Roland Dürre
Wednesday September 12th, 2018

Culture Engineering. Terminology. Methods, Tools

Wearing my new Hanseatic hat after my return from #PMCampBER in the Grosshesselohe forest restaurant.

Let me give you a short report on the PM Camp Berlin session on Culture Engineering before I will write about the “contradictions” in social systems. It was one of many exciting sessions I participated in at the anti-conference #PMCampBER.

The topic was “Culture Engineering” – as a method and tool that helps to influence, change and control the culture in a social system that has an economic goal, i.e., in an enterprise.

The person who had initiated the session himself had felt suspicious about the term “Culture Engineering”. His “feeling uncomfortable” was due to his scepticism about question if a culture can actually be actively influenced with an “engineering-approach“. He feared that such a concept could or would easily end in manipulation with negative or at least unpredictable results.

One session participant said that there is a successful “Culture Engineering“ stream of studies in Leipzig and that the graduates of this school are actually quite sought after by the human resources departments of companies, especially huge companies. I find this rather exciting, which means that we are in the middle of the world of culture engineering and human resource (HR).

As far as titles are concerned, I constantly get visiting cards with job titles such as engineer, officer, manager or president on them. And I must admit that, of all these titles, the one I like best is the engineer who, for instance, is in charge of a project. But “German-English“ is modern, so I am getting into it. Now we have the CEO, CTO and CIO  and, more and more often, also the CHRO (HR as an abbreviation for human resources). That is where you will find the innovation manager and the culture engineer. In general, I am quite suspicious of officers and managers, and the same is true for presidents and vice presidents.

In our session, the first thing we approached was terminology. Someone proposed that maybe we could say “culture gardening”, instead of “culture engineering”. I found this rather appealing. But then I thought that, in analogy to “garden cultivation”, the task could be called “cultural cultivation”.

Then we discussed the definition of entrepreneurial culture. We found the answer (from entrepreneurial theory):

Entrepreneurial culture is the memory of an enterprise.

? Honi soit qui mal y pense, but, for me, this is immediately associated with “memory manipulation”.

When I looked up the term in Wikipedia, I discovered a Wikipedia call on copyright.

I support this call with all my heart and consequently I publish it here.
However, I am not sure that it will suffice if you contact your representative in the European Parliament. You will probably have to do more than that.

Yet this is a good example for controlled change in values and rules. And the motives are very capitalist.

Back to Culture Engineering. As with many buzzwords, I find the term a little ridiculous. The same is true for a culture engineer or innovation manager at HR.

I certainly believe that you should be aware of and actively live the culture of an enterprise, just like that of all other social systems. And it is also quite legitimate to use modern technology and methods. But it is a something that must happen between the leaders and all the others. Leadership as defined in Google (see the article article by Dr. Marcus Raitner).

However, culture cultivation will only be a success if as many people as possible participate in the cultivation process – and I mean with a lot of attention and actively.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday September 10th, 2018

PMCamp Berlin – Experiences, Adventures, Contemplation.

The first day #PMCampBER 7/9/2018

Between September, 6, and September, 8, the sixth PM-Camp Berlin took place (PM-Camp Berlin). As always, it was an exceptional event. One of the reasons why it was excellent is the extraordinary quality of the organizational team and Ralf Eicher, another reason, naturally, are the more than 100 great people who took part.

As we all know, the train trip from Munich to Berlin is a mere “jump“ these days, which means it was no problem for me to go there. Since I am one of the PM Camp founders, I went to Berlin for more than just nostalgic reasons. I also wanted to retrieve my knowledge and learn new things. And, above all, I wanted to exchange ideas with nice people and simply share my experiences. As always, it was a total success. The two days were particularly nice because I met so many old friends.

And I returned with many new considerations and various insights. I also learned about tools and methods that had been unknown to me before. Let me share some of it here.

Again, I was part of LSP (Lego serios play). Julian Kea (known as @kiLearning in Twittter) showed us that, in a team with modern methods, you can actually do such as thing as Story making. Besides, I heard about tools such as the Mentimeter. With this tool, you can represent the mentality found in a creative community (that is ”the cultural standard of a social system or community“, also known as mind set) as a tag cloud in no time. This is really quite convenient.

The sessions on the following topics gave me a huge number of impulses:

  • “culture engineering“ as a science that strives towards finding methods that can change the entrepreneurial culture.
  • What exactly is meant with “coaching“ and “agile coaching, and the question
  • whether or not it makes sense for a medium-sized enterprise to position itself “against  right-wing populism”.

My experiences were so fundamental that I want to – and probably will – relate them in the IF blog.
Generally speaking, I once again realized to what a huge extent we are all responsible for our own actions. How it is important that we do not allow our rationality to suppress everything else. And during peer2peer conversations and rounds of different sizes, I also saw how many people, also as a community, can have a wonderful “mindset“ – which makes me look forward to the future.

