Hans Bonfigt
Monday August 7th, 2017

(Deutsch) Hans im Glück, Version 2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Friday July 21st, 2017

The Power and the Glory

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Monday April 17th, 2017

Solution

Two weeks ago, I formulated a Logelei I very much like. I also considered it extremely hard to solve. Well, one email I received had the correct answer.

Here is the solution to the problem I gave you on April, 2rd, 2017. I copied the formal part of the solution from the winner: Jörg.
The question was:

How can the criminals make sure that they all survive?

And the solution is surprisingly simple!

Jörg – the winner!

The 10 gangsters have to assign a number between 0 and 9 to every one of them, for instance by counting them down!

As soon as a gangster will see the nine images of all the other nine gangster, he will do the sum of all the numbers on these images and then add “his” number to the sum.

Then he applies the operation modulo 10 to the result and calls the resulting number. Every gangster does this during her or his interview.

This is how you can make sure that exactly one of the gangsters will give the number on his/her picture. The others will, of necessity, say a wrong number – but that is irrelevant, since it will suffice if one of them gives his correct number. That means they all will survive.

Well, as you see, you must never give up hope – once in a while, even mathematics can help.
Here is the formal description of the solution (after Dr. Rothermel).

• Let the number of gangsters be: N
• Let zi be the number assigned to the gangster I (not known to him). It is not necessarily unique and it is part of the set {0, 1, …, N-1} of which a minimum of one needs to be told in the end..
• Let S be the sum of all pre-defined numerals S = Σ zi
The gangsters agree upon the following procedure:
1. Initially, each of them gets a personal, unique number i (known to him/her) assigned to her/his picture from the set {0, 1, …, N-1}.
2. During the interview, every gangster builds the sum of all the numbers he/she can see – that is the (definite) total sum S minus his own (not known to him) numeral zi , i.e. S – zi . That is the only information at his disposal.
3. Since the gangsters are only interested in the numbers in the range {0, 1, …, N-1}, they will modulo N or the congruency relation ≡ N. Now each gangster will calculate an integer x such that:
x ≡ N i – (S – zi ) or
x = ( i – (S – zi )) mod N (I)
With this procedure, exactly one gangster will get his correct zi!

Proof:

S is congruent with a number s from the set {0, 1, …, N-1} or S ≡ N s, consequently, you can also write (I) as:
x ≡ N i – (s – zi )
Since no two N i’s are identical, one of them equal s, consequently, we have for one gangster:
x ≡ N zi.
both x and zi belong to the set {0, 1, …, N-1} which means they are not only congruent, but identical:
y = zi,
and that means this gangster will have the correct number for himself.
(Solution and proof by Dr. Jörg Rothermel)
Now I would recommend that you read the problem  again and ponder it a little bit.

RMD
(Translated by Evelyn)

Roland Dürre
Monday April 3rd, 2017

A Very Special Task!

The Solution will be Supplied Later!

A short time ago, a good friend of mine came up with a brainteaser. He did not know the source, otherwise I would gladly have cited it. My friend was not able to solve the problem, neither was I. But it is a truly exciting scenario. And it has a surprisingly simple solution, including a beautiful mathematical reasoning. It also gives us a nice metaphor for our lives.

Among other things, it shows that mathematics can also, once in a while, be quite useful. Here is the story:

Here is a female criminal. On her card, the number 1 is written. But she does not know this. After all, she only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

A – not dislikeable – gang of 10 persons constantly violates the prevailing moral concepts in an outrageous manner. The gang members are creative and wise – this is how, with great finesse, they remain unmolested by the arm of the law for their abominable activities. That is lucky for them, because the legal penalty for their crime is death by strangulation.

In the public perception, the gang soon has a legendary reputation, and is idolized by quite a few simple people. For the authorities, this development is totally unacceptable. Consequently, the increased manhunt of the authorities, along with a growing arrogance and flippancy among the gang members led to the capture of the group.

