imim – where “weak ties” promote creativity and innovation

The Berlin week focussed on improving an innovation manager’s soft skills — especially in terms of communication and leadership — by reflecting on one’s cultural, professional and personal background. Therefore, the week started off with Gerhard Apfelthaler lecturing on intercultural differences in media economics and management. Gerhard, who is Dean at California Lutheran University and one of the beta-testers of GoogleGlass, focussed on the cultural requirements that enhance innovativeness such as individualism versus collectivism: Individualisticly oriented cultures like the U.S.’ are said to have a higher output and acceptance of new problem-solving methods than collectivistic ones (however, there might be downsides, too).

From international to professional to personal

British-Swiss media management professor Lucy Küng analysed innovation strategies in media corporations and provided the students with solutions for their day-to-day work. One of her most important “take-away messages”: In order to create an environment in which innovation can happen, boost your weak ties! According to social network analysis, each one of us has “strong ties” (family, friends) and “weak ties” (people, whom you share e.g. an interest with). These weak ties help stimulate our creative and innovative abilities — much more than our closest relationships. Therefore, Lucy identified imim to be highly suitable for this purpose.

Together with the students, Thomas Bauer worked on their communication skills; he will follow up with a seminar on leadership in March 2015 in Vienna and will also provide feedback on the group’s collective development.

Visits at Welt Digital and KircherBurkhardt

Two more highlights of the week were a visit to the content marketing agency KircherBurkhardt, where founder Lukas Kircher inspired imim students not only with his venture’s portfolio, but also with his entrepreneurial spirit and success. He recommended to keep a close eye on media channels like The Verge (created in cooperation with Vox Media. Former Washington Post journalist Ezra Klein also just announced that he will found a new publication at Vox).

Secondly, Romanus Otte, General Manager of Welt Digital, invited the group to the publication’s newsroom they had just moved to. Their daily Die Welt nowadays is just one channel among others that happens to be printed on paper. Editor in chief Jan-Eric Peters had a background talk with the students in order to explain Welt’s strategy.

For the next attendance block in Spain, Romanus Otte assigned the students to come up with ideas for start-ups or projects in their respective countries. They will propose those to a foreign investor in a so-called “elevator pitch”: You have about 1 minute to pitch your idea to your boss who you happen to meet on an elevator ride.

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