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.

(Translated by EG)


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

As of now, you can download the video of our last IF Forum presentation in the series ”Galileo Galilei – A Visit of the Present” by Thomas de Padova with the title “The Secret of the World”  on my YouTube-Channel RolandDuerre.

Now those who could not be present during the interesting presentation about Galileo Galilei and his contemporary Johannes Kepler, too, can watch it:



(Translated by EG)

InterFace_Icon_30Jahre_01-94At InterFace AG, 2014 is dedicated to Galileo Galilei.

The three IF Forum presentations all have the motto:
“Cosmos, Humans and The Turn of an Era”.
We will invite Galilei Galileo to “visit us in the present”.

In the first IF Forum, on February, 27th, Jörg Schindler told us about the “Third Turn of an Era”.  On July, 17th, we welcomed Dr. Stefan Gillessen as our guest. He talked about the cosmos with “Big, Bigger, Sharpest”, where we also heard how he and his colleagues do research in this field. Incidentally, many of the presentations are available on the InterFace AG youtube channel.

On October, 23rd, we will have Thomas De Padova with us. His topic is

ThomasdePadova“The Secret of the World”.

Four hundred years ago, two totally different scientists cross the borders of the then known world. Galileo Galilei takes a good look through his telescope in Venice and discovers the Jupiter moons.

He publishes his spectacular findings in »Der Sternenbote«. In Prague, Johannes Kepler cannot stop reading about Galilei’s observations until the end of the small book, because the observations therein fit perfectly with his theory of planetary laws. An exchange of letters between Kepler and Galilei about the new cosmos develops. This is an exciting expedition of human intellectual ideas – and simultaneously it is the Turn Towards Modern Times.

Thomas de Padova
 (* 1965 in Neuwied on the river Rhine) is a German scientific publicist.

De Padova studied physics and astronomy in Bonn and Bologna. Between 1997 and 2005, he was a scientific writer for the “Tagesspiegel”. After 2005, he started working as a freelance scientific author. De Padova lives in Berlin and has been a member of the “Kuratorium of the Magnus-Haus of the Germany Physicists Association” and a member of the program the Program Committee of Urania since 2006. In January and February 2014, he was the “Journalist in Residence” at the Berlin Max-Planck-Institute for Science History. [Text: from Wikipedia]

Thomas De Padova is also the author of the science book of the year “The Secret of the World – Kepler, Galilei and How the Heavens were Measured”, which was selected best science book in the category natural sciences/technology by 20,000 readers in 2010.

The presentation will be on Thursday, October, 23rd, 2014 at 6.30 p.m. – we will welcome guests from 6 p.m. in the seminar zone of our Unterhaching InterFace AG building.

As usual, you can register by sending an E-Mail. As always, we already look forward to exciting discussions and nice conversation!

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday August 15th, 2014

Start-up (1) – Failure

As during many summers before, I am currently camping at Porto Ageranos. The campground is situated on the Peloponnesus, on the middle finger, about 10 kilometres south of Gythio, shortly before the mild climate of Mani. From our tent, you have only 10 metres to go before you reach the ocean. The first night was truly great. And since we know the region quite well, we have been feeling really at home from the outset!

I take advantage of the time I spand at this place for relaxing, contemplation and, not least, for making plans. And, of course, I also do a lot of swimming and bike-riding, I eat well and simply spend quality time with my beloved family and friends. And, naturally, I also write some articles (for the IF Blog).
This time around, my main topic is start ups.

I know many people. With some of them, I am good friends. Among them are also quite a few young colleagues. It seems to me that I am actually doing quite well when it comes to getting along with the young generation.

A few years ago, I started getting interested in the foundation of new enterprises. For instance, I am constantly asked to sit in the jury for a business plan contest. As a mentor, I counsel persons and enterprises, sometimes intensely, sometimes sporadically. Consequently, I know a little about what is going on.
Most of the teams I know and acompany are truly great teams. They are industrious and creative and they try to lead their lives independently and to build up an enterprise, investing the utmost personal enthusiasm on many levels based on an exciting idea.

And then they fail.

Some of them fail at the very outset, others as soon as promotion programs, such as EXIST are over, or else after the first financing. More often than not, the period of suffering will continue for some time. Once in a while, they find an “emergency exit”. And only very few of them will be a success – and those mostly in a totally different way than they had originally planned.

