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Hermes Dinner

2018 // Dieter Frey: Everything in flux? Leadership in agile organizations

November 22, World of Lights OSRAM, Munich

2017 // Markus Hengstschläger: Peaks and Freaks

16. November, Berlin, Mercedes-Welt Salzufer

On November 16, the Academic Society's Hermes Dinner took place. We were kindly invited by Daimler AG to the Mercedes World in Berlin at the Salzufer. 

The keynote was delivered by the human geneticist Prof. Dr. Markus Hengstschläger from the Medical University of Vienna. He has been working on the topic of talent promotion for several years and has published the bestseller "Die Durchschnittsfalle". He criticized that mediocrity does not create innovations. That is why corporations should work on an innovative talent management with risk tolerance and a lived error culture.


2016 // Klaus Hurrelmann: Generation X, Y, Future

November 24, Berlin, DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum

What does the young generation expect from working life? What ideas do they have in mind? And what consequences does this have for companies looking for Young talents? These questions had been addressed at the Hermes Dinner 2016 taking place November 24 in the new DRIVE Forum of Volkswagen in Berlin. Close to 50 participants from business and science took part.

The keynote was held by Prof. Dr. Klaus Hurrelmann, Hertie School of Governance. He is supposed to be the most renowned educational and youth researchers in Germany. For many years he has been heading the Shell Youth Studies and has carried out numerous research projects on children and adolescents. In his presentation "Generation X, Y, Future - How the young Generations will change society and economy" he analyzed the expectations of tomorrow's workforce and provided insights into what companies should keep in mind when hiring new employees.

For all corporate partners of the Academic Society the workshop "The Art of Strategic Alignments" and the Academic Society's annual meeting took place in advance.


2015 // Ludger Heidbrink: The Limitations of Responsibility

November 26, Berlin, Deutsche Bahn Tower

The 21st floor of the Deutsche Bahn Tower on Potsdamer Platz offered the 40 guests at the Hermes Dinner 2015 spectacular views over Berlin. The event was held by Oliver Schumacher, Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing at Deutsche Bahn and focused on the topic of "Responsibility and its limitations". The evening’s keynote speaker was Ludger Heidbrink, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Kiel and a member of the Values Commission. He gave an inspiring presentation in which he made the case for companies to be more irresponsible

Prior to the Hermes Dinner, the annual meeting of our corporate partners took place. The heads of research for modules I and II of the research programme Value Creating Communication gave an update on the current status quo and discussed next steps.


2014 // Byung-Chul Han: Transparenz – Zwischen Vertrauen und Überwachung

27. November, Berlin, Siemens-Forum

In 2014 the Academic Society held its fifth Hermes Dinner at the historic and beautifully lit Mosaic Hall of Siemens in Berlin. The evening’s guest speaker was acclaimed Professor Dr. Byung-Chul Han, philosopher, author and professor of cultural studies at the University of Arts in Berlin. The topic of the evening was "Transparency - Between Trust and Control". For several years Han has been criticizing the exploitation of privacy by the increasing constraints of social media exposure and transparency – a force that almost no one can escape. Voluntarily and under the impression of being free, we are posting and tweeting personal details, pictures and preferences, making us transparent and controllable. Even if we try and ignore the dangers, this development could potentially lead to commercial exploitation and political control which has been only previously seen in totalitarian regimes. With his critical comments, Professor Han provided the guests with food for thought and stimulated a lively discussion.


2013 // Gerd Gigerenzer: Bauchentscheidungen und Risiko - Die Bedeutung der Intuition im Management

28. November, Berlin, Repräsentanz der Robert Bosch GmbH

Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Harding Center for Risk Competence, was the guest speaker of the Hermes Dinner 2013, which took place in the representative office of Robert Bosch GmbH in Berlin. The theme of the evening was "Gut Decisions and Risk: The Importance of Intuition in Management".

According to Gigerenzer, good intuition is important as not all risks can be calculated, even if mathematical and economic models want to tell us otherwise. Intuition is based on experience and can also be understood as ‘felt knowledge’. Understanding how to deal with intuition correctly, could help us make better decisions even in the face of risk. Allowing for a new kind of error management culture and anchoring it in entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with this idea.

Decisions that are made based on intuition are all too often modified later as corporate culture usually rejects that idea that intuition can be used to justify a decision. In his experience, family businesses are more progressive when it comes to intuition-based decision making. In addition, it has been noted that women are more likely to make decisions based on their intuition than men. However, there is no evidence that women are the better intuitive decisions makers. Decision making based on intuition is primarily accepted in sports and the arts. Nobody would ask a footballer to calculate the ball’s trajectory before he aims at the goal.

