our world when I meet them in our country or watch them in the media. They are always in a hurry, always stressed out, always artificial, with many beautiful words but without ever making a commitment. To me, they look like representatives of another world or, even worse, zombies of a system that by now has become perverted.

Where are they now, the authentic personalities in top positions who are authentic and focused and who actually find peace inside themselves? I mean those who have no need to constantly proof their value by, basically, just saying what everybody wants to hear and then permanently having to ingratiate themselves?

The Selection Criteria on your Way to Power

The answer is that the characteristics I demand in such a personality diametrically oppose the selection criteria on the way to power. Because if you wish to become rich and powerful, all the factors I described before do not count. In fact, they are quite a hindrance and will make sure you will be a failure in this world. Even at school, all you need to do is behave. When growing up, you have to submit to a huge indoctrination that dominates our socialization. Doubts and ideas of your own will be punished. If you have better knowledge, said knowledge will have to be sacrificed in favour of climbing the ladder of success. Those who are not prepared to subordinate their own beliefs in favour of the patterns generated by the belief in the big lies of late capitalism will drown in the poker game of power. And then the traffic lights of the Germany AG will show the RED light for them.

The only way to accumulate power and wealth (which, basically, is the same thing) is if you strictly accept the dogmata and drugs of the “America-European values” and act as strictly in the frame set for these activities. You have to learn and become fluent in knowing how to use the rather absurd rules of the “shareholder value” to your own advantage. And you have to subjugate yourself completely under the perverse metrics of business and politics.

If, on top of all this, you also know the right people in the Germany AG or if you were born into the party oligarchy, then your career and money affairs will soon blossom.

So how can we change this world?

As I see it, actively planning anything based on ratio will not help at all. Evolution is called upon and it will solve the problem. The main reason why it will work is that the old die out. And I notice especially with young people that they think differently. Luckily, more and more of them no longer believe the rubbish we tell them. Instead, they discover themselves.

This is how evolution will soon create great surprises. The “digital transportation” might well be a driver. It will definitely be “a part of the solution”. But that, too, is something evolution is not really interested in.
RMD

Folégandros, June, 3rd, 2016, My ideas while eating my breakfast.
After yesterday’s long hike through the Greek sun.
(Translated by EG)

CLOU/HIT at InterFace Connection

Or:
How Wolf and I eventually ended up doing it ourselves.

During the Berlin PM Camp, I related the stories of four projects from my vintage time. They were all very important to me. And I told you here  that I was going to describe them all in the IF blog.

if-logoProjekt 4

Now comes the story of my fourth project:

Even before 1983, I was fed up with working for others. At the time, I was still a Softlab employee. This is where I learned to extend my one-sided competence – with the exception of a little SNA (IBM), it was mostly Siemens technology – and learn more IBM technologies. In particular, however, I was able to learn about the different systems of the “intermediate data technology”.

I am talking machines which, dependent on their storage unit, consisted of two to three parts and had the size of Bosch refrigerators. That means they were a lot smaller and also a lot simpler than mainframe. At the time, those were especially fashionable. Consequently, there was an enormous amount of European and non-European competition with differing and often very proprietorial technology. Kienzle and Nixdorf were also among those aspiring MDT enterprises. And in those days, even in a city like Munich, the same software was developed synchronously in different enterprises for different technologies.

I am sure that Softlab was one of the most innovative German “software houses”. They, too, had a proprietorial system, the famous PET-Maestro. For me, this was the first system without the permanent frustration of data loss, because the Pet-Maestro already worked in symbols – and every symbol was immediately transferred to the hard drive. Consequently, you had a current warm start with every reset – and nothing was lost! It was such a relief to finally no longer have to fear data loss at all time when working, for example, with EDT or EDOR.

On other fronts, I also learned a lot of new things at Softlab. This is particularly true for the business sector: how to formulate an offer so that it contains the least possible risk, how to talk with the VB-s of the big enterprises (Bull, ICL, IBM, Nixdorf, Siemens – even at that time, nothing was going without the big ones), or how to write studies.

