Hans Bonfigt
Sunday September 2nd, 2018

(Deutsch) Es plappert der Spiegel am rauschenden Bach … (I)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 10th, 2018

What Tools do Leaders Need?

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

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

”What tools does a product owner need?“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


🙂 Here comes more for managers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What tools does a leader need?

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

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

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

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

SO: What tools does a pastor need?

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

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 24th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday January 30th, 2016

What I Personally Just Cannot Understand

rolandswimmingpoolbesserWell, basically,
I just cannot, 
or maybe no longer,
understand 
or maybe I never understood,
if I am totally honest.

  • Why father and mother had so many and so very unnecessary arguments;
  • Why I was beaten at school, (too);
  • Why there was a totally senseless war fought in Vietnam when I was young;
  • Why a country like the BRD never made use of the historically unique chance to live without an army, just because they were afraid of the Russians … (re-armament);
  • Why the Israeli act exactly like they basically must not;.
  • Why the Federal Army is to get 130 billion euros between now and 2013 (while at the same time we urgently need money for other important things, such as education);
  • Why everybody ignores and tolerates the deaths on German motorways, reasoning that otherwise jobs would be lost;
  • Why they justify endless stupid projects saying otherwise jobs would be at risk;
  • Why people today are not happy to see how you can drink water from all taps and how you can buy everything that makes life more agreeable – for instance fresh full milk with normal durability and 3.8 % fat in the brown glass bottle (isn’t that something to be really happy about!);
  • Why the elderly gentlemen in the public swimming pools keep let the warm water under the showers run for several minutes while standing in the ante-room and having conversations;
  • Why people buy yoghurt and similar things in plastic containers and why said containers are often more important than what is inside;
  • Why there are still people living in Munich who eat walnuts imported from California;
  • Why cars have become the means of transportation for everybody as a matter of course;
  • Why sex is still a taboo topic;
  • Why so many persons think prisons might be a way to make the world a better and safer place;
  • Why some others believe in “creativism” but still think there is no “climate catastrophe”..
  • And a whole lot more …

Well – if these things do not make you shake your head, than what does?
(Many thanks to Bert Brecht, because I took parts of his Dreigroschenoper as a model for these lines).

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 19th, 2016

Why I no longer drive a car.

(One of several reasons)

 “CAR CRAHES INTO BAKERY (HAAR)“

Dürre_Roland

Yesterday (Monday), I found this item of news (Meldung) in the SZ. I publish it because it happens rather frequently that I read about such or similar accidents – often with more detrimental endings – happening even in our region. In this particular case, the driver was rather young: 66 years old.

Not too long ago, for instance, a considerably older driver ran into the display window of a toy shop on the Ottobrunn/Riemerling Kufsteiner-/Ottostrasse – the car had just started from the “park” position!

Perhaps they should really start thinking about whether persons beyond pension age are assumed to still be able to remain in control of a machine that has the energy of several hundred PS and that weighs 1.5 tons and is rather dangerous, such as a SUV.
If you really have to do it and can truly not go by foot or bike or use public transportation, why could you not, for instance, use a light-weight and slow electronic car for your oh-so-much-loved individual mobility.

I will be sixty-six next summer. On the whole, I still feel rather well-preserved. However, if I listen closely and watch my own body, I also notice that all these years left their mark. And they will continue to do so. Which is also the reason why I stopped playing soccer two years ago.

Also, it happens only very rarely and with an absolutely dwindling tendency that I sit behind the wheel of a car. One of the reasons is that I would not wish to destroy my so far lucky car balance sheet (I never injured anybody when driving a car, not even lightly).

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Detlev Six
Saturday January 9th, 2016

Teaching Refugees Rules

Many refugees come from anti-democratic or culture-racist countries. After their arrival, they meet mirror images like Pegida & Co, who are happy to take advantage of this great opportunity to inflate the balloon. In addition, we have refugees who have no ideological prejudices against our society. They mostly come because of the money. Taken together, they do not constitute what Bill Clinton called the requirement for a functioning society: “Those who work hard and play by the rules“. Well, they cannot be, can they? So maybe we should make them.

