Roland Dürre
Thursday October 3rd, 2019

(Deutsch) RUPERT LAY LESEBUCH

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 14th, 2019

Does Anybody Still Believe in VUCA?

Whenever I attend events on #newwork or #agile, I hear people lamenting:

Our life becomes faster and faster. The high speed of change causes a high complexity that is overrunning us. Consequently, we have to become more agile in order to deal with it.

I reply that I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. Neither do I have to cope with complexity. Actually, I leave complexity well alone.

Protetion against vuca in Bonnaire in the Caribbean(Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

Then I hear the worried question:
And you, do you not fear VUCA?
Well, vuca really sounds worrying. A little like HORG (Hierarchical ORGanization).
Except that VUCA is also just one of the abbreviations that are so popular today. They have all become buzzwords.

In fact, in my book, a buzzword is an empty phase. Just like digitalization or sustainability.

Interestingly, the use of abbreviations was initiated by the NSDAP bureaucracy in the Third Reich and then used extensively. Subsequently, the abbreviations became export hits, following the motto: “Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen“ (Let the world heal following Germany’s example).


VUCA

According to Wikipedia, VUCA is an Acronym for the terms volatility (Volatilität / Unbeständigkeit), uncertainty (Unsicherheit), complexity (Komplexität) und ambiguity (Mehrdeutigkeit).


The VUCA prophets use the harmless four letters as memory rhyme for their horror message.

But then, has the world not always been vuca from the perspective of a single person?

In the stone age and in medieval times, it probably started with food for humans. Will there be anything to eat today?

From the perspective of organizations, the world also has always been vuca. Just remember the medieval towns where people tried to protect themselves against vuca by building expensive walls.

Or take my favourite example: the Weimar Republic lastet no more than nine years – and the thousand-year Reich changed everything in only twelve years (and destroyed a lot in the process). What a speed! True vuca! Even the GDR lasted 41 years (from 1949 until 1990). And the FRD (from 1949 and ongoing) already managed seventy years. Basically, so little vuca is hard to believe, isn’t it?

Consequently, I find the world has always been vuca. More in former times than today. Because the operating systems of our social systems have actually had a stabilizing effect. They are also more stable because of their digital corsets. How would you ever be able to change a huge enterprise that cemented its processes in Office365 and SAP?

As I see it, our world has probably become more stressful. Or at least it brought a new form of stress. Except that stress does not sound as nice as vuca. Let me recommend the Book
Phenomenon Stress:
Wo liegt sein Ursprung, warum ist er lebenswichtig, wodurch ist er entartet?
(Where does it originate, why is it essential, why did it get out of control?)
by Frederic Vester.

It contains more substance that is worth reading than the entire vuca literature. And if you buy it second-hand, you get it for less than one Euro.

And here are my 10 cents worth of advice on stress:

The change from a nature-oriented to a culture-oriented world brought us a new form of stress.

We created a world where we are permanently exposed to noise. The air is polluted because of exhausts. Our bodies, including the vegetative (nerve-) system is exposed to many idiotic burdens (such as having to control a car without ever finding a physical outlet …) and limitations (we spend the entire day sitting around somewhere…).

We can change this. We only have to want it!

Because the things that give us problems are exactly the things we do not need, anyway. We would have to work a lot less and could do a lot more for our own health if we were better organized and ready to do without a lot of nonsense.

Today, we mostly toil for nothing. That is where I think it is a good idea for us to make our world less complex – in the sense of avoiding rubbish. However, we should not lament the vuca-ization of our lives. Because that, too, creates stress. So:

🙂 VUCA –> FGI (forget it)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday February 18th, 2019

Love it, change it or leave it!

The Projekt Magazin invited me to enter in this year’s blog parade.

Since I like the organizers of Projekt Magazin, Petra Berleb and Regina Wolf-Berleb very much and since I also love their product, I agreed with pleasure and will write down my ideas here.

The Blogparade topic is:
Our work is now agile/digital/self-organized! 
More success through new freedom in the project, or just much ado about nothing?
I will just copy and paste the questions and ideas from the invitation and then give my own comments.

