Is it worth a doctorate? I also asked myself this intensively before I started my doctorate in 2015. According to a survey of more than 30,000 doctors on Gehalt.de, specialists with a doctorate earn around 20,000 euros in business administration and law even 33,000 euros per year more than master’s graduates. But why do doctors make more money? How can a doctorate improve me, that I earn more money?

Since (today) October I am now ready and can officially carry the doctorate. I went into me after i got the testimony from the letterbox. I reflected on what the graduation brought me in terms of skills. Of course, I have a lot more salary than my colleagues (approx. 25,000 euros) but it depends on the knowledge. Because: you have to earn a salary. That’s why I asked myself: What skills did I acquire through the doctor, which distinguishes me from others.

Reading tip: Methodology of my doctoral thesis

Methodical and abstract thinking

My reflection revealed that I have learned a new way of thinking: abstract thinking. For me, abstract thinking refers to the ability to omit details in a variety of information and to generalize and thus simplify them. This reduces and generalizes the content to one essential. The result is that it can be generated, which was previously unknown and creates new solutions. One goes openly to problems and finds new ways to solve them.

By the way, abstract thinking is not equal to logical thinking. This is often confused. Abstract thinking is reduced to the essential and creates generalization while logic is related to reason and judgments on the basis of arguments.

In order to implement this kind of abstract thinking, the researcher needs data, which he collects through scientific methods. Of course, these are not to be applied 1:1 in non-scientific everyday life, but the basic ideas can also help in professional life. In the following I show how I use the learned methods in everyday work. Through this I can collect data, which I can evaluate with abstract thinking and create new solutions.

Literature analysis

A literary analysis is almost always the first step in a scientific work. Already here I realized that reading is not equal to reading. The problem is: how can I summarize essential information and compare different sources of literature. The advantage: I can compare different opinions and agile approaches and quickly capture a large amount of literature. So I stay open and don’t stiffen up on a solution. In the doctoral thesis, I methodically analyzed and compared 2056 literature sources. Even to this day, I scan the current management and IT literature with such a procedure and draw general tips from it. Many of them can also be found here in the blog.

Reading tip: Literature analysis

Interviews

An essential element of data collection is interviews, i.e. dialogue with experts. In my doctorate, I learned how to ask open questions and how to evaluate them in a meaningful way. Especially in dialogue with employees, I can filter and summarize the essential information from many dialogues. This allows me to summarize key messages and see where the current pain points are in the department. I believe that it is easier for me to summarize the essential points from various employee discussions and to evaluate them systematically.

Reading tip: Expert interviews

Surveys

In my case, the survey method was always closely linked to an online questionnaire. I now also use a questionnaire similar to the Spotify Health Check – once a month. Here I evaluate the mood and evaluate it with a correlation analysis. For example, I know that employees who are more likely to be in the operating company criticize the processes more than project people. This is just one example of many hypotheses, which I regularly evaluate through a monthly survey.

Reading tip: Survey

Case studies and observations

It is regularly necessary to observe one’s own events, i.e. the actions in my department. I continue to conduct my own case studies and closely observe my actions and processes. To this end, I create observational protocols and evaluate them as a scientific case study. Watching is what we want to learn.

In this way, I can draw insights from observation and also form frameworks that I can show to the management. Special advantages are that my organizational development can be transparent for management and the case studies can be communicated as success stories in the company. Furthermore, I reflect on my work on a regular basis.

Reading Tip: Case Study

Evaluation of empirical data

It is now necessary to evaluate the wealth of information collected through literature, interviews, interviews and observations. These are evaluated in the form of hypotheses or frameworks, which are derived and verified on the basis of data. It prevents tunnel thinking, which I often experience with managers. It is precisely through the hypothesis approach that new insights can be gained that are otherwise not possible. Especially in Corona, I did not rely on tried-and-tested but questioning critical old habits at all times and try to gradually replace them with new ways. Through constant data collection and evaluation, I manage to adapt them to the company.

Just confessed will now contradict me that it is precisely through the famous gut feeling and experience that these insights can gain. However, I believe that it is no longer possible to capture the full complexity without systematic methods, especially in my department with more than 25 employees. Especially the gut feeling leads to the tunnel view as I often perceive.

Reading tip: Hypotheses

Conclusion

A doctoral thesis helps to think abstractly and to reduce insights to the essential. I have learned to capture a lot of complex information, to systematically generalize it and to derive hypotheses that I can permanently verify. The approach is often known in practice as a lean startup. Of course, the danger is that you are too scientific, but I think I have found a good balance with a pinch of science to make the practice a little more tangible and to be able to master my everyday life as a leader much better. I believe that a doctorate is worthwhile in any case and I will continue to be on the tooth of time, both scientifically and in practice.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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