We should stop talking about human rights, human dignity, freedom, the rule of law, minority protection, equality, equal opportunities, pluralism, morals, ethics or, even worse, angrily advertised western values. The one thing that makes our society a success is the coexistence of humans where nobody’s hands are between the legs of other persons without invitation and where economic success comes because of a shared wish for progress. From all our great values, we can deduce clear rules. Nobody needs to have studied philosophy for 20 semesters in order to know them. Let us start:

Rule #1: Learning German.
Rule #2: Keep your hands away from between a lady’s legs unless explicitly invited.
And, and, and.

Attending a school where those rules are taught is obligatory for all refugees, they have to graduate and the final test results have a huge influence on whether they can stay in the country or not.

I know what you are going to say: We have all those things! But how scattered? Is anybody responsible for this school? Do we have enough money and teachers? For years, the CSU has opposed an immigration law, arguing that the laws are all there – somehow and somewhere. Well, I have some news for you, ladies and gentlemen. There is a difference between a mass of colourful gunk distributed over zillions of institutions or one institution, such as an immigration ministry with one suitable package of legislation.

What makes everything such a disaster is that we have no clear, reliable responsibilities. This is true both for institutions and persons.

Incidentally, I would also send those to the schools of rules who for years abused the Regensburger Domspatzen (Have you noticed? In the daily news, you always get another news item in between the report about Cologne and the Domspatzen. It seems like they wish to make it look less obvious that, in our high-moral Germany, we also have many testosterone criminals. I guess it is better not to ask about all the undesired things that still happen in some marriages today).

One problem would immediately be solved by introducing these schools of rules. The persons would have a task, a goal by the reaching of which they actually could improve their own perspective. And even if it sounds banal: they would have something to do.

SIX
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday July 6th, 2015

My “Destina”

🙂 From the South-Sea Island of Runit to Munich Rosenheimer Straße.

„Runit Dome 001“ von US Defense Special Weapons Agency

”Runit Dome 001“ by US Defense Special Weapons Agency

In the SZ weekend edition (July, 4th and 5th, 2015), I found two articles that horrified me. And I posted them as often as possible in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

The first article appeared in the “knowledge” sector and was titled: “Dome of Death”. It is about what the 67 nuclear bomb tests executed by the USA between 1946 and 1958 on the atolls Eniwetok and Bikini left behind.

The second artikele  is titled “Extensive Human Tragedy” and tells us about a declaration by the Nobel Prize winners they published during a meeting in Lindau, demanding a fierce fight against the climate change (Klimawandel).

In the first report, the extent of the catastrophe happening in the South Sea truly horrifies me. It again brings back to my mind what a huge danger radioactive waste is. And how small-minded and futile the current attempts to find safe disposal zones in Germany are. Again, politics terminated a project that, de facto, is destined to fail.

I can well understand both the people and the counties opposing a disposal zone. After all, it seems to me that contaminating even more regions on this earth is the biggest possible mistake. Because, naturally, there can be no safety in this area.

Here is another note. The aforementioned article also again mentions that plutonium is one of the most poisonous of all radio-active materials and has a half-value period of up to 24,000 years. Well, in times when we are constantly confronted with billions, 24,000 years seem almost negligible, don’t they? Except – it has been only 2,400 years ago that the first human cultures invented writing – and that is one digit less.…

However, the second article made me almost more furious. In all fields of our lives, we trust science. When we eat food, we trust that science guarantees us healthy nutrients. When we fly, we are sure that, thanks to physics, we will not fall down. We get vaccinations and trust in science. When driving cars, we trust our airbags and even when we ride a bike we follow the laws of science.

But whenever said science provides us with matching results from different disciplines and sources, we do nothing if we do not like those results. My special fury is directed to our current government.