However, I also noticed that most people have a basic conviction that I need to contradict. They assume that, in many dimensions of our life, we have a speed-up process and an increase in complexity that forces us to be prepared to accept change and innovation at all times. And the hope is that we will be better equipped to do this if we increase the agility in our lives.

Here is how that sounds:

“We have to become more agile in order to be better equipped to deal with complexity and acceleration and develop more resiliency and anti-fragility.“

Mind you, there is no doubt at all in my mind that some (or better: many) things both in our private and business lives will improve. But I am not at all sure that in our private and professional lives everything will really become more complex in the future. My experience (analysis) does not support such a statement, but my analysis should definitely be just as much under scrutiny as the following sentence:

“There is a lot of nonsense in all kinds of social systems – often bordering on mania!“

I will write a few articles on “the contradiction between processes and common sense” and “the contradiction between trust and secrecy” to illustrate this.

And I truly believe that an agile mindset – combined with a few shared values – can help considerably. The agile manifesto describes four huge contradictions and proposes positions that should be given priority (it is always the arguments on the left side that should have priority over those on the right side). I discussed this with many people and the majority of them saw it as I see it. Here is my link to the German version of the agile manifesto although I like the English version better.

Back to #PMCampBER. Yes, it was great. Many thanks to all the participants, and, of course, especially to the orga team.

I am inspired and look forward to writing about “contradictions” as a fundamental problem of the culture in social systems. I also believe this might be a good topic for a future PM Camp session – wherever it takes place.

((Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 9th, 2017

Diversity – The Blog Parade of the Berlin 2017 PM Camp

Drawing by Christian and Daniel – created during the last PM Camp in Dornbirn. (©Visual-Braindump 2016)

As one of the initiators of the PM Camp movement, I still follow the development and events around the PM Camp, even though the original Dornbirn PM Camp is a thing of the past. And although project management is no longer something close to my heart.

I believe that, a few years from now, the same will be said about the project management certificates as about the drivers’ licence:
🙂 Wise people will no longer need it – which is lucky for them.

The Berlin PM Camp was always one of those I particularly enjoyed and also often attended. It will next be held between September, 7th and 9th, 2017 (7. bis 9. September 2017). I rather like Berlin as a city of DIVERSITY, just as I also very much like and appreciate the Berlin Orga-Team. And when Heiko calls for the Blog Parade
“DIVERSITY – in projects and beyond …“
I will, naturally, contribute.

As an inspiration, I quickly read Dr. Eberhard Huber’s article on DIVERSITY this morning (together with Dr. Jens Hoffmann, Dr. Marcus Rainer, Dr. Stefan Hagen and yours truly, Eberhard initially formulated the PM Camp idea and then we put the idea into practice with a few more ladies and gentlemen).

PM Camp Berlin 2017 und die Vielfalt

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Translated by EG)

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

logo-dornbirnSix years ago, the PM Camp movement started in Dornbirn. Since then, many PM Camps have been organized in many cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They were all very successful, the participants were always very happy with the results and went back home knowing that they had learned to understand many new things. They also always knew that they had made new friends!

The various organizational teams of all those many PM CMs always created great topics as impulses. In Dornbirn, I remember “Humans are not Resources”, “Breaking Patterns”, in Berlin, for example “Complex versus Complicated” or “Digital in Projects”, in Stuttgart, among others: “Product as Project” and much more.

This year, the organizational team (which I am part of) of the PM-Camp Dornbirn decided to formulate:


as in impulse for the upcoming Barcamp on November, 18th and 19th, 2016. It was Stefan’s idea and I rather liked it. As I see it, this one sentence contains an important message in as little as three words. However, those three words will first need to be de-coded. Here is my attempt at doing so.

Let me first take a closer look at the term “differentiate“ and list the synonyms. Here is what you can find in

analyse · categorize · characterize · determine · differentiate · discriminate · divide · figure out · identify · know · qualify · recognize · separate · ascertain · classify· collate · decide · demarcate · diagnose · estimate · extricate · finger · individualize · judge · label · mark · name · part · pinpoint · place · select · sift · signalize · specify · spot · tag · determinate · diagnosticate · make out · mark off  · set apart · set off · single out · sort out · tell apart · tell between · tell from

Separate” is not precisely easy to define, either. Here are the synonyms you get from the same thesaurus:

break · detach · disconnect · divide · divorce · severe · come between · split up· uncombine · split · cleave · dichotomize · disentangle · disjoin · disjoint· dissect · dissever · distribute · intersect · part · rupture · sunder · uncouple · undo · break off · come apart · come away

In the thesaurus, you will also find exciting associations with both terms. I chose not to mention them, because they would have made the list even longer.

In communication, terms have a central role. As I perceive it, the synonyms of “distinguish” mostly sound positive. They often have something to do with “humanity”. As opposed to this, the synonyms of “separate” sound more negative to me, they are functional and cold at best. In a nutshell: what is meant by “distinguish” just sounds a lot better to me than “separate“.

