Meet the Maker – Roland Woldt
The Meet the Maker Interview series is a fun and relaxed behind-the-scenes insight into people and what they do. Showcasing their talents as well as seeing what makes them tick. From ‘What’s your party trick?” to “You’ve got a week off, where are you going?” we want to know where they are and how they got there. Check out our interviews with architects, process people, agile folks, and more.
Who are you? Tell our readers a little bit about what you do.
Hey, I am Roland Woldt, and I am a veteran in the Business Process Management/Enterprise Architecture industry. I have worked as a consultant and leader in large consulting/Big 4 organizations, as well as for the leading vendor in this market for 25 years. At that time, I have built professional teams and defined/sold/delivered services to many of the Fortune 500.
In 2021, I finally realized an idea that I had since 2007, and restarted this site and blog – What’s Your Baseline. In addition, I started a podcast together with my friend and colleague, J-M Erlendson. Our mission is to demystify the architecture discipline with both the What’s Your Baseline Podcast and the articles on this site.
Even though they are decades old, both BPA and EA have not had their big breakthrough and matured to a point where academic or trade training programs offer a focus on core concepts and frameworks . I saw that need and decided to get started in sharing my knowledge freely.
We just ended season 1 of the podcast (as of December 2021), and are lining up new guests and topics for our next seasons! In addition to that we have already started recording the first episodes of season 2, and it’s already full of exciting insights and great learnings. For example, we will talk about AI and Process Mining, which are two hot topics in our industry right now and for the foreseeable future.
Privately, I live in Northern Virginia (after 40 years in Germany) and think about relocating, now that we are “empty nesters”. We haven’t decided where to go yet, but I am good as long as I can have mountains 🙂 Otherwise I like two things – coffee and motorcycles … as all of my friends can tell you that these two things are *very* important to me.
1.What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a boy in the 1970s, I always found to be an astronaut a desirable job, without knowing that you can’t have glasses and should have a good stomach when getting thrown around in centrifuges (even though I passed that test being a tank platoon leader for a few years. It seems that you just have to have a good enough stomach 🙂 )
2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
I have been doing Enterprise Architecture and BPM for more than 25 years (starting with Andersen Consulting/Accenture in the 90s), and have lead consulting practices at Software AG and KPMG. Currently, I work at Software AG as a “Transformation Architect”, which is a mixed role of presales, client consulting (like in “giving advice” not “do the work for you”), and evangelism. This also brought me to reviving this blog and starting the podcast with J-M that you hopefully enjoy.
Before starting in the EA/BPM space, I spent 11 years with the German Armed Forces as a tank officer, which was a completely different environment than what I enjoy today.
3. In 3 words, describe your occupation or what do you enjoy most about your job?
(Intelligent) conversations, (spread) knowledge, help (clients)
4. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That is a tough one, but maybe it was my uncle who said very matter-of-factly to me “that I will have to work anywhere” when I was contemplating to stay in the Armed Forces for 12 years three months after was drafted. When you are 19 years old, twelve years is a very long time and committing to it is quite a hard decision.
In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions that I could take at that time – when you become an officer, you will be put in situations that your peers in college or in apprenticeships just don’t make. You get (physically) challenged and trained to be a leader. And the first time you have to prove this and being fully responsible is when you are 21 or 22 and get your first platoon leader assignment (of a tank platoon in my case). You grow up very quickly and learn to make decisions without full information and CYA attitudes – and stand behind your decision. One principle that we were taught was that “a wrong decision is always better than no decision”.
5. What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly?
I am a big fan of graphic design and can spend hours looking through typography books and type foundry websites. I love the creativity in how they present their fonts. The fact that type is “how the words sound”/which feelings they create is important to me … ask how long it took me to fiddle with the WordPress template to make things look right, and also how many email systems I checked out before I found one that allowed me to format newsletters “just right” 🙂
Some of my friends make fun of me when they mentioned that I had a “Roland comment” in my reviews, when I found inconsistencies in fonts and colors in the deliverables.
