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)

Here is a famous joke:


On his way through the universe, planet EARTH meets another planet. The other planet asks the EARTH: “How are you?“ EARTH replies: ”I am not well, I suffer from Homo Sapiens“. The other planet has words of consolation: “Do not worry, this will soon be over”.


In duerre.de, my intentions for this year have been written down as follows:


Presentations & Activities in 2018:

Wake up! The bell rings!

For me personally, the main topic in 2018 is how ruthlessly we destroy our environment and what are the consequences thereof. Besides, I am also concerned about the massive change due to the extremely fast technological progress, also known as “digitalization”.

In particular, I notice the social change in the world of adults. However, it seems that this change does not affect children and adolescents in their situations during day-care, kindergarden and school. We force our children to live a life that is the opposite of what we demand for ourselves.

As I see it, the destruction of our environment is an existential threat. Consequently, I feel rather convinced that humanity will only survive for a few more generations. I do not know if I should consider this a good thing or a bad thing, but I believe that, as long as we still exist, we should at least try to live in peace and happiness. And there is a little hope left in me that, in a digital world, we can limit the massive destruction of our environment a little bit.

So now I try to share my experience and knowledge during my presentations and interactions and to help especially young persons towards a happier and more successful life. Because this might be a small contribution towards a “slightly improved” world.


Let me give a short explanation and justification:


 

  • Grown-ups want self-determination and respnosibility. Children must obey.
  • The time spent at work decreases for adults, it increases for students.
  • Grown-ups want to move around, children have to sit still.
  • Leadership wants to make grown-ups look bigger, school makes children look small.
  • Grown-ups get flexible work hours. Children must be on time and get all-day schools.
  • Grown-ups want to be motivated intrinsically , children are motivated extrinsically.
  • Grown-ups want to share their experiences and learn together, children are trained and must learn by heart.
  • Grown-ups want to find self-fulfillment at work and joy. Children have to learn things that nobody ever needs and that the grown-ups themselves, too, can no longer master. 
(I will write a separate article on this).
  • Grown-ups live active lives, they strive towards work-life balance. This is unknown in day-care centres, kindergardens and schools.

#andsoon!


Perhaps we would create a more peaceful and less evil world if we treated our children like human beings. Maybe then they would turn into happy adults who can do without consumption and wars. And perhaps they would stop damaging our planet in the self-destructive way in which our generation is currently doing it.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is a presentation by Bruno Gantenberg on „unSchooling“. It makes many things clear.

Roland Dürre
Thursday April 5th, 2018

Can We Be Saved?

In 1999, it was played on the IF-Treff: our drama “Can We Be Saved?“. That is why we called it the IT-Treff Satire (1734) – you can read and play it here. The work was created and written down by Norbert Weinberger and yours truly – on our way to India in the overnight plane. And later, we polished in during many hours of fine tuning, before we finally played it in the Munich Schlachthof before an audience of more than 700.

In those days, we, as amateurs, were part of a good tradition from previous years during which the IT-Treff had celebrated through long nights with such famous protagonists as Gerhard Polt and Django Asül. The arena was always full, it was a hot summer. And in 1999, there was a wonderful finish to the legendary IT-Treff at the same location. We decided to stop because it was so beautiful. In my personal experience of many years, it is actually a wise rule to terminate something when it is best.

In those days, I – and I think the great Gerhard Polt thought the same – I still believed that something might be salvageable. Today, I am no longer so sure. Because too many things that I cannot at all understand happen.

A useless war in Syria that nobody can and wishes to stop.

A Germany that, as an heir to the Third Reich, again gets really into the leading role when it comes to producing weapons and the always predictably failure-doomed attempt at solving problems with armies. For me personally, this is extremely bitter, because if there ever was a country that had a good reason to never again have an army, then it is exactly this said Germany. Yet that is not what we did – and thus we missed a historically unique chance.

A language that suggests wars are harmless, because it continuously uses words like information war and economic war.

  • A world-economy that is more and more centred around betting and has long ago liberated itself from the real economy.
  • And as a by-product, we ruin the planet to such a huge extent that it probably no longer makes any difference if more and more people get poorer and poorer while very few get obscenely rich. Because all will be over very soon, anyway.
  • A world where, in the wealthy countries such as the FRG, one ton of car probably is no longer balanced by 100 kilograms of humanity. Regardless of the fact that the people – especially those who drive cars – are far from light-weight.
  • With people in this world for whom it is more important that their cars have space than that they themselves have space.
  • With a principle that systematically puts growth that is impossible over “less is more”.
  • And much more that nobody can understand, yet in some way or other everybody does. …

Mind you, I am basically not a sad or pessimistic person. On the contrary: I enjoy life and have lots of fun. In fact, sometimes I almost have a bad conscience because I am doing so well. Said conscience is then pacified by me writing these stupid articles. Or by me doing things like in the video below. How sad that I get the impression it might all be in vain. And regardless of the fact that, basically, everybody I meet agrees with what I say, the opposite of it is done collectively.