Here are the questions and my answers:



What flexibility for trying other approaches and consciously choosing new and easier ways do you have in your projects?


During my years as an employee at Siemens and Softlab, I was extremely lucky in that there was a cooperative trust culture in the areas I worked in, which means I had a lot of leeway. And since I usually worked successfully, the freedom grew.
;-). Because if you are a success, you are mostly right. That was in the 1970ies and the early 1980ies.

Except that the situation in the enterprises started to get worse. As I understand it, the reason for this lay in the widespread systemic increase of various trends that complemented each other. For instance when priority was given to the shareholder value  and when there was an increased belief in the introduction of processes. I also mean the use of  Key Performance Indicator systems (KPIs) for enterprise control that increased bureaucracy and the certification of all sorts of processes. More and more Taylorism created silos that paralysed each other.

The goal was to get rationally controlled, perfect and powerful enterprises that were thus brought into a position that gave them the chance to not only survive, but also become number one in the harsh competition. The employees were provided with target agreements, which was based on the assumption that you could motivate people through material promises. What a concept of humanity is that?

The enterprises wanted to be in a position where they can control (manipulate) the market – and eventually the consumer. Today, they look like over-regulated and trained powerful elephants. Creativity, courage and joy have disappeared like the multitude of species in nature. To these enterprises, it comes as a surprise that they are now overtaken and left behind by new enterprises.

As a small programmer, I was not able to change my elephants. In order to prove that shared work is also possible with another philosophy, I had to found my own enterprise.

My first step towards founding an enterprise was trying to find a like-minded partner. That was not easy. After I had found him, Wolf Geldmacher and yours truly founded the InterFace Connection GmbH (today: InterFace AG) in 1984. In the IT sector, it was easy to found an enterprise, partly because we were in the possession of superior knowledge that was very well paid.

The name Connection stood for a group of conspirators who wanted to move together and do something great in an agile way and at eye-level. And I still believe that you have a lot more leeway as an entrepreneur – if the incoming money is more than the outgoing money. And in those days, this was certainly possible in the sector digitalization, even and especially if you did some unconventional things.

 


To what extent do enterprises leave their project leaders, scrum masters and product owners and counsellors enough leeway when it comes to their choice of procedure in project planning, communication and the way they organize the cooperation in the team (self-organization)?


Naturally, this depends very much on the enterprise. Especially huge concerns have problems with this. For a successful medium-size enterprise, it is often something that goes without saying. For instance, some huge enterprises have decided they want more agility and want to achieve this through Change Management. They often invest a lot. More often than not (almost always), the concept fails. If they are lucky, they get biotopes, but those will soon dwindle and disappear.

I get the impression that it is very hard or even impossible to change huge, often non-personalized social systems. Especially, it will not be a success if the initiative comes from above. Personally, I am not sure if you can actually teach the elephant to dance  (Elefanten tanzen lernen cited:  Dr. Marcus Raitner).

 


And what are the successful approaches?


That is very easy: you have to trust that the people in the enterprise can actually do it. You need no experts. Everybody must be competent in their specific trade (in our company, this was programming). But everybody should also be willing and allowed to also deal with the special topics, such as delivery on time, quality, knowledge about the customers, integration, the building, security,… And you want to ask everyone to participate in everything: writing the manual, teaching customers and planning the product. Even ambitious goals. 
And you will want to let people participate when you get the result. You will celebrate successes, but you will also have a party after a downfall, by way of consolation.

 


The underlying question is also whether or not the hype about agile enterprises and the demand to have a culture that puts more the humans into the centre will be taken up and realized in the long term by organisations. Project teams in particular have the chance to initiate change in an enterprise. Can and should they simply work changes? Will anybody appreciate it if they try to break obsolete processes, strict hierarchies and silo-thinking – or will they then be considered saboteurs who bring disorder to an enterprise?


I am trying, both in private life and in projects of my professional life. After all, I want to be happy, don’t I?

What you need is joy at what you do. That includes work. For joy, you need courage. If I am in a situation that I do not love, then I need to change it. And if I can see that this will not be possible, then I need to leave it.

However, I am well aware that the principle “love it, change it, or leave it” is often easier said than done if you are dependent upon someone. The problem is that you are dependent.