The other means of inspiration is to ride my motorcycle. It sounds counter-intuitive, because riding is such an “in the moment” activity where you have to pay attention on the other traffic participants (who don’t see you), deer and other animals, the road conditions, etc. But this focus creates a calm space where you then can let go of all the daily grind and decompress. Then you notice that you start thinking about the important things in life (and also the not so important ones, like where to get the next coffee 😉 ), see things through, and make plans
6. Where do you see yourself (and your brand if applicable) in 10 years time?
There are two aspects that I would like to focus more in the future. One is sharing my knowledge of the discipline and industry, may it be by publishing more here or in books or other media, and speaking. The other is to travel the planet overland – one of my bucket list items is to drive the Pan-American Highway down to Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), and I am preparing my Jeep for that while taking trips here in North America to “practice”.
Luckily, writing and recording the podcast are all location-independent activities, and you cannot escape the internet for a long time anywhere in the world.
7. What was the last rule you broke?
You mean like getting a ticket? That is years ago – and for those of you who are really interested: it was for an expired state inspection sticker.
But the more important one was with one of my previous employers. They had a very hierarchical class structure set up, and once you made it to partner the expectation was that you were infallible and everyone needs to show you obedience and do things without questioning if it even made sense. That obviously is not a good environment and I refused to “play the game”. As you can imagine, that did not resonate with a lot of the folks, so at some time it became clear that I did not have the correct “stable smell” as they say in Germany and it was time to move on for both of us.
But just to be clear, I also have met extraordinary, genuine, and humble people in that organization (even on the highest ranks), but unfortunately there are not enough of them to change the culture.
8. Tell us about a project that excites you but you never finished.
It took me 14 years to actually start this site in seriousness. It took three attempts, two different domains and giving myself permission to focus on it. And you learn a lot about things that you’ve never thought about once you start – audio recording, podcast production, marketing, etc. This is one of the most exciting projects I worked on – maybe also because there is only one client to serve: myself.
9. What’s one thing other people may not know about you (for example any hidden talents)?
I was captain of an American Football team in the second national league when I was studying in Munich. That sport, even though it got a bad reputation over the last years, taught me more about working as a team than any other job that I ever had – including the military, where I did a lot of demanding and “interesting” things, like jumping out of completely intact planes (I broke my ankle) or Ranger training (a lot of fresh air, lack of sleep, and not a lot to eat)…
10. You’ve got a week off, where are you going?
I love the Pacific Northwest (I worked on two projects in Seattle for 1.5 years), but it is so far away to drive there from Washington, DC. But in general give me mountains and I am a happy person.
I have a pretty wide musical taste, ranging from Rockabilly, R’n’B, to “jazzy” stuff, but also hard rock. There is a good chance that I like it if it does not include computers or synthesizers and shows that it is hand-made.
Where to find Roland?
- Website: https://whatsyourbaseline.com
- Job Title: Founder and podcast host
- Location: Northern Virginia, USA
- LinkedIn and other profiles https://www.linkedin.com/in/rolandwoldt/ and https://www.woldt.de
(h/t to Hunting for George for the nice idea for this series)
J-M Erlendson is a Business Process Architect, Methodology Specialist, Conference Speaker, and Transformation Engineering Lead with over 15 years of experience in Business Process Management (BPM), Enterprise Architecture, Supply Chain Management and Project Management, helping clients develop and implement business process frameworks, hone process-centric strategies, and execute process improvement and architecture modernization projects.
He is a leader in business, founding and running multiple highly-successful independent arts companies and charities. He is a process and EA tools expert and high-level trainer with years of experience in documentation, simulation, analysis, improvement and as a vehicle for change management.
J-M combines this technical skill with strong leadership and relationship management skills, having run multiple BPM and EA-focused projects with cross-functional supporting teams. He also has a strong track record in business development, creating new relationships both internally and externally to drive BPM adoption and sales opportunities. He has consulted for a variety of clients in Canada and the United States, particularly in public sector, retail, utilities, manufacturing, lottery and gaming, telecom and oil and gas.