So – thank you for reading it! And perhaps even for watching the video recording. And if you enjoyed the video, here is another, even better one! It is even more worth watching!

Sorry, I just cannot quit!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The theatre play (IT-Treff Satire) was so great that I would like to see it again? Does any of you feel like performing? I would willingly support a re-run. Maybe in a potpourri with several short and quick pieces, as part of a nice party?

Roland Dürre
Sunday March 18th, 2018

Creative Communication – Texts

I remember something I really enjoyed. On October, 22nd, 2017. That was the day we met in Nuremburg to try something new in the evening. On that Wednesday, we planned a little show. We were going to jam with images, music and text and “be really creative”. It was the closing of the DOAG yearly conference “Soft Track“ sessions. We, that was Christian Botta, Knud Johanssen and yours truly .

The motto was “Jamming instead of Complaining” (Nicht Jammern sondern Jammen).

You can also see a Video recording. As promised, here are the texts accompanying the video.

To begin with, I introduce the solo by ALTO – the alto saxophone, a little towards the middle of the presentation (recited by Knud Johannsen)

Here is what ALTO the saxophone said.

And here are my texts. As a warm-up, I punched in a few catch-words (words that make sense). I only took words that started with the letter “K” in German. After all, it was all about “creative communication”.


Kaizen (in Japan as early as in the 1940ies), capital, commercialization, communication, accounts, costs, caste, consumption, concern, commerce, control & cooperation, tie, constructivism, context, cybernetik, communism (evil), capitalism (good), art (you cannot earn a living with it), coal (everything is based on it), carbon dioxide, Knud (the one with the saxophone), children (you no longer hit them these days), the (punch) card as the beginning of the computer, cats and kindergarden will come, crucifix will soon be a thing of the past (?), church, the motorbike, the crane, the power plant, nuclear energy, cars, (K70 but not as a combined thing), the cosmos, struggle (against sickness), war (is ostracized, but instead happens on the streets), committees, criminal stories & Kinsey(-report) – it was all crass, collective and complicated …


Then the time trip began with text and music, from yesterday over today into tomorrow – the stars  ****** in my texts always mean that Knud or Christian are the authors. And for those who do not know the songs, I always added a link to a video recording of the song. Naturally, the music played by Knud on his ALTO are always recognizable on the video recording.


Yesterday


***** Yesterday (ALTO & Knud)
Yes, that was yesterday.
Yesterday was the beginning of Anthropocenum, – which is how we propose to name a new  geo-chronological epoch: the era in which homo sapiens  has become one of the most formative factors for the biological, geological and atmospheric processes on the earth. (Wikipedia).
It all started quite well! Electricity replaced coal, what progress! Electric motors instead of steam engines. Wonderful!
But: Electricity is still made from coal.
It is all still about coal – time is money.
***** Money – That`s what I want (ALTO & Knud)
Yesterday was also:
The conveyor belt (Taylorism – after Henry Ford or as practiced in the Chicago slaughterhouses) becomes part of the administration (process and organisation). The caste of engineers becomes the manager caste. Humans are resources. Punch cards for the white collars, too.
Power is in the hands of men. They are the makers. Positive: we have more wealth and are less hungry. We dance on the iceberg.
***** Dirty Dancing (ALTO & Knud)
A life of wastefulness. Waste and nonsense – like the life boats on the unsinkable ship Titanic.
***** Titanic (Alto & Knud)
On the streets, you can hear: damage what damages you!
***** Brick in the wall (ALTO & Knud)


Our trip continues in the Present:


Today


***** Löwenzahn (ALTO & Knud)
Today, success means “survival”.
With joy in life.
And the courage to preserve.
Since life becomes more and more complex: here is how it works. Basically, it is already complex enough. Then we find mistakes that are complex. Correcting the mistakes is complex and makes the system even more complex. We find new, even more complex mistakes. This is how you get a vicious circle of complexity.
***** Solo: Christian climbing a mountain to get at simple, complicated, complex and even “research“ projects (spoken presentation) supported by Heidi.
Enterprises become “excel managed companies“. They are considered machines. The managers turn the levers of this machine and thus control the turnover, profit and stock market value. Everybody competes against each other when planning and everybody bets no end. The golden lamb is growth. In politics, they talk a lot and do not do much. We know everything and do nothing. Inherent necessities rule and we have a contingent of women.
Regardless: wherever you look and in many dimensions, you will find upheaval and new ideas. We now understand: it is not that we lack the courage to do it because it is a hard job, but it becomes a hard job because we lack the courage to do it.


