Hans Bonfigt
Sunday July 8th, 2018

(Deutsch) Papa, Charlie hat gesagt …

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 5th, 2018

Fuckup! Nights! Munich!

Something new happens all the time. A few days ago, I discovered the FUCKUPNIGHTS. And I decided that I want to be part of it. 🙂 .

We Live Life Without Filters

That is the motto of this movement, which calls itself FUCKUPNIGHTS. It started in Mexico, from where it continued its triumphal procession into large parts of the world.

It is about failure. We also discussed this in June 2016 at the Berlin PM-Camp. Because failure is simply part of life. It might sometimes even be a source of success. Because there is a lot you can learn from failure. And you can not only benefit quite a lot from what you learned from your own failures. You can also share it with others. It can help those others to avoid failure (= to be a success).

The Techdivision– Marketing brought the Fuckup Night to Munich and Rosenheim. On July, 5th, (that is today), the FuckupNight will be held in the Munich Balanstrasse. And they were still looking for a speaker. Consequently, Sacha (the boss of Techdivision at Balanstrasse) asked me:

Hi Roland, would you like to present a personal fuckup example from your life in seven minutes and with a maximum of 10 slides?

Here is all the information on FUCKUPNIGHTS in Munich. Today, the event is already overbooked, as mostly happens with Techdivision events (you will find them all at meetup).

Well, I gladly obliged. However, it also meant that I needed to prepare. Consequently, I started thinking:

  • What were my greatest errors, my worst blows below the belt?
  • When did life really make me feel small?
  • What was it like when I felt I was an absolute failure?
  • What can you relate publicly without exposing other people?

There is also a FuckUpNichts Speaker Manual:

 


Speaker Manual: What exactly are FuckUp-Nights?

“FuckUp-Nights“ sounds offensive? Well, it is not! The FuckUpNights were initiated in order to publicly speak about projects, work and ideas that failed and to share these experiences in the community. In a relaxed atmosphere, precious experiences made by successful managers, enterprises and start-ups are discussed during these evenings in order to learn from the mistakes they made.

For seven minutes, three or four people tell you, for a change and with lots of wit, humour and openness, not about their great successes, but about how everything can go wrong – which means they had so-called fuck-ups.

How to present my FuckUp in seven minutes?

  1. Please send in advance 10 slides that illustrate your failure.. 
The images should be numbered from 1 to 10 and later appear in that sequence. Please remember that each image has only about 40 seconds, because otherwise you will need more than seven minutes.
  2. A short biography, because we need to introduce you on the day of the event (1-2 paragraphs).

During your presentation, you will want to remember the following:

  • Who am I?
  • What was the original idea for the project/business?
  • What went wrong?
  • What should I have done differently? What have I learned from the experience?

And please do not forget!!!
We are talking FuckUp-Nights! People make mistakes. All is well as long as you can tell them with enthusiasm, wit and humour. So enjoy your presentation! 🙂


 

I rather like that. So I gladly think about my personal fuck-ups. I am always hardest hit if a disappointment is personal, especially if people are concerned. They hurt – but I would not wish to publicly speak about them on a fuckup-night, because in doing so, I might not do justice to others or even hurt others.

Consequently, I will focus on my entrepreneurial failures. One of them was the great visionary idea of magicHIT. It cost the InterFace Connection a lot of money and eventually turned into a total failure from the economic viewpoint. It might be a good presentation, I will relate it tonight. And I will write down the story here. It starts with: I was a …


i) Third Generation IT-Pioneer (Computer Science after 1969) and

no longer all that young – but, considering the times, a rather young entrepreneur.

Years of training at Siemens and Softlab.
Focus on: industrial computer science (knowledge for the sake of domination).
Unfortunately, I paid too little attention to “the toys“ produced by Commodore and Atari.
Later, it turned out that this was a huge disadvantage.

 

 

 

 

ii) late founder with instant start (1984 – I was already 34 years old)

Here is a happy entrepreneur, because things worked out.