This is how I became a paper tiger (totally unrelated to paper tiger, the famous Chinese theatre movement). And in those days, it was (still) true that you got better pay per hour as a paper tiger than as a programmer. Thus equipped, I wanted to do it myself. Yet I did not dare to start all alone. So I went in search of a partner. I looked for and identified persons in my vicinity who I found nice and competent. And who perhaps also wanted to found a company. There were quite a few. But again and again, nothing came of it.

Until Wolf (Geldmacher) came. Wolf was considerably younger than I. Technologically, he was super. And our view of things was similar. Meaning that our values, expectations, interests and needs complemented each other. I was more the old style programmer – and Wolf had the knowledge about everything that was modern and new in IT. Also, Wolf knew absolutely no compromises when it came to quality. And if anybody had common sense, then it was Wolf. And I guess those are the most important factors: competence, common sense, quality awareness. Then you only need to be a nice guy…

Consequently, we founded the short version of InterFace Connection. We inherited the InterFace from Peter Schnupp, the “Connection” was our own contribution. That is what we wanted to be together with our employees: a “connection” that sticks together and later shares its success. We founded the enterprise in 1983 and started business on April, 1st, 1984.

But then, the enterprise is not the project I want to talk about. The project was about developing a product. And there were two reasons why Wolf and I wanted to have a product: firstly, we were convinced that a product would be something to be proud of. It creates an identity. Secondly, a product is easier to scale than a service.

Besides, in our eyes, the then well-established concept of “body leasing” did not have a future. Basically, we still believed in the law and as founders, it was pretty obvious to us that the common form of body leasing was exactly what, according to the AÜG, was simply illegal.

It did not take us long to become quite convinced that, in those days, Unix was the best basis for future products. Also, we agreed without hesitation that, basically, everything you needed for using computers was still missing in Unix. And in particular, we saw that a text system was sadly missing. And that the first thing you would have to develop rather quickly on Unix with its new data displays (in raw or cooked mode) and especially with the language c was a comfortable typewriter.

Since we had a huge amount of respect for the production and successful marketing of a product, we started the development of the product in cooperation with InterFace Computer. It did not take long before we had a small success in the SINIX (the Siemens Unix) environment. Consequently, the development of the product was moved to us and the InterFace Computer was put in charge of the ports and the sales on the “remaining market”.

And in no time, we also had a two-digit number of team members, all of them very young. In general, they were students. They had to have programming competence and be nice. And they had to cope with the work, regardless of their double burden of studying and working. Nothing else mattered to us.

Since Wolf and I (along with a few young employed computer scientists with academic diplomas whom we got through aforementioned body leasing and whose hours cost between 150 and 120 DM) financed the entire development, the young persons were rather free to come and go as they pleased. The only control was our assistant Heidi (Kaindl). Heidi was quite in charge of all the young persons, taking good care that everybody actually worked. The only times Wolf and I met them was during meetings (soon after our foundation, women, too, were employed).

In those days, Wolf had the role of SCRUM-Master and more (even though the word SCRUM did not yet exist). He told the team about quality. And that, first and foremost, they produced quality not for our customers, not for our sales partners Siemens and not for the InterFace Connection. Instead, being honest programmers, they needed to produce quality in their own interest. And Wolf had rather high standards and was very strict. If someone was not able or willing to deliver quality, he or she had no future at the “Connection”. But Wolf also protected the team, for instance when I tried to limit resources. And he made sure that we invested were necessary.

My task was perhaps that of the Product Owner. At least in the beginning. When I had been a young boy, I had been forced to learn stenography and typing. I used to love stenography, because it is a beautiful way of writing. It does not hurt your hand, as normal writing does. But I hated the typewriter. And I knew exactly how a good editing machine would have to look. I had also written it down in the time of our foundation.

When things got more complicated and, for instance, CLOU with its “embedded sql“ was added to our repertory, I transferred the role of Product Owner to our customers. And that was one of my best decisions ever. Because the customers actually were able to tell us their ideas about an automated chip processing. They showed us how to continue on our way.

One of our rules was that all employees – with the exception of Heidi – were able to program. Heidi was our first and most important customer. As soon as the first HIT version was available, we confiscated “nroff-makros”, her “office vi”, and she had to use HIT – which, incidentally, she did not appreciate at all. After all, the vi solution had not been so bad. Later, however, she learned to love her HIT. Surprise, surprise! After all, she was one of those who built it!