 


Apart from this, I am interested in your motivation if you try innovations in your projects. Are you doing it because you get the impression that the old processes are not what we need in the future? Or are you doing it because you want to have a sharper profile as an project manager and entrepreneur? Or is it because it is what your boss and the members of your team want?


For me, this does not need motivation. All we need is openness. And if I attend a Barcamp such as PM-Camp where other people report what innovative things they did and if I like what I hear, then I am keen to try it myself.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

A short time ago, I found the following tweet:

Aebby (Dr. Eberhard Huber)

Zusammenfassung meiner Führungs- und Leitungs-Philosophie:

 

My leadership philosophy in a nutshell:

  • Have AND show empathy and respect!
  • Do not spread fear!

Both this statement and the tweet were from my friend Aebby (@Team_im_Projekt), also known as Dr. Eberhard Huber. I admire him very much.

? Consequently, I do not wish to weaken his message. And I would like to add three comments:

  • For me, appreciation is also part of respect. Consequently, it is all about empathy AND respect & appreciation.
  • It is difficult not to spread fear if you fear something yourself. And since I am often afraid, I often notice that I also spread fear. I find that a pity, but on the other hand, I forgive myself because it looks absolutely human to me.
  • My third comment is only that the described leadership philosophy should not be limited to leadership but also be a common life philosophy.

All this does not make it easier. Perhaps the only thing for us to do is become more mature and wiser. Which is also easier said than done.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For more articles in my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 9th, 2019

“Business Theatre“ (Entrepreneur’s Diary #128)

On this picture, the person in uniform does not look happy at all.

I spent 18 months serving the country (in the army) and in these 18 months, I learned to drink and chill. To be sure, I also learned how to survive in a sick system.

However, these 18 months also showed me how enterprises should not be yet how they mostly are (perhaps because enterprises often follow army patterns when it comes to their organisation).

They drafted me on April, 1st, 1970 and assigned me to the air force at Lagerlechfeld. After a stop at Landsberg, my army career as “Flyer Dürre” started in Ulm on April, 5th. I ended up in a battalion that had its small barracks area at the Lower Kuhberg not far from the Centre of Ulm. The barracks had been named after the war-hero Boelcke (see Militär in Ulm).  It was an old barracks venue, some people actually believed they could still see the (removed) swastika over the entrance.

The barracks I landed in after Landsberg belonged to the training regiment of the air force. The air force was one of the three weapons categories they had in the German Armed Forces: they also had the navy and the army.


 

The organization was quite simple:
The battalion (Bataillon) consisted of three companies and a few staff positions, for instance the medical group, the vehicle service group and the supply group. The battalion commander was only a major. That indicated that our battalion did not have much military significance.

Each company had three platoons. Each company had a company commander (usually a corporal) and the master sergeant, usually in the rank of sergeant major. He was the boss of the administration, including the typists’ office and he had the operative task of organizing order, which also consisted of drawing up the guard service list.

Each platoon had a platoon commander and three units. Usually, the platoon commanders were non-commissioned officers, once in a while an ensign was among them. Each unit had its unit commander who led ten learners for three months of basic training. The unit commanders were generally rank and file.

In summary, you can say that about a hundred recruits (about 3 x 3 x 11) were facing a small group of thirteen (9 + 3 + 1) coaches. Since, basically, recruits are difficult soldiers, the group had to stick together and was often a tight-knit community.

The business model was part of the compulsory service model and also very simple:

Whenever a new quarter year began (on the first of January, April, July and October), the German conscripts had to go under weapons in hordes – they were drafted. They were put into barracks distributed all over the country. Whenever a unit had problems with one of the recruits they had been assigned (regardless of the reason), then said recruit was sent to us in Ulm. That is how I, too, ended up in Ulm.

One of the problems was that the people who came a few days later were totally different from me. In July, most of the new recruits were successful high-school graduates who had been taken out of their units because of insubordinate behaviour or because they had other problems (such as drugs). At all other times, we always had many people with social disadvantages, often they had not finished any school education. Every three months, the mixture was totally new.

