Roland Dürre
Saturday March 16th, 2019

POWER in Social Systems

In my last article , I gave you my ideas about the three terms FREEDOM, LOVE and POWER..

When I was still powerful 😉

Quasi as a continuation of these ideas, I will now deal with the question:

What is it about enterprises and generally society and POWER?

POWER also plays a huge role in the context of movements such as  #newwork, “democratic enterprise”, and intrinsify.me. POWER is not only a determining factor in enterprises, but also in the political system, where our social coexistence as countries is organized.

Traditionally, POWER always belonged to men without further thought. In our country, it is still the old white men. Women were and still are ignored, except if they act like men. And children are kept small whenever they try to get in a word – because they are worried about their future.

POWER is relevant in churches, clubs, families, relationships, i.e. in all sorts of social systems. It is always the same. Everything is about who is in a position of power and who is not. And if you are in a position of power, you are better off than the others.

Yesterday

Since classical times, there has always been a ruling class that had the power in our cultural spheres. In Medieval Times, we had feudalism and precariat (Prekariat). Even in old Greece, there were citizens and slaves. In our regions, there were masters (land owners, knights, church dignitaries), a few free citizens and serfs in Medieval Times (fiefdom is just a category of slavery). Until the end of the 19th century, fiefdom was quite normal in many countries of Europe if you lived in rural areas – that is where the important food was produced. City air frees you – that is how people started to gain freedom in cities. And then came the revolution and enlightenment with its national wars.

So how did it continue?

Today

Today, we have a middle class. So far? It lies between the very rich and the very poor. The rich become richer and richer and the poor become poorer and poorer. The middle class seems to disappear.

Tomorrow

I imagine that we will have few very rich people. The huge majority will be part of the Precariat. Let us do some research:
 


precariat
[pertaining to the distinctive vocabulary of the educated class] {noun}
Part of the population who, especially due to long phases of joblessness and deficient social security, live in poverty or are directly threatened by poverty and only have limited chances to climb up.


 

You can easily remember the word precariat if you remember what precarious means. Those who belong to the precariat will live in precarious circumstances. Let us take another look at the dictionary: what is the meaning of precarious?
 


precarious
[pertaining to the distinctive vocabulary of the educated class] {adj}
Made up in such a way that you find it hard to come up with the right measures and decisions, not knowing how to get out of a difficult situation.
”a precarious [economic, financial] situation“


 

Those who live precariously will have few rights. They will be suppressed by an oligarchy of parties and associations. As a consequence of the climate catastrophe, along with the collapse of the infra structure and several similar factors, the people living in the precariat will be the absolute majority. They will be ruled by the religion of consumption. This is how a new kind of slavery could arise. It will no longer be based on ownership of people but on supervision and manipulation. A huge majority of persons will probably be governed by a small number of pseudo-democratic feudalists.

For a short century, we actually believed that democracy gave the citizen as the “sovereign” power and made him superior. Now we are surprised to find out that this was just an illusion.

All we can hope now is that it might still be enough for bread and games in the future.

RMD
(Translated by eg)

Roland Dürre
Monday March 11th, 2019

Who Owns the Internet … ?

Ob er die Antwort wüsste?
Roman copy of a Greek Plato portrait, probably by Silanion and now displayed in the Academy after Platon’s death. Glyptothek München.

I generally claim that, before you can look for solutions, you need to ask the right questions. Currently, I am wondering – not only in my presentations – about the future of digitalization.

I fear that the internet is threatened on several levels. So I come up with central questions.

Here is a very central question:

Who owns the internet?

I mean this exactly as I write it. My smart phone and my computer, which are both also part of the internet, belong to me. But who owns all the connections and computing centres you need for the network? And who is master over the definitions? Who will decide upon a change in protocols if this becomes necessary due to a change of users? Who is in charge of security? Who is responsible if the infra structure becomes deficient?

Well, I already asked the question several times. Because I do not know the answer. I asked some very knowledgeable people who usually know all about digitalization and related topics. But they, too, could not give me an answer.

But perhaps my readers know the answer?

In that case, maybe you can also answer some of the following questions:

Who owns Wikipedia?

Our huge thesaurus infra structure. It is unique in its independence and freedom. It is also free of advertising. It belongs to no concern and no party. It is designed on an honorary basis and financed by donations. A wonderful example of open source. It is actually something the community could be proud of.

What are we going to do when there are no longer enough Wikipedians left to maintain its growing infra structure? When the technology becomes antiquated and the system breaks down? Who will get or take possession of the Wikipedia empire when it collapses?

Maybe you have more exciting questions? For instance: what will we do when Youtube or other services are terminated?

I look forward to reading your answers.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 2nd, 2019

Turn of an Era: The End of the Digital World ?

What will happen when the digital era comes to an end?

Im Jahre 2019 habe ich nach einem Jahr Pause wieder am Biike-Camp in Sylt teilgenommen.

After one year of abstinence, I again took part in the Sylt Biike-Camp in 2019. The Biike Camp takes place on Sylt annually, along with the traditional Biike-Brennen. It is a huge meeting of entrepreneurs, counsellors and leaders. It is organized by Tedic, the brothers Krickel first founded it around the turn of the millennium.

This time around, the motto was The Turn of an Era. Again, it was more than worth the effort to go there. I was invited to give a presentation on the second day of the event. They had suggested the topic:

”Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Post-Digital World”

I will write down my presentation in the following paragraphs. I started by introducing myself, then I tried to analyse the title in two columns.


 

Personal introduction
Since, on the first day of our meeting, it became clear to me how very much most of us (including myself) are formed by the car, I started by introducing all the cars that I ever drove in my life. In other words: I related my former car and current bike culture. 
🙂 And in the process, I also discovered a few things about myself.
Then I mentioned the computers I use (Mac and Chrome, no Windows).
So I have double mobility – MIV (motorized individualized traffic and on the network). Both tells a lot about the life of a white old man.
And, of course, I also had to speak of my personal history. I told the audience about duerre.de and if-blog.de and mentioned that I consider myself a late founder (I was 34).
With respect to my InterFace history, I referred the listeners to the Wikipedia entry on InterFace AG.


In order to be able to react to the content of the other presentations with the highest possible degree of flexibility, I abstained from using slides with content. Instead, I mostly worked with Wikipedia.

It was my plan to tackle the topic “entrepreneurial leadership in the post-digital world” in a dialectic way. In other words, I wanted to analyse the individual terms post, digital and world (column 1) and entrepreneurial leadership (column 2).


 

I. The post-digital world

(Column 1 – what is the meaning of post, digital, world?)
Before today, I only knew the term post factual. Post digital was news to me. For me, post factual means that we live in the era of totally irresponsible babble, which is part of the new dishonesty (Rupert Lay).

You can even see it if you look at legislation. China is not the only country where legislation is introduced in such a way that it can be interpreted at random. Perhaps this happens on purpose?

Digitalisation has become a matter of course. Everybody talks about it. A short time ago, I read: digitalization is a technology that cannot be turned back. In other words, without digitalization and soon also AI, nothing can be done in the near future.

It seems that we are totally dependent on digitalization, as we depend on electricity and electronics. In the same way, a life as most of us want it would not be possible without digitalization. Every piece of technology contains a huge part of software, there is no technology without any software inside.

If I have discussions with the bee savers in Bavaria about the provocative thesis that “it might already be too late“ to save the planet, then they tell me that, thanks to digitalization, we might actually be able to save the planet. 
🙂 So we have really great expectations when it comes to “digital“.

I like to refer the audience to Wikipedia when it comes to explaining digitalization. You will find an article by Thomas Kofer – at the time he wrote it he was a employee of ZD.B – where he tries to explain the term. He invested many man-years to write the article.

Then I look for the term post digital online. In Wikipedia, you will not find this kind of nonsense. To make up for it, you find something in Accenture. Here is what they say about  post digital:

”The advent of technology identities is leading to a new generation of business offerings.“

Are they really serious? If you click on their link, you find more such BBB (Berater-Bullshit-Bingo). For my presentation, Accenture is definitely not helpful.

Digital and digitalisation are currently buzzwords. They are very famous – and there are no two identical definitions on the market.

So let me investigate the word post. I find that it is “if a composite of adjectives – sometimes also with nouns and verbs – specifies that something happens/ed at a later time“.
That is correct – post is a preposition that specifies adjectives. Well, I understand that much.

Digitalization is said to be irreversible. Because if there is no digitalization, there will also no longer be any technological industry. After all, in all technological products today, you have software, i.e. digitalization – and soon also AI.

