Innovation, tradition and passion - this is the motto of the annual convention of Germany's family business entrepreneurs. Within the context of this year's "Family business entrepreneurs' days 2012" (Tage der Familienunternehmer 2012) representatives of the political and business arenas convened in the conference rooms at the Berlin Intercontinental for a renewed social discourse.
Lutz Goebel, the head of the association had invited a number of prominent speakers: Addressing around 300 representatives of German family businesses such as Bertelsmann, Kühne and Oetker, the chairman of the SPD Bundestag Fraction Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the General Secretary of the CDU Hermann Gröhe, bestseller author Dr. Reinhard K. Sprenger and Dieter Reichert, CCO censhare AG, Lutz Goebel spoke about the challenges of our times that forward looking companies will have to face.
The image brochure of the association strikes a self-confident tone: "From Berlin we convey our ideas to the federal state associations and the regions. Active on a voluntary basis, entrepreneurs in 16 federal state areas and 46 regional districts ensure that not a single politician will overhear our voice. A common voice, the only one for family business entrepreneurs in Germany."
With the same measure of self-assuredness the association reflects on the societal significance of Germany's family owned and managed businesses as a stabilizing backbone of Germany's social market economy: "When family businesses enter into risks, they assume liability with their own assets and property. This principle of direct liability shields against greed and recklessness. Family business entrepreneurs are rooted in their regions. This results in more responsible dealings with employees as well as engagement in many areas of society. The top priority is to hand the company down to the next generation when the time comes - and therefore, long-term perspectives and sustainability are more important concerns than achieving maximum profit. We adhere to the family business entrepreneurial principles. Risk and liability form a unit and shield against arrogance and over-indebtedness."
The fact that the explicitly enshrined values of sustainability and societal responsibility will not be possible without forward-looking visions and accompanying innovations finds full consensus with the association, and this prompted the decision to bring an IT sector pacemaker on board this year - as reflected by the invitation extended to Dieter Reichert.
The CCO of censhare AG Munich was well aware of the fact that his audience this time would not consist of 'digital natives' and cautiously raised the question at the beginning of his presentation (topic: "At home in the Google galaxy - or light years away?") as to how many members of the audience were Google users - a question that elicited general laughter. His next question was as to how many people in the audience knew that a search request conducted in Germany would return a different result than in the USA. As this was also widely affirmed, a bemused Dieter Reichert remarked that he "would have to make some extensive changes to his presentation." One way or the other, his bold theses in which the software expert outlined a fascinating future in the area of communication and technology characterized by open, democratic networks and new collaboration opportunities, as well as statements such as "software will gain consciousness - human beings will lose consciousness" prompted extensive discussions among the participants. Following his presentation, Dieter Reichert was a much sought after dialog partner who was pleased to share his views and opinions with all participants.
Picture credits: DIE FAMILIENUNTERNEHMER – ASU/Anne Kreuz