All 10 gang members are quickly sentenced to death due to their abominable behaviour in a show trial. However, there is a way for the ten comrades in crime to save their lives – through an appeal for clemency. The head of state who decides upon said appeal is a very prudent and well-meaning woman. She is very wise; there are even some rumours insinuating that she may to some extent sympathise with the gang.

Actually, she works hard to come to a fair decision. She hands down a conditional amnesty (a little like a “Judgement of God”):
Before the verdict is executed, the ten members are permitted to see each other once more. There is a farewell meeting, the ten gangsters can spend the afternoon before their execution together and without supervision.

Here is a male criminal. On his card, the number 2 is written. But he does not know that. After all, he only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

As the meeting starts, the gangsters are told how the amnesty will work. A picture of each of the members is taken (two of them can be seen here). On each of those pictures, a number from the set 0 – 9 {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9} is drawn. Each number can be used several times. Consequently, it is possible that the same number is written on all the pictures. Or that only some numbers are used, for instance {1, 2, 3)}. Or maybe only the even or uneven numbers. Whatever. But perhaps all numbers have been used. Nothing is impossible.

After the meeting, each of them is taken into solitary confinement until the time of execution. Each of the ten gang members is shown the nine pictures of the other nine members – but not his own one. And then they ask him the number on his own photo. And if even one of the gangsters gives a correct answer for the number on his card – all of them will get the amnesty.

Initially, you will think that the gangsters have quite a good chance to avoid their punishment and enjoy clemency over justice. And there is no doubt that their situation will have improved. After all, chances are not too bad that one of the ten will guess correctly and thus free them all.

But it is nowhere near as easy as that. Matters may turn out poorly. And there is one thing the wise regent forgot (or perhaps not): by applying a simple agreement, the ten gangsters can make sure that one of them will inevitably say the right number, as written on his picture. And this is how he can guarantee that he and his comrades will enjoy the amnesty.

It is a small problem: what agreement makes it possible for the gang to use the meeting that was meant as a farewell to make sure that “their heads” are out of the sling with a 100% chance?

I will publish the solution in a few weeks – and until then, I look forward to having many email solutions sent to me!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 21st, 2016

Bernd Fiedler – K-Working

I am sitting in the ICE 1682 from München to Berlin, on my way to the PM-Camp-Orgateam meeting. Again, the WLAN does not work in the train (no IP) and I do a little “tethering”. The Deutsche Bundesbahn will not repair the WLAN before tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. (according to a @DB-Bahn tweet in reply to my complaining through twitter), although a simple “reset” would probably do the job.

But, luckily, I have the new book by Bernd Fiedler on me. Bernd is a good friend of mine. I like coming along when he goes on presentation tours, or else I meet him playing cards. He is one of those persons who never create new problems. Instead, he always talks of things and the future in positive terms. Consequently, meeting him is always a delight.

K-Working-FiedlerNow he wrote a small book. And thanks to DB, I have time to read it. Like its author, the book is constructive. The title is: K-Working. It describes how brain-workers might and should cooperate in a “new world”. Reading it really gives you courage and delight.

Yet it is also a book full of critical remarks, containing surprising and often very precise theses. For some persons, Bernd produces a merciless mirror to hold in front of them. And more often than not, some of the actual (bitter) situations are exactly what I, too, experienced in the past, which is why I find myself sharing the analysis in in the book.

From the outside, the book looks small and unpretentious. But somehow or other, all you need to know about brain workers and leadership can be found in it. And he says it all in a very simple and commonly comprehensible language. It is exciting and an easy read.

That is because it does not want to be a missionary advertising highly elaborated and complicated theories. Instead, it remains rational, focussing on what is really important.

Even the font is nice and large – basically, my reading is almost exclusively digitally these days and reading my old pocketbooks is often a hug effort for me. K-Working, on the other hand, can easily be read in the half-light of an early January morning and the (very much appreciated) diffuse ICE illumination.