Most of those who fail leave behind a huge amount of strength and also money. The only consolation for them is that they learned a lot, in other words: they “failed successfully”. Yet this is not much of a consolation, is it? After all, if they had taken up an alternative life line, for instance through a good job with a medium-sized company, they could probably have learned a lot more for their personal future.

As I see it, this is a gigantic waste of capital, creativity and industriousness (“waste” in the sense of Kaizen). Also, the frustration and disappointment many of the young persons concerned suffer is painful. And I often think that this frequent failure might have been avoidable in many cases.

Because the mass-failures are easily explained. Mostly, the founders work just like the expertise of a past epoch tells them to. And this pattern never really worked very well. Today, it generally does not pan out at all. How are the success patterns of yesterday supposed to work in the world of tomorrow, anyway?
And the very few exceptions – incidentally, they are all due to the accumulation of particularly lucky circumstances – only prove this rule.

Why is failure normal?

The answer is simple: for instance, big concerns, too, constantly try to throw new products onto the market. These concerns have everything you need for a new product idea: capital in masses, a well-known brand, excellent marketing, strong marketing organizations, world-wide access to the markets, great engineers and providers, and much more. And above all: they know their market, because more often than not they have been “learning” and “working towards it” for decades.

And still their new product inventions often fail. If they are lucky, as few as 10 % of such new inventions will become more or less a success on the market. Make your criteria for the definition of “success” a little stricter, and you get an even lower number.

Except how is a young team that has none of these things supposed to compete? Just with their young light-heartedness and creativity? This is nonsense!

One conclusion might be that young founders will only have a real chance on totally new markets. That would mean young founders should shirk (almost) all business ideas around existing technologies and solutions. The current development seems to justify this argument. Well, perhaps I can give a first tentative piece of advice to start-ups:

Be careful if you wish to enter into markets where others already have their standing.

To be sure, great concerns with their organization and processes are their own stumbling block when it comes to creative topics. Their success has the negative side that they will always think in old patterns. They know this and consequently look for innovation outside their own walls. The foundation of “acceleration“ departments and their looking for cooperation with start-ups is their way out of it. After all, this is also the latest idea of “UnternehmerTUM” of Munich Technical University. The same is true for the new first mayor of our state capital Munich, Mr. Reiter.

The magic word “cooperation between concerns and start-ups”, however, will not work, either. Firstly, the old enterprises intensely live the rejection from outside as in: “not invented here“. I witnessed this quite frequently and also made the experience myself in strategic cooperation with big firms – more than once. And I could also name quite a few examples where the results of XXX acceleration or XXX invest failed.

But the “old methods”, too, are only successful in few exceptional cases. Let me exemplify this with almost all “tax-saving models”. For many years now, we have witnessed this not only in sectors such as “film”, “realty”, “shipping”, or “alternative energy”. The huge losses suffered by investors in projects around railway and canal building are also good examples.

Mostly, their failure was not because they fell victim to fraud or untrustworthy businessmen. To be sure, those also happened. But mostly the reason was that the underlying business models and plans were just wrong. Regardless of the fact that they had been made by experts in a “professional” way. Experts who really knew their markets. And regardless of having been controlled critically by other experts, for instance in banking. Mind you, those banking experts were really serious, because, after all, they had a share. Here, too, I could write about very personal experiences: in one case, the Sparkasse München, which I hold in high esteem, lost a few million Euros – in my own case, we are, luckily, only talking something in the middle five-digit range.

But if even projects written by experts and validated by many other experts do not work, how can you then expect a young team of founders without any experience and knowledge of the market to steer their enterprise successfully into a non-predictable future?

Seen under this light, founding a new company is basically a hopeless or at least very courageous adventure. An adventure no sane person should by any rights let himself be drawn into.

However, I think that it is possible to improve the chance of success for a start-up from what feels like 1 : 100 to something that perhaps even comes close to 1 : 1 (success versus failure ratio)..

I know that this is a rather courageous announcement of mine. Consequently, I plan to use my two weeks on a campground at the southernmost end of the Peloponnesus on Mani for writing a few articles about “start-ups” here in my IF Blog. This is both for the start-ups I myself counsel and all others.

RMD (Translated by EG)


I will start with my own experiences as a young entrepreneur in the next instalment. As I see it, you can already learn quite a bit from it.

