An Encouraging Start
The new Master’s Students at FH Burgenland just received their first Master Class from guest lecturer Martin Sirlinger.On 7 September 2016, Martin, Sclable COO, welcomed the incoming class of FH Burgenland with a talk titled “A Culture of Doing.”
The talk was modelled on how Sclable approaches customer relations as a company. Sclable knows its target market faces a unique challenge: Disruptions in their industry are forcing them to innovate and to do so under “now-to-market” time pressures.
The Information Technology and Information Management Students at FH Burgenland face similar pressures: The job market that exists at the start of their studies will not be the same job market they find upon graduation. They too must build innovative “future-proof” resumes in order to be competitive.
Time is also a factor. In terms of mid-range planning they only have two (for a Master’s degree) or three (for a Bachelor’s) years – not really a lot of time to mold oneself into the perfect candidate. Time is in short supply on a day-to-day basis as well: Over two-thirds of the students are already employed in their fields of choice and hence must juggle career and studies. In trying to find the right balance, they, like Sclable’s customers, need to be able to fail fast and learn fast in order to find the right means to achieve their educational and career objectives.
Martin’s message to the students
“Don’t panik,” Martin advised. “Focus on what interests you because chances are you will be better at those things. This is how Sclable works with its clients too. We don’t build digital business models, products and programs from the ground up. Their businesses already have a foundation. Rather we build these things to orbit around their existing strengths.”
This message was reflected in the structure of Sirlinger’s speech. Replicating the environment of a Sclable rapid-prototyping workshop, he let the students play the “project owner” role and guide the development of his talk. He showed only one slide with a collection of topics and he let the audience chart the course of the conversation by throwing out keywords to which he then responded.
Audience favorites included: “ask for forgiveness, not permission,” “the difference between Europe, U.S.A., Asia, and Nordic countries” and “die toten Hosen.” Martin deftly linked these topics back to a culture of doing. If you have a good idea – give it a shot. If it works, no one will ask you if you had permission to try it. Be aware that people and companies from different parts of the globe will have different ideas about getting work done. And surprise people: Don’t be afraid to go off topic – you can learn a lot from digressions (like Martin’s about listening to die toten Hosen while preparing his talk).
Why it Matters
Martin’s approach to civic engagement epitomizes how Sclable’s core philosophy breaks with business as usual: Let others stand in the door of the plane, high above the earth, debating whether or not to jump – you take the leap! Sure things can go wrong. There might be problems with the parachute. (That’s why you pack a back-up!) They can also go right. You can land directly on target. But only if you have the confidence to jump in the first place.
As inspiring as this philosophy might be, Martin’s talk expressed another message that is perhaps even more important: Listen to your audience – your customers, your co-workers, your professors, and, maybe someday, your students. This message was never made explicit, but only expressed through the speech’s open structure. By following the subtext, by listening between the lines, we discover the give-and-take of truly productive collaboration.