Roland Dürre
Friday July 23rd, 2010

A Follow-Up on My Presentation – Comments #1 Facts:

In this series, I will comment on the written feedback I received after my presentation. Also, I will answer the online questions asked by students I had no time to amply reply to during said presentation.

Lehren für Unternehmensführer – das Leben, das Wissen, die Informatik und die Ethik

(Lessons For Managing Directors – Life, Knowledge, Computer Science and Ethics)

„Innovative Entrepreneurs“ / Summer Semester 2010

Leadership in growth-oriented enterprises

One of the rarer comments I still found very important was:

“The speaker did not offer enough facts”

Now we are really into it. Is there really anything you can call “fact” when we are talking social or economical processes? Is there an ultimate truth?

Or is it more like we are only certain of some things because we developed a sense of truth for what our prejudices, our (limited) scope of view and our social conditioning made us believe?

Especially if you are an entrepreneur, you will notice all the time that, as you look upon developments in retrospect, you find that

  • decisions will be seen differently after some time (what looked good at one time may look bad at another time),
  • if you look upon it later at regular intervals, you find that things you developed turned out totally different from how they were ever planned and
  • managing directors accept laurels for developments that were totally coincidental.

The RISE institute (at the St. Gallen University) with Simon Grand at the top surveyed the history of several vey different enterprises. He proved that the “enterprise saga” was always developed after the enterprise has been firmly established. Through this success story, the history of the enterprise is given a logical structure that was never really there.

The visions, strategies, plans, as well as activities and actual schemes as told by the management year after year in retrospect usually have nothing in common with the later report. Looking at the enterprise archives (presentations and reports of strategy meetings, an analysis of many years of directorial meeting protocols) and comparing these data with the current enterprise story show this quite clearly.

And the favourite sentences of enterprise founders, too, change very dynamically as time goes by. In general, they have nothing in common with what grew like a “protective belt” (as Simon Grand calls it) around the success story, enterprise culture and enterprise philosophy over the years.

That is why I am hesitant about making a good impression with facts and certainties. Especially when we are talking entrepreneurship, it is often just fool’s gold.


(Translated by EG)

1 Kommentar zu “A Follow-Up on My Presentation – Comments #1 Facts:”

  1. Chris Wood (Saturday July 24th, 2010)

    I think Roland has hit the nail on the head here. (But of course I am no expert in such things). I am sure there are a few factors that are always needed to make a successful firm, such as competent energetic leadership, prepared to take reasonable risks. On the other hand both dictatorship and cooperative management have had their successes.

    I compare this with the course of evolution of species, where there are some very strange success stories, and some very strange niches that beings fit into. There are also hard luck cases such as the dinosaurs. Why did they mostly die out? There were also general disasters, which can be compared with the effect on Roman firms during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

    Another useful comparison is with various religions. After all they have run for thousands of years, so we know a lot about their successes and failures. Nevertheless, despite a great deal of reading and thinking, I find it hard to account for the successes of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (And I find it impossible to judge how good or bad they, along with Microsoft, were for humanity). Why did some religions, such as Sufism and Zoroastrianism, last badly, despite their advantages?

    So here we have three areas where evolution occurs in remarkably similar ways.

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