  • The start went well – Wolf (my partner, whom I had spent a long time looking for) and yours truly were in paradise. Especially when we had our first team and were able to develop a product.
  • In a nutshell, you have four relevant business/income model types in an enterprise:
  • Service, i.e. time and material,
  • the lot,
  • full service,
  • a product

Unix is our topic! And a product is the best of all disciplines. Consequently, our goal was:

We want to develop a product for Unix (because a product will give you identity and a scalable income).

We build CLOU/HIT!

 

 

 

iii) Innovation is creative destruction

Evening event BICCnight it at media / Foyer Funkhaus Bayern /Muenchen / 22.07.2011
Foto: Stephan Goerlich
Foto: Stephan Goerlich

Also Digitalization. Which means: no more filing cabinets, typewriters and telefax machines (all of which were still relevant communication tools at the time).
Data bases instead of paper. Documents will be automatically generated, the communication is via computer networks.

We start with the destruction of the old world.

 

iv) Life is a dream

Absolutely guaranteed: far from everyday problems – a few years ago in the South Sea.

Our product CLOU-HIT sells marvellously.
If your are the leader on the market in no time, this feels wonderful. Major customers (both public offices and enterprises) use our software at a huge scale. They fill our purses with money and give us prid

 

 

 

 

v) The competition does not sleep!

CLOU/HIT is a success. But the product is no longer the newest.

We know that. Regardless, we enjoy the success of our product. And we celebrate it. Parties are an important part of every enterprise.

Yet we know that innovation continues and that we need something new. Because if you sit on your laurels, you have them at the wrong part of your body.

 

 

 

 

 

vi) We start developing MagicHIT …

This is how Christian and Daniel see me(©
Visual-Braindump) – at least it is how they saw me on the last Dornbirn PM Camp in 2016.

… the first ODA-/ODIF-EDITOR (ODA/ODIF is ISO norm) world-wide, as a “wysiwyg“ system with the extremely powerful semantics on UNIX and X11).
Every document is an object of a category, its semantics are determined by the category (examples: invoice, contracts, official orders, …).
We port MagicHIT on Windows
A special team with ten employees works in a huge old flat Im Tal near the Munich Viktualienmarkt, where they have their special work environment.
After a few years, the first version of the product is finished. There is a wonderful manual.

 

vii) Many warnings!

Wake up! The bell rings!

Famous partners from huge enterprises and offices warn us:

“You must be suffering from brain-damage. You cannot win against MS?!“

We are idealists and ignore the warnings.

After all, there is (still) enough money.

 

 

 

viii) One customer is not enough!

CAREFUL – I know them.

After huge efforts in sales, we have found only one customer for the new MagicHIT – the German Armed Forces.

They want to turn their command posts into automated commands through MagicHIT.

Things start to get messy. The costs remain, but there is no success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ix) Game over

“My post – InterFace life ?“

All offices and huge concerns buy word and windows. It no longer makes any sense. We capitulate and give up. The development of MagicHit is terminated.

 

Maybe someone will need it many years from now.

🙁 And I must postpone my exit …

 

 

x) Fiasco and Happy End

We have to do the calculations. For almost ten years, ten or more of our best employees worked for nothing. Depending on how you do the calculations, that is an investment of between 10 and 20 million DM/EURO. For nothing!

But:

The know-how we gained in this way is extremely helpful. We learned a lot. That helps us to survive for the next ten years. Basically, it helped right up to this day.

 

 

xi) Lessons learned

Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, agility master and my photographer this time.

David will not always win against Goliath.
Wonders will not repeat themselves.
The product that is most beneficial will not always win.
Progress is slow.
More often than not, you cannot fight against power, corruption and fraud.

But still, it was nice!

RMD

P.S.
Basically, it was a three-times fuck-up. Because around ten years later, we again implemented MagicHIT for Siemens and the Bavarian Justice System – we called it ForumStar-Text for them.

Due to the ignorance of a partner, we later lost the bidding process that had already been practically won (second fuck-up). For similar reasons, we also lost the visionary project to – in cooperation with TUM – bring ForumStar to the Bavarian Justice System and Siemens AG as an Open Source. Even Siemens, represented by (chairman of the IT provider ), had already agreed. It might have been a great hour for Germany or even Europe.