Consequently, there can be no post-digital era, because it would mean the end of our technological world. Especially not if the digital world has made itself autonomous as AI. Which is what many expect.


 

On AI

Artificial Intelligence, Deep learning, Big Data are at the top of the current buzz-words list. The world, or at least all those who want to be heard, talks about robots and bots.

So here is my question:
Who of you knows the three letters T, A and Y? 
If you connect them, you get the word and name Tay.

Many in Germany talk about AI, but most of them do not know what it is. Consequently, nobody knows the Tay. As I see it, that is symptomatic for the entire current discussion.
Tay is – or better: was – the twitter bot of Microsoft. Microsoft developed it – and then it was quickly de-activated because of misbehaviour. Both the first and the second version. It was a few years ago.

Today, it looks like Microsoft does not want to be part of AI. They capitulate before Amazon and Google and terminate their system/project Cortana . Because to the great and mighty IT concern Microsoft, AI looks just too big.

Simultaneously, the Free State of Bavaria declares that they want to start an AI offensive. Microsoft gives up because Google and Amazon are too far ahead. And Bavaria wants to make up for it. Just like China. Except – China, unlike Bavaria, will actually succeed.

To illustrate it with an example I tell my audience about the Chinese News Anchor Bot  
Nobody in the audience of AI experts knows it. Well, that comes as a surprise to me.

So much on AI


What exactly could the end of digitalization and AI look like?

Here are a few mental experiments:

The first step towards digitalization was when language was first written down. 
Consequently, “post digital” might mean that, in the future, the majority of the people cannot read or write fluently, but only rudimentarily? As I see it, that is distinctly a possibility. Would that be good or bad? Can there be a good or bad – or are we just full of traditional prejudices?

Because:

Why would anybody want to learn something nobody will need any longer? So: why would we want to learn how to read (and practice it all the time, because otherwise it gets harder and harder) if most of what you want to know is available as an ebook or podcast and the remainder is read to you by a speaking computer? A computer that simultaneously translates everything. The asynchronous and synchronous communication is done via spoken language, anyway (oral messages). That is nice, because spoken language transports more than written language. And then, naturally, language will no longer play a role at all?

If that were to happen, then a modern society can easily forego reading and writing, but it certainly could not forego digitalization.

Then I think about “post digital”. On the level:

– what or who could destroy the internet?
(besides the EU regulation mania that is pushed by the FRG)

Two things come to mind

– Engineers become priests.

Isaac Asimov already introduced the concept in his futuristic novels (for example in the series on Trantor):
The people who maintain the systems no longer understand the machines. They only perform memorized (maintenance) rituals.

I can easily imagine such a concept, because even today, in computer science, that is what programmers do. They do a lot of clicking – and they have no idea what exactly they are doing. The complexity overwhelms us, it is easily possible that the world will lose its know-how.

– The end of Moore’s law.

It is very simple:

IT consists of the three components: computer, connection and storage.

Those are the three relevant IT components. With respect to storage, we have arrived in the nano dimensions, you cannot become any smaller because of the dimension of the atoms. With respect to connections, we now work with the speed of light. You cannot go any faster. I deliberately chose the term computer. Because a modern processor (for instance by Intel) contains so much that I like to use the metaphor of the mega city of New York.

We want to make the computers faster by using the quantum computer. Except that, so far, it does not really work. And it will probably never be able to do much more than decode. But that is good enough for the countries of this world, because basically they only want one thing: monitor us.

That is how the end of Moore’s laws could put a stop to our AI dreams. In the past, the multiplication of resources in small time periods spoiled us. The time has definitely come for this indulgence to be over.

So what is important in the digital world?

As I see it, the first thing that comes to mind is Wikipedia – and there are several reasons for this:

– Wikipedia – the thesaurus of world knowledge.

Wikipedia is great. It is currently free of advertising (with the exception of a few articles they smuggled in about Bayern players’ wives), it is administered on a completely honorary basis and financed by donations, independent of concerns, etc.

That makes it one of the last bastions. We need it every day, because there are no thesauri left. Regardless of some weaknesses, for instance when it comes to the topic of digitalization/IT, Wikipedia is still great.

However, now comes the

BUT:

It is written mostly by old white men, in other words: there are few young persons and only very few women. Wikipedia is like a knowledge infra-structure. As with many infra structures in our world (streets, bridges, railway tracks), the need for maintenance and renovation increases, but the resources decline.

Wikipedia is threatened by ageing and additionally by the copyright (update filter) and lobbyist pressure.

What will happen if Wikipedia breaks down? Who will then take over Wikipedia?
One of the three dominant German media concerns? The Federal Government? EU and UNO might also be candidates. Or the internet giants Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft …
Just imagine advertisements being permitted in Wikipedia. If I were the owner of Wikipedia, I could well imagine other great business models.

– Services such as Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook++, wechat …? 
(I deliberately left out email as a service, because in my opinion nobody needs them any more)
So: What will happen if all these things no longer exist? A short time ago, I read about a murder threat against the youtube boss because of her statement that, as a consequence of copyright legislation (update filter), she may have to terminate the service in the countries concerned!

You should remember: 
regulation mania is detrimental.
For all of us!

Instead you should:

Correct the underlying deficits. That is: you should look for the errors, and then initiate reform. For instance when it comes to copyright legislation.

And let us have less DGSVO …

À propos world:

I am sure you remember: only about half of the world’s population have internet access. We still have two worlds: one with the internet and one without. They are approximately the same size.

But in the internet, there are also two internets (more like a vertical separation). The Chinese one and ours.

Many tourists first notice this as they arrive at Peking airport and want to use gmail for sending greetings home or if they want to chat. It does not work.

Then you will try VPN. But VPN service providers are delivering poor quality or else they are very expensive. Mostly both. So unless you have a VPN of a concern that still works in China, you are not very lucky. Googlemaps does not work at all. It can get difficult. Lost in China. But fear the not: the practical Chinese AI will help.

Translateion will be continued soon.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 24th, 2019

Barcamp for Active Mobility in Everyday Life (2019) !?

Early in 2016, we had a wonderful Barcamp on Active Mobility (AktMobCmp). The event was held in the Unterhaching Kubiz. Here is a Video recording. A second AktMobCmp was in Augsburg.

It is now almost exactly three years since “Unterhaching“. Since then, many things have happened and the awareness of the necessary change in mobility has grown considerably.

So what do you do if you want change, both for your own ways and those of the world? Well, you visit a Barcamp and meet like-minded people. And you let yourself be carried away with the flow that usually develops in such a Barcamp.

And in no time, you will have managed to change in the desired direction and also have made a contribution towards change in society. This is true for many topics in our private and social lives and also for active mobility.

Consequently, we think it is time for the third AktMobCmp. So we would like to organize one. We (activists and those who feel positive towards Active Mobiilty in Everyday Life) would like to meet in advance and discuss all the relevant questions on Thursday, den March, 21st, 2019 near the Viktualienmarkt at our hosts’ location, the company accu:rate (accu:rate GmbH, Rosental 5 in D-80331 München). Many thanks to the managing directors and founders of accu:rate,  Dr. Angelika Kneidl and Florian Sesser.

In this meeting, we want to decide whether or not there will be an AktMobCmp in 2019 and, if yes, how to organize it. There are a few questions that need to be answered:


Questions to be asked during the Kick-Off-Meeting

  • When and where will the next AktMobCmp take place? 
Of course, the time and location are central parameters.
  • Who might be persuaded to sponsor us by providing a room. 
Only if we can use facilities free of cost can we make the Barcamp as inexpensive as possible for the participants. Usually, only communities, enterprises or universities have suitable facilities.
  • One day or two days? 
Experience has shown that two days of a Barcamp give the participants a very good sense of shared enthusiasm (they generate a flow). A nice evening event after the first day is helpful. 
Mostly, one day of a Barcamp is not so beneficial. On the other hand, the organizers have less work and the threshold for the participants is lower because they need to invest less time. 
We could also make it a two-day Barcamp but let participants choose to only take part on one day.
  • How much can it cost? 
Are there several price categories (normal and extended)?
  • Can we find other sponsors besides those who provide the facilities?
  • What exactly is the job of the organizational team?
  • Who is in the organizational team?
  • Who is responsible for which tasks?
  • How to structure the Barcamp?
  • Pure anti-conference?
  • Additional impulse presentations and/or team and creativity-supporting activities?
  • Moderation and accompaniment?
  • Other ideas?

We advertise this kick-off meeting in Meet-Up, on the AktMobCmp-Website and in Face-Book. I would like to ask all activists and followers to advertise our activity. And those who want to come to our kick-off meeting are kindly asked to both register at Meet-Up and send me an E-Mail, because I would really like to know you in advance and exchange a few ideas. Especially if some new faces decide to join us.