All that is important can be found in the book. It is concise and has no endless repetitions as you often find them in US management literature. In those, you often know after the first fifty pages what will follow. And on the remaining 300 pages, you get it all again and again several times. Well, K-Working is not like that!

The book was published as a pocketbook by the epubli publishing house, the language is German. It has 140 pages and the ISBN is 9783737566599. And for 14.99 €, you can already buy the second edition (!), also at epubli.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Detlev Six
Saturday January 2nd, 2016

(Deutsch) Neues von Gott und dem großen Bumser.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Das Grauen der fossilen Welt nach Transfer Patras-Venedig auf einer nicht minder stinkenden griechischen Fähre.

The terror of the fossil world after a transfer from Patras to Venice on a very smelly Greek ferry.

In this article, Jörg Schindler wrote down a few ideas on the question that sprang to mind recently.

He talks about pure battery cars (E-cars) that get their energy through re-loading the battery from the common energy outlets.

Basically, there is only one possible conclusion – not just after reading this article. We have to drastically re-think and change our mobility. However, in our society, change can only be done from the bottom, for instance through grass root movements.

On January, 4th and 5th, 2016, we start our first barcamp for “Active Mobility in Everyday Life“ in Unterhaching – AktMobCmp.

So here is the article by Jörg Schindler:

What e-cars contribute towards reducing emission and making us less dependent upon crude oil.

A change of course in the propulsion technology and the fuels of the automobile industry is inevitable for various reasons:

  1. The cities literally suffocate under the exhaust fumes of car traffic, not just in China.
  2. In the long run, kissing oil good-bye – and consequently kissing the combustion motor good-bye – is inevitable, because less and less fuel will be available.
  3. For reasons of climate protection, this farewell should happen pretty soon. Consequently, a change of technology from the combustion motor to electrically powered vehicles is necessary and makes sense.

There is no doubt that it must be our goal to drastically reduce the number (and/or the use) of cars powered by oil quickly and considerably. E.-cars will emit no harmful substances locally, thereby making a contribution towards improving the air quality at the place of their use. Yet the global emissions are not zero.

Instead, they depend on how the electric energy has been produced. In Germany, electricity is still produced with an enormous fossil percentage (hard coal, brown coal and natural gasoline), which causes an enormous locally effective pollution in the power station, as well as globally effective emissions of greenhouse gas. With the current mixture of energy production in Germany, e-cars are “emission elsewhere vehicles”. Currently, the greenhouse emission is not reduced.

With respect to availability of resources and greenhouse gas emission, e-cars only make sense if they come with a profound change of primary electric energy sources from fossil to renewable.

The positive effect of e-cars when it comes to the quality of life in the urban environment

Apart from less emission at the place of utilization: no positive effect. In the public domain, motorized individual traffic is still domineering, regardless of the e-cars. And its political priority continues. The plan to open bus lanes for e-cars even exacerbates this tendency. As before, cars dominate the public domain. Self-induced chances of mobility for children and persons who do not own a car do not improve. There is no promotion – let alone priority – of active mobility.

The social and industry-political aspects

For persons who do not own a car, the transition to e-cars is not an improvement in their chances of mobility. The discussion about promoting the sale of battery cars is motivated by industry-political aspects – it is desired that said transition should not hurt the industry. It is more likely that the goal is reached if you calculate taxes according to carbon dioxide emission.

Additionally, it is obvious that tax reductions for Diesel fuel should be abolished (as they now plan to do in France by 2020). A radical banishment of cars with health-hazardous emissions in inner cities is also necessary.

The list of necessary measures can be added to almost at random (for instance: speed limit). Besides, we already have relatively clean small conventional cars (for instance those that emit less than 95 g of carbon dioxide per 100 km). But they say it cannot be expected from those who drive business cars, from the average car driver and from the German automobile industry to use them.