Then Siemens AG cancelled the meeting between representatives of TUM, the Bavarian Justice System and us at short notice. They did not appear. Fuckup, von Hammerstein left the SBS a short time later and became an important reformer at Kabel Deutschland. You can admire the remainder of SBS at ATOS and the InterFace AG still does its business, now with IT compliance, CLOUD and still with software development (our motto is: ”long live devop!“). … And the Justice Systems in Bavaria and

Germany  public authorities concerning judiciary are now serviced by IBM. Such is life.

P.S.1
And many thanks to the great Lydia of Techdivision for all the huge support she gave me!

Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday June 19th, 2018

Advantages of Integration and Progressive Digitalization

Ever since a new British study has found out that the progressive digitalization also offers massive advantages and totally new perspectives in this field, there is a new urgency to the question: To what extent vampires can actually be integrated?

Mind you, it was not the old and ancient protagonists who initiated this revolution. It is yet again the often so scolded youth who make the decisive steps towards this ’young future that cuts the edges’: they are the ones who not only talk about digitalization, which is what any second-class provincial politician does these days, but who also actually live digitalization!

Yes, it is the ’generation smart-phone’ who, in the 21st century and totally surprisingly and unplanned, restore a tiny bit of freedom to the vampires by letting them return to free biting!

After all – and you want to be honest about this – there is nothing more suitable for the direct and unhindered bite of a vampire than the naked and exposed little neck of a fifteen-year-old female smart-phone user who is fascinated by what she sees on her screen. And I mean all the time: on the street, in the train, on her bike, on the toilet and while doing her homework.

There is definitely nothing, absolutely nothing more suitable!

And this suitability for quick access is, naturally, not only true for the aforementioned fifteen-year-old girl, but also for all smart-phone users, regardless of their age and the colour of their skin: when they act as mentioned above, all these persons remain in the exact same position, with exactly identical ’bite invitations to their jugular’ in front of their device. In fact, the author of the British study I mentioned before even assumes that the inventor of the smart-phone must have had or have a ’vampire background’. This assumption becomes even more of a probability since all the smart-phone users are so fixated on their devices that they not only fail to notice the quick bite into their jugular, but also never even realize how they have been sucked out afterwards!

They are actually so immersed in their smart-phone world that they are not available for any other observation: the first time they actually often start yelling and getting aggressive is when – due to some unfortunate mistake – blood drips on their screens, because that is when they start soiling their own screens as they wipe around with their own blood on their fingers!

This is one of the reasons why leading vampires in business and politics started several years ago to vehemently demand from companies such as Apply, Samsung and Nokia to come up with the ’blood-absorbing screen’ at long last! After all, such a modification is absolutely necessary unless you want to carelessly miss this unique opportunity of integrating vampires into society: and I mean all vampires! This includes the less dexterous ones – those who, when they bite, sometimes cause a drop or two to fall where it should not!

It goes without saying that the sector data security, too, needs massive modifications: it happens quite frequently that smart-phone users take pictures of vampires while they feed on blood and then immediately send the pictures to the smart-phones of those who have been bitten!

This is often the moment when those who have been bitten actually realize that they are currently donating blood – and since they see it on their smart-phones, they also believe it. Their reaction is that they often start hectic defence movements – which might then again cause unnecessary extra blood loss.

Consequently, what we need immediately is legislative initiatives with a ’filming ban on blood feeds’. And these initiatives cannot be national solos but have to be coordinated on EU and UNO level. Basically, this should not be too much of a problem if all parties concerned mean the same blood and refrain from overeager bloody comments.
Another problem is probably far harder to solve.

What I mean is the bite into the ’wrinkled neck of an older person’ – which, as the aforementioned British study shows, is something some of the vampires also favour.

Luckily, these few ’connoisseurs’ will also find enough older smart-phone users today – even if their enthusiasm and stamina are nowhere near what we have with the young generation. That is something that does not really make quick bites easier!

