“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.