About Bert

I am an IT Project Leader, Consultant Social Collaboration & IT Innovations, driving the adoption of Social Collaboration in the organization through trainings, presentations and coaching.

Recycling old Calendars

When surfing an auction site I found a pocket calendar I possessed in my early youth: the Ensslin-Schüler-Taschenbuch 1974.

As a ten-year-old it fascinated me, because it not only contained the calendar of that year but also useful information like a complete survival guide (how to navigate without compass, to make fire, to source water, to build a tent,  to track foot steps, to use morse code, to leave signs, …), a table that allows to calculate the week day for any given date and a contest on how many different objects can be put into one matchbox.

When I considered buying it, I thought it would be useless because the calendar would not match this year’s calendar. But, what would a calendar need to match to another year? A given date (eg. Jan, 1st)  has to fall on the same week day and both years have to be either leap years or not.

I wrote a small program that compares different years for these conditions and found that I could reuse this calendar of 1974 again in 2019. However, many public holidays like (Easter, Whitsun, German Carnival, Ascension Day, Corpus Christi) are floating and match in some years only.

If you use your calendar as a diary, you can find a lot of “on this day”-reminders in your old calendar.

On my way to the attic now

In year … re-use old calendar of … YC
Re-use old calendar of … in year …CY


Leaving My Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress.
– From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

fysbigDuring my vacation with my wife and my 16-year-old daughter Lilli in Ireland this summer, I had to leave my comfort zone and to push my personal boundaries twice.

I try to do this once in a while to extend my comfort zone as you can see in previous entries on paragliding (also with Lilli) and on speaking in front of large audiences. I usually create a video which makes it it easier to recall these impressions later.

This time my fear of “wild” animals and again my acrophobia were concerned.

The first video shows how the two of us climbed up the Diamond Hill (450 m / PDF-map) in Connemara National Park. The more we proceeded the more steep an complicated our ascent became. About 50 meters below the summit I found myself in a situation where I didn’t feel like going further nor like going back. Sitting on a wet stone in a cloud, I was looking a few hundred meters down. With the mental support of Lilli, I finally reached the summit and found, as she had already assumed, the way down much easier than going back to where we came from.

The second video shows a regular hiking tour where we had to pass a herd of bulls (only separated by a thin electrical fence, which not really should be an obstacle for a raging bull) and later three horses without a fence between us. While the bulls showed no interest at all when we went a small path between their fence and a stone wall, the horses came up quickly to inspect us and I (obviously successfully) tried to calm them down. As I’m not used to deal with cattle or horses nor seeking their company on a regular basis, these were very exciting encounters.

How a Police Detective changed my Life

girlsday-konfetti-smWhen I was a boy back in the Seventies, I loved to watch U.S. TV crime series like “Kojak.” Every time a murder occurred and the investigation got stuck, Kojak would say: “We’ve got to ask the computer!”

Then he and his team would go into a computer room and type in some clues on the crime, like male victim, brown hair, blue eyes, contusion on the back of the head caused by a blow with a blunt object.

Magnetic tapes in racks would spin back and forth and after a while the printer would start to rattle and print five or so names of suspects. Three of them would already have been in jail or out of the country and a fourth one probably dead at the time of the murder. Only one was at large. Kojak would tear the paper out of the printer — he knew exactly what to do next.

Read On …

Guest Lecture at the Cologne Business School



Yesterday I had a Guest Lecture at the Cologne Business School on invite of Dr. Christian Lucas on “IT Innovation Management”. It was an exciting experience not to present to professionals but to students that have this topic in their curriculum and perhaps (psst :-) ) in their exam. It was also exciting because my daughter Maja, a medical student (*proud dad*) who is one of my biggest fans, could accompany und support me for the first time.

3D Printing – My first hands-on

Covestro Booth at the K-Fair

Last week in the Covestro Booth at the K-Fair I had the chance to watch a presentation of Autodesk.

It was about Additive Manufacturing (=3D Printing) and bringing Software, Hardware and Material  together.

