Guido Lorenz has the job of Business Counsellor for the district of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. A student of Catholic theology from 1974 to 1980 at the University of Tübingen (home to some of the most influential religious thinkers of modern times), Guido took on his current role in 1983. He has been a sounding board and social advisor for Stuttgart’s workforce ever since.
Within weeks of starting his almost impossible appointment, Guido paid his first visit to the Porsche Zuffenhausen assembly lines. Last month, Lorenz spent two weeks working on the production lines, getting to know his workmates and understanding how things have changed at Porsche across three decades.
The Spirit of Porsche
“The previous structures were much more hierarchical,” notes Guido. “Today, every member of the team knows how to carry out every single operation. This improves the mutual understanding within the group. There is a really good team spirit among the colleagues here, regardless of gender, age or origin. Team leaders, shop stewards and foremen all make their contribution to this.
“It’s impressive how strongly all Porsche employees identify with the brand. When you look at the sports cars, it’s easy to understand why.”
Guido Lorenz on the Porsche production lines makes a decent PR story, but this man is not here to make companies feel good. His vocation lies with the workforce. As people will not open their hearts to him at the drop of a hat, he often works alongside his compatriots to develop trust and encourage communication. Previous missions have included spells as a bin man, mailman and long-distance truck driver.
With additional qualifications in marriage guidance and psychological counselling, Lorenz has expanded his remit over the last thirty years to include both employed and unemployed people. Decent conditions, jobs for young workers and fair wages and distribution of wealth have never been far from Lorenz’s agenda, which one assumes must have caused some friction through his career.
Dean of Stuttgart, Monsignor Christian Hermes, recently led a celebration of Lorenz’s contribution to working life in the city. “I know that you experience solidarity with the workers, but also amongst the unemployed. Man and his work have not only an economic value, but a human dignity: we must not let this be threatened by our own consumption needs and the mechanisms of repression.”
Brought up as a Catholic, I met no end of inspirational people through that faith over my formative years. None were doctrine obsessed: they understood the joy of shared effort, and possessed a huge internal appetite for work. This is something I have certainly absorbed.
Any sprinklings of religious fervour left me long ago, but there is an enduring sense of solidarity and collective spirituality in the connections people make. It is comforting to see that Porsche is not oblivious to the gentle power of Guido Lorenz and others like him. Those gifted with Guido’s faith in humanity can help so many people to experience a meaningful life, without bringing heaven and hell into it.