On July, 17th, we at InterFace AG in Unterhaching hosted a very special IF Forum.  As part of the series “Galilei Galileo – A Visit of the Present”,

Dr. Stefan Gillessen gave us a View into the cosmos.

Dr. Stefan Gillessen is a physicist at Max-Planck-Institute for extra-terrestrial physics (MPE), where he is an exceptionally successful scientist..
Here is his exciting presentation!


(Translated by EG)

gillessenTonight, the second IF Forum Dr. Stefan Gillessen will be held. He will talk “from the cosmos”. His presentation is titled…

“Big, Bigger, Sharpest …”

Click here for the invitation.

As always, the presentation will be in the seminar zone of the Unterhaching InterFace AG building. Guests are welcome from 6 p.m.
We would like to start with the presentation at 18:30 hours sharp.

At the moment, there are still a few vacancies. For all those who cannot come, the presentation will be broadcast live on the internet.InterFace_Icon_Galileo_mit-claim-rund

From around 18.15 hours, you can see the video stream on

In addition, we will do a video recording and publish it on youtube (Kanal InterFace AG).

We look forward to welcoming many guests – both live and on the internet.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 11th, 2013

“The Wise Animals in the Zoo” or “Academia”

GiraffenOnce in a while, I also meet professors of the faculties business and philosophy. On those occasions, we talk, for instance, about business ethics and business morals. And I get the impression that academia is a nice zoo. Many quite fascinating animals live therein.

They are well tended and fed. Their health is exemplary, because the medical attention they receive is excellent. How their smooth coats shine! When they show their teeth, you see a faultless set. You will immediately notice that they have excellent knowledge and a precise understanding of things. Mostly, they have very agreeable personalities.

Elefantenherde1These animals have plenty to think about. Yet, there is but one glitch: more often than not, their knowledge is very abstract and theoretical. Because these animals sit in the zoo. Mostly, that is where they were born, too. Unfortunately, they never lived in the wilderness.

And in the zoo, they try to find out what life in the wilderness might be like. Of course, they can only make a guess. After all, they live in the zoo.

More often than not, their ideas are right on the mark. Once in a while, their wild guesses cause strange outpourings. And that is when many things start just going wrong.

African_BuffaloRegardless, the animals in the zoo do an important job. They teach us animals living in the wilderness many beautiful theories. We can play with these theories and come up with our own opinions: are they useful or not?

However, we, too, do not really live in the wilderness. Perhaps once in a while you could say we live in a biotope. The cultural world prevails. The natural world is something that no longer exists.

Thinking of the animals in the zoo brings something else to mind, totally associatively:

Die süßesten Früchte fressen nur die großen Tiere (The sweetest fruits are for the big animals only).

Somehow or other, it seems to fit, doesn’t it? Or maybe this is the reason why all the big mammals are usually vegetarian? Perhaps that should be a reason for us to start thinking?

(Translated by EG)

The picture of the giraffe was taken by John Walker (Images of Africa), the elephants by Ikiwaner and the African Buffalo by Stefan Ehrbar.

And since it is so beautiful: Here is Peter Alexander in the year 1952:

Roland Dürre
Saturday July 6th, 2013

2nd IF FORUM 2013: “Jean Paul & Hypertext”

KlappertFrau Dr. Annina KlappertFrau Dr. Annina Klappert
is our speaker at the second IF Forum of 2013. She will tell us about:

Jean Paul and Hypertext

On July, 11th, 2013, she will give an entire IF Forum presentation at our Unterhaching InterFace building.

Here is a short outline:

During the 20ieth century, the data volume kept increasing – and along with it the problem of data access.

Well, considering when he lived, Jean Paul actually was quite a “professional” when it came to collecting data. Also, he was already confronted with the same problems, though on his own scale. Using his special excerpt technology, he not only collected knowledge, but also linked it in an intelligent way.

So we can actually ask today as Jean Paul asked then: how can data be stored and linked?

And how can we acquire new knowledge from those data?

A short glimpse at the aesthetics of Jean Paul can show us his concept of wit and also teach us possible linking technologies. On the whole, the method of writing as theoretically overloaded in Jean Paul’s ‘pre-school of aesthetics’ and practiced in his poetic works can show us why today’s hypertext systems are so helpful, how they function in their structuring of knowledge and what are their challenges.