But when all is said and done, this is not the central problem! The real problem is that, even if the bite on the ’far-from-fresh wrinkled neck’ is a success, the blood you get there tastes like a wine-soda mixture that contains one eighth of Riesling and one litre of soda water!
Which is nothing. Well, it is less than nothing!

That is because today practically all older people get huge amounts of expensive blood thinners from all their doctors and health insurances: this is certainly a good thing for the pharmaceutical industry and for the blood-thinned elderly people – but for vampires, it is a pure nightmare!

And I am not just talking the taste, but also the amount you need: due to this practice, vampires are not only forced to swallow immense amounts of blood, but also to visit the toilet all the time in order to get rid of all the water. This will quite often cause individual blockage situations at public toilets! Humans who suffer from weak bladders are those who will suffer most in the end!

Taking all these aspects into consideration, it can be said that much remains to be done before vampires enjoy the same paradise-like state of affairs in Germany that, according to our Federal Chancellor, the rest of the citizens can boast of!

But if the problems that still need to be solved are at long last tackled by politics without prejudices and without further loss of precious time, and if the entire society refuses to have a rising blood pressure because of all these concepts, then the integration advantages offering themselves through more digitalization – as shown by the British study – will soon be realized. Especially if measures are taken to make sure that blood will always remain thicker than any wine-soda mixture, because otherwise the elderly people will cause unacceptably long blood trails in their wake after each vampire bite. And said blood trails will then again cause massive data security problems, which certainly nobody can want; after all, we all know that there is nothing vampires want more than a chance to, at long last, have their blood feed undisturbed and in peace.

That is really all they want!

K.H.
(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
Wednesday June 13th, 2018

KNOWLEDGE. SMART. SMART CONTRACT. RPA.

Yours truly deep in contemplation and hiking on the Cyclades.

In the context of digitalization, “everyone” or “many“ talk about ”smart“. If we are talking smart applications, the smart contract plays an important role.

Such talk gives me pause and, again, I would like to say “no more buzzwords”! Because if technological progress is per se smart, then this sounds too easy to me. For me, digitalization is simply technological progress. I want to know the real meaning of the word “smart“ and what a “smart contract“ is supposed to be.

For me, the first step towards knowledge is that I ask people who (would have to) know about it. If that is not good enough, I will start hunting for knowledge online.

The first person I ask is a very highly esteemed (German) employee of a Chinese concern that sells exclusively “smart” products. Her reply to my question “What is the meaning of smart?” is simple and sounds reasonable.
She says:
”If a product has a WLAN interface and can access the internet, then it is smart in the eyes of the Chinese.“

So: everything that does IoT (Internet of Things) is smart. Very easy. Basically, IoT is smart. She also has a good example for me:

”A set of scales is a set of scales. But as soon as it is part of the wonderful IoT world, it is a smart set of scales “.

I can understand that. Now I know the meaning of the word “smart”. At least mostly.

A computer science professor provides me with the explanation of the term “smart contract“ and with information about what a central role the so-called “oracle“ plays. He is good at explaining and I understand it. At the end of this article, I will relate it to you.

Yet, I am not totally satisfied. After all, I would also like to explain to other people what “smart” and a “smart contract” means. And I certainly would not wish to tell lies. How would I know if the Chinese are correct? And how did the professor gain his knowledge?

He may simply have used one source that looked plausible to him, but said source might not really be a relevant one. How thoroughly did he examine said source? Or maybe he invented the explanation himself and nobody else knows it?

And the many Chinese on this world define “smart contract“ totally different from how my processor defines it.

So I now start travelling through the internet and hunting knowledge. Certainly, Wikipedia will have an entry. If there is no German Wikipedia entry, then there will certainly be an English Wikipedia entry.

It must be said about wikipedia that it happens quite often that the entries are nowhere near perfect. That is no surprise. I know no encyclopaedia that is totally free of nonsense. When I was young, I had two dictionaries – one from the FRG and one from the GDR. There was a lot of nonsense to be found in both of them – as I, as an citizen of the FRG, saw it, even more so in the GDR dictionary than in the FRG dictionary. But then, people living in the GDR may have seen this differently.