Can it be that simple? Distinguish without separating, just because the synonyms of “distinguish” sound better than those of “separate”? For me, this fits, because I prefer thinking positive to thinking negative. And I also practice the actual achievement of living this positive way of thinking. After all, I want to be a positive person, not a negative person. If I am positive myself, I will find it much easier to be positive towards other persons. And if I have something negative inside, I get frustrated. Which will want to get out of my system. Which means others get to suffer from it.

So basically, it is very easy: you want to distinguish, rather than separate. Because we want to work together, rather than against each other. It is the only way to promote your own happiness and your own success. And only if I respect and appreciate myself, I will also be able to respect and appreciate others. Consequently, the only way to make others happier and more successful is by doing the same for myself. And then, the happiness and success of others will again feel good to me. Because we are all individualists, yet as such always “PARTS OF THE WHOLE“.

I think:

We are all different from each other. We should take this in account and appreciate it. It is nice but still it should not be a reason for moralizing, evaluating and separating. And it should certainly not be a reason to develop enmity, which can easily become destructive.

That is exactly what we want to avoid at all costs on our #PMCampDOR! As we  distinguish without separating, it will turn into a really great and humane Camp! So why don’t you register and then come? I look forward to seeing you all again!

(Translated by EG)

For more articles on “DISTINGUISHING WITHOUT SEPARATING”, see the Blog-Parade zu #PMCampDOR 2016.  I truly believe it is worth browsing through.

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnAfter the PM Camp is before the PM Camp. That is also true for the original #PMCampDOR team. They will again open their doors on November, 18th and 19th, 2016. In 2015, the Dornbirn topic was “Breaking Patterns”. Perhaps we simply wanted to counteract the growing complexity and dynamics that we find so confusing.

Today, it is easier for us to see how many options we have. We develop at high speed on a daily basis, the speed of learning increases. Thanks to the information society, we can see far beyond the horizon and can extend our limited image of the “world”. This fills our hearts and brains more than ever.

We also no longer refuse to accept the simple understanding that the future cannot be predicted. Just like we see more and more clearly that humans are basically not the crown of creation but just a small part thereof and that our microcosm, which is so very important to us, is basically just an illusion we constructed ourselves and totally subconsciously.

We now accept that, for many centuries, we made the mistake of believing our cerebellum could understand everything and that we could decide rationally based on our knowledge. And we notice that the huge majority of our knowledge and experiences is basically not simply retrievable at our convenience. Instead, it will turn up in an almost sinister way.

In particular, we notice that our decisions are not based on ratio. Instead, our ratio will provide us with reasons and justifications afterwards. Slowly, we leave the path that led us astray and made us believe that we are the masters of our behaviour and thus can be held responsible. We will then use the new technologies to start going towards the true dimension of social inter-dependence.

In order to survive in this new life, we will probably have to discover and make use of differences and contradictions. It will not help us to simplify or trivialize if we want to live in peace with ourselves and thus be content. This is the requirement for learning to do without enemy images and for having social peace with nature and other persons. What we need to do is accept matters as they are and stop differentiating and classifying.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday April 23rd, 2016

New Barcamps is What the Country Needs!

Now I know why my enthusiasm about barcamps is dwindling …

PM_BannerDiese Woche war This week, I was invited to attend the first (!) barcamp organized by one of the really huge German world concerns in their enterprise building. The “anti-conference” was announced as an experiment and was about “modern leadership principles“.

They wanted to try something new and invited around 50 internal employees and a few external persons (one of whom was me). Almost all of the concern employees were young “high potentials”, among them many personal assistants of directors or persons responsible for a sector of product.

With respect to the degree of freedom, the barcamp was a little restricted. For instance, the “feet principle” and the roles of “butterflies and bees” were intentionally not formulated. When I asked about those, the organizers told me they had been afraid that this would have been a little too much innovation – a fear that I do not happen to

But: the event was an extremely good experience.

To me, it seemed that, after a short phase of scepticism, all participants were really enthusiastic and active. And that it was a great thing for all parties concerned. Not one of the participants had actively prepared for the event by writing a presentation or some such! Consequently, all session givers formulated their problems, anxieties and experiences spontaneously after having spent only a short time pondering. And that really found its target – in the sessions, we always worked on topics that seemed really important and very exciting.

I, too, again, learned a lot and was truly glad to have been there. In particular, I now understand far better how huge concerned work today when it comes to leadership and management. As an extra knowledge increase, I also realized that, today, it is actually no longer the rule that new products need to be found useful by the customer.

In fact, first and foremost, it is all about evaluating where and if there are under-provided sectors on the market (product-free spaces), yet where the majority of persons who have been asked think they might need it.

As soon as this requirement is met, all you have to do is come up with a good marketing strategy and a concept that will make a basic scaling and good profit (production costs / price acceptable for the buyer) possible. I was actually a little taken aback when I heard that the usefulness of a product no longer plays any role when it comes to creative planning.

