“The Jour­ney to the Best“ – Why choose a theme like that for a fed­er­al state that can hold its ground in mid-field quite well against inter­na­tion­al play­ers? Why not sim­ply be sat­is­fied with what’s been achieved up to now? Because con­tin­u­ous improve­ment is the require­ment to pre­pare your­self for the chal­lenges of the future.

Four guests from dif­fer­ent fields took a look at the theme “From Good to Great” from dif­fer­ent view­points. In spite of their dif­fer­ent back­grounds, all the experts iden­ti­fied some cri­te­ria as impor­tant fac­tors for the jour­ney to the best. These should now serve as the basis of fur­ther work for us.

Are we too well off?

We are liv­ing in a soci­ety in which life, for­tu­nate­ly, is good. We are no longer forced today to find new ways to secure our sur­vival. It’s exact­ly this con­di­tion that’s decep­tive, because in it lurks the dan­ger of falling into lethar­gy. We risk becom­ing com­fort­able and rest­ing on our lau­rels. But who­ev­er stays in a state of stand­still will slip back­wards and soon no longer be able to adjust to changes. We have to be aware of this dan­ger and so con­stant­ly moti­vate our­selves to improve. Our max­im should be: We change and improve when­ev­er we can and not only when we are forced to. This holds just as true for us as indi­vid­u­als as for Upper Aus­tria as a whole. Only if we keep up the will to devel­op, have the curios­i­ty to take new path­ways and the spir­it to per­sist on these ways can we take our future into our own hands and shape it ourselves.

Bureaucracy slows innovation

If we want to shape our future and that of Upper Aus­tria, then we have to pre­pare our­selves for obsta­cles that will make the path­way to the best more dif­fi­cult. Obsta­cles that we our­selves have par­tial­ly cre­at­ed. In this way, we call on the one hand for inno­va­tions and then find our­selves again with­in a bureau­crat­ic frame­work that pre­vents us from real­iz­ing the inno­va­tions. In this case we are turn­ing to the Upper Aus­tri­an pub­lic pol­i­cy­mak­ers and demand­ing that hur­dles be dismantled.

„The key to suc­cess is dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. It takes courage to make decisions!”

If actions are not tak­en soon, we will risk los­ing inno­v­a­tive ideas and research projects to oth­er coun­tries which will put them into action. For this rea­son, it is key to Upper Austria’s future to under­take con­crete efforts and make inno­va­tion and research possible.

The Courage to Set Priorities

Inno­va­tion is the child of ideas. For actions to fol­low thoughts, the nec­es­sary means and finan­cial sup­port are required. On the path­way to the best, the prin­ci­ple of indis­crim­i­nate dis­tri­b­u­tion must not come into play when it comes to allo­ca­tion. Clear pri­or­i­ties have to be set based on data and facts and/or the firm belief that a set goal will be reached at the end of the day. From time to time, it may be dif­fi­cult to say “no” to an indi­vid­ual. Yet for the good of soci­ety, the indi­vid­ual can­not be the focal point, but rather only soci­ety as a whole. Pos­si­bil­i­ties will arise to dri­ve promis­ing ideas for­ward only if we put soci­ety in the cen­ter and have the courage to set pri­or­i­ties to the best of our knowledge.

Error Culture 2.0

We have to be allowed to make errors in order to be suc­cess­ful. An obsta­cle on the jour­ney to the best is there­fore the neg­a­tive error cul­ture that is dom­i­nant in Aus­tria and Europe. We still endeav­or to avoid mis­takes at all costs, because they are seen as per­son­al blem­ish­es or flaws that set our devel­op­ment and progress back. In this point it is nec­es­sary to rethink our ways. Mis­takes that we make in our careers enrich and teach us. It’s errors that make up our expe­ri­ence and force us to try out dif­fer­ent approaches.

„On the jour­ney ‘from good to great’, there are always losers and winners.”

We have to learn to see mis­takes not as set­backs, but rather as an impor­tant step on the way to the best — a step towards a bet­ter solu­tion. Because if we are afraid to make mis­takes, we are allow­ing our fear of fail­ure to stop us from turn­ing new things into real­i­ty. Yet this rethink­ing can­not be dic­tat­ed by pol­i­tics. In this case, each and every per­son is called upon to strength­en our own and the next generation’s desires to move into unfa­mil­iar ter­ri­to­ry, to risk mak­ing mis­takes, and by doing so to open up the pos­si­bil­i­ty of learn­ing from our mistakes.

Better never stops – Success is achieved in the long term

A cen­tral aspect about the “jour­ney to the best” is that suc­cess­es are not attained overnight. It’s about a long-term process, which con­sists of set­backs and a lot of small suc­cess­es. For this rea­son, Sue Campbell’s mot­to is “Suc­cess nev­er stops”. The path­way to the best nev­er ends. After every goal that we reach, we can and have to set new goals for our­selves in order to keep mov­ing, in order to dri­ve progress ahead continuously.

„Great sci­ence does not mean answer­ing exist­ing ques­tions, but rather find­ing new, bet­ter ones.”

For Upper Aus­tria, this means ana­lyz­ing the gen­er­al pre­vail­ing con­di­tions in an inter­na­tion­al com­par­i­son with oth­er indus­tri­al regions and, based on this, set­ting small, real­is­tic goals. The pre­req­ui­sites to reach a spot at the top are there. Yet Upper Aus­tria will obtain this spot only if mea­sures that make such suc­cess pos­si­ble are con­tin­u­ous­ly tak­en. Amongst these are the attrac­tive shap­ing of the busi­ness loca­tion, the indi­vid­ual fos­ter­ing of tal­ents start­ing in kinder­garten, or the sup­port of research and development.

Authenticity as the Key to Success

In the end, anoth­er impor­tant suc­cess fac­tor on the jour­ney to the best arose from the dis­cus­sions: authen­tic­i­ty. All of the experts agreed that per­son­al pas­sion lev­els the way to suc­cess. It’s impos­si­ble to imi­tate, but rather has its ori­gin in peo­ple, com­pa­nies, or regions them­selves. Whether in pol­i­tics, in art, sport, sci­ence, or also in oth­er fields, it is true that the prob­a­bil­i­ty of suc­cess ris­es if you know your pas­sion and pur­sue it con­tin­u­ous­ly. Because only those who stay authen­tic can trans­mit their pas­sion and moti­vate oth­ers in this way. There­fore, for the future, encour­ag­ing indi­vid­u­al­i­ty instead of demand­ing con­for­mi­ty is all the more impor­tant. Indeed, it is the diver­si­ty Upper Aus­tria has to offer that makes the region unique in inter­na­tion­al com­par­i­son. And if we con­cen­trate on this very diver­si­ty, which gives indi­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies the pos­si­bil­i­ty to make full use of their abil­i­ties, we will all togeth­er take the path­way to the best for Upper Austria.