SUCCESS – the “E” stands for “Enable

I am very pleased to welcome Gregor Große-Bölting as the co-author of this blog and as a developer at graphomate. In this article he writes about his insights at the “SUCCESS”  customer days by Rolf Hichert in Frankfurt this week … Thank you, Gregor!

Members of different companies, from Deutsche Telekom to SAP, came together at th Maritim Hotel in Frankfurt on June 17th, taking the opportunity to share their experience with the introduction of the HICHERT®SUCCESS-method.  Rolf Hichert, originator of the method, announced that a Swiss private law association had been founded in order to promote the International Business Communication Standards (IBCS). IBCS shall, in the medium to long term, replace the SUCCESS-method; in accordance with this I will consistently talk about IBCS in the following article.

All speakers reported about the process connected with the implementation of a new standard for visual communication – whereby the experiences and the resulting lessons overlapped in many points.
Not only managers but also the power users – those who delve thoroughly into the matter – have to be taken along and involved; no one should be overwhelmed by the changes. Thus, a high level of acceptance is ensured. This also means that IBCS should not be introduced top down, although the support of the top management is mandatory.

Good ideas prevail.

At first, a group of core users shall work with the method. These core users are characterized by their in-depth knowledge of the matter and the background and they are, at best, involved in developing an internal standard (a variation and extension of IBCS made for needs of the company). One is confident that the other departments will adapt the new method, following the slogan “good ideas prevail.”

(On a side-note: Good should be understood in both senses here, because (1) the charts and tables made according to IBCS are easy to understand and of high quality and (2) they do have, as it were, an inherent moral decency – based on the transparency and honesty in the visual communication of the standard IBCS.)
One should not try to force a 100% implementation in the first roll-out. Instead, it is more important to listen to feedback from within the company and to provide a current status of the concept and the possibilities for technical realization – thus giving a base for further development of the concept.

Thus, all the talks revolved around the “E” from SUCCESS, showing that ENABLE is a very important aspect – although it has a rather odd position in the concept. Rolf Hichert states in the accompanying training material:

“ENABLE calls for an appropriate organizational, human and technical implementation of the SUCCESS concept.” On closer examination, ENABLE has to be discussed outside SUCCESS – but then the letter “E” would be without meaning …

Colonel Kaatz and SAP

One of the most impressing talks was given by Colonel Kaatz, who reported in a very vivid and rhetorical brilliant way about the implementation of IBCS at the Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany), abbreviated BMVg. The implementation project’s working title is BASIS – with one „S“ meaning “avoid Schnickschnack“, the German expression for “no-frills”.
What made the presentation so good?
On the one hand, Colonel Kaatz presented concrete solutions for real problems: how does one internally do a lot of persuading for the new concept? You have to emotionalize the topic, you must support it and you have to show enthusiasm; no-one really supports traffic lights or pie charts – allowing you to win the emotional aspect very easily. How do you convince executives? Do not demonize existing changes, but, in a gentle way, show options for improvement – in a way similar to maieutics, giving executives the feeling that it was their idea from the beginning.
How do you get the target group to actually read the company report? –You have to build up a level of suspense which brings you through 180 pages of dull reporting – like a good novel. And how do you make the controller happy? – You need to give him a service which makes his work easier and improves the result of their work.
And on the other hand the talk was so good because it was – one has to say it this way- captivating and rhetorical brilliant.
It was also good to hear Colonel Kaatz explicitly mentioning our development for SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio.

Abb. 1: SAP on stage

Another highlight was presentation by the SAP. SAP is a global corporation and therefore they expend great effort in their internal reporting system. SAP also is an IT-Group which led to the obvious result of putting a software implementation of the IBCS at the disposal of the responsible employees.
In addition to an Excel wizard, which allows the building of charts on a standard basis, SAP also created another powerful wizard (on the basis of Crystal Reports) for the generation of reports: the person who is responsible has to collect the configuration data: type of report, data sources and so on. The settings will be saved as modifiable defaults, so that they are available for the next reporting period. The system automatically generates every necessary table and chart; these have to be completed with comments afterwards. After all data, charts and comments are available, the system itself compiles all pages into one pdf-file. The resulting time savings is enormous.
Even SAP favors our graphomate addon for the implementation of HICHERT®SUCCESS with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio: They asked us tongue-in-cheek to please put our skates on and finish our HTML5 development for Design Studio.;-)

The role of IT

One final point was thrilling and of direct concern for me as a developer: the discussion about which role the IT should have in the development of an internal standard and in the implementation of IBCS within a company.

The unanimous option was that the IT should be kept out of the decision-making process as long as possible. The reason for this is apparent: On the one hand, developers tend to get lost in details and on the other you will have a discussion about feasibility as soon as a developer is around. But feasibility should not be a topic – one should rather have a closed concept first. This concept can then be implemented and, if necessary, be adjusted in some points to guarantee feasibility.


It was impressive to see how much effort is put and has to be put into the conversion one kind of visualizing charts into another kind of visualizing charts.

Nearly all speakers reported about the discussion they had concerning colors. Thus, the development of a company-wide standard is only one side of the coin, implementing this standard the other one.
It was my first event in the Hichert –universe. This meant, first of all: listen and learn. And to see what makes the users tick for whom I am programming. The lesson I learned from the event: details which cause headaches for the developer a mere marginalia for the user (which does not mean that these details are not important). The user of the software first of all needs a reliable tool which he can use intuitively and which can be configured according to the company’s needs.

You will hear more from me soon, Gregor

About the author: Gregor Große-Bölting works as a developer for graphomate GmbH since May. At the moment he is responsible for the design of our User Interface for Design Studio. He is also studying for a Master of Arts in philosophy and computer sciences at the Christian – Albrechts – University in Kiel .


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