Roland

Gestiftet von VisualBrainddump (Christian Botta & Daniel Reinold) Zum Vergrößern aufs Bild klicken.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday December 16th, 2018

Why is Germany so Far Behind When it Comes to Digitalization?


A short time ago, someone asked me during a presentation about the reasons for our (the German) weakness when it comes to digitalization. After all, haven’t we always been the country of engineers?


On this picture, I do not look like a happy person wearing a uniform. I would have preferred to play with a computer.

Well, I had to do some thinking. After all, there was a time when German enterprises, such as Siemens, were the top of the world in technology and IT.

I try to consider the IT scene as a whole over time. I notice that, for a long time now, innovations have rarely come from the technology laboratories of the mega concerns or huge research institutes.

Instead, innovations are introduced by movements that are mostly initiated by young persons with passion. This is especially true for computer science, i.e. the IT and related technologies.

At Siemens, I myself was part of those who developed what I call industrial informatics in the late 1970ies and in the 1980ies. We developed – in an absolutely engineer-like manner – expensive and heavy mainframe computers with the matching periphery.

At the same time, simple computers for at home were thrown onto the market. For example the Atari (1979) or the Commodore (1982). Both in the USA and here, the children “played” with these or similar computers.

We “industrial computer scientists” also took a close look at these home computers. However, we only considered them toys that need not be taken seriously. We never realized what a fascinating potential these systems had.

As I saw it, for instance, the non-existent technological perfection of these systems was irritating. For example, they used a noisy cheap TV set as a screen (we called it data viewing device). Data were saved with cassette recorders on unreliable audio cassettes. And the input keyboards, too, were nothing that could make you optimistic.

Well, I lived to regret that I had given this new technology so little attention. Consequently, the PC wave and later the success of the technologically so weak Windows with its graphic interface and, above all, with its games such as solitaire, were ignored by me.

I already knew the graphic interface from devices such as the Xerox Star, which Siemens sold as an office computer. To be sure, it was a professional machine, but its cost/benefit analysis was extremely poor. Consequently, only very few German enterprises used it. I only know about Lufthansa in Germany who indulged in this luxury. This is why I did not take this technology seriously, either.

The young generation often only knew the world of the new computers – and they really gave them a boost. That happened in the USA – and you can easily read what happened there. For example if you read the biography of Steve Jobs – a book absolutely worth reading.

Back to our initial question:


Why is Germany so far behind in IT?

I do not think that there is one central reason for this German digital weakness. I am sure there are several reasons.

But I can give you one – probably a little rhetorical – answer:


I believe the compulsory service might have been one determining factor.

In the time that was crucial for IT development, we had around 500,000 young men under weapons. That is a considerable part of the male inhabitants of the country – at the best age. The national army was comprised mostly of people who were removed from normal life for 18, later 15, months. Most of them were young men.

Even today, you will mostly find men among the MINT (mathematics, engineering, natural sciences, technology) professions. In those days, it was even more pronounced. And compulsory service only concerned the young men and thus was detrimental for their development.

IT was – and is – a top-performance discipline. You have to stick to it with passion over several decades and, in the process, you have to suffer and understand a ruthlessly fast development. If you are forced to desist for an entire year, you will be at a considerably disadvantage. You can compare it to a young top soccer player who has to pause in his training for 18 months. I would assume that, normally, this would be the end of his soccer career.

There are a number of good reasons that support my theory.

My personal experience
In the autumn of 1969, I started my first semester of “Computer Science” at TUM. On April, 1st, 1970, they drafted me and I served until September, 30th, 1971. In these 18 months, I learned the meaning of the words “drink” and “chill”. The only positive result was that I learned how to survive such perverse systems.

In the autumn of 1971, I again started with the first semester at TUM. This is how I remained in chill-mode. It took until the spring of 1973 for me to finally get rid of this mode, because the interim-diploma was before me and I was woken up a little roughly. It was stressful and I continued with my “training along with studying” (more at Siemens that at TUM with quick learning from books). And I even managed to pass the interim diploma on my first try.

After my diploma, I had a few years of learning at Siemens and Softlab. It took until 1984 for me to establish my own enterprise. I was considerably older than thirty. If the army had not intervened, it would probably have happened several years earlier …

Experiences at InterFace
In the early InterFace AG years, we had many students on board. Some of the people working for us were even still at high school. They were fascinated by the new technology and wanted to get a first impression of what it was like in practice. They often came with a recommendation (for instance as children of our customers).

These young persons did excellent work and soon became important employees. As soon as they were nearing their final high school exams, they started getting nervous: would they have to serve? For us, this would have been a great loss.
We often helped them when it came to organizing a reason why they could not be drafted and thus could continue to work for us while they studied. Without these young talents, we would never have been able to realize our product CLOU & HIT and many other innovations.

The American founders
Looking at Silicon Valley heroes like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others, we see that none of them was hampered by military or similar compulsory service. Instead, they terminated their studies at university in order to focus on the new technologies and their enterprise.

German founders
If you look at the public cv-s of Hasso Plattner and Dietmar Hopp  (both from SAP), you find that they, too, have not served in the German Army. Of a very creative founder like Peter Schnupp, one of the co-founders of Softlab (born in 1934 and thus exempt from compulsory service), I know it because we are friends.

Start-Up Scene …
For more than ten years, I have now been one of the BayStartup jurors. It is probably Bavaria’s leading enterprise for topics such as business plan contest, financing, business angels,…
Depending on my availability, I evaluate around 100 business plans every year. Consequently, I learn a lot about the current technological trends and, above all, I also meet many young people who want to establish their own firms. And I notice that there is no new topic that does not mainly explain its specialty with the software that was developed for it.

It is thus a good thing that all start-ups have software persons on the team. They proudly tell me that they started programming at the age of ten and changed to sensible and modern computer languages and modern technology by the age of 12 or 14. A forced pause of fifteen or eighteen months would mean a huge drawback for them, if not the “out”.

So here you read a few arguments that might give some credit to my theory.


Now I really hope you know me well enough to realize that I would not declare that such an original theory is actually the truth.

However, I am convinced that the re-armament of the FRG after WW-II and the re-establishment of the weapons industry at least destroyed a unique chance for a great and peaceful Germany. And that the compulsory service and militarization in Germany are the reasons for immense economic and social damage.


The people who were responsible for this development, both today and then, were old white men like Adenauer with their prejudices and cynicism. Driven by fear, he had started as early as 1950 to work towards re-armament with criminally subversive methods and secretly.

If you want to find answers to the question “what exactly happened in those days?“, then you will probably want to read the Wikipedia article on the Bundeswehr and on Wehrpflicht.. They are very interesting.

But now I am happy that the compulsory service has been suspended and hope that this service will never again be re-installed.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The history of the pictures 
On April, 1st, 1070 (after having studied one semester of mathematics and computer science at TUM), I was draftet. Roland Dürre became Private Dürre. Unfortunately, this was not a bad April-Fool’s-Day-Joke. After one night in Lagerlechfeld (where you got the six-week mixed basic training for young people who had successfully graduated from high school) and a few nights in Landsberg, I was sent to Ulm. Because I was considered recalcitrant.

In Ulm, they put me into a training unit that was supposed to turn the recalcitrant recruits of the air force into appropriate security soldiers. Since I was the only one in my unit who had a high-school diploma, they kept me as a teacher, which means I spent five quarters among the other teachers.

Each quarter, I had to lead a unit and I also took tasks like company training. For instance, I explained to recruits who had never finished school how our democracy and our constitution work and tried to make them understand the meaning of legislative, judicative and executive powers. Or else, I taught them how to use their weapon (G3, P1, I forgot the name of the machine gun…).

Here is an anecdote from those times: 
During the basic training (the first three months), the recruits were only allowed to leave the barracks wearing their uniform. That was also true if you went home for the weekend. Well, at least they allowed us to go home every other weekend after the first few weeks in the barracks, but this trip, too, had to be in uniform. Most of us were the opposite of enthusiastic about moving in public in their uniforms and then having to turn up at home in it as well. Even though our parents rather liked it and everybody wanted to take pictures of us wearing our uniform. This is also how the two photos in this article came about.

Some of the recruits were especially cute. They went to the toilet at Ulm Railway Station wearing their uniform – and when they came out again they wore their civil clothes. However, they did not know that the army had positioned spies (in civil clothes). They immediately confronted the disobedient young soldiers and took them back to the barracks. Thus, the weekend trip was cancelled, along with that of the next weekend.