About the speaker:

Frau Dr. Annina Klappert wrote her dissertational thesis at Bonn University on: “Die Perspektiven von Link und Lücke. Sichtweisen auf Jean Pauls Texte und Hypertexte” – The Perspectives of Link and Gap. Views on Jean Paul’s Texts and Hypertexts. Between 1999 and 2004, she worked at the Köln Forschungskolleg SFB/FK 427 “Medien und kulturelle Kommunikation”.

Frau Klappert is currently an employee at the chair of General and Comparative Literature at Erfurt University. Her interests and special fields of research are: virtual theories, hypertext theories, slip boxes as knowledge technology and digital practice, as well as modern literature.

The If Forum will take place at our Unterhaching headquarter building in the seminar zone on the top floor. We start at 18.00 hours. We look forward to welcoming our guests! As always, you can register for the IF Forum by sending an E-Mail.

Here is an overview of the three “Jean Paul presentations” of the year 2013.

A Visit to the Present

Jean Paul presentations at the IF Forum

In 2013, our IF Forum will be about how modern Jean Paul’s topics and ideas actually are.
With presentations on entrepreneurship, hypertext, wit and new media, we want to project new perspectives and questions to the Here and Now. Why don’t you join us?

Jean Paul the entrepreneur

Jean Paul was one of the first German authors who actually made a living out of his writing. Mind you, he did so regardless of a start under very difficult circumstances. He visited the intellectual centres of his time: Leipzig, Weimar, Berlin – and his books were a success to make Goethe envious. When Jean Paul married, even the Prussian Queen invited him for tea and gave him a silver tea set.

Jean Paul did not owe his ascent and success to accident, but to careful planning with entrepreneurial instinct. Even when times turned bad and the Napoleonic wars devastated half of Europe, he still was able to maintain his position. The way Jean Paul combined success and sustainability looks still remarkably modern today. .
Our speaker Bernhard Echte, scientific literature expert, exhibition organizer and publicist, worked many years as director of the Zürich Robert Walser archive. Today, the entrepreneur has his own publishing company: “Nimbus, Kunst und Bücher”.

The presentation will be on: April, 11th,  2013 (Thursday) | Starting at:  18.00 Hours | At InterFace AG, Unterhaching

Jean Paul and Hypertext

Even before he called himself Jean Paul, young Johann Richter read everything he could lay hands on: hardly any of the books actually belonged to him. Whatever he read, he excerpted in notebooks. In those same notebooks, he also commented ideas currently coursing through his head. Jean Paul added catch phrases to his entries, now called tags. In this way, he created a huge private encyclopedia. It was structured like a modern database and was the foundation of his literary work. Only through his database, Jean Paul was able to realize his unique style. A style that is at the same time erratic and precise. He managed to turn the financial misery of his youth into a virtue the result of which surprises us to this day.

Our speaker Annina Klappert, is a scientist at the seminar for General and Comparative Literature at Erfurt University. Her dissertational thesis is a structural comparison of Jean Paul’s texts and hypertexts. Her scientific research is mainly concerned with media, references and virtual reality.

The presentation will be on: July, 11th, 2013 (Thursday) | Starting at:  18.00 Hours | At InterFace AG, Unterhaching

Jean Paul, wit, post-modernism and the new media

He was a “God-Denier” and an “intellectual disintegrator”, a fervent cosmopolitan, sceptic and joker. His educational theory “Levana” is highly praised, since it advertises wit and irony against the strict no-nonsense attitude of Fichte’s oratory as the basis of a healthy personality. In his policy of “the third person between Germandom and Bonapartism”, you can anticipate the post-modern indecision between the opposing poles of “the truth”. With his aesthetics of straying, he already uses the interruptive and jumpy hypertext aesthetics of the internet. Who was this man who hardly ever left home and still intellectually and mentally was way ahead of his contemporaries?
Our speaker Roberto Simanowski is professor for media sciences at Basel University. He is concerned with the changes in writing caused by the digital era and publishes the online journal dichtung-digital – journal for digital aesthetics.