Regardless us of being bankrupt ourselves, they stage a “Western Community of Values” that costs hundreds of millions of Euros in Elmau. And all they can show for it in the end is a few “programmatic decisions” – all of which, even a few days after the declarations, turn out to have been nothing but lip-service.

Germany’s government actually celebrates itself for being the teacher and guardian of public virtue for all Europe and does not even hesitate to come up with slogans such as:  “If the Euro dies, Europe will die”. Incidentally, this is a statement that, like many others from the same source, will not survive dialectical questioning.

For the Greeks, she has a program even the IWF finds totally counterproductive, demanding that they must reduce the retirement money they pay but that they cannot under any circumstances reduce their military budget.

And much more of the same.

Except that she is not doing her homework, for instance by introducing a general speed limit in Germany. She does not put a stop to the gigantic subsidies of company cars. Putting taxation on plane kerosene, too, is something she cannot even allow herself to think about.

And she bathes in self-praise, looking on as infra-structure and education in this country go south. How profits are privatized and losses are socialized and thus how the rich get ever richer while the number of the poor increases along with their dwindling property. To make up for it, she is number one in Europe when it comes to indoctrination and coming up with stupid dogmata.

That is when I occasionally start asking myself if my “destina” might not be to fight all this stupidity and counter-productivity. But that would mean I have to stop doing what I am currently doing, namely linking and mentoring persons and supporting start-ups. And I have not yet quite reached that stage.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Tonight will be the first time in many years that I will again be part of a demonstration. I will sit on my bike and ride it for a fair distribution of space on the Munich Rosenheimer Strasse: Radel-Demo Rosenheimer!

P.S.1
I took the picture “Runit Dome 001“ by US Defense Special Weapons Agency from Wikipedia:– http://sonicbomb.com/albums/album61/runit.jpg. It is licenced under “common property” through Wikimedia Commons –

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 29th, 2014

Now Also Part of IF AGORA: Gebhard Borck

Follow-Up on the Dornbirn PM Camp – #PMCampDOR

For me, Gebhard was the positive sensation on the last PM-Camp and openPM.

His impulse presentation was the best I ever heard on organization and entrepreneurship. He used only the blackboard and some chalk to outline in very simple steps where and how the future enterprises should find their orientation. And to top it all, he even presented it all in an extremely humorous and exciting way.

Above all, he also made it clear how well an enterprise can function if only it takes good and proper care of the basically banal needs of people working in the enterprise.

Yes – and now Gebhard is also part of me and my IF AGORA! Isn’t that just great?

Here is what knowledge he offers (Wissensangebot)! I recommend his current textbook on the subject – which you can also read online: Affenmärchen (Monkey Tales)

The impulse speaker of our second #PMCampDOR day, Dr. Melanie Kaiser, fascinated us just as much. Melanie not only related how poor managers actually get ill due to their wrong decisions. No, she also managed to make it quite clear to us how important intuition and ratio are also for credible communication.

Here is what she offers: Burnout.

And I am sure she will gladly give her PM Camp presentation for you, too!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday October 27th, 2014

Tolerance & Religion

Currently, I am thinking a lot about morals and ethics. One of the reasons is that I discovered how, for almost all persons, moral rules dominate almost all their decisions. This is especially true for all my wrong decisions.

Until recently, I believed that decisions are usually based on either rationality and common sense (brains, ratio) or intuition and heuristics (gut feeling). I thought this was also true for my own decisions.

And now I discover that I was profoundly wrong in many cases (and had to suffer consequences). Simply because I believed: “this is how I had to decide, because this is what you do”. Or in other words: I was incapable of resisting (too cowardly to resist?) the “this is how you do it” or the “this is not what you want to do”. Because my decisions (especially the bad ones) were influenced by morals and moralizing.

Besides morals and ethics, you will also find some ingredients in the Hotpot of philosophy which are hard to digest, such as “religion” or the virtue “tolerance”.