Mostly, the spy duty at the railway station was not something you wanted to do. It was probably a little like having to be one of the shooters in war when the enemy is lined up for execution. During the remaining 15 months, I avoided this duty because of my teaching position.

During my first trip home in my parents’ living room.

P.S.1
Impulse
This article was triggered by the current discussion about § 219b and the attempt at questioning the reform of § 218 (which, given certain stipulations, still allows a punishment-free illegal abortion). I heard from the right side of the “bourgeois centre” that “we would not have needed guest workers if we had not had abortions”. I found this theory so appalling and inspiring that I decided to postulate: “without compulsory service, we would not be digitally retarded in Germany”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The warriors are characterized by the virtue of courage.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  • And many more.

 

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

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

16 Landmarks for Free and Agile Schools.

 

Roland’s first day at school.

With each year I gain in age, there is a growing belief that we experience such a huge amount of unconceivable nonsense, enmity and cruelty in life because we are socialized as young persons in such a way that we will later, as adolescents and adults, do all these stupid things. We are enveloped in our socialization.

The first diapers immediately after we are born might well serve as a metaphor for such a development. We need the diapers because otherwise we would leave too many tracks. And with every day of our young lives, the development continues. We learn what we should and should not do, what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is nice,…

In order to de-velop autonomously, we must anti-en-velope ourselves – which, naturally, is difficult or even impossible.

I have the hope (or illusion?) that, as parents, along with the parents and supported by the external instance that we call school, you could do a far better job making the future generation happy than it happens now.
As a reaction to my article on “schools“, I learned that I am not the only person who starts getting impatient with educational politics.

So why don’t we do something about it!

In my IF-Blog, I wrote how I experienced my visit at Marbach Christophine  (Cristophine I), as well as how school could and should work, My next article (Christophine II) on the topic had some arguments why I consider a new form and implementation of school absolutely necessary.

I recently discovered an old paper buried under other papers that deals with the Freien Schule Christophine (FSC). The paper describes sixteen landmarks for positioning the FSC. For me, every one of the block we call landmarks named in the paper is a metaphor for a dimension of thinking that a free school needs to have. Since I feel that it is a waste if such precious ideas sit in drawers unread, I will now publish these sixteen landmarks.

Every one of the blocks/landmarks describes a dimension of thinking and the sum of them is the mind-set that a free school must have. They show how pupils, parents and teachers as the important stakeholders of a free school, but also the school management and school college as relevant councils think and feel.

I found the landmarks as the structured establishment of this special school, the marbacher christophine (marbacher christophine). I assume that the landmarks, too, have been written by Lorenz Obleser, who is the father of the “Marbacher Pädagogik“.

In this article, the “Christophine“ is a metaphor for a “free, agile school that is self-organised by teachers, parents and children”. I assume that there are quite a few of them and that many educational experts would like to proceed in the same way. This makes me quite happy, because before long the first of my grandchildren will start school.

In the sixteen mile-stones listed below, pupils, teachers, parents, but also the teaching college and the school management will be heard. To me, what these stakeholders of the school say sounds authentic. They provide a story about the standard defined in the landmarks of the FSC (Freien Schule Christophine) which, for me, is an exceptional model for a functioning, agile, self-organized and free school. The landmark is a block that tells you about the stakeholder – and at the end of each block, the importance will once more be summarized (inversely) .

Now let us just read the landmarks and let the impression sink in. it might help if we switch off our brains and just be open for the messages.

 


 

 

Being open while walking and thinking in springtime.

16 landmarks

 


 

Landmark #1: Individuality in Schools

Pupils
I learn mathematics, write a story, work in my exercise book, practice orthography. We do some research, observe a cat. I go upstairs to dance, play outside with Diabolo.

Parents
If I were a teacher, I do not think I would be able to react adequately if a child behaved like my son. He is certainly very special.

College of teachers
The solutions the children find are very different. Two children have never been the same.

School management

Who of us knows what they are really talking about when we say ”individuality”? For far too many years, it was an unknown quantity.

At Chrisophine, the children are constantly encouraged to try what they can do, to find new formulations and to be creative. In this culture of self-education, everyone, regardless of intellectual potential, can learn about his or her individuality and maintain his or her identity. That is true both for the pupils and the adults. If this is how you treat each other, the respect for the individuality of the other party will grow. This honesty will enrich daily school life, because all parties concerned with school can productively contribute during the various learning processes.


 

Landmark #2: Ways of learning at school

Pupils

I will do this later. First I want to read something.

Parents
Luckily, a look at the mathematics exercise book will tell you what the children already learned.

Pupils

Too easy? Well, I did this for N. He is a first grader.

College
Why do they say “continuous learning” when you are talking about adults but “additional learning” when you are talking about children?

Pupils

Now I want to learn how to write with a pen.

School management
Activity-oriented? That sounds quite well. For me, it is more important to make children understand that they can actually act.

Not only from the physiological viewpoint, learning is one of the most individual and personal processes. It always happens in cognitive, aesthetical and social connections. The school Christophine accompanies the children on their way towards finding successful learning approaches. They can make experiences through all the sensual channels because, after all, stored knowledge, too, will be retrieved in different ways. The individual learning approaches characterize the different types of learners. Through our individualized work in open classrooms, we help the children to find and also move to a higher level of frustration tolerance thresholds through experiences of success.


 

Landmark #3: Self-organization as a goal of learning

School management
Please write on your work cards what you do.

College
I have to do all the documentation, the children will forget.
School management 
It has been a long time since you last did any mathematics, hasn’t it?

Pupils
Today, I did some mathematics because my mother told me to. Otherwise I would have had to do it at home.

School management

If a child tells me he/she find something boring, I will not respond. If it asks for recommendations what to do, I say: do your mathematics. They like procrastinating.

Parents
He always does his homework, there is never a problem.

At the Christophine, our work is based on findings that show that children have enough creative potential to notice their learning situation and to also make themselves part of the formulation of said learning situations. Children can form their environment quite well in a structured and creative way in order to adopt them to their needs. The school Christohine supplies the pupils with the tools they need in order to give them the necessary room for self-projection. At the Christophine, all parties concerned can find their own structures because structures developed in this way can have more stability. This is true both for learning and being together.


 

Landmark #4 – Activity and Co-operation

Pupils

Come here, I will show you how you can easily find out about this.

College
If N says he does not want to do anything, or if he does not even say anything, then this is always initially shocking for me.

Pupils
Why do you ask if I enjoy this? At school, I only do things I enjoy. That is why, once in a while, I also do nothing at all. We are the same age and our birthdays are in the same week. But what grade are you in?

Parents
Again and again, we hear during parent interviews that he is not working at all. I asked you before: do you think our son learns enough?

Christophine clearly and pointedly counts on the initiative of the pupils. Starting from such initiatives, questions that often lead to other work will develop. Sometimes there will be a call for employees or corrections, for motivators or partners that share some of the learning experience. The fact that pupils like to rely on familiar things in the form of structured work materials shows that they like to know that they actually made some progress in learning.


 

Landmark #5 – Self Effectiveness

College

Why don’t you go to the city council and tell them about it?

Pupils
I will ask the bus driver.

Parents
We then went to all the bakeries in town and asked them for their pasta recipes.
School Administration 
Well, you are correct. It was not a good idea of mine to say this.
Parents
It is not important that he attends grammar school. The only thing that matters is that, in the coming months, he gets his balance back and can again enjoy school.

College
I do not appreciate this kind of manners.

Pupils
Why don’t you let him have his say …

As the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk says, learning is not a step towards a later state but joy in the current state: “Learning means looking forward to finding out about yourself. This state of looking forward to the next phase in your life is what matters”. The Christophine school insists that the original joy of learning and the creativity and self-effectiveness remain important during the learning process. Even if the ease with which a person used to learn is lost later in life: if he remembers that learning was always a joy, he will still be able to learn later in life.


 

Milestone #6 – Social Competences

Pupils

Take a look at the school compass. At this school, that is our sixth finger: togetherness.

Parents

I was truly impressed by how self-relying and strong every child looked as they stood there.

Teachers

However, you can also see how they all constantly get stuck in dependencies.
School Management
Our school thrives on doing things together. That includes playing together and sharing your knowledge. Everything else can actually easily be done by private tutors.

It is important that the children learn to orient and assert themselves in society. If you want to gain technological competence at school, you cannot get it without cooperation. Remarkably, many children grow up without siblings. Since, simultaneously, many spaces of freedom for children away from school have been abolished, school as a social space for learning has gained importance. Just as the children have to assert themselves at school, so the entire school system has to manifest itself in the educational environment.


