Education, Innovation

„Made in Germany“ without entrepreneurs

made_in_germany

Germany is known worldwide for excellent product quality and innovative engineering. The name of the country, I grew up in, has become to many others a brand in it itself. „Made in Germany“, „German made“, „Innovation from Germany“ and other phrases like this are put onto German products to increase their perceived value.

On the way of loosing a unique competitve advantage

Growing up in Germany and being able to study in one of the top Business Schools of the country, I fear that future generations of leaders in Germany are leaning back on past achievements of their ancestors. It is becoming most probable that an image like „Made in Germany“ is slowly vanishing, if we don’t read signs early enough.

In business schools of today, teachers and professors don’t emphasize enough students to create their own businesses and start innovating.  It has become the mainstream path to just follow the forerunners of your school and join a big company and wait for the R&D department to come up with some new innovations.

However young students all walk through the world and have good ideas, that might bring value to society. And though, most of these ideas will never be realized, because the students never learned the courage to do things on their own. Well, how could they, if schools of today only present how to manage big complex firms, but never teach the uniqueness of running small businesses, or so called startups.

If fellow students or friends never started their own businesses, how could we actually expect today’s business students to start their own business? We need to help those existing and few young entrepreneurs to become more visible at business schools of today. Students have to hear their stories to actually realize that being an entrepreneur is actually an option for the future.

Call for more entrepreneurs

In Germany, I feel students are missing exactly these role models and idols, or if you want heroes, they can look up to. I am missing the spark in students’ eyes to change the world, and to push society and human race forward. Where are the Carl Benzes, the Albert Einsteins, the Robert Boschs of today? Where are the future business leaders that are risk takers and want to be Game Changers?

It won’t be the big ships like Siemens, Bosch, Mercedes etc., that are going to bring real innovation to today’s society. Those who always brought new ideas to the world, were the ones that thought about things differently and didn’t take the status quo as God-given; such as in some compliance construct at big businesses. Steve Jobs shook up his employees and customers in 1997 by saying in his „Think Different“ ad: People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. Today Apple is the most valuable brand in the world.

We need more of those crazy ones, especially in Germany. We need the right incentives to motivate future business leader to take more risks and create businesses of their own. We need to find for students new idols and role models they can relate to. We need to empower young people and give them the right tools to make a difference in their society.

Germany, you need more entrepreneurs and innovators.

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Personal Development

12 secrets to more productivity

productivity

I have realized in the past years that pushing myself towards more productivity, has made me accomplish more and carried me closer to what my dreams are. Most people relate productivity to work. It is true that productivity helps us to do our work faster and more effectively, however productivity is not limited to a job or work.

Productivity can push your personal life forward and make you happier and a more self-satisfied person. Productive people have more time for the things that are important to them. That may be work, but it also may be family, sports, hobbies or what so ever you may enjoy. Being productive means getting things done!

Looking back at a day and seeing the small and big things you have accomplished at work or in your personal life fuels you for the next day and keeps you motivated. Productive people shouldn’t be measured as the ones, that get the most work done, they also should be the ones, that manage throughout a year to be a good parent, keep their body fit, educate themselves and, yes it is part of it, to be successful at work.

Here are the 12 points, I have found to push your productivity level:

1 – Start with scheduling

The first step towards more productivity is to start writing down all your tasks with a concrete deadline. Start every new month, every new week and every new day planning your To-Dos. That gives you a long-term and short term perspective of your future tasks, and above all allows planning.

Many people start their day wandering to the coffee machine, then going to the bathroom, getting ready, and afterwards having their breakfast and going to work. Start your morning by reviewing what you want to accomplish today at work and in your personal life. This routine of checking your daily tasks and goals will give you guidance through out the day and fuel you with motivational sense for the next 24 hours.

2 – Stop wasting time with nonsense

In today’s mass media world, we have become busy coping with all the implulses and influences we receive every day. We loose ourselves most of the time looking at two-dimensional screens in front of us, looking at other people living their lives.

It is a waste of time! Too many people sit in front of their computers whenever they can, looking at other people’s profiles at Facebook, checking their pictures on Instagram, looking at stars living their life. Not enough people spend their valuable time reading inspiring books or articles, that could push them forward in their own lives. Instead they choose to look at others and get frustrated with their own life after having lost another hour of their life in front of an LCD screen.

3 – Just do it

Time wasted sitting around thinking about if or when you should start a task is a productivity’s favorite enemy.

If you have to write an essay of 100 pages, just do it! Obviously there is no way around it, so you might want to not waste more time wandering around and trying to beat your weaker self. The pain of writing that essay is only temporary. If you start your day saying, „I am going to write just 10 pages as perfectly I can write those 10 pages“, then you suddenly don’t see the large brick wall in front of you, but a task that you can manage for the day. There is nothing better, than looking back at a day and seeing that you have accomplished what you wanted to accomplish for the day. Just start and do it!