All other colleagues on the HIT team had to work hands-on. In other words, all of them had to be able to program, find errors and, above all, co-work (team work).

We were very early users of tools that would be commonly used a lot later. But this was only true for tools that actually made sense, such as “lint” for the quality control of our code or “sccs” for the source code administration. I am pretty sure that, time and again, we were the first in Munich. We were also earlier than most of the others using a “tracker” and an automatic “built”. But we never used planning software. Just as we always took pains to avoid “bureaucrazy”.

So all of us involved in the project were programmers. And we actually always coordinated in the team who was going to develop what. The personalities of the people involved were very diverse. But then, we also had the magic programmer. It was not entirely in jest that we called him “God”. But the first rule was that we were a team. Everybody helped everybody. Our motto was: “one for all, all for one”. Nobody was ever left in a lurch. And whenever you did not know a way out, you asked your colleague. Pair-programming in the strict sense did not exist, because it went without saying that this was practiced quasi automatically. Consequently, there were always several persons who knew the sources of the others. It was like an overlapping system that worked well some way or other without many words.

Of course, we had a rather complicated system with an awful lot of modules, interfaces, tools, API-s in our development. In total, a huge number of lines of code was produced. There were modules for the virtualization of keyboards, terminals or printers. We had developed the first National Language Support. Later, it became part of the X-Open UNIX implementation. We had complicated modules and modules everybody feared, as well as boring modules. Once in a while, we also had to find errors in the compilers we used.

The team always decided among themselves who was going to take on which task. Everything was part of the project: our value bank, mostly constituting of OpenSource components for source code administration, for the Built and the partly automated test, for the ports to the many end systems the Unix world then offered. Even producing the customer newsletter HITNews, which at the time was printed four times a year and determining the structure of the courses were part of it. Everything was done together, everyone .gave his best.

Naturally, once in a while there were situations when perhaps someone was unable to cope. Because maybe he did not yet have enough experience or perhaps he had underestimated the task. But then a colleague would help. The right person was always available. And when it was really necessary, there was still “God”.

Of course, everybody had his own role in the team. Each of us was a project manager and as such responsible for the appointments he had made. Some had more, others less. Each of us was a quality manager. Some more so, others less. Of course, there was something like a first contact for our customers and our partners. It was always a mutual decision (“who is the best for this job?”), but he remained in the team as a programmer. But, basically, every developer answered the questions of his customers. After all, they simply came into our office. The central bell rang, and whoever was the first to answer the telephone was talking to the customer.

Naturally, some of the colleagues were more concerned with integration, planning, configuration and the built-theme, the manual, … But every one of them was always fully integrated into the team in terms of technology.

But everybody always went back to programming. And everybody was responsible for top quality. For instance because they built automatic test environments simply as a part of the project. The responsibility was totally shared.

With the success came the necessity to have teachers for our product HIT/CLOU. During the first few years, all the developers also taught the courses. This was true for teaching the end users, the special users, the systems engineers, the operators and the programmers. Even the central persons, like Friedrich Lehn, the “father” of CLOU, taught courses where beginners were instructed on how to program CLOU.

There were instances when the developers did not appreciate this. After all, developing is much more important, isn’t it? But the courses were quite popular (because, after all, the colleagues knew what they were talking about, which certainly counterbalances the occasional “didactical” weakness). But the great thing about it was that our colleagues always knew exactly what the customer wanted and needed! This is how the customers as a whole became the Product Owners.
Due to these inter-disciplinary tasks, our colleagues grew both in technological competence and personality at enormous speed – that is also true for sales competence. More often than not, it was unbelievable how young students became experts with a huge self-esteem after a few months.

Without ever saying it out loud, we on our team understood even at that time that it is all about making all the persons in the team and in the enterprise look biggger instead of smaller. And to make them be part of everything and share everything. We knew that we often had to have really steep goals, often even bold goals. Otherwise, we would never have managed our product. But we also knew, especially in this situation, the importance of living a strong error tolerance.