 

Milestone #7 – Knowledge and Competences

School Management
Please ask R., he tackled the same problem yesterday.

Parents
It always surprises me to hear his stories.

Pupils
There is nobody who has no competence anywhere. Everybody can show you something.

Teachers
Well, we do want a child to succeed at a higher school without him/her having to take extra private tuition.

We give the cultural achievements mathematics and writing a huge priority. Our school is a place full of challenges. Learning and working both enjoy a huge amount of appreciation. In this sense, our school wants to be an actual space where there is a lot to realize and to enjoy but little to just consume. The high degree of motivation is supposed to inspire not only the pupils, but also the grown-ups.


 

Milestone #8 School as an Environment for Experiences

Teachers

If that is what you want, then start organizing what you need. I will gladly help you. You only need to let me know.

Parents
We parents do not even know how the school gained its experience.

School Management

Well, the school is, after all, a place that learns, too.
Pupils
I cannot do this. I do not want to do this. This was a failure.

Teachers
Let us analyse why this project failed.

Pupils
I want us to vote … but there is already a rule. Basically, we said … I am the circle leader and will decide how we do it. You can change this procedure if you are the circle leader. I want to include this in the final discussion.

It is not at all true that, in order to make learning possible, we exclusively take advantage of original situations. Enlightenment does not have to strike quasi epiphani-like in the lecture hall. A lot of experience is necessary during all those many strenuous moments of everyday school life. In this sense, we also consider the usual work a practice that can expand our possible courses of action.


Milestone # 9 – School in the Context of the City

Pupils
It is about time that we visit there again.

School Management

I am sure that the children will be taken seriously wherever they go. Because everybody knows our Christophine School.

Pupils

“Dear Mayor, we would like to see you and talk about the defunct traffic lights“. – “Dear Police, could you please come and visit our classroom. Three four-graders need to do the bike test.“

Teachers
At long last, we managed to visit the museum again.

School Management
The sports club offers us their facilities during the third hour of the school day.

Parents

Parents always have to make some kind of contribution. Basically, the school cannot do everything. I take my son to painting and sports lessons.
Thank you so much for taking the children on the outing.

Our city of Marbach and its regional environment are the topsoil on which our school will grow and on which our lives will succeed. The pupils either come from here or go by bus or train. We can climb the city walls, jump around in the castle ruins or read poems in the house where Schiller was born. Here, we have neighbours who get angry with us if we sneak into their gardens and take the strawberries.


Milestone # 10 Fear-Free School

Parents

My son is always unhappy when the school is closed.

School Management

I am not always free of worries when I enter the school building. But in the assembly hall, I always see that we are actually quite well equipped.

Teachers
Well, it is normal if you see the coming school day with respect, isn’t it?

Pupils
If someone acts around with a wooden stick in the garden, I get scared. But only if he/she hits me. Whenever someone hits me, I will see to it that he gets one week of stick ban.

We should not fear fear. However, we must not make anybody fearful. We are a school that encourages, we are capable of enjoying mistakes, of making a glitch the reason to take a break and of once in a while laughing about minor errors. Emotions regulate the quality of teaching in the lecture room. However, sometimes our feelings can also be our own impediments.


Milestone # 11 – Role of the Grown-Ups

School Management

See what I found for you. It seems that you still have a problem or two to solve.

Pupils

I need a certain tool. Do you know where I can find it?

Teachers

I take up what the pupils suggest. If there is not enough coming from them, I will start doing something, produce something in the sense of our definition of work.

Pupils
These things have all been self-taught.

Parents
I presume you accompany the children more when they learn?

We only have one teacher. But everybody is sometimes the master, the school master and the one who accompanies them when they learn. Some persons are players. Some have responsibility. They are the boss. But that is not a question of age. It is more a question of standards, competence and desires.


 

Milestone # 12 – Common Reflexion in the Assembly Hall.

Teachers

What can we change to improve matters for next time?

School Management

Our school needs an institutionalized place for doubts. I mean doubts about the pedagogical concept, the things we do, our teaching material, our policy, everything we get upset about.

Teachers
Innovative? The children are more conservative than I am.

School Management
Our school is now in its third evaluation year. I will not continue in the same way as before.

Even our furniture shows the importance of communication. We have a meeting corner, the quadratic shape of our pedagocical circle. Here is where our community has a place to meet, here is where we discuss difficult situations and here is where we meet friends for easy leisure. The role of discussion moderator changes all the time. This guarantees an e.ducation that is not only supposed to lead towards a democratic understanding, but that also has its place in interdependencies made aware through discourses and democratic circumstances.


 

Milestone # 13 – School Celebrating

School Management

Welcome to our big festival in May, our show at year’s end, our big party on the first vacation day. …

Pupils
Today, we must celebrate three birthdays: the birthdays of J. and C. were during vacation times.

School Management

If someone managed to do something great or discover something new, that in itself is worth celebrating. I say: that is a reason to celebrate.

Pupils

Why don’t we sing the other song again? Oh, no!

Taking the citizen society as a model, people meet at Christophine in order to take charge of their affairs and thus contribute towards a successful school life. Both the management of everyday problems and the planning and realization of school parties or excursions are part of this concept. The grown-ups motivate this process of management by pointing towards future events or problems during discussion time.


Milestone # 14 –  School versus Family

Teachers
Basically, we highlighted the partnership with the families quite well in our school contract.

Parents
This is what I keep telling everybody: they talk a lot more with each other at this school.

Pupils
You have no right to order me around. You are not my mother.

School Management
However, I do not consider chatting on the corridors a binding exchange of ideas between school and family. It is more like the lubricant for common pedagogical activities.

Pupils
Last Saturday, my mom took me along when she went to clean the school building. I had the run of the entire house.

In many school situations, you can observe a family spirit. It is responsible for all parties concerned feeling comfortable in their groups. They also know that there is a feeling of belonging in what they do. There are intimate situations full of self-recognition and also affection. Since, however, our school, too, is an independent institution, i.e. an institution of learning, we will not allow families to delegate their jobs to us. School and family are two fields that need not follow the same rules.


 

Milestone # 15 – Diversity at School

School Management

I certainly want to represent diversity.

Parents
Basically, the families come from various milieus.

School Management

We motivate everyone to visit us in the assembly hall. And if you want to visit, you will have to bring something in return. Because we also want to benefit from your visit.

Teachers
Starwars, Ninjago and James Bond. More often than not, you do not get too many diverse ideas.

Having to make decisions at all times is quite demanding for all parties concerned. The plurality of school work and stimulations you get as a consequence will guarantee that the content is multiplied and that you get quite surprising friction areas and points of contact. It is the duty of the school to enable the students to get a good grip on their own strength and their own images in order to offer them an alternative to the one-dimensional consumption society.


 

Milestone # 16 – Great Expectations and Modest Pretences

Pupils
The children decide by themselves … you said so yourself.

School Management
The pedagogic development and the economic growth are harmoniously intertwined. If you do not need to pay back debts, it is easier to learn.

Parents
The way we follow their progress is always linked with the development of the children. There will come a day when they will have to attend another school…

Teachers
The Christophine is our place of work. Where everything grows, you would expect that, some day, perhaps you could earn a little more than now?

The School
 Christophine was built into the educational environment because there was a huge political impatience in the educational sector. By now, it has four years of experience. The supporter has four years left to pay off the initial debt. There is still room for eleven pupils in the building. That is how long the wish of the parents to get a secondary school will have to wait. …


Here is the source of my ideas:
CHRISTOPHINE – marbach – free school
Freie Schule Christophine e.V. · Ludwigsburger Straße 24a · 71672 Marbach am Neckar · 07144/305 80 98
info@freie-schule-christophine.de · www.freie-schule-christophine.de
Kreissparkasse Ludwigsburg BLZ 604 500 50 Konto 300 520 11· GLS Gemeinschaftsbank BLZ 430 609 67 Konto 700 5615 700


I published the milestones because I think they are an excellent and rather commonly acceptable inspiration for all those who are interested in school life and yearn for an agile and free school!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 16th, 2018

Hambacher Forest. Ethics. Primary. Secondary. Virtue

Dracula as a Metaphor.

Years ago, I liked writing about ethics. For me, it was a very simple topic. It was primarily about virtues and the question which virtues are primary and secondary virtues. Then this sort of ethics started to get boring.

Now, what happens around brown coal in the Hambacher Forest makes me more concerned. In fact, I am not just concerned, I am appalled.

And I believe it is about time that we again talk about primary and secondary virtues.