4 – Get a routine

Nothing is more powerful in productivity than routines. In order to gain routines, that make your days more productive than the days of others, askes for discipline and training.

When studying the lives of extremly productive people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Richard Branson or Will Smith, you will discover that all these successful people in quotely eyes of society had and have daily routines. These people know when they are waking up every day, they know when they start their work, they know when they excercise and they know when they will relax. Peak productivity is not about luck, it is about having the right routines.

The best way to integrate a new routine into your life is to practice it over a sustain period of time. You will notice that if you force yourself to a routine, it will become hard to get away from it.

5 – Focus

Don’t be proud or jealous about multi-tasking. Don’t be fooled by the illusion that multi-taskers are the more productive people. They are not!

It is prooven that most of today’s successful people, successful businesses or other success story are based on the focus and commitment to relevant tasks. It is in our nature, that we cannot give 100% to one task while doing another. That is a law of nature. What we can do, is that we commit our very being to one thing and after that finally focus on the next thing. Be careful: small mindless tasks, like checking Facebook every 5 minutes while working on something different, can trick your brain into thinking it has accomplished something worthwhile.

6 – Do it right or don’t do it at all

Don’t waste your time redoing something or correcting something because you initially didn’t do it right in the first place.

If your boss asks you to analyze the figures of a competitor’s balance sheet. Do it right! Don’t risk a call into your boss’s office to clarify some comments you made. Not only are you wasting your boss’s time but also yours. Be reliable and stand for quality work. When taking on a task do it right in the first place, that will save you time and also show your boss or whoever your value.

7 – Write a To-Don’t list

It is not only about what you have to do during a day, a week, a month… or your life to make you more productive. It is also about what you should not do!

Every person has habits that influence his productivity. It usually starts already with the wrong breakfast meal and ends with too-late-going-to-bed at night. There are so many things that have become a habit to some people, but that could be eliminated only by looking at a To-Don’t list every day over a certain period of time. Writing down all the things that bother you and influence your productivity in a negative manner and reviewing them day after day can be the first step of curing youself from these bad traits.

8 – Eat healthy and work out

Eating healthy and nutritious food will help you to fuel your body with energy. Working out on a regular basis will guarantee a healthy blood flow. As soon as you are physically fit, your mind and body has everything it needs to move towards productivity naturally.

Your body and mind is the only thing that will stick with you untill the end. It is the only natural tool we got to reach and fulfill our dreams. It is the vehicle that brings us towards the things that we reach out for. Staying physically fit will guarantee optimal conditions to work on our tasks effectively and efficiently. A cook is able to prepare the vegetables for a meal faster and more accurate if she regularly sharpens her knifes. The same with our body. Why not put more emphasis in our body, the only natural tool we were given and that is the source of any action me take?

9 – Determine your talents

Trying to be someone, you are not, can be one of the greatest time loses of your life. Instead, determine who you are and what you are good at.

Once you invested your time in finding out what you are good at and then directing your life towards those valuable traits that nourish your talents, you will notice how much more motivated you will be and how much easier and successful life will become to you.

10 – Don’t say yes to everything

Don’t always smile and say „yes“. People-pleasers who say „yes“ to everything and everybody, are the ones that are constantly busy trying to be accepted and liked by others, and also the ones that lose the focus what is important to their own lives and for their own goals.

When saying „yes“ to something, always check on your own motivation for pleasing that particular person. Don’t find yourself saying „yes“ to too many things and people, and then failing to reach their expectations, or even worse loosing yourself and drifting away from your own goals. Test the power of saying „no“.

11- Be an early riser

Start your day before anybody else you know and be an early riser. It is not only one of the most powerful facts to gain more valuable time of your day, it also makes you feel great having accomplished something before anybody else opens their eyes to a new day.

Benjamin Franklin, Barack Obama, Will Smith and many other succesful people chose and choose to wake up earlier than others. People different to them find themselves either sitting in front of a TV in the evening long after they have finished their favorite show of the night or sitting in front of their computers looking at the same pictures in their Facebook Newsstream over and over again. Waking up early in the morning, will allow you to exercise, have a good breakfast or read an inspirational book. This will power you and give you a great start into each day!

12 – Get rid of clutter

Leave your office or your workspace in a picked-up manner every day and stay organized through-out the day, that will reduce the stress searching things or cleaning up big messes.

The tennis ace Andre Agassi would always say that he wouldn’t let anyone touch his tennis bag, because if it got disorganized, he’d get distracted getting it organized again. It is basic: Mess creates stress. So clean out the clutter in your office to get more productive.