However, one (indirect and), for me, very important realization was (and this is why I write this article) that this “concern barcamp” made me aware of why I get more and more tired of barcamps:

The longer you have had a barcamp, the more people come with topics they prepared at home. They no longer formulate what is on their minds spontaneously and/or in the context of what actually happens.

pmcamp3Unfortunately, this is a tendency I see more and more often in the once so much-loved PM-Camps that, so far, I have always remained true to. And when I am there, I mostly stay in the coffee room and talk to the many great persons present. Also, it seems to me that, as the years go by, other barcamps have more and more “ready-made” session, which causes the anti-conference to slightly differ only in one respect from the good old classical conference: its format-based freedom.

Here is a possible solution to the problem:

a) communicate in no uncertain terms that it is better to let the moment determine what happens on a barcamp and have sessions develop from the individual and shared situation and

b) make the planning phases more iterative and “shared” (i.e. just fix the sessions for the morning after breakfast, then reflect in the forum for a short time what is going to happen and what should be continued).

To be sure, the constant tightrope walk between individually (alone) and collectively (together) and between agile and planned in advance is certainly not something easily done. But that does not mean we should not keep trying.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 28th, 2015

PM Camp Dornbirn – Between Pretension and Reality?

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnIn retrospective, the Dornbirn PM Camp was rather a success. Most (well, basically all) of the participants felt great and drove home with a feeling of satisfaction. In my opinion, this is great.

Also, many participants filled in our feedback forms. This is how we (the organizational team) received many constructive comments. I am currently working my way through those, along with the twitter “timeline” of our anti-conference. You can read the timeline under the hashtag #PMCampDOR. Incidentally, it is a lot of fun: a retrospective view with many useful links.

Statistically spoken, the feedback was just as positive as the individual comments. This gave the organizational team a boost. Barcamps are something special. They are based on freedom, eyelevel, participation, equal rights. You can also see those factors as “weaknesses”. But then, they are weaknesses I personally find rather attractive. A barcamp lives from the moment. You cannot control them, the sessions rise from the context of what you have just experienced. And that is a good thing!

In other words:
Freedom and diversity can also polarize. You might get focal points and conclusions that not everybody will always like. Well, you have to cope with this, just like freedom is not always something you can easily cope with. It takes tolerance.

Democracy, too, has its problematic side. Even the question how to best organize democracy can be a problem. Just remember the passionate discussion about “direct versus parliamentary democracy” – one of which is considered the solution (for instance in Switzerland) while being considered extremely dangerous (for instance here in Germany, because we believe the people are stupid). On the other hand, many are no longer at all happy with our “parliamentary democracy”.
Anti-conferences are democratic. Their dynamics depend very much on the persons attending. As opposed to conferences, you meet in a rather free room with only little formatting. This might trigger group dynamics that not everybody will welcome. But then, every participant can feel free to counteract.

PM Camps are very pluralistic meetings. Males and females meet, old and young persons, starters and almost-pensioners, successful and not-so-successful persons, persons who studied at university and persons who learned their trade in apprenticeships, no-nonsense types and laughing types, “not so wealthy ones” and “rich ones”, etc. Maybe these barcamps can manage to bridge the gap between ME and WE and thus reduce the tension between “individual” and “collective” needs.
And what is true for projects is also true here: technology and tools are no longer the problem. The existing methods, too, are mostly more or less suitable. Yet most of the projects fail because of the “human factor”. This is also a danger with barcamps. You can never please everybody. Consequently, both the tweets and the feedback forms showed us that some details were highly praised by some, yet criticized by others.

Besides the positive feedback, there was criticism and recommendations for improvement. Wherever the recommendations for improvements do not counteract the barcamp principles, we will take them very seriously. Just as we will take the criticism to heart. But then, you could also say:
If someone criticizes something about a barcamp, he is also criticizing his own behaviour.

Here is a list of feedback with my comment:

Positive Feedback:

The positive feedback is by far the majority. Even though I would enjoy citing all of them, I will restrict myself to a few:

If the PM Camp would not exist, one would have to invent it!!

I will be back!

I was able to learn a lot, make experiences and meet very interesting persons!
Continue in this way, no regulations!

There was a very homely and cosy atmosphere, the discussions were all at eye-level!

I could continue I this way – and very often, there was a
Huge Thanks!
and 100 % of the participants replied to the question:
“Would you recommend the PM Camp to a colleague?“
With a Yes .

Of course, reading this made us truly happy. We in the organizational team will process all the positive feedback with care and diligence. After all, what is true for persons when it comes to “personality development” (often also called management or leadership training) is also true for communities: first and foremost, you should promote your strengths, instead of always trying to work on the weaknesses. Because the latter will never be a success anyway and the former is so much more promising. Consequently, we want to make those things better that are already quite positive.
But I also have examples for

Negative Feedback:

The WLAN on the Camp was a catastrophe …

Yes, that is true. But I know how Stefan, in particular, took pains, both before and during the event, to improve the situation at the university. On the evening before, I also had a dialogue with one of the experts who had explained the problem to me. The specialists at the university, too, tried their best, but again, they did not manage it. Due to highly complicated security aspects, the systems are programmed in such a way that the technicians cannot do it. Naturally, we will try to do better in this respect next year. Yet we should also appreciate how much the Dornbirn Fachhochschule as a sponsor of the event is doing for us. Maybe we can be a little lenient in return.