When I was a child, I was taught many virtues. Well, it was more than just teaching, I was literally trained in them. It started with the demand that I should always be nice. I was to be washed clean at all times and my (short) hair had to be combed nicely. When adults were in a conversation, children had to shut up. I was admonished to be obedient, nice and never recalcitrant. However, the worst sins were if you lied or – God forbid – steal. Respecting the property of others and telling the truth at all times were the highest virtues of all.

As I grew up, I started to have my own ideas. And I understood very early on that there were quite a few glitches to my education. And that, for example, the categorical demands that you must not lie and must not steal will not hold after a thorough ethical test.

Later, I studied the philosophers and I remember reading the letters exchanged between the older Kant and a younger French philosopher. Well, the Frenchman with his arguments caused quite some sweat on the forehead of the then so famous and well-liked Kant. Kant’s reaction was very irrational and, in my opinion, very emotional.

This is how I learned that categorically sticking by the Eighth Commandment will certainly cause a lot of damage and thus can only be a secondary virtue. In fact, in normal life there are many situations where ethical behaviour actually forces us to lie in order to prevent damage to ourselves or others.

I also saw very quickly that the Seventh Commandment is not much better. I do not even have to mention Robin Hood and the questionability of a society that is dominated by property. It will suffice the imagine a child that might die from hunger but could be saved by theft.
This is why the Hambacher Forst Activists are definitely not criminals, even if they are not necessarily heroes.

Because they act upon virtues that I consider primary virtues. They are autonomous and they study the situation. They live up to virtues that I consider primary virtues, such as civil courage and constructive disobedience. They even do it in a very responsible and peaceful way.

The only thing I could ethically hold against these people in their tree houses is that they cultivate a martyrdom and that their actions in favour of a “good cause“ will eventually have negative consequences for their own lives. Because it is an important – and for me also a primary – virtue that your self-esteem is high and that you do not ruin yourself. Especially not for others!
Because, basically, we all know that matters cannot continue as they are, just like we also know that, when all is said and done, we will all suffer under the destruction of the world.

As opposed to an omniscient minister, I do not know what is the “mother of all problems“. All I can say is that I believe our system practices a very questionable approach on how to treat humans and nature.

We have several problems. The source of these problems are probably weaknesses in our approach to poverty, education, climate protection and mobility. The reason why our social system has these problems is probably that values, priorities and power structures have changed in our country and its politics.

For instance, we know that a polarization into poor and rich parts of the population can have quite unpleasant consequences. We also know that our social welfare state tumbles towards a future full of crises. We also know that our mobility with big cars and the combustion motor has no future. We also know that stricter speed limits on motorways, other streets and also in the cities are more than necessary. We also know that subsidies granted to the motorized traffic in general and to the Diesel engines in particular are total nonsense.

To be honest, we also know that electricity-powered vehicles will not improve the situation at all. On the contrary, they will have an even worse environmental footprint, especially if the electricity they need is produced from brown coal.

Incidentally, this is not only true for brown coal, but also for higher-quality coal that is processed by overexploitation in Australia, then driven to the coast, then loaded onto huge container ships and thus brought to Hamburg. In Hamburg, the coal will be distributed to various means of transportation – and later it will be used up somewhere in Germany. Well, this is certainly not a solution.

Most of the electricity we consume world-wide is made from coal. This is still true today! Regardless of the fact that there is now a social consensus that says we must not produce electricity from coal for many well-known reasons. However, we cannot manage the exit because of “economic interests“. Yet we need this exit very soon if we want to replace all those combustion motors by electrical solutions.

The opposing party for the activists at the Hambacher Forest is an industrial sector. Or rather: it is a concern the domineering and driving factor of which was the shareholder value over many decades. And it used all the legally possible – and sometimes even borderline legal – means to achieve a sensational shareholder value. Few sectors were able to make their shareholders as rich as the EVUs over a long period of time. It all happened at the cost of our environment and – as with (not only) nuclear energy – at the cost of our country. And it was all achieved through legal procedures, thanks to great lobbyism and soft blackmail.

Now more and more people want to change this, and for good reasons, too. Because they understand that it has to end. And soon. I mean people who show civil courage and who put the virtue of constructive disobedience over obedience. Even though they know that, in the end, they will stand no chance against the omnipotence of the country and business. Which is why their actions are detrimental to their own lives.

In my book, these people are not criminals but people who live important primary virtues. The only thing I regret is that they do not have the slightest chance of success – and that they should actually be aware of this. But then, this has always been the problem with idealism and idealists. Which opens yet another, totally different discussion.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday June 14th, 2018

RPA. ROBOTIC. PROCESS. AUTOMATION.

Walk & Think in the springtime sun.
Englischer Garten, Munich, 2018, 11th of Avril

In my conversations with young friends, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) has soften been introduced to me as the new “business hype topic“.

Officially, my first contact with RPA was at the “Symposium Digitale Verwaltung“ – which was organized by ITSMF – on April, 24th, 2018 in Nuremberg.

As you can see from the agenda, the “crème de la crème” of German digitalization was there. And, besides the topics “block-chain” and “artificial intelligence, which are probably unavoidable these days, many presentations were about RPA .

Then I found an article  in the facebook forum  Agile Administration | Exchange and Peer Counselling, which unfortunately is a closed community (due to the high quality of its discussions in this forum) with a comment that contained a note about Johann Herzberg, who is a group leader at the “county-wide IKT strategy” in the Berlin Senate of Interior Affairs.


”… the smart, i.e. automatically and real-time self-controlled, organization of situations and processes. (…) it is imaginable and probably, for reasons of efficiency, even desirable that an application system that is embedded in an AI environment can promote and finalize processes independently in the future. In the smart world, control will no longer happen through written notes but through decisions that will most likely have been reached through algorithms and only corrected by humans where necessary.“

This statement is an excellent description of the current development. Also, it will not only happen in public offices, but also in many areas of the “free economy” where white-collar jobs dominate, for instance everywhere in the financial sector. This future development is also called Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Many protagonist assume that RPA will cost many well-paid jobs. I am not yet quite sure how to judge this development. I will write an IF blog article about it. Various aspects…


Well, the statement is really loaded, isn’t it? Official orders will no longer be written by humans but by machines (robots). I am sure there are quite a few people who will not like the idea. But then, the assumption is that humans are expensive and IT is cheap. And that humans make mistakes and machines do not. There is certainly some truth in this.

As I see it, Herzberg describes the current development quite well. I find the definition of “smart” in the context of organization quite appealing.

However, I have two reservations:

My opinion about the first sentence is that such a system that processes these applications will not need artificial intelligence. In my book, “artificial intelligence” is a “self-learning system”. And a fully automated organization that controls itself in real-time is probably necessary even for “traditional programming” (the implementation of what today is often called algorithms) and will not need artificial intelligence.

About the second sentence: of course, there will still be decisions that come as a written “order”. The data with the results will continue to be saved in digital form. It does not really matter if these (hopefully public) entries in a database will then be embedded in traditional text and perhaps even printed on paper. Because also an “order document” on paper has its inner semantics and therein structured data that symbolize the result of the “order”.

The development Herzberg describes will not only take place in probably all sectors of public administration but also in many (all?) areas of “free economy“.  I am sure this development will be particularly obvious in the white-collar jobs. The financial sector is a good example. Many employees who now earn good money in banks and insurance companies will probably become redundant. It might happen quite soon.

This future development is also called Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Many protagonists assume that RPA will kill well-paid jobs on a huge scale.

Personally, I am not really worried. We had the same situation frequently in the past. In Germany, most of the jobs used to be in agriculture. Today, the number of people working in agriculture is by far the minority. Then we had industries such as the coal and textile industries. They also disappeared, just like the big post-war heroes Grundig, Telefunken and others. Just like the German automobile industry will some day disappear.

But we will certainly come up with new nonsense that absolutely needs to be produced in order to give us something to occupy our time with. And if there really comes a time when we want to restrict ourselves to the necessities – and perhaps that is what we will have to do in order to save the world – then there will be two options. Either we will finally be allowed to work less. Which is what I would like best.

However, I assume that the idea that less is more and growth is nonsense will only dawn on us when it is too late. And then we will have to really work hard in order to survive.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 31st, 2018

Modern Enterprises (Entrepreneur’s Diary #125)

 

This is my attempt at outlining a “modern enterprise”.

 

If you visit Antarctica, you will see the condition of our planet. We badly need change.

Because: The country needs new enterprises.

If we wish to improve our lives, perhaps even if we just want to survive, we will have to drastically change our individual behaviour and the fringe conditions of our society in politics, business, social and cultural areas.