Because:
“For us, religion is sacred!”
and
“You have to be tolerant!”

I, too, believe tolerance is a precious value. The ethical person will say:

You should always be tolerant!

Tolerance beats morals!
The only thing you should be intolerant about is intolerance!

Well, one might counter that intolerance against intolerance is again intolerance, isn’t it?

Let us take a look at tolerance in practice using the example of religion. Both our Federal Constitution and the Bavarian Constitution give the “Freedom of Religious Practices” very special protection. It is almost conspicuous. And the law drawn up in accordance with the constitutional regulation strictly prohibits the violation of “religious sentiments”.

Instead of just demanding tolerance and respect, it actually means you have to subjugate yourself before the religious sentiments of others if you really strictly want to abide by it.

For me, this requirement is too much. Who is to decide what is a religion and what is not? A mass takes upon itself an absolute obligation towards theories and rules they basically themselves invented. In doing so, they cite a special, higher, external non-explainable instance. And then they systematically hand this “belief” on from generation to generation – which eventually leads to the creation of such systems as churches with all their advantages, but also with very significant disadvantages.

But how to decide which kind of belief that has become a system is a religion? And who is fit to decide? If I carefully read the chapter about religion on the Bavarian Constitution, then I get the impression that the fathers of the constitution mostly meant the Christian religions. And among those only the “better” variant.

So is this absolute tolerance demand for “religious sentiments” really acceptable? Especially if people who are victims of their religion believe themselves to be in possession of the absolute truth and consequently demand things which in the worst but frequent case violate humanity?

Perhaps this is why the beautiful term tolerance has now deteriorated to become a “buzzword” – just like, unfortunately, did the words freedom, common welfare and sustainability.

A short time ago, I demanded tolerance in my commentary on a blog. I also called it a basic “primary virtue”. And the reactions told me that there are actually some moralists who already seriously demand a “tolerance police”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

For the time being, this is my last post on morals and the like. After all, opposing morals and moralization is already some kind of morals and moralization.

😉 Starting tomorrow, I will again write about whatever comes to mind from everyday life.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 20th, 2014

Start-up (3) – The Pragmatic Way Toward Foundation

Let me try to categorize start-up situations of enterprises in a model-like way.

You get three “types of foundations”:

  • The pragmatic establishment of an enterprise.
  • An enterprise being constructed in mass-production.
  • The foundation with the help of “entrepreneurial coincidence”.

In this article, I will only write about the first of these types (pragmatic). Instalments 4 (mass-production) and 5 (coincidence) will follow later.
More often than not, the first step towards the pragmatic foundation of an enterprise is the move from a job as a regular employee to free-lancing. I know only very few persons who, in our sector, start as free-lancers directly after having finished their university education. Most of them already worked as regular employees, because turning free-lance successfully usually calls for a certain degree of technological and other competence, as well as a good reputation at least in one field of expertise.

Incidentally, the situation for free-lancers on the market gets harder and harder due to the legal restrictions, as well. This is truly a pity, because it also makes the pragmatic path via this interim step harder to follow. It is high time for our legislation to come up with a sensible freelance model on top of the regular employee model. But I am afraid we are not going to live to see this happening. Besides, it is not really what this article is about.

As I see it, the “pragmatic” foundation of an enterprise is the normal case. It also seems to be the most successful. There are numerous examples where, for instance, roofers, coachbuilders, cooks, carpenters, toolmakers…, became self-employed in exactly this way through very logical steps.

If such craftsmen turn self-employed and establish their own company, this is mostly done totally without making a huge fuss about it. They need neither much ado about the foundation, nor innovative “super ideas”. Now you might counter: “we understand this, but this can only be done in the service sector”.

Well: not true! There are many examples of craftsman’s companies where the start was with absolutely innovative product ideas – and then they became a huge success. Especially in the sectors Bikes and Outdoor, I discovered quite a few success stories during the last few years.

