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Roland Dürre
Friday October 5th, 2018

Is Democracy in Danger?

Here is what I think about the Bavarian Elections in a little more than a week.

Between ruins (South Georgia – whaling).

Democracy in Danger?
I hear this question more and more often.
And my answer is:
Yes – but it has been in danger for a long time already!

The democratic idea includes that people who live in a country (and therefore are this social system) elect their representatives who then find social consensus in parliament and realize said consensus in the form of prudent legislation. But this has not worked well in a long time.

My friend Detlev Six writes:
Liberal democracy is the most sensitive creature of the world. Nurse the baby!

Well, I, too, think that democracy is a rather tiny plant that should be well tended. However, that is not what we do. Instead, said plant has been threatened and harmed by various pests for decades.

I identified the following reasons why democracy in Bavaria and many other countries has been in the decline:

  • A general weakness in education and learning.
    Schools and universities produce consumers and workers who are more and more adapted to what the system needs, instead of autonomous persons in an ethically responsible awareness of values.
  • Party oligarchy.
    The parties no longer work towards the “social consensus”. They do not want the best for the people but continuing power. For said power, you need votes, which they want at any cost.
  • Interest associations and lobbyism.
    
The citizens see that the government, the parliament and the parties are ruled by foreign powers where the individual interest has priority over the interests of the people.
  • Marketing makes elections ridiculous.
    
How electoral campaigns are organized irritates the people and de-values the elections. You can now again see it in Bavaria. What nonsense you read on the posters that have been distributed all over the streets? Neither do the manifestos of the parties convince anybody. You get the impression that the party where most money flows into marketing and where people are best manipulated will win the elections.
  • The candidate selection and the internal party sleaze.
    
Again and again, party members that have never been elected into top positions get them.
  • Feeling powerless.
    
Huge parts of the population see themselves as powerless (either because that is how they feel or because they really are).

However, the “democracy in danger” question is now asked because the populists in Europe have such success and because of the imagined – and perhaps also real – threat of rightist movements and nationalist tendencies in Germany.

However, I believe that these problems are just a consequence of the factors I listed above and other similar developments. For me, this means that we ourselves caused the entire dilemma. By democratic failure. Both actively and passively.

And, as so often, those that lament most about what is wrong are those who caused it. We will probably have to accept that it is all our own fault, if we like it or not.

So whom am I supposed to give my vote?

I do not yet know. I do not like the Green Party because they were the ones who, along with the SPD, made it possible for our armed forces to be stationed abroad. CSU and SPD do not look electable to me. As far as the CSU is concerned, this is not only because of the current protagonists. The SPD did not understand #newwork at all, although this could (should?) be their topic. The FDP covers its clientele policy by promoting an “educational push“ and is millions of miles away from a “liberal“ policy, which means I cannot give them my vote. As I see it, the Left Party has some nice and good things in their program, but they also say many adventurous things. When it comes to “work life”, they are just as bad as the SPD. The AfD is not at all my world. That leaves only the ÖDP, which looks honest to me, or the “Die Partei”, which at least does not have a manifesto that makes you laugh as much as that of the other parties. Well, and ever since they tried to write a common political manifesto (see IF-Blog five years ago), I no longer like the Pirates either.

But here comes what is most important: 
Many of us are really well off. Let us enjoy life and give a little bit of our strength and nourishment (and nursing) to the little plant “liberal democracy”! And the first step is probably to actually go and vote.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday September 6th, 2018

Vacation. Over. Short Report and Contemplation.

The campground directly on the ocean.


Now we are back. The vacation is at an end.


On the first September Sunday, we went back to where autumn greeted us. After more than two weeks of the simple lifestyle under the Greek sun. It was not a luxury vacation – it was very hot, we spent a lot of time in natural surroundings with little civilization and very basic sanitary facilities. But there was plenty of swimming and riding our bikes – and there was much to enjoy every day.

And, once again, a deflated tyre.

When we were riding our bikes, the thorns were often a nuisance, because they kept puncturing our tyres. Mosquitoes were after us and small fish kept nibbling where the mosquitoes had bitten us. It was really hot and quite warm in the tent, even at night. The fresh wind and the ocean were extremely welcome.

It was no luxury vacation, but we had a great time with many experiences. Riding our bikes, there was much we really got a chance to inspect closely. There were up to five grandchildren and they all enjoyed the days just as much as the grown-ups. Naturally, that was a particular joy for us.

Once, it even rained.

There was one rainy day, after which the days were only slightly colder. At night, there were no lights and we saw the stars – during the middle part of our stay, we even saw the full moon. The stellar configurations I had learned as a young boy re-appeared.

And, in the middle of one night, I was wondering what it would be like if the sun were not to rise one morning. To be sure, I was well aware of the fact that, so far, this is not very likely to happen. But do we really know? Well, I can only say that I was quite happy to see the sun rise every morning!