The proposed 5,000 Euros in subsidies for those who buy an e-car would suffice to give three Hartz-IV recipients a Pedelec, which would considerably improve the mobility chances for deprived groups. (It might be worth thinking about why these kinds of alternatives for spending public money are not even considered).

Promoting e-cars more and more aggressively (since said promotion apparently is a failure on the market), those solutions already possible and currently much more effective are concealed through the one-sided propagation of tomorrow’s solution. In doing so, these currently possible solutions are ignored and kept from influencing the current political debate. Consequently, things that could and should be done immediately and would have a far more positive effect are left undone.

Trapped in the paradigm of fossil traffic

As before, the general agreement is: it is better to be motorized than not. It is desired that the structures remain unchanged, only the technology has to improve. Sustainability as an add-on (just like whipped cream on the cake).

You will always see the same pattern: there are no explicit political alternatives. Instead, technological problems are re-defined and a solution has to be found for them: e-cars as the solution for all urban environmental traffic problems.

Another example for repressing political solutions: a possible (re-)structuring of the public (street) domain is not made the topic of any discussions – except when it can absolutely no longer be avoided, like on the Munich Rosenheimer Strasse.

The necessary transition to the post-fossil mobility is a lot more all-encompassing.

Clean power production and the transition to renewable energy sources for motorized traffic are a matter of necessity. But it is not sufficient to solve all the problems of modern traffic.

Reduced availability of crude oil and energy that will be more expensive in the long run will increase the local resistance, i.e. the economic, time and emotional effort necessary for getting from location A to location B with motorized means of transportation on the street, on water and in the air. Through the increased local resistance, what is nearer will become closer and what is farther away will become more remote. Consequently, reaching places in the vicinity will become more important than reaching remote places.

There is no doubt that efficient ways of travelling are a necessity in this context. But it is just as important to have efficient spatial patterns and urban structures that minimize the realization of human mobility needs. This structural change is made possible and promoted by active mobility. To the same extent as this happens, the necessity of motorized individual traffic will decrease.

Why active mobility is our topic and why it is the right topic

Short-range mobility in urban structures with short distances is the solution of many traffic and environmental problems if the distance can be and is covered on food or by bike. That is what we mean when we say active mobility.

It will increase the quality of your stay and the safety in the public domain. It creates equal mobility chances for all groups in society. And it will promote the physical and psychological health of all humans.

Neubiberg, October, 28th, 2015

About the author:
For many years, Jörg Schindler was managing director of LBST (Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik) and now he is director of ASPO Deutschland e.V.. He has spent many years discussing future relevant topics in the energy sector. For instance, he is also well-known for his numerous publications and as co-author of a series of technological books.

Many thanks to our guest author Jörg Schindler.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Do come to the barcamp Active Mobility in Everyday Life !
P.S.1
The picture is my own work. I hereby authorize everybody to use it under common licence following the rules therein.

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 20th, 2015

I almost forgot: Karlsruhe PM Camp on September, 25th and 26th!

pmcamp-logo_karlsruhe_153x70I am angry with myself. I almost forgot the Karlsruhe PM Camp. And it would not have been advertised. This is not tolerable!

Dear organizational team in Karlsruhe: please accept my apologies. I feel truly contrite. And I promise to do better in the future.

In Karlsruhe, the motto will be:

Projects with enthusiasm – where does the magic come from?

Unfortunately, I cannot attend next Friday and Saturday. Which I find a true pity. Because the Karlsruhe organizational team did a fabulous job. And they would certainly have deserved a few more participants.

So here is my appeal to you: if you live near Karlsruhe and are at leisure this Friday and Saturday – and if you are at all interested in project management, management in general, leadership, entrepreneurship and such, you should definitely attend the PM camp at the Karlsruhe Hochschule für Technik.

As always, the program is exciting. It will be well worth the trip and, as always, all PM Camp participants will return home content, wiser and happier.