There was no information about parking!
Yes – we forgot our dear car drivers.

More precise information on the event (start, end) on the website, please. 
Yes, that is certainly something we can improve.

Pictures of those who organize a session would help with the orientation.
Unfortunately, “Aebby“ (Eberhard Huber) had to cancel on short notice – consequently, his polaroid camera, too remained in Stuttgart.

Criticism and recommendations on
Ice-Breaking, Moderation and an introduction round,
very diverse. Some wanted a round of introductions, others not. Some wanted more moderation and/or ice-breaking, others less. I would say it was about equally distributed.

Many ideas and recommendations for improvements in the feedback forms were about

“Newbies“ and “class meetings of old PM Camp attendants and how one could, maybe, improve the quality of sessions, for instance by coaching, mentoring or moderation.

A narrow majority wanted an explicit support for Newbies. The others thought it worked quite well automatically. To me, it also seems that this is easier with small PM Camps – such as Barcelona – than with big ones such as Dornbirn. So this was almost indirectly a criticism that Dornbirn is getting too big.

There was also some criticism on individual sessions and how they were offered.

Too much IT in the sessions.

I missed the games.

It would be better if the sessions of the second day were better based on those of the first day.

The principle and variants of sessions should be better explained beforehand, especially for the newbies.

I support whatever improves the session concept. Yet I believe that the organizational team should not meddle with the content of the sessions. They belong to the “part-takers”. The organizational team has the chance to motivate those who are interested in the messages or want a controversial discussion about them by formulating the mottoes and selecting the impulse given before the event. That should be enough.

But there are some challenges for the future. I particularly liked one of them:

It will be THE ONE challenge of the future to maintain the high standards.

That is exactly how I feel!

Incidentally, there is a lot of praise and some criticism of the Dornbirn PM Camp on the official GPM Blog. Reinhard Wagner reported on the Dornbirn PM Camp in a post, actually writing a few rather negative things in his last paragraph (…PM Camp only partially managed to deliver what it had promised. …).

Since I see a number of misunderstandings in this article and also because my name appears in it, I will now discuss Reinhard’s theses “dialectically” and also try to explain a few things.

This is where I start with the text of the last paragraph written by Reinhard in the GPM blog. The sum of all the cursive text elements is the complete last paragraph, copied from his post 1 one 1 (RW). Whenever I use “normal” font directly afterwards, then those are my comments (RMD).

(RW) … The motto of this year’s Dornbirn PM Camp was “breaking with patterns” (What patterns should we break and how can we do it?). This is something the PM Camp managed to deliver only to some extent. As I see it, that is also the dilemma of the entire “PM Camp” movement.

(RMD) Not only PM Camp, but the entire human society has the dilemma that it cannot manage change to a reasonable or at least desired extent. Current history alone is a good proof of this (wars, terrorism, the destruction of the planet…)    .
The problem I have with what Reinhard writes is that, for me, the only thing a PM Camp is supposed to deliver is a) to be a good host and b) to find the right participants. That is also what the organization team for “our” Dornbirn PM Camp aimed at. And as I see it, the same is true for the entire “PM Camp Movement”.
Each year, we meet at the PM Forum (our strategic organ for all PM Camps) amd discuss how to best do this. Here, the representatives of the regional organizational teams (the operative event managers who organize the Camps) and the core teams (the normative founders) meet. During this meeting, we exchange ideas on what could be improved in order to make it even easier for you – our guests and visitors – to exchange knowledge, find consensus and gain insights.
The basic role of an organizational team for a PM Camp is that of host. It looks for sponsors and, finances the event where it costs more than the participants’ fees have brought. In addition, we, as a group, try to come up with mental concepts (for instance a motto like the metaphor of “breaking with patterns” before the event) and to promote the success of the entire affair through impulse presentations during the Camp (what?) and ideas about the methods of presentation (how?), without ever jeopardizing the core ideas of a barcamp.
We are very careful about not clandestinely turning our “anti-conference” into a conference or congress.
Please remember:
A PM Camp is nothing other than a barcamp directed towards project managers, entrepreneurs, leaders – basically all those persons who are prepared to take responsibility for our future. It provides them with a platform for the exchange of opinions and ideas and thus supports their networks.

(RW) The “young wild ones” (sorry Roland Dürre) try with all their might to distance themselves from the established big ones in the field, primarily from the GPM, the PMI and the PRINCE2-Community.