In this simple world, I understood how important the sun is for us humans – and why, over many millennia, the human race saw the sun as a deity.
The beauty of nature has always impressed us.

During our bike tour.

You only have to ride up a mountain, and already you see the world below become smaller. Unfortunately, what you see is sometimes misleading – more often than not (too often), there is a lot of trash hidden among the beauty. Our paradise, too, has its set-backs.
Another notion gave me pause. Because I swam along the beach every morning and then went on a leisurely stroll on my way back. I was really looking forward to my cup of coffee for breakfast. And on the way, I had to climb over quite a lot of small rubbish.

No beach is free of trash.

And I though: “Why don’t I carry a plastic bag with me on my swimming/hiking tour, so I can collect all these many straws? It would certainly do me no harm, would it? And I should have enough of a personality to not mind people certainly then looking at me in a strange way.“
🙂 And perhaps the Goddess Sun would like such behaviour?
However, the next morning came and I had forgotten the small plastic bag, which means the plastic rubbish was not picked up.

On the Mavrouni cemetery, the corpses can see the ocean.

So far remote from the noise of our cities, you also start thinking about life and death. And you realize that camping might also be one of those things that potentially get a little harder as you grow older. Regardless, I would like to try it again. And if I can still do it next year, I will carry a small plastic bag whenever I go swimming in the morning – and then I will collect some trash on my way back. And I will not mind if people look at me in that peculiar way!

I promise!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 2nd, 2018

SIEMENS. #MyLife

Siemens technology as I experienced it during a wonderful trip to the Veragua-Rainforest and Puma Waterfall Research Centre in Costa Rica

In the early 1970ies, while studying in Munich, I ended up at Siemens AG. I was a working student at Kopp-Strasse. My office was there and our tests were done at the Feurich Building IT Laboratory. The Kopp-Strasse was beyond the “Hofmannstrasse” compound, the Feurich Building inside.
Siemens was a wonderful enterprise. Perhaps it is (was)  The German Enterprise.

Our motto was “building high technology for and with everything that is related to electricity”. There were more than 20 sectors, and every one of them did exceptional technological work. We complemented each other in a synergetic way. In addition, the entire enterprise was under excellent business leadership.

In the technological areas, there was an atmosphere of departure. The challenges were never big enough and the solutions were absolute works of genius.

In those days, the directors were very approachable. One of them described his view of his role as follows:

“Most of the more than 25 Siemens AG departments are doing economically very well. There are a few that need a little extra help. It is my job to make those strong again. I am not worried that there will be a day when I no longer have any work, because it is quite normal that another “strong” sector will need a little support at some time”.

To me, that sounded plausible. Such is life, also business life. There is no such thing as continuing top performance. Consequently, it is also quite normal that one sector or another will occasionally need some support.

I admired the economic strength and the exceptional business competence of the enterprise as a total unit. That was something that clearly distinguished us – Siemens – from the competition, such as AEG or Telefunken. As far as D was concerned, also from Nixdorf. And when occasionally some people lovingly and with irony called Siemens “a bank with an electronics sub-sector”, then this was not something I found so bad. It is quite a good idea for an enterprise to have “the funny stuff”.

Their mentality, at least as far as engineering areas were concerned, fascinated me. We worked in the same way as employees at google later told me they worked (during the good years). There were huge technological challenges, a high degree of self-responsibility and a faire error tolerance in case of failure. In addition, they had a clear reporting strategy without any restrictive processes and roles. Those were virtues that catapulted us to the front in technology. And we were (often more than) at eye-level with IBM and the other mostly US competition. The few European competitors had been left behind a long time ago, anyway.

In the late 1970ies, I was a tenured Siemens employee. In 1980, they also sent me to Neuperlach. And then I soon left the enterprise. Because the aforementioned virtues were getting lost.

They defined roles and introduced processes. Bureaucracy became the domineering factor and all decisions were made with a strong consideration of the shareholder value. A huge wave of paralysis was combined with irrational planning approaches, thus making it harder and harder, if not impossible, to work successfully. This is how a great technology went down the river.

After having founded my own enterprise, I did a lot of business with Siemens. Initially this was an excellent situation. Siemens was an honest customer and business partner. I can tell and already have told you many positive stories about it.

In the 1990ies, the climate started changing more and more for the providers, too. The providers came up with a nice German bonmot: “Partnerschaft ist, wenn der Partner schafft“. (If the partner does the work, they call it partnership). This is also something I could tell many stories about.
Then, the distance between me, and the same is true for InterFace, and Siemens grew. As the years went by, I followed the decline of the biggest German enterprise in the third millennium. Thus, the pain I, as an original Siemens person, felt became less and less and was finally relieved to some extent by a morbid joy of seeing a sick system collapse.

