Do you want to develop further and either become an expert professionally or realize yourself as a blogger or even as an author/speaker? But you have a problem: what topic should I work on and what could be my driving force? Somehow every topic is exciting and you would like to do anything, wouldn’t you? Or can you not even focus on one topic because of your profession, because agility is not yet an issue in your company or cloud computing is not introduced by management due to high costs?

You can now write an infinite number of lines on these questions, but I believe that it is often not the environment, but the person himself. I have the following master tip:

Successful people stand on the shoulders of giants! So you have to find those shoulders.

This is, by the way, an academic peasant wisdom and can also be found on Google Scholar. This means, by the way, that large researchers have built on the results of other experts. This is what entrepreneurs do in practice, e.g. build on the successful products and services of other companies. Science theory states: “A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant can see further than the giant itself”(source TUHH). In science, therefore, scientists build on other findings.

My story: How I found the shoulders of giants

I will tell you my story in the following. When I started my doctorate, I wanted to find a topic. So I went in the literature looking for studies on agility (agility I had firmly in my mind as a topic). Then I searched until I found 5 studies, which I absolutely liked and actually did exactly what I wanted. I printed it out and I think I read it day and night. It was exactly what I wanted to explore and these authors had already made initial findings.

Now I have looked at: Where have these authors published and what other studies do they have? I also analyzed the source directory: Which other authors quoted the authors. I noticed that everyone even quoted each other and also published the majority in the same newspaper: HMD – Practice of Business Informatics.

So I had found my giants. Now I had to stand on your shoulders. I have contacted all 5 and conducted a total of 6 studies with 4 of them. All my studies have been based on the studies of the authors. As you now suspect, the majority of my studies are in HMD. So I did it: I stood on the shoulders of giants and had strong mentors for my doctorate.

Reading tip: How I found my topic for the doctoral thesis

Practical tip: On the shoulders of giants!

You can do the same with your thesis or the establishment of a professional network in practical literature. Take a look at: Which technical articles from practical magazines you like and where to find the authors (e.g.: important trade fairs or conferences). Go there specifically and read the magazines, which articles of the authors print. Publishers are also exciting, which increasingly print the topics of the authors. For me, for example, this is jumpers and hem.

Now you have to draw the authors’ attention. So contact them and suggest a collaboration. Afterwards, you can also give lectures and write technical articles together with the authors. My tip to get in touch is that you should not just write to the authors, but e.g. Offer: I have written a technical article. Do you want to give me feedback and appear as a co-author? The article builds on your item. It is also possible to ask if you would like to give a lecture on agility together at Conference XY. For this purpose, you can send the slides to the authors and offer a co-authorship. The important thing is to provide something to the experts. These are often heavily clamped and have little time.

Through the contact, a personal mentor who has a lot of expertise and contacts. A giant, then! In summary, I recommend the following:

Find your giants!

  1. Look for exciting technical articles or studies
  2. Analyze the authors
  3. Read the authors’ newspapers
  4. Contact these authors, work with you and stand on the shoulders of giants!

What happens next?

Now you have your first findings and also a technical article on the subject. Find exciting user groups and conferences, on which the experts are. Get to know them and build a network. Make presentations from your technical articles and present them at the conferences. Tip: At the end, download the PDF and distribute the technical article at the conference. This is how you build visibility and network. You are now on your way to becoming an influencer.

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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