(RMD) As to the “young wild ones”: personally, I must say that I do not see myself qualifying for “young”. I meant quite a few young start-ups with this metaphor. They approach things totally differently from what I am used to with the “established enterprises”. And whenever a start-up is a success, then it is definitely not because it thinks in terms of projects.
But back to the text. The very phrase “established big ones in the field” shows how problematically Reinhard is positioned. Personally, I do not see the PM Camp movement as competition of any “established big ones”. Because we are not an association. If anything, we might be an alternative to it, meeting in a free area and exchanging knowledge and experience. During a PM Camp, what you do is motivate each other to start thinking. The “ME”s will meet as part of the “WE”s. That has nothing in common with an association or similar structures. This is also one of the reasons why the organizational team must not and will not give proactive recommendations.
Incidentally, the PM Camp Movement also always coordinates whatever they do with openPM, the open portal that provides a platform for the free exchange for all  project managers. openPM is a non-profit-making club that, as I see it, is no competition for the “established big ones” either. Consequently, openPM has nothing to do with those clubs/associations.
My personal reason for shunning clubs and associations is that, to me, they all seem to think they alone possess the “truth”, then they mould their truth into rules and laws and earn their (horrendous sums of) money with it. That is something I do not want to be part of. But I am not trying it with all my might. I am just clearly stating the fact.

(RW) The pattern “agile” versus “traditional” is used far too often. In almost all the discussions, you get the comparison between “industrial age is old and evil” versus “information age is young and good”, the same is true for “waterfall” versus “Scrum”.

(RMD) Here, Reinhard probably misunderstood something. It is quite possible that, years ago, there were such frontiers. In order to stop this nonsense, however, we started a PM Camp in Dornbirn in 2011. Its motto was “building bridges“.
Consequently, I hardly noticed any conflicts between “agile” and “traditional” during the Dornbirn PM Camp. On the contrary: all the persons I heard – including the impulse presenters – made it quite clear that anything can be justified. All you have to do is consider what you want to use when for which purpose.
Incidentally, I believe that all you need to know about “agile” has been written down in the “agile manifesto“. What you find there is a recommendation to use “common sense” in an “honest” way. And I cannot see where this is supposed to be a method. Basically, it should be something that goes without saying. Just like it goes without saying that you can make many mistakes in projects.

(RW) One presenter spoke against all rules and “patterns”, before, a few pages into the presentation slides, saying that you should actually not do any projects (#noprojects).
(RMD) If this is referring to the impulse by Robert Weisgräber, then I have to say that his was one of the best presentations I have watched in a long time. This can also be seen from the feedback statistics. But perhaps the metaphor #noprojects  is not all that easily understandable. Yet I did not really hear that you should not do any projects. What I heard is that you should think twice before deciding what to do.

(RW) In a workshop on “organizations as living organisms”, they tried to show how such an organization works. When I asked if we could perhaps exemplify this with the – unfortunately very successful – organization “Islamic State”, my request was rudely denied with the (killer) argument that this is not really the time to discuss that general topic.
(RMD) Naturally, what someone says in a session cannot meet the total approval of all participants. It has something to do with democracy. On the other hand, I would also not think it goal-oriented to discuss the IS as an example. Not just because, to me, the IS looks like a criminal, fascist organization (The Third Reich, too, was fascist. And still the “GröFaZ“ generated fear for all the established generals with agile warfare).
To be sure, Reinhard Wagner could have organized a separate session on the IS, or perhaps, more precisely, a session about “modern guerrilla war of fascist organizations as a successful method for fighting against technologically superior armies”. But I would not have attended such a session (or if, then just to tell everybody that I find it absurd).

(RW) Then, one participant tried to discuss the Cynefin framework. This discussion ended with the categorization of engineers and business economists on the right side (simple or complicated systems) and software developers, those creative wild ones, on the left side of the framework. Well, this does not really help anybody, does it?
(RMD) Again, this is about the content of a session. It has nothing to do with the Dornbirn PM Camp. Personally, however, I see it like Reinhard Wagner, considering the entire discussion about complicated/complex, left/right, blue/red more or less esoteric nonsense. However, I am sure that you can actually conclude right things from wrong assumptions  …

(RW) Instead of breaking patterns, they dress old clichés in new clothes.
(RMD) I do not really understand this sentence. But I find it rather over the top to say something like this about the entire Dornbirn PM Camp. To me, this sounds a little like culture pessimism. But I admit that our entire society suffers from us constantly, again and again, using the same patterns. And that fantasy and creativity are things we tend to push away. Perhaps Reinhard and I actually lament the same state of affairs.

(RW) Finally, I have to ask the question what, in practice, the PM Camps actually want to achieve.
(RMD) Once again: PM Camps offer the general framework for meeting, communicating in an atmosphere of trust, sharing knowledge, gaining insights through honest discourse. There is no promise from the side of the Camp. If there is any goal, then it is that the persons who attend make each other look bigger – instead of smaller, as we have known it from many teaching systems. However, I believe it is amore valuable or practical application to “share knowledge” and to learn from the “other party” than to earn certificates or, what is worse, from the “certification of the world”.

(RW) To be sure, my own workshop impulse for “project management for social purposes” instigated a lot of discussion and enthusiastic comments,…
(RMD) Question: “What is an enthusiastic comment?“! 🙂

(RW) … but then my question what we could actually do was rather quickly cut short because everybody disappeared (wanting to have lunch).
(RMD) Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? This is something the second day – with its actual sessions – could have been used for.