🙁 In this article, I do not wish to write about social and cultural changes. In politics, I find the current tendencies towards demolition of the rule of law rather critical and dangerous. As far as business is concerned, I think we have now reached a perverse state of affairs that is really threatening. This is where we must start the process of change.

We managed to counter the destruction of our own bodies due to hard labour with the use of machines. Since the industrial revolution, we managed to drastically decrease the number of working hours per day.

Now the trend turns. Our growth ideology promotes an exploitation of both ourselves and others for stupid goals. The resulting burden is on our personal and social life (and on our families). By now, the process has reached a grotesque and fear-inspiring level (all-day care for small children, all-day schools for children and adolescents, several parallel jobs for grown-ups, full-time work for men and women, often in combination with hours of commuting that make the work day even longer, normal work on four or five days far away from home).

One would assume that it is the task of the state to change this situation. However, just like the unions, the state will not be able to do anything about it. Change is a task for all people who are concerned with the economy and who are responsible for enterprises – i.e. for many of us.

We must counterbalance the blind dogma of “productivity” with a new efficiency that promotes less waste (#nowaste) and more humanity. We must meet the wishes expressed by especially our young generation that say our work environments need some modification.

People are not here to serve the economy, but the economy is here to serve the people.

In this sense, our country needs new enterprises. There are quite a few communities and people who are concerned with the concept of #NewWork (#newwork) and who also try it out.

As early as in 1984, Wolf (Geldmacher) and yours truly, as the founders of InterFace Connection GmbH, aimed at establishing a really new and different enterprise. Unfortunately, we (and later I alone) only managed to do this during the first few years. Then the enterprise “grew up” and there were problems. Perhaps the time was not ripe, and/or I made too many mistakes.

Today, I at least feel competent to describe what such an enterprise would need to look like. I also know huge and small enterprises that show that modern enterprises, as described below, actually work quite well. This is true both for service providers (health, hotel, IT, mobility, care for the elderly and handicapped,… ) and the producing sector (bicycle technology, clothes, food, shoes, software, sports articles,…).

I would like to remind the reader that the following text describes many patterns that would be “ideal“ if realized. You will not find them too often in their purest form. It is already quite some progress if an enterprise leans towards the proposed direction.

I would also ask the kind reader to keep in mind that the following impulses are not supposed to be a textbook (which, with this topic, would have hundreds of pages). Instead, it is a lose document that wants to inspire a little bit and make you a little thoughtful!


 

Characteristics

Here are the outstanding characteristics of a modern enterprise

  • Common-good economy;
  • Networking idea;
  • Core competence and core business;
  • Customer and product centred;
  • Structure;
  • Processes;
  • Teams;
  • Infra-structure;
  • Requirements;
  • Culture and values;
  • Dynamics.

These are the important issues I would wish to discuss today!


 

Common-Good Economy

As demanded by the Bavarian Constitution, the priority of a modern enterprise must be to contribute towards the ” Gemeinwohl“. In other words, the products and services provided by an enterprise must, first and foremost, serve the people.

You will find something absolutely worth reading with Christian Felber, who is perhaps the most important protagonist of the common-good economy in the German-speaking world.


 

Common Good beats “Shareholder-Value“.

The common good principle limits entrepreneurial diversity and creativity.

Not everything that can be done is desired.

That is the price we have to pay for the common-good economy.

If you follow this principle, it is, for instance, hard to imagine how an enterprise that develops and produces weapons or mines can be common-good oriented. The service provided by private enterprises who “lease armies” or produce such things as “fighting robots“ – which is quite common today – cannot be in accordance with the common-good economy.

Less harmful examples for a clash between the common-good economy and products are the production of tobacco and e-cigarettes, or a farming concept that ruins the basis of its own existence (the soil and the country) in a predictable and sustainable way. I could make a long list of examples for existing misuse.

However, common-good economy not only takes the customers into consideration. It also considers other stakeholders, such as the employees and providers. The exploitation of employees violates the principle just as much as does the extortion of providers.

Also, in a common-good economy, the balance of “extremities” must be given. It contains and enumerates all the damage an enterprise does to its environment during the production process. The waste of water caused by a cheap production or the pollution of living space through wastewater are good examples.

However, damages caused by the products you make are also part of the extremity balance:
Example: If pre-defined threshold values for cars have been confirmed during examination but if they are then ignored and significantly higher when the cars are actually driving (exhaust scandal), then this is not simply fraud, but a huge damage in terms of the extremity balance by those enterprises that produce and are responsible for the cars.

Social damage caused by the enterprises (along with positive effects, if there are any) are also part of the extremity balance.

Examples: Damage done by enterprises if they grant credit to people although they know full well that those people cannot serve them. Manipulating people towards buying nonsense products (so-called marketing), making grown-ups addicts of gambling and children addicts of sweets, and much more of the same kind that happens every day.

Modern enterprises can follow the common-good principle!!!


 

The Idea of Networking

The networking idea means that an enterprise is willing and capable of promoting a special “added value“ to a number of cooperating enterprises, rather than wanting to develop highly complex system all by itself.

Partnership on the market beats dominating the market.

Example: The goal of a modern enterprise should not be to completely develop and produce an electronic car. Instead, it should provide an important part.

In general, you will want to say.
P (partnership) beats S (superiority)!

This is how, probably, dynamic alliances of small enterprises can make “better products“ that might well be complex and satisfy the basic needs of humans. Yet they can at the same time be sustainable and in harmony with the common good. In other words, they need not be detrimental to other people or, as is common today, to all of us.

Without – as is the practice of the huge concerns – manipulating the customers in advance and telling them what they have to need and then selling them those things.


 


Core competence and core business

There is a clear competence based on which a clearly defined service is offered or an actual product is developed or produced. In this business model, we need modern virtues such as self-restriction and the focus on your own strengths.

Example: An enterprise focuses on the development of electric motors (or perhaps even just an important sub-competence like the necessary software) or (rather than and) the efficient production of the entire motors.

Concentration and focussing beat “do-it-all-yourself“.


 

Customer centred and product centred

The customer and the product must be the centre of all entrepreneurial considerations. Consequently, all employees must work together towards one goal.

If you have a service enterprise, the person who receives the service must be the focal point of all creativity.

Examples: In an enterprise that offers home-care, the people you are assisting must get the optimal support and care. In a hospital or hotel, everything must be about the guests getting well soon or feeling absolutely comfortable. An enterprise that, for example, helps a medium-sized enterprise to cope with all the problems that can arise if you use IT, the service must give the customer time for his core business (the round-the-clock-worry-free solution).

Similarly, an enterprise that makes a product must make sure that all employees work towards making the product even more perfect on a permanent basis (functionality) and nicer (design) and easier on the eye (emotion), simpler, more efficient, less costly, etc.

Examples: You want to develop the electric motor for the low-volt sector, the best gear hub for the bicycle, the best e-velo for travelling, the best pair of shoes for making it easier to stand and walk in. Or to produce new e-cars by combining the simplest and best components available on the market.

If ALL employees in an enterprise are enthusiastic about a core competence and willing to work towards it – then true innovation will happen. The positive consequences are that the employees will identify with the enterprise in a healthy way and that being an active part of the enterprise (often simply called work) will give them courage and joy. That is what a modern enterprise needs in order to survive.

And this is how the customers can get so fascinated by a product that they recommend it in such a way that makes marketing (which basically should be banned) and sales promotion (the very word!) obsolete.

A shared enthusiasm for what you offer will move mountains.


 

Structure

I use the word “structure” as in “organizational structure”. I no longer use the word “organization“, because a modern enterprise organizes itself intuitively. They no longer need disciplinary bosses and an organigram that describes the organization.

A modern enterprise has no hierarchy. There are no panels such as directorate or work council. The legally binding positions of the enterprise (director or chairperson) are more representatives than decision makers.

All teams have a maximum size and are self-organized. They are well connected, interact directly and learn from each other. They are also responsible for their communication with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, …).

All decisions are team decisions. The teams are responsible for guaranteeing quality and time of delivery, as well as efficiency and further development.

Depending on the size of the enterprise, there might be a (small) back office. Possibly, some value adding teams are necessary in a direct or indirect way. Persons who mostly achieve the added value indirectly, however, will not give pre-defined requirements. Instead, they will give impulses and inspiration, or, in times of crises or problems, they help with actual moderation or support.

There are no main departments such as strategy, marketing, sales, human resources, product planning. The same is true for entrepreneurial processes and pre-defined methods. Neither are there any central services that get out of control and suddenly set their own standards. Simply because everyone uses their brains and actively participates. And because the services and products have a quality that sells by itself and because the promotion by those who bought it and tell the tale creates more demand than can be met.