And, in absentia, I will follow the timeline of the tag #PMCampKA and be happy about many, many twitters from the camp by the participants!

And here is a special request by me:

If, to give Karlsruhe extra advertisement, you twitter this article more often than usual, you would also make me very happy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 28th, 2015

Leadership Wisdom …

Gelegentlich bin ich auch als Speaker unterwegs - hier auf IF-Weihnachtsfeier 2014

Once in a while, I also give presentations – here at the IF 2014 Christmas Party.

During quite a few years of my life, I liked listening to the famous and successful “Motivation Speakers”. I was fascinated with how they can describe and explain the world in such easy terms. And, above all, how convincingly they show their audience the way towards success.

Their way of speaking and their charisma enraptured me. The top experts I am referring to are people who literally seem to be surrounded by a special aura. They elude a natural charisma that puts a spell on many persons, me included.

As the years went by, I made the personal acquaintance of some of these people. I saw how easy it is for them to formulate their vision. But I also saw that it is not always quite as easy for them to actually live up to their own standards. Once in a while, it did not look quite as glamorous behind the scenes as it had been looking on the podium. Because it is mostly easier to “teach something” well than to actually do it well yourself.

A short time ago, I met the key-note speaker Carsten Rath. Or, to be more precise: a friend pointed me in his direction. Because he had heard an interview Carsten Rath had given the Bayerischen Rundfunk. And he was so fascinated that he immediately sent it to me.

I do not know Carsten Rath personally, but the BR podcast is definitely worth listening to:

My friend believes this interview with Carsten Rath made it clear to him how a good managers differs from a poor manager. And that he only wanted to work in companies where work-life and work as such is practiced as Carsten Rath demands.

In fact, in this interview, Carsten Rath actually introduces many theses on leadership and management which no rational manager and person can seriously dispute. And his reasoning is both very competent and smooth. He also supports his theories with many small stories. In fact, it is convincing as a whole.

If I were asked to summarize what he says, it would read as follows:

  • “The customer always has to be the focus of what we think and how we act.”
  • “You cannot do a good job without being totally enthusiastic about it.”
  • “Every job is about everything, so you always have to give all your best.”

And then he cites his (created by him) “4Ms” as an abbreviation for:

  • “Man muss Menschen mögen!” (You Need to Like Humans)

The “4MS” are also something I can only approve of. The same is true for his postulating “the central virtue of a leader must be truthfulness”. That fits. Except that I call it “transparency, openness and authenticity”. But Carsten Rath also says that

  • ”consolidation lies in repetition” and “true top achievement usually means a lot of pain”..

Well, I have an easier term for the former: “Practice Makes Perfect”.

I am not quite so sure about the latter. I understand the statement because Mister Rath originated in the hotel business. Except that, for me, for instance “nursing homes for the elderly” are also some kind of hotel. And this is an area where I would think it is more important that all persons in the company consciously bear and share the responsibility for all those elderly persons. I would always wish to reduce the “pain” to what is absolutely necessary.

In order to give more weight to my ideas, I looked for another example from the circle of famous “Management Speakers”. During the Nuremberg 2013 DOAG Conference, I heard the great Peter Kreuz . Later, I made his personal acquaintance at the speaker’s table (well, I am sometimes at it myself ).

His presentation was perfect. On an inter-human level, we understood each other perfectly. “You” (women and men) were left with no alternative but to nod approval. All was great, all was right. He sounded convincing in all points. The only and very reserved criticism I heard was that, perhaps, the show was a little too perfect. Apparently, he and his wife are the perfect couple and enterprise.

These aforementioned speakers and several more can be said to play in a “different league”. Except, although I certainly would never begrudge them their high fees and the usually nice and long applause, I seem to have learned over the years that good leadership is a little more than that. And I do not even have the means to make this understood.