(RW) To be sure, it was also rather hard to make the participants actually put into practice what we had been talking about at the GPM.
(RMD) I cannot imagine why it would be easier at the GPM than in real life.

(RW) Yet this is where they could have been proved that they can do more than “give nice Sunday speeches” , letting “beautiful words” be followed by “actual behaviour”.
(RMD) Even Seneca said: “philosophy is not about talking, it is about acting”. And we can all see that we all talk a lot yet do nothing from the climate change caused by the burning of fossil raw materials. But again, I discovered that I have something in common with Reinhard.

(RW) That is what I would wish for, but perhaps it will just remain wishful thinking at Christmas Time.
(RMD) My hope (I do not know if it is wishful thinking), not only at Christmas Time, is that humans become a little wiser.

Even though there were many objections to what I had done in his article, I would like to explicitly thank Reinhard for writing it. And perhaps this is the beginning of an enthusiastic and wonderful discussion about:

How badly do we really need all those associations and clubs?
Because to me, it seems that many of them are totally unnecessary and I would certainly expect more from grass root movements.


(Translated by EG)
The heading of this post is not my wording. It was directly taken from Reinhard.


The First Time I Experienced True “Project Management”.

During the Berlin PM Camp, I told the stories of four projects from my vintage timethat were very important for me. And I also announced that I was going to write about all of them in the IF blog.

Project # 3

So here comes my story of the third project:

Fernschreiber (Siemens T100) - eingeführt im Jahre 1958 - moderner Nachfolger des T50

Fernschreiber (Teletype Machine (Siemens T100 – 1958), the modern successor of T50

After my change of positions inside Siemens away from UB D WS DF 131, I shared the technological responsibility for a relevant and absolutely innovative huge project called DISPOL with a new colleague working with whom soon became my true pleasure.

Siemens had won the bid for replacing the telex network of the Bavarian Police Force by a trans-data network based on modern circuit switching. At the same time, the card index boxes were to be replaced by a database in a central host (mainframe – it was a BS 1000 system). Also, modern display units were to substitute the old teletype machines.

That was roughly between 1979 and 1981. I was still a regular Siemens employee, but I had just fled the “bureaucracy” that had started at the development department of Transdata/PDN, looking to have better luck with sales at UB D V S 3. That was short for “department data processing, sales and special projects 3“.

See also my article on Vintage Projekt #2.

My move from the laboratory to the special projects necessitated that I now had to leave the private environment I had learned to love so much and found so nice at the Ortenburgstrasse (near Siemens Hofmannstrasse) and go to Neuperlach. And it did not take long for me to understand why the new building near the Neuperlach S-Bahn station was spitefully called “data sibirsk” or “Lego City” by many people.

For me, it was even worse: I had to move into a cold skyscraper surrounded by a fenced area that reminded me of barracks. Concrete and cold high-tech were the dominant features. And I also felt billeted. The only thing that looked halfway human in the entire areas was a fruit vendor who offered his goods on a stall inside the compound.

From day one, I felt uncomfortable in the concrete bunker that only looked colourful from the outside but was rather grey inside. Mind you, this was regardless of the fact that you actually could still open the windows and that there were quite a lot of green areas inside the fenced region. Yet, even the green was domesticated in a very prosaic way – it did not look as nice as you would, for instance, imagine it on castle grounds. Instead, it was techno-utilitarian.

But I was lucky. After all, I belonged to “special projects” – and they did not happen in the office. They happened outside, in the world. And since I was quasi equipped with privileged information, I felt like I was my own master and a little king.

Consequently, I preferred to mostly be where the customer resided (Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation in the Maillinger Straße) and to hardly ever be available in Neuperlach, except when it was absolutely unavoidable. To me, the rooms at the police station, regardless of all the very strict security regulations looked a lot more human than the new Siemens AG high-tech venue.

My flight from the “laboratory” that had fallen victim to bureaucracy had been a success and now I was allowed to experience real life. And the project DISPOL was a great thing. A total innovation. Together with the excellent partners of the Bavarian Police, we were a wonderful team. We cooperated with a maximum of efficiency and at eye-level. But I have to say that the project was already well under way at the time I became part of it.

And there were a number of birth defects – in all imaginable dimensions of the project. Consequently, the first thing to do was overcome a series of hurdles. We had a totally stupid design which had already been partly implemented (they wanted to realize a fixed system, which was totally against the dynamic connection technology), there were diverse architectonic mistakes with both the hardware and the software that had to be corrected quickly (systems with no local storage for quick reload, inadequate testing environment,…), the total absence of a component that had been promised (one example is the telex port which was quite good at doing the protocols of the postal service, but not for the police, who were “electronically” different) and many other “normal” challenges you meet when you are doing something for the first time.…

And there was also a requirement in the contract that was rather hard to meet. Because the new product DISPOL was supposed to replace a teletype machine network. And these kinds of teletype machines had (at least in Bavaria) an availability of a hundred per cent over years, if not decades. In other words: they NEVER broke down.

