Honorary Member 2023: Dr. Walter Schmidt

Dr. Walter Schmidt was posthumously made an ICV Honorary Member. He passed away in July 2023. In the obituary for Walter Schmidt his long-time professional companion and friend, Dr. Herwig Friedag, summarized for the ICV his achievements - personal and professional.

"He wanted to live 100 years, but it didn't quite work out: At the age of 73, Dr. Walter Schmidt died on July 16, 2023.

I met Walter at the beginning of 1991 in the ICV Work Group Berlin-GDR that still existed at the time.

After this Work Group became the WG Berlin-Brandenburg, Walter Schmidt became very involved in Controllers‘ Association’s life:

He was active in many working groups of the WG Berlin-Brandenburg and the first of our many subsequent disputes arose: “What is more important in the perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard – the financial or the employee perspective?” No agreement. But after 14 days we met again: we both accepted the other's position. It turned out that you can argue well with Walter and work well together!

  • He followed me as a Head of the Work Group and was then on the ICV Board from 2004 to 2015. We tried to promote internationalization there and initiate a strategy discussion: Where does the ICV want to go, what are its goals and what needs are to be done to implement them? Basis: the “BSC House”, which is now used in many places.
  • Walter was a founding member of the ICV Think Tank together with Prof. Péter Horváth, and he was also a Coordinator of Expert Work Groups; he started a whole series of new Expert Work Groups (from IFRS to Communication Controlling). Most recently, he supported the ICV Board in a position created for the first time, as an Executive Advisor.
  • He appeared at many conferences and meetings and tried to get the audience excited about controlling topics.

Once after a lecture, Walter was approached by a professor: “There is someone who addresses exactly the same points as you, a certain Mr. Friedag-Schmidt – do you know him, Prof. Schmidt?” We laughed heartily!

  • At the turn of the millennium we began to set up the CIB – Controlling Innovation Berlin.
  • The Newcomer Award, donated by Haufe and haufe Akademie, is based on his suggestion; Walter was Head of the Jury team for many years.
  • I also attribute the DIN standard DIN SPEC 1086:2009-04 - Quality Standards in Controlling to Walter Schmidt.
  • Walter always thought very holistically, sustainably and not in short-term monetary terms. The ICV statement “Modern Value Orientation” and the “Honorable Merchant” were really important to him.
  • In 2015 we founded the English-speaking International Work Group, which worked in a new format. He was there and fascinated all WG members with his contributions to the discussion, his knowledge and his alert mind.

What would the ICV be without the results of his outstanding work!

Parallel to the intensive work at the ICV, Walter and I tried to spread the topic of Balanced Scorecard in German-speaking countries:

  • In well over 100 open seminars, including at the Controller Akademie, in more than 500 internal company workshops at home and abroad with almost 10,000 participants, we discussed the topic of strategy development and implementation and helped many companies with the topic to process strategy in a structured manner.
  • Many seminar participants were surprised that we also exemplified the culture of debate there: from different perspectives, a new approach emerges that usually brings progress.
  • The experiences gained there led to a further development of the BSC: away from a number-oriented strategy towards a strategy that takes people with it, because behind every number there is a person!
  • We have continually updated the topic in eight books, which have sold a total of >85,000 copies. What stands out is the Haufe pocket guide “Balanced Scorecard”, which has sold over 40,000 copies with five new editions alone. Translated into many languages, this book was also published in Chinese in 2020!
  • For more than 10 years we held seminars on the topic of “Balanced Scorecard” together at the University of Rostock with Prof. Graßhoff, then at the Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Danube University Krems; no theory but always with practical examples, for and with companies from the region - and we had a lot of fun discussing, exchanging ideas, learning together with young, unbiased people...

Walter Schmidt had been my friend for more than 25 years; in some years we spent more time together than with our families. But not only professionally, but also on annual hiking and cycling trips, the professional discussion was always a part of the conversation.

Walter was a special person, full of empathy, universally educated and an alert mind. And he loved - like me - delicious ice cream sundaes, preferably with wild berries and yoghurt on top... I will miss him, the controller community will miss him!

If only he had lived 100 years...

Herwig Friedag