The married couple Rohloff started with very innovative bike chains – and later built the legendary Rohloff gearshift, the SON (Schmidt original dynamo hub), the Ortlieb bags and many more innovative products originated with very pragmatic foundations.
My carpenter from Southern Bavaria, too, who started out with his own carpentry as a totally “normal service provider”, simply made his own dog-house a long time ago. He liked it so much that he advertised it on the internet. It became the one of his products with the biggest marge. He can produce it “in between” in moderate numbers.

I know a roofer who founded a small, very normal roofing company. His son extended it to become an enterprise in the second generation. It became the world-wide market leader for special buildings with particularly demanding roof constructions, such as sky-scrapers, mosques, theatres, etc.

And you can believe me that I could come up with an endlessly long list of more examples. In fact, it comes as a surprise (or maybe not) that so few craftsmen ever apply to participate in the business plan contests. After all, for those craftsmen it seems to be a logical conclusion to establish their own firms. Rooted in their competence and know-how, based on a calculation of incoming and outgoing money that is short and easy to understand, without a complex business plan, let alone having to participate in a contest. Of course, once in a while, when – later on – they develop expensive products, they also take advantage of federal promotion programs.

As I see it, the development of software, the establishment and the running of a firm with IT infra-structure and managing IF projects, is also “only” craftsmanship. Actually, “software development as craftsmanship” is now an accepted technical term.

Consequently, most of the enterprise foundations in the IT sector are craftsmen’s and thus very pragmatic foundations. As a general rule, they always write good success stories for several years.

I need to warn you against the “ultimate solution idea” as it is often presented to me during business plan contests. Some of those who present them are really lunatics. I actually feel more pity for them than anything else.

More often than not, the “great idea” is actually not at all singularly innovative. And too often, you will read a telling sentence like this one in the business plans:

“We will probably need most of the required capital for sales and marketing. We assume that we will have to come up with a sum somewhere in the seven-digit range up front”.

This is when I ask myself why the would-be entrepreneurs did not come up with a product or service that the market actually needs? Also: is the magic formula “sales and marketing” really the solution? And how exactly will it look?
The majority of contestants in business plan contests are IT based business ideas (“we will write an app”) and projects in the pharmaceutical sector (“we will create a miracle medicine against this or that illness”). Or else some people want to start big instead of trying out small. Which would be the pragmatic approach. And if an idea gets positive feedback on the market, a realistic financing would also be more likely. A financing where you do not sell your enterprise before you actually have it.

In one business contest where I was among the jurors, a “pragmatic founder” of an IT enterprise was presenting. He was an expert for Androids and Unix. Yet the only reason why he presented at the contest was because he had applied and registered a long time ago and found it a matter of good manners to then also attend. He was an Android expert and simply sold his know-how. As a basis, he had made his own Android Built. At the time of presentation, his enterprise already had more than 50 employees in various countries. The majority of his customers were Asian high-tech enterprises looking for Android and Unix based solutions for their hardware of the “internet of objects”.

Craftsmen or “pragmatic founders” are a rarity in the “big foundation business”. Perhaps they have no time to participate in a business contest? Or maybe they do not see any positive effect in it? It is quite remarkable that those entrepreneurs who were a success in the last 30, 20, 10, 5 or even 2 years never wrote a big business plan. Nor did they ever participate in a contest. Still (or maybe this is why) they were a success.

So my advice for young founders is to be very pragmatic. Do not write a huge business plan. Instead, use your common sense, courage and joy to establish your business and trust in a reasonable cost calculation. Be courageous and have no fear.

And do not participate in contests. It is better to use the time you would spend there and find friends and partners. If, however, this phase is already behind you and you have, for instance, already guaranteed a certain income for a certain span of time, then I would advise you to quickly turn towards the business on the pragmatic path.

In my next article, you will read about how I feel about “foundations as mass-production”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)