And, of course, that is what the customer expected of the new solution, as well. Justly?! Since, (at the time), Siemens was, of course, not stupid, they had negotiated in the contract that the system at least did not have to be a hundred per cent available. Once in a while, it was allowed to break down. Perhaps they had a hunch that electronic data processing had its limits. But then, it said “once in a while”!

Consequently, it had been written in the contract that the product was only considered functioning if the system ran a certain amount of time (I think it was two weeks) without interruption and that the “down-time” during this time had to be only very few hours (I seem to remember it was only one).

The only problem was that re-starting our computers also took a little more than one hour. Which meant that even if one single system shut down, the two weeks started anew and thus all attempts at delivering the product were in vain after a few days, or at the least a few days before the deadline…
(Note: we solved even this problem. If you are interested, I will gladly tell you how).

Basically, there was always a shut-down, because we had a number of sporadic and hard-to-reproduce errors, one of which would always occur shortly before those four weeks were over. Well, we just had to isolate them individually. But then, isolating errors takes time. Because you have to implement traps that catch the error and make it reproducible. And due to the contract, we did not have this sort of time.

Here is a note that might be interesting:
The test was designed in such a way that the normal police procedures ran twice during the acceptance phase. The real run with the real data continued with the old technology of the well-functioning telex network. But then, the original data (punch strips) ran on the new system 1:1 after a little time had elapsed. For testing. To keep up appearances, critical data were made anonymous and less drastic, but this was not always possible. And (of course), nothing happened. We all knew that those were highly sensitive data and that we had a lot of responsibility. Today, the gentlemen of data security would probably make a huge ado about it.

But back to the topic: 
The stability problem of the system only arose during the end phase of the project (which had already gone on for quite a long time). Due to the aforementioned factors, there had been some problems earlier, as well.

Consequently, our management panicked. That was also the reason why they had made me join the project. Then they understood that there was a lot left to do and we got additional resources: consultants and young persons who had been sitting around somewhere in the concern and had not known what to do with their time. And:
A project manager was installed!

Let me first tell you about my experiences with the consultants and young persons, later about the project manager.

The Consultants

There were several of them. They were supposed to help us, but that was not really what they usually did. I particularly remember two colleagues from the PSE (that is the Austrian Siemens daughter for software development). One of them was from Vienna and the other from Graz. They both held doctorial titles, one of them in psychology, the other in physics.

They were both really nice persons. They were both not happy to be far from home. The one missed beautiful Vienna, the other Graz. To me, they both seemed extremely intelligent, if not ingenious. Both had first names beginning with an M. and both had not much knowledge about the system, and even less an idea what a good code should look like.

Yet I never told them, because I really rather liked them. Consequently, we let them play along, which they both did quite well. Except that they never really made their way to the middle of the project. One of the reasons was that, in this project, they were like mercenaries, “away on a construction job”. Which actually does nothing to increase your motivation and readiness to make a huge effort. Consequently, their added value was not really relevant.

The young people

I remember a young lady and a young gentleman who were added to the group. Both of them were terribly young (early twenties, at the time, I was not yet 30). They both had trained in the IT sector somewhere at Siemens.

They were both highly motivated, listened carefully, did what they were told and thus they quickly understood the technology and their task. I assume that they were also quite cheap – especially compared to the two consultants with their doctorial titles – and they contributed enormously towards the project success. Incidentally, they both went on to become a success story. But not at Siemens.

Now the only thing remaining to talk about is

The Project Manager

The project manager was an earnest person who always wore ties and struck me as extremely nervous from day one. Said nervousness was easy to understand for me: after all, he was supposed to solve a problem he knew basically nothing about. He sat in our room a lot of the time writing reports. The rest of the time, he had meetings in Neuperlach. His role was something like being a translator between the worlds of management and the project that consisted of technology. Since he did not know the language of technology, he never understood the project. I assumed that he did not know the language of management, either. After all, during my time at the laboratory as a supplier for a huge project, I had learned some of it. He was a lonesome wanderer between two worlds.

Our project manager had a strange voice and consequently, he was soon stuck with a nickname (Schnarrie). The idea had come from our two ladies (W. and C.), who did a good job with the coordination and customer service. Perhaps because they were angry about their roles having been cut down.

For us, Schnarrie had a double positive effect. Firstly, we no longer needed to tell management why we did what we did – which had cost Hans and me, and sometimes also our two ladies, quite some time and nerves. And he also had a budget! Which was something totally new for us. Consequently, we managed to celebrate several “victory parties” on the Siemens budget when we had found a sporadic bug or some such.…

So much about this. Incidentally, the project DISPOL was a huge success and ran for decades to the greatest satisfaction of the Bavarian Police Force. And in its wake, it brought quite a few good customers to Siemens AG, as well.

(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?“

“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.

(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.