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Education

3 things that need to change at business schools

Business-School

During my studies in Business Administration at the University of Mannheim (Germany) and at KEDGE Business School (Bordeaux, France), I have realized that today’s business schools in many ways lack proper methods to transfer knowledge to students in a more effective and timely manner.

I have heard countless discussions of fellow students about the fact, that they had forgotten the major management concepts of their previous semesters. Others had sat in class and were not able to concentrate on what the professor was talking about. Many fellow students were questioning themselves if they would actually ever get to use the presented marketing concepts in practice.

Some professors would counter now, that today’s students just do not pay enough attention in class and are busy writing Facebook messages instead of listening to what is brought to them during class. Other academics might criticize the way students study and the fact that their methods are not able to capture the main insights of a course in the long run.

It is true that most students today are more busy consuming the flud of mass media’s offerings and busy coping with all the impulses that today’s environment has to offer. However it is the wrong approach to believe that the stated problem lies in the hands of the students.

It has to be the goal of today’s business education to find ways to drag the student’s attention to academic content and to be able to transfer that knowledge effectively in order to guarantee more competitive job prospects.


Norrowing it down to 3 key concepts

The following three concepts seek to reach students in a more appropriate and up-to-date manner, and would leverage results in today’s business education.


1 – Fewer concepts, but deeper insight

Many business students today sit in management and marketing lectures, and learn about at least five different concepts on how to motivate employees, how to mesure advertising success or how to form strong teams within a cooperation. These students might start asking themselves, while studying the eight benefits of the Contingency Theory: „Will I ever remember these eight benefits of this concept in the future. Once I work in the management department of a big firm, will I really be able to apply the Contingency Theory due to the benefits I have learned by heart 10 years ago?“ The answer is most likely: No!

This is what happens over and over again while learning different theoretical concepts during your studies at today’s business schools. The focus of the lecturer lies on revealing as much concepts and ideas to her subject as possible. Today’s academics haven’t realized that the most basic concept of so many different disciplines refers also to their’s in education: Less is sometimes more!

Why not focus on one or two key concepts, and guide the students through those most important and applicable concepts by working with case studies, showing interesting examples of companies that applied them, presenting different illustrative materials like videos etc..

In this way, students will understand the real sense behind the content of lectures. Due the fact, that they are shown areas of application for the key concepts, students will develop a greater practical knowledge and be more motivated in class.


2 – More involvement, more media usage

Today’s business school student take courses such as „public speech“ or „presentation technics“ to improve their skills to be more convincing in front of an audience.

Well, having a look at todays lecture PowerPoints, one will notice that most of them are lacking exactly those qualities of convincing and attracting an audience’s attention. Students hate, just like managers in a meeting, to be bored by lousy slides. A professor’s goal should be to „sell“ his knowledge to his audience in order to inspire or enthuse it. Otherwise she is wasting her time! The students will end up only learning the concepts at home for an exam, but not for their life as it was meant to be.

Most of today’s lecturers do not use enough illustrations like graphics, images, videos, webpages etc.. Today’s media landscape offers so much opportunities and access to so much material. The web is full of creative blogs, success stories, interesting YouTube videos and so on. Just as students wikipedia everything, one could expect from professors to youtube a video for illustrating a central concept. Why not show a short excerpt of a Dell  documentation to analyse its supply chain management? Why not tell the students in front of their computers to go on Apple’s website to illustrate the principles of e-commerce and direct selling.

In today’s lecture rooms, you are competing as a professor with Facebook, Youtube, Twitter etc.. Why not use exactly these media sources to transfer your message?


3 – Push problem solving

Management courses offen times teach concepts that are older then the lecturer themselves. However to a certain degree they mostly still apply to today’s world. Porter’s Five Forces (1979) has become one of the key frameworks for business development analysis and deserves its recognition. Corporate Social Responsibility was celebrated to be the new, fair and sustainable business concept that could create a competitive advantage by doing good. Just 10-15 years after the creation of CSR, Creating Shared Value (2011 by Porter) turns out to be the even more desirable social concept for enterprises and for society.

Without going much deeper into these different concepts, Business Schools need to push their students towards a more analytical problem solving attitude. Frameworks such as mentioned should not be taken as given by God. The key has to be to let students derive these key concept themselves by working on case studies. Business students need to solve real corporate problem in order to understand why e.g. it makes sense for a corporation like Unilever to found a project called projectSunlight, that underlines their social responsibility or why it makes sense for Nestlé’s Nespresso to take deep care of its coffee suppliers in Africa.

By working on these cases, business school’s will not only get their students to gain a deeper understanding of major concepts, but also train their students to come up with other, more effective concepts or frameworks such as Creating Shared Value.

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