Incidentally, I really enjoy looking for “nonsense“ in a heavy encyclopaedia. I often find great entries. Perhaps the task that remains for the old encyclopaedia is to show people how much nonsense they used to believe and still believe today.

Now I really want to know the meaning of “smart“ and the definition of a “smart contract“. So I look online. On typing Smart, I find a link to wiktionary  and the definition of “smart“ as: adept, cuning, cute, resourceful, elegant, good-looking  and spirited along with synonyms such as keen, diplomatic, experienced, adept, agile, polished, experienced, cultivated, clever, experienced, sure, tactical, extensive, open-minded, urbane, agile, distinctive, chic, elegant, fine, posh, classy, attractive, dashing, spirited, stylish and courtly. Isn’t that nice? Except – I ask myself the probably stupid question what all this has to do with digitalization.

So I continue with my search, this time I type smart contract. And in the German Wikipedia, I find an article that I would not necessarily call total nonsense, but perhaps a little incomprehensible.

The second entry on google gives me a much-read Bitcoin page  with an actual explanation of what a smart contract is. The heading is:

“Smart Contracts are the central part of block-chain technologies. They are responsible for a decentralized execution of contracts and are supposed to make the network consistent.“

And the article is in the same vein. Ouch! Perhaps this is actually more nonsense than just incomprehensible. This is not what I have been looking for.

I remember the example of my friend the computer science professor. He explained it like this:


Let us assume that the partners who signed a contract are “one” car insurance and a “car owner”. A normal contract about the insurance of a car becomes a “smart” contract if the contract contains a special condition that depends on a third element – the so-called “oracle”. The oracle is an important part of the contract. It informs both partners about changes, its publication automatically causes a change in the content of the contract.

The Flensburg Federal Office for Motor Traffic can be the oracle. If there is something in the contract about the regular fees being dependent on how many bad points the owner of the car has in Flensburg and if the insurance can automatically change the account of the insured party by using a fixed “algorithm” after something in his Flensburg account has changed, then we have a “smart contract”.


This is how all companies that insure cars in Germany could automatically do business with a provider and diverse oracles. They would no longer need clerical assistants. That is certainly a “smart idea“.

But we already have this. It is called RPA (robotic process automation) and it could help reduce costs. And it could help to make employees redundant, because they are what costs most. And it does not have anywhere near as much to do with algorithms – as many think – as with programming.

Well, I like abbreviations even less than buzz-words (after all, they were spread by the Nazis). And I do not feel like further elaborating about RPS and similar things. I will soon do so. Let me put an end to this article at this point!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Wednesday June 6th, 2018

Digital, bekloppt, banal

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday June 3rd, 2018

“Digitalisierung” konzis und umfassend erklärt

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

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)

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday May 26th, 2018

Moderne Zeiten

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Selfie in Greece, antireflection coating in Greek and English.

There are about seven billion people living on this planet. Less than half of them have internet access. The majority do not have it. It seems to be clear that those people and nations that have internet access will become richer. And those that do not have access to the internet will become poorer. They already talk about the new poverty caused by the lack of digitalization.

Something similar is true for children. If children learn to handle the internet early, they will usually have better chances in their lives than if they are kept away from it.

In our country, children under the age of sixteen will need the formal consent of their parents if, for instance, they want to be part of social media. Among social media are: FB, Twitter, Instagram, MeetUp, LinkedIn and many other often very useful systems that change the world.

If I activate a usercode in Wikipedia, I will be member of a large social media system. Even in Wikipedia, there is a huge danger that it will swallow me whole. And there is a lot of mobbing going on, too  – I can really tell stories from personal experience.

Now let me ask the lawyers and all those wise legislators:

Will a thirteen-year-old genius who won “Jugend Forscht” need his father’s written consent in order to become a Wikipedia member?