Now, in 2018, there are again exciting news from the one-time electronics concern. A new enterprise organisation is under way. They want to become „meaning oriented“. But what exactly does that mean?

Incidentally, all the stakeholders are to benefit – but above all, they mean the shareholders, then to some extent the customers, the people who work in the enterprise, the providers and the external social systems. It seems that Siemens did not learn a lot from what they saw in the last decades, because those decades show that this is not how it works.

The emotional distance between me and Siemens has grown. Today, I can look upon Siemens with more serenity than a few years ago. And I notice:

Again, the employees are verbally made the ”centre“. And there they are more in the way than anything else.

The first priority is given to the shareholder, i.e. the international capital. As I see it, Siemens wants to tread on a path that I already saw several other enterprises take.

You divide an enterprise into two (here: three) parts and take the new enterprises to the stock exchange. As soon as each of the enterprises alone has a higher stock exchange value than the old one ever had – the champagne corks can fly. This is especially true for the capital.

It is a totally different story what will become of the three successor concerns. However, it will have nothing to do with the old Siemens company.

Well, this is neither here nor there, because the times when they said “we produce everything that has something to do with electricity” are history. Which is also true for the other German enterprises that, with their more or less enthusiastic employees (and many guest workers) created the “economic miracle”.

RMD
(Translated by EG

Roland Dürre
Saturday August 11th, 2018

The Things I Do #MyLife

I have been part of the “Forum Agile Verwaltung | Austausch und kollegiale Beratung“ (a closed facebook group) for many years. I enjoy it very much and learn a lot. Now there was a call to all members of the group asking them to introduce themselves. It was my pleasure to reply to the call. Here is my contribution:


 

At fav17! Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, agility master and my photographer this time.


In this group, I feel that I am a guest who can get his first input on interesting topics and both listen carefully and learn. I became part of this forum because I was once invited to give a presentation on the “Unpredictability of the Future“ in the forum.

About me: after my university studies of mathematics (major) and computer science (minor) at Munich Technical University that started in 1969, I became a programmer. After some apprentice years at Siemens AG and Softlab GmbH I founded my own company, the InterFace AG, in the early 1980ies with Wolf Geldmacher . During a PM camp, I met and learned to appreciate Thomas Michl.

Thanks to our product CLOU/HIT, we (InterFace) won many customers from the public office sector (police and county jurisdiction, the Central Employment Agency, and many more federal and county offices). And we learned a lot in the process.

During the development phase of CLOU/HIT, it did not take us long to understand that a customer-oriented development of complex software products will no longer work with “old concepts“, which is why we replaced “hierarchically organized groups“ by “networking teams“. At the time, this was revolutionary and extremely successful.

Today, I am no longer operatively active. Instead, I now limit my involvement to handing my experience (knowledge and expertise) on, mostly to younger persons. Some of them are individual persons, others are teams (start-ups).

I try to avoid giving advice (an advice is also a vice). Instead, I try to inspire people and generate impulses. And I try to find good (the right) questions in mutual agreement with all the parties concerned. Because a good question is the requirement for a good answer.

My goal is mainly to make other people, and especially young people, more successful and happier.


I think this is a concise description of what I currently do.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday July 22nd, 2018

Love & Hatred.

I used to quite like a few proverbs. For example:

(i) No pain no gain!
(ii) No risk no fun!
(iii )No hate no love!

You can use them in all kinds of situations. There are people who actually gain eternal notoriety by cultivating these proverbs. All these proverbs have one thing in common – they signal that you cannot get one thing without accepting another thing.

In some way or other, these ideas were also part of my kitchen philosophy. They were part of my cynical approach towards life.

Today, these – perhaps wise – sentences no longer mean much to me. I want to win without having to suffer. I want to be happy without having to risk something. And, above all, I want to love without having to hate.

I think it is a basic decision of every individual human being if he/she wants to live by the principles (i – iii). Or if they prefer living without those principles and instead focus on what is positive?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday May 26th, 2018

#DSGVO: Extended IF Blog Data Security Declaration

Since the #DSGVO is now active, I extended the IF Blog Data Security Declaration (Datenschutzerklärung) as follows:


Extended Data Security Declaration of May, 26th, 2018:
The aforementioned data security declaration is about as old as the If blog itself. As a matter of principle, I am not in favour of collecting anything, let alone collecting data. Consequently, I never collected data or tried to use them for any purpose in IF Blog.

I use the tool “webmaster” exclusively in order to know in what parts of the world my readers live.

Formerly, I sometimes sent emails with information on IF Blog (articles and authors) to known subscribers. I terminated this service a long time ago, because, to me, sending emails no longer seems up-to-date and besides I find them a nuisance. Now I deleted all the e-mail data.


This means:

  • You will never again receive IF Blog news. I think nobody will mind. For me personally, the news mania is nonsense, anyway. Nobody really benefits
  • On top of this, just as before, you can rest assured that no “private data“ are collected or used for any purpose at IF Blog.