Our task at Ulm was to make proper soldiers of these problem cases. They were to be turned into air-force soldiers with simple tasks such as object protection (sentry) or in typing offices (today, you would probably call it back office).

During my first home visit in my parents’ sitting room.

Three of the recruits always had to be upgraded to become future commanders of each teaching regiment. I was selected because I was the only one in my regiment who had successfully graduated from high school (most of the others had not finished school at all). They needed someone who could actually teach (civics, military ranks and structures, learning to use a weapon). This is how, after no more than three months of basic training, I became unit commander with special tasks such as teaching the regimental recruits.

Our staff unit:
The staff units were responsible for the entire battalion.

  • Medical unit
    The medical unit consisted of two doctors and a few paramedics. Besides the general health care, they were responsible for giving out sick passes and, especially problematic, for giving someone the status of “unfit for service“. Many wanted this certificate, but the ratio allowed for each battalion was rather low. Besides, everyone who had been declared unfit by our doctors had to get a second opinion. And if one of the recruits actually managed to get both documents, he was the happiest person on earth or at least on the barracks.
  • Vehicle service group
    This unit consisted of the mechanics and the drivers who serviced our vehicles (regardless of being part of the air force, we had no airplanes). They also moved the vehicles. 
The fleet had a few lorries with which the recruits were driven to the manoeuver or to shooting practice, a few accompanying vehicles, a kitchen truck and a few limousines that were used by the driving service to take the officers where they needed to go. I think we also had a bus, but it mostly sat around. As far as I know, the entire drivers’ service of the German Armed Forces (including tanks) is now outsourced.
  • Supplies
    The supply department was responsible for everything the company needed: clothes, weapons, office hardware, toilet paper. After all, a hundred new soldiers had to get their uniforms every three months. Food, however, was only organized by the supply unit (planning, procurement). The cooking was done by civil servants, of which the German Armed Forces had plenty on top of their 500,000 soldiers.

And it all worked quite well. The teachers (Ausbilder) in the three companies mostly managed to keep all the recruits alive (regardless of recurring suicide attempts). They even made tame soldiers out of them in three months. As a general rule, we delivered the soldiers to their new companies, where they then patently served their time (usually fifteen or twelve months) as sentries or office service persons for German barracks.

We always were within the limit when it came to the number of recruits who were declared unfit. Once in a while, we even discovered a talent who later went to serve at the musical unit of the air force, and the same is true for some top players that we found for the company and battalion sports teams.

We also never starved. To be sure, the quality of the food that was served to the recruits was abominable, but we of the staff were luckier than that. That was definitely something the procurement units managed very well.

So what exactly was the task of the top management?
The company commanders had a fine life and were able to focus on the important things. They often changed (as I said, the battalion had a very good reputation). The only one who stayed long was the commander, the major. He waited for his retirement money.

We occasionally saw the decorated officers when big events were scheduled (solemn oaths, final manoeuvres, celebrations). Other than that, they were not much of a hindrance to us.
But the officers were also quite industrious and diligent. The company bosses and the battalion commander often had long meetings in the battalion mess. They worked late into the night. Once in a while, higher officers from the regiment and from higher up were also among the participants. Occasionally, even a general came, which always caused a disruption in the normal barracks procedures.

And our highest bosses were often on business trips. That was when they had to leave the barracks and the officer’s mess and travel to important Armed Forces or NATO meetings. In military life, international contacts are extremely important. And since they were leaders, they had to attend numerous courses, because, as we all know, leading is not at all easy. And when they wanted to relax, they sometimes flew. After all, the airplanes of the air force had to be moved around.

