Prof. Dr. Justus Broß

Areas of expertise: Digital Transformation, Innovation and Agility

Interview

Justus, what is the importance of practical experience for students at XU?

It is quite simple: if the theory is not applicable in practice, then the whole construct of school and teaching delivery is null and void. If you can’t apply what you’ve learned in your daily work, it’s simply not worth anything.

How do you bring practical relevance into your courses?

Firstly, through external experts who have something to say about the particular topic in the module I am offering. Secondly, we always visit companies or agencies that can inspire us. At start-ups, the students sometimes meet the founders or CEOs, but we have also been to larger companies such as SAP. And thirdly, we always do concrete, practice-oriented projects.

What were they this year?

In the Collaboration module, we developed an infographic at the beginning of the semester that provides an overview of which digital tools – for example in the areas of project management or video conferencing – actually exist and what they can do. This was very topical, especially in Corona times.

The final exam in the module also had a practical reference: the students were to develop a multi-stage recruiting process for a specific job profile as HR managers. The task was to find the best talent on the market that most embodied the collaborative style, a collaborative mindset, we were looking for. Some of the solutions offered were very original, such as a kind of memory game based on “Dungeons & Dragons”. Other students even brought their parents with them, who mimed HR officers in the role play.

What is the intention behind such examination tasks?

In this way, we want to promote the resilience of the students. They should learn to master complexity and navigate in the unknown. Sometimes we leave the classical paths of teaching mediation to even overtax them a little. Because we can show ways of improvement or alternatives through the mistakes made.

What is taught to the students in concrete terms?

First of all, the realisation that in the high-speed digital world, you are fundamentally stronger as a team. Nowadays, there is more know-how and expertise involved than can be acquired by a single person. So you are dependent on working with others and therefore you should be able to do this. Optimally, they learn, for example, how to work in a team, how to deal with conflict and how to see the world through the eyes of their counterparts. And secondly: Especially in the digital industry, you always have to think user-centred and constantly question yourself. It is normal to fail, you just have to get up again and do better the next time you try. But you should also recognise in time when something is not working at all. But you should also recognise in time when something is not working at all.

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