Intuition is based on the principle of focusing on what is essential. More information, more time or more calculations are not always better. An obstacle for communicators is the fact that they often cannot base their decisions on immediate experiences. We are not born with intuition, but rather it is something that has to be learnt and developed. With the right professional experience and knowledge, going with your gut feeling is something to be encouraged, not suppressed. This is the only way that companies can stop themselves from taking defensive decisions, i.e. the type of decisions where only the second or third best solutions are found and which are born out of the fear of making mistakes.

Corporate communication can significantly help to establish this kind of corporate culture that allows for intuition based decision making. In addition, if the majority of decisions are made in the face of risk and incomplete information, communications directors should feel enabled to rely more on their experience and social skills.


2012 // Klaus Burmeister and Nikolai Juchem: The Change of Value Creation in Germany

29th November, Berlin, Representative Office of GIZ

Guest speakers at the Hermes Dinner 2012 included Klaus Burmeister, futurologist and Managing Partner of Zpunkt - The Foresight Company, and Nikolai Juchem, founding board member of the initiative Future through industry e. V. They discussed the expected changes in value creation in Germany over the coming years.

Burmeister outlined five paradigm shifts:

  1. Cross-sector cooperation
  2. Holistic and sustainable innovations
  3. New interest alliances with a focus on stakeholder value
  4. System innovations
  5. Complexity management

According to Burmeister, many of these changes have an impact on corporate communications. Cooperation and communication are an indispensable guarantees of success and play a vital role in ensuring Germany’s value creation potential. Alongside corporations, science and innovation policy also play a supporting role. According to Burmeister, the dialogue with all stakeholders is superficial.

Juchem discussed the question of how communicators can deal with increasing complexity. A communication clearly defined by stakeholders is no longer effective because the networking between different actors has increased. In addition, stakeholder groups have become heterogeneous and overlap. In his daily work he has experienced complex process communication to be no longer controllable. If this is the case, result openness, participation and dialogue can prevent an escalation, provided the commitment of senior management is in put in place. According to Juchem, companies will have to deal more with communication than management.


2011 // Prof. Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem: Unternehmens- und Staatskommunikation

10. November, Berlin, Konzernbüro der BMW Group

Guest speaker of the 2011 Hermes Dinner was the long-standing judge of the German Federal Court, Professor Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem. He delivered his keynote speech in front of 40 guests invited to the corporate office of the BMW Group in Berlin.

Corporate communications as well as journalism are constitutionally protected and indispensable to the establishment of transparency in business and to gaining trust, according to Hoffmann-Riem. The professor of public law referred to the current financial and sovereign debt crisis – which for him is, above all, a communication crisis and a crisis of trust. In this situation, regaining trust will provide the political and economic backbone of our society and is a responsibility for companies and the government alike.

In his keynote speech Hoffmann-Riem outlined fundamental changes in the relationship between government and society. The government places more and more trust in society to regulate itself. However, this also brings problems with it as various judgments of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany have shown. These cases were concerned with information requirements of government and business, the advertising industry and the Internet.

The Internet presents a challenge for both corporate and state communication, since communication is taking place across countries and among all stakeholders and cannot be outlined adequately by national and international jurisdiction. Once again this illustrates the need for the various stakeholders to work together to ensure transparency and thus build trust among the public as well as protect public interest.

According to Hoffman-Riem, “Corporate communication contributes significantly to a sufficient equilibrium of information on the market”. The communication of the state has to reconcile interests where selfishness prevails in the market.

Hoffmann-Riem is Professor of Public Law and Administration. He was a judge of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe from 1999 to 2008. In this role he also acted as rapporteur on all aspects of the freedom to communicate, economic freedom, protection of privacy and freedom of assembly.


2010 // Peter Sloterdijk: Strategische Freundschaften - Überlegungen zur Ethik von Unternehmen

18. November, Berlin, Emil-Rathenau-Haus der Vattenfall Europe AG

Guest speaker at the first Hermes Dinner and kickoff meeting of the Academic Society for Corporate Management & Communication in November 2010 was the philosopher Professor Dr. Peter Sloterdijk. The event was held at the Vattenfall’s Emil-Rathenau-Haus in Berlin.

In his presentation, Sloterdijk highlighted the contradiction between the constant search for issues by the media and the logic of the economy. From the philosopher`s point of view, reputation is in the sense of ancient Greek an expression of acceptance by others, (thymos) which according to Plato is one of the three basic motivations for action. Reputation is thus a credit in the sense of Platon's thymos that needs to be acquired and maintained. The fading out of these so-called reputation treasures creates the blind spot of modern economics. In a world of strategic competition, companies need to defent their reputation systematically. For Sloterdijk, esteem and honour are the classical core according to the acceptance by others. Nevertheless, in modern society the concept of honour is replaced by the credibility of people and businesses. To achieve moral consistency two things are needed: on the one hand, companies have to express what they stand for. On the other hand, they need to fulfil their promises because corporate communications are measured by these facts.