And here is a question for you all:
Will a Mormon father (small religion with perhaps 20 million people) or an Islamic father (huge religion with about 2 billion believers, slightly behind Christendom but with a better trend) give his child said consent?
I am not sure. The mother will not be allowed to do it.

But let me switch from general considerations to my personal experiences and mental experiments.

As some of you know, we have seven children. I am sure that nothing in life taught me as many positive and important things as my children did. That includes my parents in the same way as my mentors and teachers, perhaps even Barbara. From whom I also learned a lot. As opposed to school, which you can forget about.

That was true for life in general and especially for digital life. And this is true regardless of me having been the IT professional (and pioneer) in our family who actually created some of it.

Today, if a grandchild of mine wishes to participate in facebook or twitter, then I will support him or her. I would give advice and ask if he/she likes it if I follow. And I would learn the new things he/she would bring me. The only way I would be worried would be if he/she chose a “private modus”. That would actually make me doubt if he/she has been socialized properly.

So here is a mental experiment:    
What would I do if he/she were to experiment in the “darknet”?    
Note: the darknet is an attempt at moving through the internet in absolute anonymity through wearing a mask. You hide your authenticity (what you really are) in order to move under an identity that cannot be tracked back!

Argh! That is exactly what the tax agency wanted to abolish, which is why Swiss numbered accounts were made illegal.…

For technological IT reasons, this goal is just as impossible to reach as absolute data security – even if it is supported with very archaic methods, it can basically not be guaranteed. If this were not so, the success of the cyberspace armies in the darknet would not be possible. All you need to know is how it has been programmed. And you need to be good and industrious. Perhaps a little more proficient than the enemy. But there are always ways.

My grandchild – if he/she has learned a little more in the internet – will soon contradict me and point towards blockchain technologies and bitcoin.

After all, in these scenarios, it is guaranteed (even at a high price) that, as soon as you choose your identity, you have a guaranteed part of a percentage of a totally virtual (and limited) number without having had to give your authenticity. Or rather: back-tracking is made impossible (which, incidentally, is only true for the one who actively and successfully does the “mining“).

A normal buyer will definitely have to identify himself or herself, again and again (at least until his/her bitcoins have become worthless).

So if my grandchild were to start moving in the darknet or trying bitcoin , I would probably get a little worried, but I would not ask them to terminate their experiments. In the case of the darknet, I would recommend the highest degree of caution, in the case of bitcoin, I would fear that they will probably go crazy. After all, I personally know quite a few people who believed in it and some of them ended really tragically (or, in the best case, they only went crazy).

Well, basically, I can also well imagine that children under sixteen might, strictly under the law, be allowed to generate some part of a bitcoin – even without the consent of their biological parents. After all, all they would have to do is find a clever way of joining a few asic systems –  don’t young people enjoy to experiment a little?

And if they successfully generate bitcoins, then they have them. Regardless of the fact that they do not actually own them. It is more like “possession they achieved through computer capacity and algorithms” – which, strangely enough, is a very small part of a virtual and limited range of numbers. Numbers some analysts believe in and some gamblers are prepared to pay money for. Just as it was a long time ago with tulips in Holland.

Because, as far as I know, the exciting question if bitcoin is virtual possession or virtual ownership has not yet been answered. At least the tulip bulbs were real – allegedly, you could even eat them when they no longer had any value.

Now this was heavy material. I know that even many of those who regularly talk and write about bitcoin and blockchain will not understand it. So, please, excuse my digression.

There are so many exciting – and also simpler – things happening in the internet that I could write about, and whenever there is an opportunity, I will probably do so. And over-emphasized topics such as “mobbing in facebook“ are certainly not the most important issues, even if some grown-ups like watching their occasional porno (which, of course, they will deny). Neither are Parship, Elite-Partner or Tinder the real problem. There are many far more exciting things happening – in many dimensions.

But now our children have to ask dad and mom if they want to test a new social media platform on the internet. Mind you, there are so many more important things the parents need to do, such as earning money and washing their first and second cars.

But currently, I am in Greek and the sun is shining – and, to me, those are more important things! So long.

RMD
(Translated by EG)