Catalogs of materials with all its properties and specifications would be included in the design tool and help designers to choose the right material. Autodesk sees a $B market not only in fancy designs but especially in parts like sealings for cars (in the first step).

3D-Printers will be able to scale for industrial manufacturing at appropriate volumes and costs. With Additive Manufacturing no dies or tools as in traditional machines are needed upfront.

They mentioned a light-weight tool (Tinkercad from Autodesk) that can be used to create (not only) simple Objects in the Browser.

When done you can send the result directly to one of many 3D-printing providers with a few clicks. You can choose the material and order it. It will be printed within days or even hours.

You can also download the model and print it yourself!

Out of curiosity I created and ordered a small object of about 5x5x5cm that in the meantime was made of ABS for a few Euros. If have to admit: in this I am a member of the late majority.

My first 3D-Printed Object
My first 3D-Printed Object. It throws my initials (“B.E.O.”) as shadows when lit from different angles.

With tools like this it is easy to create 3D-Objects and Prints without any expert knowledge and any special equipment.

Why not print spare parts for your household appliances? Some simply shaped ones in my car and my kitchen appliances, I had to replace recently, come to my mind.

I remember once having to replace “almost” a complete car door, because a broken plastics part in the electrical window regulator was not separately available for order :-)

With a 3D capture app (like the coming  Windows Capture 3D) the last hurdle of having to create a model first will disappear.

Where will it lead us to when people start to print their own parts and exchange self-made models that are good enough for a certain purpose? Will the material get as expensive as ink cartridges for paper printers are now? Will there be charge on it like there is for rewritable storage media?

Will business models based on the short life-cycle of products or their parts disappear?

We will see. At least I have got a nice and solid Pencil Holder on my desk now.

My new Job

Thanks for the congrats and likes in the Social Media. For those who asked or wondered:

De facto starting in September I’ll be globally responsible for IT Innovation in my company.

There were also some more important announcements this week in the Internet about the fact that there will be a major reorganization of Bayer.

Perhaps have you seen the announcements (www.bayer.de/en/covestro.aspx): Bayer decided to concentrate on Life Sciences and to spin us (MaterialScience) off. Our new company is called Covestro.

And the „Co“ stands for… TaDa … Collaboration! Which of course has a more generic meaning but makes me very proud anyway.

In 2009 I started promoting Social Collaboration as a one-man-show.  Now, with our Social Strategy we have many ambassadors and a network of Change Agents that work decentralized with the users in their area.

The other measures of the strategy (Profile Days, Promoting Lighthouses, Communication, Reverse Mentoring, Increase Accessibility, Executive Ambassadors…) have led to the situation that Social gets more and more settled, adoption has reached a critical mass and is running and growing on its own.

Our social KPIs are steadily increasing from the beginning.

This was a good point in time for me to take over a new challenge, though I’ll never give up to support and promote Social and I will also utilize it for my new job and look at it from the IT Innovation perspective. Social Collaboration underlies maybe even more than other areas the need to continuously innovate and renew. The borders between internal and external will continue to weaken over time and a high demand for IT Innovation will occur.

At Bayer I already was MaterialScience’s chairman in the group-wide Innovation Committee.

Now we can build our own IT Innovation Organization, which amongst other topics will be tailored to the specific requirements of our business.

Regardless where you (will) work at Covestro, the times are very exciting now. There are many opportunities to reshape things, challenge the status quo and proceed in an agile way.

I’m looking forward and counting the days until September, 1!

The journey has begun.

The Last Thing We Need is an Enterprise Social Network

  1. we need to succeed by fulfilling our strategy to create greater value in a rapidly changing market; and to do that
  2. we need to be able to work in new & better ways that create a more effective, agile and responsive organisation; and to do that
  3. we need a new culture in management and more leadership from our people; and to do that
  4. we need new conversations that enable our people to discuss and act on creating better strategic value; and to do that
  5. we need more engagement and a better ability to leverage the potential of our people to contribute to and lead this change; and to do that
  6. we need an enterprise social network to support the first 5 steps.

Read on …