The colleague in the team or the customer must never ever be the enemy or adversary. Instead, the only enemies were the challenge or the detrimental circumstances.

Wolf and I were the “management”. But we were more like visitors in our enterprise. After eight to ten hours with customers every day, we came back to our employees at home in the office for recreation. They were all our friends, it felt good to be near them. And they showed us all the great things they had, again, created. We gave our feedback and then disappeared to our next day of consultancy.

And whenever a nice result was achieved, we all celebrated. It was the best time of my life. We learned so much. We also learned that thinking normal and conservatively is often nonsense. For instance, I always wanted to deliver to our customers on time. And I had to learn that this is utter nonsense.

Because if you want to create something really innovative, you will learn again and again that deadlines do not make any sense at all. It simply will not work. If a deadline can absolutely not be met, then all that matters is a functioning communication and looking for a solution that satisfies the customer. Because when they are all in one boat and want to be a success together, then there is always a solution – and we found out that it can always be done.

I already hear your objection: 
Well, it might work for a small project. But what about a huge project?

To be sure, we were perhaps less than 50 persons. But the very same projects had failed with more than one huge concern. They had often used five times as many persons as we or even more. Expensive, experienced and highly qualified ones. But it did not work.

I believe it can be done in the same way if you have a huge or even a very huge project if many such great teams are linked and cooperate with good-will.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday October 26th, 2015

“Change Management“

Zeitgenössische Ganesha-Statue


Contemporary Ganesha Statue

Also one of those modern anti-words. In a nutshell, it means the struggle against the concept or principle:

“This is how we always did it!“

Because you assume that, in order to “improve” something, you have to change it. Yet you do not want to leave change to the evolutionary process or to “the masses”. Since there is no trust that employees or the citizens really know how to do “change” (basically, citizens and employees are mostly considered more stupid than they actually are), you suppress “grass-root movements”. Instead, you want change “from the top”, forced by managers and controlled or somehow manipulated.

This idea makes me shudder. Because in my understanding, the term manager more and more refers to an at least slightly insane priest who thinks he has supernatural powers and can make miracles happen through witchcraft.

The miracle expected by “Change Management” is innovation. Even though nobody really knows what innovation is and how it is done. It goes without saying that the magician and his witchcraft, too, will not work. If, by accident (or through other influences) something actually happens, then the magician, naturally, willingly takes the credit and the “cash”.

I often was frustrated because of the “this is how we always did it”. Regardless, I never saw it totally negative. After all, it contains some kind of conservative warning that reminds you of the fact that innovation will always have a negative destruction in its wake, even if said destruction is creative. Consequently, the often criticized sentence admonishes us to also see and answer for the consequences, regardless of the cry for necessary change. If you see the positive side of it, you get the appeal to see a challenge with all its consequences.

A short time ago, I remembered some other sentences I also often get to hear, for instance:

“Where would we end up if everybody did this?“
or

“What does he think he is doing …?“

More often than not, these sentences are uttered without much reflection. I sadly miss any positive connotation. Even more, I discover a “moral” judgement. I also heard this sentence quite a few times in my own enterprise, for instance when young employees spontaneously integrated rules that were quite questionable. The first reaction of the administrative department whose job it was to see to it that everybody sticks by the rules was doubt. Of course, mostly they did not first answer the important question: “WHY was all this done?“

Even though, basically, nobody can say why in the “social systems” created by people rules and regulations always exponentially multiply and develop lives of their own as a matter of course. Until they control the system. I like calling this effect “bureaucrazy”.

And when “bureacrazy” has us by the neck it is really high time to “break with patterns”. Even if it takes a lot of courage and you might actually get frightened. But still, it is important that, whenever we #break_with_patterns, we can answer the question: WHY!

A short time after his inauguration, our former Federal President, Mr. Roman Herzog allegedly said that the first thing one should do is abolish all laws with uneven numbers. And then look and see which laws you actually miss. You could easily re-introduce them. And then you should do the same thing with the laws that have even numbers.

Some way or other, that is also a good metaphor for #breaking_with_rules.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

About the picture:
I took the picture from a Wikipedia article on Ganesha. It is a work in its own right by onoikobangali.