Tomorrow


Let us continue our trip and look at tomorrow. What will be important tomorrow?

  • Less is more!
  • KISS (keep it simple, stupid).
  • Leadership – make people look great, instead of small!
  • The future cannot work for individuals. Let us network and cooperate. Co-creativity will be the concept of the future.
  • Communicating at eye-level!
  • Give others your time, inspire and give impulses.
  • Freedom: willing and being capable of living your own life in a self-determined way
  • Wisdom as human prudence.
  • Sustainability: production cycles with no Waste
  • Biophilie: act in such a way that both your own and other lives will tend more towards increasing than decreasing in many dimensions.
  • The future is female!

We cannot make things right.
We can do the right things.
What will happen if we do the wrong things right?


Then there were some nice solo pieces by Christian (for instance about complexity), Knud never seemed to stop rapping and playing; and then everybody hummed imagine and sang hey jude.

For me (and I believe the same is true for our audience), those were 30 beautiful minutes of our lives. And if you now have become curious: here is the direct LINK to the video recording. We wish you lots of fun when you look at the material

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 15th, 2017

The Future of the Planet

Today, I will not write about electric bikes or sex, but about politics.

The Jamaican coat of arms

Jamaica

Currently, many people develop a sudden interest in the land of Bob Marley. It is about Jamaica, which, naturally, is only a silly word-play. It is all about the “Coalition Discussions“ (Koalitionsverhandlungen) in Berlin. We call them Jamaica because the coat of arms of this country is identical with the colours of the parties concerned (black, yellow and green).

I must admit that I had been hopeful for the Green Party to be the positive factor in these discussions.

But what is the Green Party doing?

They went to Berlin with demands that were probably justified but it is clear that these demands cannot be successfully pushed through during negotiations (which has already been proved). The first of these demands was that the combustion motor be abolished in the year 2030 (1) and the second was that all coal-based power plants be closed by the same year (2). Especially (1) sounds more than utopian. Besides, we do not need general goals but actual measures.

Electricity must replace coal, not use it up!

I will not comment on (2). After all, it is evident that the only way we can and must end the “dark” era when fossil energy was burned using electricity. Yet replacing coal by electricity cannot mean that half of the electricity world-wide is produced with coal. This must (and will soon) become a thing of the past. However, I find (1) a lot more exciting.

Driving an automobile is out!

Everybody must realize that an “individual mobility” based on electricity cannot and will not be the same as many of us now use the car. Just like “autonomous cars”, too, will not be driven in the same way as MEN and WOMEN drive them now.

2030 will soon be here!

In only 12 years, it will have arrived – that is as many years as the life-span of a car used to be. In that respect, what the Green Party demanded would have been rather easy to realize.

Prepare for the exit!

One of the factors is to quickly establish a speed limit – if necessary, why not step-by-step so that people can get used to it – but with a clear end even before 2020 at a maximum of 30 km/h in closed built-up areas, 70 km/h on secondary streets and 100 km/h on motorways. And, also step-by-step, a truly relevant and drastic increase in taxes on fossil fuel (including kerosene for planes). And if then the gigantic subsidies on “business cars” (at least the huge practice of abuse) were finally restricted, then the entire scenario would make sense!

Slim end efficient!

That would be a slim and efficient solution and it would raise hopes for a “soft landing”. It would also make quite a few stupid ideas, such as road charges, obsolete. And the Green Party, perhaps for good reasons, does not wish to be unpopular. Mind you, I personally believe that being unpopular brings you more votes than it costs you.

Investing in the future

And the money you get from all these projects must not be spent for building even more new motorway crossings on two levels with up to ten lanes, which today apparently, as a consequence of the motorway expansion having to happen on ever more lanes, has become a necessity. Instead, we should invest these moneys in a public transport system and, of course, in the “energy change” – which basically only means the abolition of nuclear and coal-based electricity production. As I see it, we are actually already quite well under way in this respect.

RMD
(Translated by EG)