Who’s behind the CACTUS?
We are Ines and Christian Sachs and are the founders of Cactus Competence. While Christian is a project management enthusiast and entrepreneur, Ines takes care things flow smoothly, from the website till the marketing of our brand. She is also the one who will stress-test the approaches to project management that Christian develops and send him back to the drawing board in case it is not fun, easy or efficient enough.
We are both convinced minimalists. We live in a small 36 sqm apartment in a seaside resort at the Mediterranean Sea in France near Perpignan. We managed to put all the functions from dining to sleeping and an office space into our small apartment and it worked out astonishingly well. If you want to have a look at our apartment, here is the link to our Youtube channel.
Minimalism in our definition does mean taking away all the clutter, stuff and effort that you do not need, until the beauty of the pure perfection and pleasure remains. As Antoine de Saint Exupéry puts it in his book “Terre des Hommes”:
“Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.”
(Translation for the non-french speakers: ”It seems that perfection is not achieved when there is nothing more to be added, but when there is nothing more to be left out.”)
For us, minimalism is not asceticism, because we look for the optimum between effort and success / pleasure, which by the way is different for everybody.
At Cactus Competence we help small and medium-sized businesses to minimalize their project management and controlling, so they can gain clarity, reduce the effort to manage their projects and increase their success.
Minimalizing your project management and controlling will help you reduce the effort, gain clarity and make better decisions. Reducing the effort and increase the success, what more can one ask for?
- Why do so many companies struggle with project management?
- Why project management is often seen as being a lot of work?
- Why is it that such a huge number of projects fail, and nobody did see it when it was time to react?
It’s because too much effort is put into making work project management methods too complex. It’s because relevant information is hidden in a heap of data very few people understand and even fewer people can make head of.
The default solution is to add more data, to control the project manager and his team extensively in a desperate hope to finally see clearly. This doesn’t work!
Project management and controlling are deemed to make you reach your goals in your business. They are a tool and not an aim of their own right. And as such they must be as minimalistic as possible to provide clarity, allow you a view into the future and help you to make good decisions.
The cherry on the cake is that minimalistic project management is much more fun and will be more motivating for your teams. Why? Because everything they do serves a purpose, no effort is wasted, and the project manager and the team feel the amount of control they have over the well-being of the project. Only when project management helps you to move the needle, is fun and not cumbersome you will actually use the tools and reap the benefits. And that is what counts.
We like having fun with what we are doing, in fact this does not even feel like work. Still, we take our concern very seriously and offer well-tried and experienced practical know-how combined with well-grounded theoretical background. Always focusing on their road capability.
We have stress-tested in practice every single tip and tool we present here. We are still working as project managers in the field. This distinguishes us from many other project management consultants and trainers.
The CACTUS Team
– the Expert –
Project management expert with more than 25 years of experience in Germany, France, Asia, South- and Central America and Arabia.
And still working as project manager ad interim in the field.
- Author of our Blog
- Speaks German, English and French
- Certified Project Management Professional (PMP©)
- Experienced speaker and trainer
- Qualified psychological adviser
- C.Eng. M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering
– the strong woman behind him –
Web marketing and communications expert with more than 18 years of experience in Germany and France.
And still managing projects in this area.
- Web marketing and communications expert and project manager
- Guest author of our Blog
- Speaks German, English and French
- Marketing Diploma
You need a hand from her? Learn more!
Here’s what Christian Sachs says about himself:
How I became what I am
I have always been the lazy guy and I’ve always been looking for simplicity and clarity. Complexity drives me nuts. On top of that it’s much more fun working in and on a project if you know what you are doing and that nothing you do is wasted. That’s what we do at Cactus Competence, help small and medium-sized businesses to minimalize their project management, so they can gain clarity, reduce the effort to manage their projects and increase their success.
But who is that Christian Sachs and how I came to the point to help others finding the pleasure in successful project management (again)?
1967 – 1992: Thank you Mr. Teacher
We are moving, constantly. Karlsruhe, Böblingen, Munich, Stuttgart and Paris are the stops, some repeatedly. So, I learn to adjust to ever-changing conditions and to cut out dead wood. Furthermore, I understand that I can learn everything I want, even when the teachers say I never would. For example, the French language (thank you for that Mr. Wenzel, it’s been a long time and you are forgiven).
Despite this constant moving, I manage to pass my high school diploma within the stipulated time and to finish my mechanical engineering studies with reasonable marks within 9 semesters in the fastest 1%. So already back then, I was all about efficiency.
1992 – 1999: Variety and continuity
The first working years and even more moving. The names of the places are getting more illustrious. Eu in France (is THE town with 2 characters in French crosswords), Gochsheim and Aschaffenburg in Germany, Colmar back in France and Leonberg in Germany again.
I’m gaining experience in the cycle, mechanical engineering and automotive industry.
I’m realizing that I need variety in the job as well and move on as soon as I start feeling bored.
1995, I get married.
For the first time, I start my own business and go bust as fast as I decided to take the plunge. To mentally and financially recover from that “bloody nose” took me no more than 14 years.
At least, the marriage with my wife and today’s business partner Ines is still holding on. Seams that I need one constant in life after all.
1999 – 2004: Valeo shapes
The longest time with one employer, but 5 jobs within 5 years.
The automotive supplier Valeo shapes me most in professional regards. I get to know all project functions, I assume my first project leads. Moreover, I learn to manage teams, to delegate and how to kick off quickly and deliver good results with a minimum training period. I have a nice time and Valeo entirely fulfills my desire for new tasks and challenges.
Yet I realize that a certain work life balance is important to me and that this kind of permanent standby duty is a real pain in my neck. Continually on a plane to fly from A to B, from C to D is not for me. After 5 years I have enough and change – this time not only – the job but the employer too.
2004 – 2009: Promotion and re-start
I’m becoming more and more a kind of generalist. I’m gaining experience outside Europe. China, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, an exciting time.
But again, I’m more far away than at home what wasn’t initially planned but just so happened.
Therefore and because I’m offered a position as director in Stuttgart, after 2 years I change over to the software industry.
I’m bringing in new ideas, the company is growing and getting more professional. The customers are enthused about the improved service. But I’m facing hurdles, the parent company CEO puts me in my place. He doesn’t want to implement some of my suggestions, customer demands or not.
Finally come the crisis, the definitive break and the anew plunge into independence.
2009 – … Project manager, being entrepreneur temporarily
I decide to fully concentrate on project management and start my own business as an interim manager. This allows me to be at the same time entrepreneur and project manager – which in fact is being an entrepreneur for the time of the project.
We launch cactus-competence.com and Ines takes over responsibility of the marketing and website programming (at the time still coded in HTML), besides her activities as trainer.
I’m managing projects in the automotive industry, the service sector and the Internet sector.
I refine my capability to kick off quickly. Since it’s not possible to know everything by myself, I take advantage of my faculty to successfully delegate tasks. The teams appreciate that I give them the freedom to accomplish their tasks on their own responsibility and in the same time cover their backs if things go wrong.
I get my certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP®), but at the same time, I see how the overkill of project management methods and administration deteriorate not only project performance but also the so important fun factor for the project managers and their teams. I also start recognizing that if the methods were simplified also small companies and entrepreneurs could profit from them.
We re-orient Cactus Competence to become a consulting and coaching business and we decide that we will strive to help companies and entrepreneurs minimalize their project management and controlling systems so that they reach their goals.