There are many questions our officers had to answer:

  • How can we make sure the world remains at peace?
    Again and again, they tried to find a good reason for the existence of the German Armed Forces (and, basically, to this day, they never found one).
  • What can we do to promote the reputation of the German Armed Forces?
    That was particularly difficult in our case. Among the teaching persons – especially if they were non-commissioned – we had quite a few tough fellows. Again and again, some of them made the local news because of misconduct. But mostly, they were only mentioned anonymously. However, since we were so important when it came to taming the recruits, we had nothing to fear. 
When the German Armed Forces had huge events, the community of Ulm also was very interested.
  • How can we create a feeling of corporate identity with other units?
    I remember a visit of the Bavarian Mountain Soldiers (Gebirgsjäger) from Mittenwald. It ended quite badly. What I mean is: “some of the equipment was lost, but luckily, with the exception of a few injuries, none of the soldiers became casualties.“
  • How can we become friendly with the other NATO states?
    To me, this seemed to be a particularly important task.
  • Once in a while, they had to approve our decisions.
    Mostly, they did that without reservations. However, it always took time, which caused emotional disputes among the parties concerned.
  • Special attention was given to the athletic activities in and beyond the air force.
    For instance, every company had a soccer team and a handball team. We specifically chose and kept recruits that were a precious gain to the teams. And whenever you have one of these athletic competitions, you have reason to celebrate.

I remember a soccer match against the US Army. At the time, no American was able to play soccer, so we won by 21:1. It was the highest win I ever actively witnessed in field soccer. In fact, it turned out that the biggest challenge was how to get them to score their one counter goal. Imagine all the things you do in the name of peace among nations and brothers in arms.


 

Why do I tell you these things? Because, with the German Armed Forces, I experienced a huge stage where big military theatre was playing. However, it was no more than what I would have expected from the German Armed Forces.

After my service time, when I continued studying and working at Siemens, I also experienced business theatre. It increased all the time and that really did surprise me.

These days, I am also perplexed when I see that many small enterprises are no longer there for the people (employees and customers). With all the business theatre, there is no time left for anything else.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Only two pictures of me were taken during the entire time I served (April, 1, 1970 until September, 30, 1971). Both of them were taken during my first visit home; the first in front of the parents’ house and the second at the dinner table.

P.S.1
For more articles in my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Joy and courage as a basis for business. It is important to enjoy life. Especially if you are a role model.

As far as I remember, the ancient Greeks had a very simple theory of virtues. Let me describe it as I remember it.

The social goals of the ancient Greeks were justice and equality. They differentiated between arithmetic and geometric justice. Arithmetic justice means totally linear justice. In a very stringent way, it means that everybody gets the same. As opposed to this, geometrical means that there is more justice if you use some criteria. Consequently, what you get is not “the same for everyone”, but instead “for everyone what is appropriate for him”. And this is true both for what you and what you have to

In the ancient Greek philosophy, geometrical justice was considered the better option.

For social systems, for example for the state, their philosophy was:

The powerful in the government will have to be characterized by the virtue of wisdom

The warriors are characterized by the virtue of courage.

The  middle classes are characterized by the virtues of sober-mindedness and frugality.

So only the slaves remain. They are characterized by the virtue of .


? This is how I remember it from my days at school.

If you transfer this simply model of virtues to enterprises, you will probably get:

In management and in the board of directors you have the “wise ones“.

The salespersons are the warriors who courageously fight on the market in order to make the products and services something everybody wants and who also see to it that money flows in.

What remains are theemployees – who are supposed to be 
and frugal. In this context, being frugal means you have to treat the resources with consideration and you want to be sustainable.

In modern enterprises, we do not want slaves (although some employees certainly feel enslaved and consequently consider their salaries as compensation for damage).

This is how I feel about it. Basically, it is a very simply concept.< Today, we have progressed. Many people, as well as most of the directors and “leaders“, believe entrepreneurial myths:

  • You have to act and make decisions!
  • You have to be agile!
  • You need to develop an actual strategy and then you must implement said strategy!
  • You cannot do without a hierarchy!
  • Rationality beats emotional concepts!
  • >You have to develop your business systematically!
  • Success is the result of hard work!
  • You need strategical departments!
  • You need people who have charisma in order to make the employees follow you!
  • If you have enough money and the right kinds of employees, you can successfully master all challenges!
  • You have to know EVEYTHING that happens in the enterprise and you need to be able to control everything!
  • In order to be fair and just, you need clear rules for drawing up collective contracts (employee agreements)!
  • The power can and must be guaranteed through a stringent organization (line, matrix)!
  • Improvement is possible with processes, methods and certificates!
  • Entrepreneurial culture and values can be changed and generated through “culture engineering’!
  • All problems can be solved with rationality!
  • Equality and justice are possible!