Incidentally, I believe that the #DSGVO will have absolutely no positive effect and just bring us even more over-regulation. Thus, it will increase the frustration with the state and push even more voters towards the “populist” parties. It might also promote the tendency towards righteousness – which, in our culture, already gets on my nerves.

Besides, it will probably make even more people ready to “ignore the law“ – which too many are already willing to do as it is – and erode the trust in the state as a wise, competent and responsible legislator. I think that is a pity, but then it seems that this is what the gentlemen in Brussels and Berlin want.

However, even I will not get any wiser by lamenting. As far as possible, I try to adhere to the law both as a human being and as an entrepreneur. Even as a biker and car driver. And that has always been true for the IF Blog and this is how I want it to continue. So I will abide by the rules.

I will probably write a few more articles about the #DSVGO. In one of my next articles, I will write about the stupid rule that children need to be sixteen years old before they can decide how they want to use the internet. But they can change their religion a lot earlier than that.

Allegedly, children are too stupid for the internet and need legal protection. Well, that is not how I feel about it. I think that the grown-ups who wrote and designed the #DSGVO really do not have the slightest idea about the internet.

But I will write more about this in the future on this blog.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I recommend the following link: Link zur #DSGVO. Under #RAStadler, Thomas Stadler has been twittering for a long time and I have been following him for many years. I learned many important things in his blog. Many thanks!

THOMAS STADLER
STANDORT: FREISING, BAYERN, GERMANY
Fachanwalt für IT- Recht und Fachanwalt für Gewerblichen Rechtsschutz in der Kanzlei AFS

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 10th, 2018

What Tools do Leaders Need?

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

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

”What tools does a product owner need?“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


🙂 Here comes more for managers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What tools does a leader need?

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

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

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

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

SO: What tools does a pastor need?

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

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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
Saturday May 5th, 2018

People and Their Characteristics

WARNING:
The following text might be a little hard to digest for many of you.

A few years ago in the South Sea – guaranteed to be far removed from seminars and all kinds of mentoring.

It is not the people who are good or evil but what they do.

For me, this is a very central idea from the age of enlightenment.

Similarly, you can say
It is not the managers who are correct or incorrect but their decisions.

“Incorrect” in this context means “wrong“.

Mind you, it is even more problematic when it comes to decisions than when it comes to behaviour. What you do often has consequences. More often than not, you cannot really know, even à posterior, what consequences your decisions really had for the enterprise or for the world. Because the question is always ”how real is reality?“, which you can read about in Watzlawick. And decisions that seemed to be the right decisions at the time often turn out to have been totally wrong in retrospect.

You cannot give people and managers characteristics like good or evil. They are not gear-wheels that function as part of a clockwork in your family or enterprise.

With humans, even trivial measurements such as weight and height are not too easy. You see a tall lady with unbelievably long legs – then she takes off her shoes and becomes a dwarf. An overweight person might easily turn into a slim one because he lost 20 kilograms.

Nor can you decide about beauty. One day, the hero shines in all his splendour wearing his gala uniform; but what about when he wakes up hungover and has not shaved (for reasons of gender fairness, I chose a male example and abstained from using the example of the one-night stand and the terrible morning after).

With intelligence, there is also no objective measure. You determine the I.Q. – but what about emotional intelligence , see Emotionalen Intelligenz in his book ”EQ … “.

Consequently, we should not give people characteristics such as fat, tall, beautiful or intelligent. They are frivolous and inadequate. But you can do a lot worse.
Some people told me that I am a “brain-controlled person”. Others testified that I am a “person who decides following his gut-feeling“.

They all were persons who are close to me and presumably even meant well by me. They believed they had learned enough about me to judge my personality. And they pitied me because they believed that I, being a brain-oriented or gut-oriented person, cannot do a fair job as a manager.

These – incidentally they were all male – people all saw themselves as great leaders. I saw them as idiots, or rather: I perceived them as such.
But that is exactly what it is all about:

It is all just our perception.

We all wear masks and act in the way we think we need to inter-act, which does not make communication and understanding easier. This is how we are (too) quickly prepared to make others look “smaller”, rather than “taller”.

There is no such thing as a person who is “brain-oriented or “gut-oriented“, “cold“ or “emphatic“, “sensitive“ or “insensitive“, “weak“ or “strong“, “emotional“ or “unemotional“, etc. These are all values you cannot measure. Regardless of the fact that some charlatans claim that they can do exactly that and make a lot of money selling the idea.

It is something we should permanently remember.

Especially, we should be careful when it comes to our self-perception. It is mostly wrong!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I can easily prove this last statement by relating discussions with many people who come to see me as my mentées. More often than not, it is truly shocking for me to see how they make themselves look small.