The presentation will be on November, 7th, 2013 (Thursday) | Starting at 18.00 Hours  | At InterFace AG, Unterhaching

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday May 5th, 2013

brand eins in May

On time for the first day of the Month of Delight, the May “brand eins” edition was delivered. But it took until Saturday, when I sat in the train EC 391 back from the PC camp 2013 (tag not only in twitter: #pmcamp13str) until I was first able to take a closer look at it. After all, life is hard for a PM.

Incidentally, after what I experienced in Stuttgart, I now see PM as an abbreviation for “People Manager”. This is definitely a better term for the job that was still called project manager a short time ago.

And to me, this “brand eins” seems as dignified as my thoughts. It looks totally golden. Along with a multi-coloured, ellipse-like line design. At first sight, I almost could have taken it for a “Haute Couture” magazine. Or at least for a magazine that represents the upper-class high society life style.

But be not afraid: the title alone makes it “cool”:
Seize the Day!
The sub-title is:
Why SHARING and SWAPPING will promote business.

Of course, this is exactly how I feel. Once again, they hit on my favourite topics! And it gets even better: Frau Fischer gives her editorial the simple heading:
A New Dimension!
The exclamation mark is from me)

She actually admits in the editorial:

“that she found all the fuss they used to make about sharing economy rather annoying.…”
And then she continues to say:
“The Sharing Economy might well be a fashionable concept – but the development behind it has a rather huge dimension”.

Well, I am delighted. Isn’t this fantastic news? And it gets even better – in the closing line of her editorial, she even calls the predictions made at the turning of the millennia by  Jeremy Rifkin “a hopeful utopia“. Which is again something that confirms my own personal opinion.

Consequently, I undertake a “small research trip” into the inner pages of the magazine. And I notice that it is about quite a few sectors and continents. It includes many multi-facetted and diverse articles.

There is “looking for oneself” (on Siemens, page 22), “ownership will become virtual” (small IT story, page 92), “the bank in the palm of your hand” (a future without banks, page 96) and much more. And in particular, the entire focal point – absolutely magnificent in my opinion!

I will not tell you more – instead, I recommend that you, too, go on a trip equipped with the May “brand eins” copy.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday December 28th, 2012

It Could Have Come Straight From My Heart!

Again and again, I read wise books. There are many of them, and new ones appear all the time. And more often than not, I close them and put them away after only having read a few pages or chapters. Regardless of the fact that they actually sound quite interesting. Basically, it is because it always seems to me that they are not saying anything that is news to me.

Whenever I attend conferences, congresses or conservatively structured scientific events where knowledge is presented to me by way of speeches from the pulpit, I often get this uneasy feeling.

If then as terms like success, ethics, leadership, morals, planning, strategy, entrepreneurial culture, values, goals and goal-agreements, future,… become part of the presentation delivered with a huge amount of self-righteousness, I often wonder at all the things people know or profess to know. And then my stomach starts rumbling. Despite the fact that I, too, like talking about these topics. But I do it in the full knowledge that I,  do not know the answers, either. Consequently I talk about these things because I want to motivate people to think about them. You could say I want to question other people’s – and my own – certainties.

Then I meet people who want to “profile” everyone and put everything, no matter if it is alive or dead, into “Balanced Scorecards”. And they speak about the “Human Capital” of an enterprise or a community. That gives me pause.

And whenever I sit in a circle with people who want to make all the difference, who approach the topic in a terribly modern and strategic way, who formulate huge goals, who dance from one utopian idea to the next and where “a mountain is in labor but all you get in the end is a small mouse” (“der Berg kreisst …”), then I feel  really poorly. Those are the times when I think I really could have made better use of my precious time.

One evening, I was, again, discussing one of these topics from the world of economics with a very cherished female friend via email. Here is her reply:

… when all is said and done, we also miss the link to craftsmanship, apprenticeship, making, experimenting, piloting (this is where I see my personal interest), because basically economics are always some sort of mental game based on hypotheses, rather than a creative approach towards re-structuring the world. …

And suddenly I feel great. This is exactly what I want! So there are actually some people who are not only highly esteemed by me but also can spontaneously formulate well and in a concise way what I feel. Many thanks to my friend – whose name I will intentionally withhold.

To make up for it, I look forward to the next BarCamp – such as for instance the PM Camp. Because this is where you talk about your problems and ideas in a truly sincere way, where you exchange experiences and underlying ideas, share knowledge on a market place and acquire knowledge from practical applications for practical applications.


(Translated by EG)