How do I learn recklessly

With self-criticism and tough therapies to corporate success

Jürgen Liminski: Mr. Kiefer, you begin your book with the following sentences: "Management is a craft, not an art. (...) A company leader does not have to do anything other than gather the necessary information, draw conclusions from it and implement it consistently - and that All without delay ". It sounds very simple, just like anyone can learn. Is there an entrepreneur in each of us and is it all about learning and mastering the craft properly?

Jaw: Certainly there is an entrepreneur in each of us, provided you are brave, you are hardworking, you have mastered the basic arithmetic operations and you are able to think consistently and then act. For many there is of course a personal hurdle, namely wishful thinking, the reflex to avoid uncomfortable realities and not concentrate fully on management.

Liminski: What are the main characteristics or the most important skills of an entrepreneur?

Jaw: First of all, an entrepreneur should be informed about his company and what he wants to sell. Everything actually plays a role - as banal as that sounds. It's about costs, it's about sales. The turnover is still known, but people tend to look the other way when it comes to costs and profits. You probably know that in an international comparison the profits of German companies are significantly lower. Central key figures for the health of the company - such as earnings - are sometimes completely ignored. But there are also soft factors, for example: How am I positioned in the market? Am I number one or number two What does my product look like? Is it old, is it outdated, does it still fit the circumstances? A manager needs to find out about this. He cannot cede this duty of information to anyone, and when he has this information, he must act, immediately and with all consistency.

Liminski: The way you describe it is actually a bit of a surprise, because the common man assumes that a manager is actually well informed about the profit figures, about the development of his company, etc. in order to be able to act?

Jaw: "You have to look a little deeper into the company, and we have very much divided the processes in the company in many, many places, that is, we have areas where key figures are very important. But they are not always transferred to the operational business means there is a big discrepancy in many companies between the financial accounting and the chief financial officer, who knows the operational key figures, and the day-to-day managers in the departments who have no idea about these figures in case of doubt.

Liminski: Mr. Kiefer, in your book you plead for more self-criticism. Is that also a
criticized various management consultancies, whose services usually come at a cost
the workforce and rarely at the expense of the manager?

Jaw: Not from my point of view. The management consultants do their job and the ones I met do their job well too. Your job is to support the analysis. They are not there to make decisions instead of the managers. Ultimately, they can only help gather the right information and then prepare decision options for the manager. A manager who then implements the information or decision-making processes presented without criticism is certainly out of place.

Liminski: For clarification. Your book is called "Healthy Recklessness". The appeal contained in this title formulation is aimed at entrepreneurs and managing directors to be ruthless with themselves. Or is it also an appeal to elbow acrobatics in a more competitive market? What may and what should the entrepreneur ask of himself and his employees?

Jaw: First of all, it is an appeal to the manager himself. He must make an appropriate judgment with a distance to himself. However, this is only possible if he soberly examines the parameters of his company and - if necessary - then actually rigorously and ruthlessly draws conclusions. This is exactly the opposite of an appeal to management with the elbow. It is an appeal to create healthy companies so that we can have more added value and so that this added value can be redistributed.

Liminski: What does ruthless mean in this sense?

Jaw: In this sense, ruthless also means consistency; Consequence first of all against yourself and in the decision to be courageous in the implementation,
and at this point stop to clear obstacles out of the way. This is what managers are paid for.

Liminski: For some time now, Mr Kiefer, the economy has discovered a resource on which it has lived - perhaps without knowing it - but which is now becoming scarcer, namely the famous human capital or something more extensive: human assets. The American Nobel Prize laureate and liberal economist Gary Becker, who introduced the concept of human capital to economics and received his prize for it, says that the family cannot be replaced in the formation of human wealth. In an interview, he named perseverance as the most important ability for business - one could also say: virtue - which belongs to this human ability that is built up in the family. Mr. Kiefer, where is the place for the family in your thinking?

Jaw: The family is certainly the existential basis for a functioning society and thus also for a functioning economy in society. In concrete terms, this means: This self-confidence is developed in an intact social context, which enables responsibility, distance to oneself and energy. But family also has to - let me put it this way - create something like the basis for the education that we need in our society and then also in our companies, because: In Germany, ultimately, the only resource that remains that gives us a top position in the long term Economy can secure, education left over, and here the basis is laid with one hundred percent security in the family.

Liminski: Doesn't the economy have to be ruthlessly family-friendly?

Jaw: It should start with being ruthlessly family-friendly because: If we look at developments, we will - although we certainly have a surplus of labor today - in ten or fifteen years we will have a labor shortage. And even today, the potential that lies dormant in really, very well-educated women has not yet flowed into the economy at all, which means that the economy has to think about how it can create new opportunities here and better integrate the family Integrated economic life.

Liminski: Employee dialogue is one of the ten commandments that you specify on page 79, so to speak, as 'instructions for an entrepreneurial examination of conscience'. Is there a ranking of the bids? What is the highest or most important commandment for a manager?

Jaw: Well, I guess you can't really speak of a hierarchy. Surely everyone who reads it will develop some preferences. My preferred command is certainly: Success means the result of my actions. For everyone who works as a manager or builds a company himself, this certainly means that he can secure his own success by acting consistently, and I think that if you put this maxim above perhaps the other maxims, you are at least heading in the right direction .

Liminski: I often hear the word inconsiderate, consistent in your statements. The result: If a manager now realizes that he has simply failed to provide information, that he did not find out early enough, it would be inconsiderate enough for him to step down himself, give the field to someone else or - how do you see that?

Jaw: Well, I think a manager is not always going to make one hundred percent correct decisions. First of all, it is important that he makes a decision at all if he has enough information. He will never be able to bring together one hundred percent of all information. It is probably enough if he has eighty percent of the information. If he then decides, he will be right in many cases. If he's wrong, he should at least have one more chance to correct it.


That was Andreas Kiefer, the author of the book: "Healthy ruthlessness.
With self-criticism and tough therapies to corporate success. The opus was published by Metropolitan-Verlag in Berlin, it has 192 pages and costs 24 euros 95.