Local & flexible beats central & inflexible, iteration beats planning!


 

Processes

I use the word “process” as in “process organization”. As before, I no longer use the term “organization“ because modern enterprises control themselves intuitively.

In a modern enterprise, you have no processes. Something that worked in practice and well-trained behaviour will always dynamically be adapted to change. Rules and regulations are not necessary, because the idea underlying every employee’s activities is their knowledge, their experience and their mental concepts. They all want to achieve the best goal – the best service for the customer or the best product. Social interaction is determined by values, rather than rules.

Common sense and intuition will beat processes and rules!


 

Teams

They realize the achievement of an enterprise, which means they render the service or make the products the enterprise thrives on. All employees in the teams must know and be competent in the core competences of the enterprise.

Example: There was a time when google only employed people who could actually program. That included administrative and managerial jobs.

Besides the explicit added value, all employees and team members also take responsibility for others

and for all the factors that make success possible.

Example: In a software team, everybody can program. Each team member takes responsibility for important fringe issues such as quality control, configuration, delivery on time, customer interaction,… on top of his original duties. This is how all competences and talents can be used for filling different roles that will contribute towards the success of the team either after mutual agreement or without even having had to talk about it.

Depending on the size of the enterprise and the challenges, it is possible that, apart from the teams that directly cause the added value, others will be necessary for the indirect achievement of added value.

Example: There might be service and moderation teams. The moderation teams are made up of particularly experienced employees with moderation competence. They can help if a team has problems or if a team becomes too big and cannot really cope with how to divide itself. However, their support should always be restricted to moderation and perhaps help towards finding solutions.

The teams are the central elements of the enterprise!


 

Infra structure

The entire enterprise is part of one intranet (software system). Said system provides a wiki or social media system. However, I would not call it “knowledge management“ (the term has been used up). Instead, I would call it a common basis of communication.

Example: A system such as Google+ is very mature and offers all you need. If you have a bigger enterprise, you might consider customizing or even develop your own system. If you have a small firm, I would recommend you take one of the many systems available.

All members and teams contribute towards the content.

Example: A team found potential for improvement at the tag and tells other teams about it.

Ideally, the system should be available to all stakeholders (customers, providers, sympathizers and the competition), usually with reading and comment enabled. Because transparent systems are an advantage for all parties concerned.

In addition to the system, you organize meetings (face2face) at regular intervals and with a reasonable format, for instance barcamps. Basically, the internet only makes sense if you also see each other once in a while.

For the infra structure, the following is true: It always has to be a means to an end, rather than its own end. It must be capable of adapting to changed needs quickly and be absolutely simple. So here is what we need:

No more than the amount we really need and as much as necessary!


 

Requirements

From the business point of view:
The only element we know from classic enterprises and that has to remain intact in a “modern enterprise“ is the strict adherence to business control principles. All teams must have positive balance sheets. If a team has problems, it has to either solve them or ask other teams for help. Budget deficits are only tolerated for short time intervals. If they do not disappear quickly, the team will be suspended.

Any surplus will be used for financing the (low) infra-structure costs. A considerable part of the profit

remains with the team, the team members decide the quota and extent to which profit is distributed among the team members. Dependent on the individual situation, a suitable part remains with the enterprise or/and with the shareholders.

Example: If a team has a problem, for instance with coming up with a decision or with dividing itself into smaller parts, they will contact the moderator. That is also true if a team notices that it has technological problems or quality deficits. The team will choose its own moderator.


 

Structure:

The size of a team will be mutually agreed upon. Depending on the task or challenge, I would say a team should be between seven and fifteen employees.

As the situation requires, a moderator should be able to work for between ten and twelve teams. If you have a small enterprise, for instance only one team, then members of the teams will also play the moderator role.

Example: The enterprise Buurtzorg (The Netherlands, Home Care) has 1,000 teams with ten employees in each team (i.e. 10,000 employees), for which fifty moderators are totally adequate. They have many teams that never need a moderator and some teams that often need a moderator.

If you have founders (which, naturally, is only relevant for a young enterprise, since after a few decades the problem solves itself biologically), then they can, of course, be moderators, impulse givers and inspiratory, as well as achievers.

Example: At InterFace Connection GmbH (which was the predecessor of InterFace AG), I did consultant work for other companies and at the same time contributed towards building up CLOU/HIT (”product owner“).


 

Knowledge:

All experience is shared. This should at least happen online and, if we are talking important experience, also in person (peer2peer or in a barcamp).

Example: Best Practice concepts discovered by one team will be published for all teams on a shared website.

Merkantile clarity, the willingness to support each other and the absolute readiness to share all knowledge are indespensable requirements!


 

Values and Culture

Similar to the entrepreneurial culture, values are also best described by stories. It makes sense to remember the culture onion  (Kulturzwiebel).

Example: There are enterprises where the employees share the belief that all they do and all their decisions should be agile, slim, transparent, pragmatic, professional, uncomplicated and similar things. They also believe that listening is just as important as – or maybe even more important than – talking. The values they live are eye-level and respect. Self-organization, self-responsibility, participation and error tolerance are normal behaviour. They all share the basic assumption that all form of indoctrination can be avoided if you use your common sense and emotional intelligence. And, last not least, they all believe that the “heroes” that every social system will inevitably create will turn exceptional employees into models.

In summary, one could say that a modern enterprise is a social system with a respectable goal that masters the art of not producing system agents. Because diversity beats simple-mindedness. Together, the employees know and understand more than the “boss“ alone can ever know or understand.

Thus, “corporate identity” will not be decreed from above, but instead develops mutually, just like the future is also shaped by mutual agreement. This is possible in a modern enterprise. Bureaucratic detours like holacracy, („Holokratie“ – in my opinion, the concept is crazy) must be avoided. Because the cooperation in teams and in an enterprise must not be dominated by bureaucrazy.

In a modern enterprise, it must be clear that there is no control through set goals and that nobody tries to motivate anybody by explicitly holding out a prospect of rewards by granting material favours (extrinsic motivation). Both measures will not work and in the end they will be more detrimental than beneficial.

The employees are motivated because they experience an environment where they can work with courage, joy and confidence in a self-organized and self-responsible way. This is how an intrinsic motivation will grow. And because they know that they can and will be successful together and that, at the end of the day, the success will be shared fairly and in a self-organized way wherever possible.

In former times, I often invoked the term “fear-free zone” as something an enterprise must realize. Today, I have progressed and now I demand a “zone that leaves room for unfolding“.

If you want to have it, you will, first and foremost, need absolute mutual appreciation of everybody’s value. It must be lived and shown by the models. Most likely, something else must be added to this element, for instance maybe that the expectations are not ”too trivial“.

Culture and values are the “operating system” of a modern enterprise.


 

Dynamics

Since the world changes at an enormous pace and is also perceived as more complex than in former times, there must be a high willingness to change in a modern enterprise. The wisdom of an enterprise should ideally consist of the wisdom of the masses. The right questions are asked before you start working on the solutions.

Nothing is as constant as change!


 

Utopia?

Some readers will probably not understand this article and judge it as utopian. Freedom makes them insecure because they know another world and feel comfortable with this other world. They prefer clear statements by third parties, instead of accepting responsibility.

That has also been my experience with some of the people who started out with me. They considered my ideas utopian. Regardless, my experience with self-organisation and self-responsibility were always excellent.

There is another argument that, sadly, I have to accept:
Huge success, exceptional growth and the thus achieved enormous dimensions will corrupt an enterprise and its culture.
It is perhaps some kind of entrepreneurial natural law.

Well, all I can do is provide a nice counter-argument and a solution:

I notice all the time that huge enterprises that had medium-sized beginnings work better than the concerns I know.

And perhaps there is a counter-measure: You could decree that companies that grow too fast have to divide into smaller ones according to their core competences and determined by the teams that were built inside the company?

Today, I know a number of firms that show that it really works and that you can be very, if not fear-inspiringly, successful with utopian ideas. You can really earn a lot of money with this kind of company for your employees and for your enterprise.

Thank you very much for living and having discussions with me.

RMD

P.S.
I often and gladly give presentations on this topic. I always defend my theories. Strangely enough, though, I seldom have to do a lot of defence work to do. Instead, I usually get a lot of consent and support.
🙂 To my surprise (or not), this support often comes from very conservative leadership personalities.

P.S.1
For more articles of my entrepreneurial diary, see: Drehscheibe!

RMD
(Translated by EG)