Well, let me try:

It is the many daily small things that might make a “leader” out of a person. There is the mostly constructive brain, an upright mind-set, practiced humanity and the ability to help towards your own and other person’s life getting a chance to flourish in many dimensions. Whenever you manage to make the people you meet look greater, instead of smaller, you might perhaps be a good “leader”. One indicator that you are a good leader might be that people you met feel better after having met you than before and they are also aware of it.

And all those beautiful theses that our top speakers brilliantly present could essentially just be the basic requirements that go without saying for a good enterprise climate. But there is no question that they, too, are terribly important.

But still, even if a “leader” has both the knowledge and competence to do all these things, even if he means ever so well in his job and does everything right, there will occasionally be instances when something goes wrong. Simply because the “leader” is also a human being like everybody else. Be it because he himself made a mistake or because once in a while strange developments make things happen that you simply could not mend – and perhaps you could not have foreseen them, either. Because we are all only human.

And that is something not even the most expensive and best management seminars and presentations will protect you from.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday January 5th, 2015

As Time Goes By …

KettenkarusselI need only look back upon the thirty-one years of my life at InterFace AG to see: many things have changed over the years! On all levels and in all dimensions. Looking at society and technology, or the way knowledge is treated today, what I see is more than a little surprising.

Totally new disciplines became important and made huge progress – and, as I see it, they also changed the world. Along with technology, I am also talking sciences such as psychology, neurology, behavioural science, along with game theory and good old philosophy. Not to mention how values and morals, even the concept of life for the individual person as well as in society and collectively, underwent change.

These developments exacerbated each other, thereby increasing speed in a way that I would no longer call linear. In fact, I considered and consider it more like “geometrical or exponential”.

This is why the following model I discovered a short time ago is one I am in favour of. It is about the words knowledgeable and ignorant, as well as competent and incompetent.

You could assign these four characteristics to a matrix with four quadrants. The top line of the matrix is “incompetence”, the lower line is “competence”. The right column is “knowledge” and the left column is ”ignorance”.

The upper left quadrant would then mean “knowledgeable yet incompetent”.

If you take the real-life example of an adolescent who knows that he cannot drive a car, you get the result that he is “knowledgeable yet incompetent”.

The lower right quadrant means “knowledgeable and competent”.

In our example, the adolescent grows to become a young man and learns to drive a car. Now he knows he can drive a car. And he will drive a car. Consequently, he is “knowledgeable and competent”.

The lower left quadrant represents “ignorant yet competent”.

As the young man grows older, he drives his car a lot. Consequently, he will become very good at driving a car, yet he is no longer actively aware of said competence. Whenever he drives a car, he is “ignorant yet competent”.

The upper left quadrant represents “ignorant and incompetent”.

We already can imagine what the story will be in the upper left hand corner. The man has turned ancient. He certainly should no longer sit behind a wheel, because he is no longer fit to drive. Yet he is not aware of this. Consequently, he will continue to drive with “ignorance and incompetence”.

Well, isn’t that a nice example? Yet there is one disadvantage. It suggests that man is the one who, due to age-inflicted change, mutates from “knowledgeable yet incompetent” via “knowledgeable and competent” and “ignorant yet competent” to “ignorant and incompetent”.

More often than not, however, it is the world or the environment which quickly changes. Whenever you enter a new social system, you will immediately notice that you have to work towards “being able to participate”. You learn the new system and then you become part of it. Except that, even after a phase of being “ignorant yet competent”, you might quickly become “ignorant and incompetent’.

Because the rules and the actual functionality of the system changed so fast and so dramatically that you never even noticed it. That is when you will look stupid and no longer understand the world – in which just a short while ago you felt ever so much at home.

Well, once in a while I, too, feel I am getting caught in a chain carousel that rotates faster and faster all the time, making me feel quite dizzy.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

The picture is called “Wellenflug auf dem Roonkarker Mart”. I found it in Wikipedia with the carousel article. It is originally be Wilfried Wittkowsky.