“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.