 

  • And many more.

 

  • Why don’t you try and apply these rules to the social system “family”? – You will immediately notice what is wrong with them.
  • As I see it, these are all just myths that can and need to be questioned. They might well sound nice, but they are wrong and counter-productive. One of the reasons is because they are based on the belief in a general determinedness of life. Consequently, I can counter every single one of the aforementioned arguments with a good reasoning – and thus state why all these myths are incorrect.
  • But let us remain positive: my concept of a good and multi-dimensional enterprise is totally different! For me, an enterprise, and in particular the leaders of an enterprise, are, above all, hosts. They invite people to promote something special together and create the necessary environment for starting an enterprise.
  • An entrepreneur does not really need special characteristics. As I see it, the only requirement is that he is good at communicating. To be sure, this is hard enough and not to be underestimated – many persons do not find it easy, especially when it comes to the listening part. If an entrepreneur can also inspire and give impulses, then this is really a great thing.   
    ? Perhaps a bit of the ancient Greek wisdom would also be helpful when it comes to leadership. That would be absolutely top!
  • And here is how leadership in “new enterprises“ can be practiced:
  • Values and culture beat framework agreements and rules.
  • The effect is more important than the plan and the goal.
  • Thinking and understanding will prepare the way towards doing.
  • Nobody has all the power (citation by: Dr. Andreas Zeuch).
  • Self-organization and responsibility are possible and, where necessary, promoted and supported.
  • Joy and enthusiasm are essentially important and will be encouraged.
  • Teams are supported in such a way that they can experience the “flow“.
  • There are people in the enterprise who can actually support or even coach a team when this is necessary.
  • Since I am not a dreamer, I know pretty well that this all sounds a little utopian. There actually is a restriction. Since we live in a capitalist world, it is absolutely necessary – in the interest of survival – that you have a clear mercantile and always current report system for all the individual teams and for the entire enterprise. After all, many people have to work in order to make sure they can live. Which means they – justly – want a good salary. And that is only possible if the enterprise where they work, too, earns good money and remains a healthy business.RMD(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For all the articles of my entrepreneurial diary, click here:  Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Monday October 29th, 2018

Sugar Coating (Entrepreneur’s Diary #126)

Last week, I learned some new vocabulary – sugar coating.

Following the motto “having a soccer table in your office does not in itself constitute #newwork“.

For me, it is quite clear that, in our social life as well as in our work-life, transparency within the enterprise and the participation of the relevant stakeholders (employees) are very important.


”Sugar coating“ as part of ”culture engineering“?

In my book enterprises are social systems where people work together in different roles for an economic goal – i.e. the goal of offering products and services that they will benefit from to people. Just like the Bavarian Constitution says.

Basically, enterprises are not machines that can be mechanically controlled by “management” that tries to minimize the input and maximize the output. Instead, enterprises are composed of humans.

A Great Team – InterFace Connection GmbH 1986: Celebrating.

That is extremely important. Just like I also consider values such as appreciation, respect and general considerateness when dealing with each other absolutely relevant in an entrepreneurial culture.

#newwork needs just as much communication as it needs civil courage and constructive disobedience. The elite of an enterprise should not be system agents. Instead, they have to be coaches, inspire people and give impulses. And the vast majority of an enterprise also has to try (and be able) to live the values they formulated.

For me, these are the pre-requisites and the basis of #newwork.

Especially in my sector, I discover more and more enterprises that “sugar-coat themselves”. Regardless, they still move at the edges of the German work legislation. And they form their processes and the entire system with an absolute priority on profit. For them, “entrepreneurial health management” is basically just an investment that is supposed to minimize the number of people who call in sick. For them, modern work environments are just a means to save on the rent for office space. And their decor is a sugar coat with great design and life style, both of which are supposed to impress the employees.

If you want #newwork to have any effect, then you cannot make it part of a strategically planned, human resource controlled ”enterprise culture engineering“. Instead, it must be lived by the employees –with intrinsic motivation.

This is what I have been preaching for decades, both because it is my personal experience and because of what I see in many enterprises.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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

Roland Dürre
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.

RMD
(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.

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