Events - 30.10.2016 - 00:00 

SME change their perspectives

A change of perspectives does not allow for a total view of things but may save people from getting stuck in a dead end. This is the conclusion the 2016 Swiss SME Day came to. It was devoted to the topic of "Change of perspectives – right in the middle and yet outside".

31 October 2016. Host Urs Fueglistaller of the University of St.Gallen’s SME Institute emphasised the necessity of looking for a new angle again and again in order to assess one’s own situation and learn lessons from it.

Changes in perspectives are not something that is foreign to SMEs. This was revealed by the SME Day study, which is conducted every year in the run-up to the conference. 451 people answered the questions concerning the conference topic. "The evaluation made clear that SME executives are perfectly well aware of the benefit that looking at things from different angles brings them," explained Urs Fueglistaller during the presentation of the results of the study. Most frequently, the interviewees put themselves into their customers’ position. The second place is occupied by the employees. However, the interviewees also emphasised that the mere assumption of perspectives did not automatically lead to success but had the inherent risk of getting people lost in too many details.

Change of perspectives and empathy

Martin Kolmar, Professor of Economics at the HSG, opened the series of lectures given at the 2016 Swiss SME Day. "The ability to change perspective is always also something to do with empathy. It enables us to see the world from somebody else’s point of view," he emphasised. Several surveys had shown that there was a direct link between empathy and commercial success. "Enterprises are more profitable if they behave in an ethical fashion, treat their employees well and communicate better with their customers." SMEs were one of the most important pillars of society. "They’re an indispensable part of societal structure. Their role goes far beyond the creation of profit and jobs."

Wilhelm Schmid elucidated the change of perspectives from a philosophical point of view. "We perceive the world in accordance with our present-day situation and current activities, and we filter and weight information," he explained in his lecture. It was not possible for us human beings to have a total view of things. Rather, the point was to ensure that we avoid the narrowness of one single, limited and possibly deceptive perspective. "What we can achieve with a change of perspectives is an extended, at some stage perhaps even far-reaching view which can prevent us from getting stuck in a dead end."

Opening up the world anew

Every change of points of view opened up the world anew, explained the free-lance philosopher from Berlin and described the term "perspectives" as a synonym of development options. "Wearing other people’s hats" sporadically did not mean, however, that one was not allowed to have an I-perspective. "It is our manageable home in a highly complex world." Rather, the point was that with a wider perspective, the world and our lives became significantly richer. "Sophistication and serenity result in this way."

The self-styled "digital therapist" Anitra Eggler had a humorous look at constant availability and the flood of messages in e-mailboxes. "Only slaves are constantly available." In addition, the permanent occupation with e-mails, chats and googling did not create any added value but was a waste of working and living time. The journalist and book author did not demonise digitalisation but pleaded for a reasonable way of dealing with it. "The point is to get the best out of it in order to save time and provide employees with the skill to use the systems in a smart way."

Feelings of success and crisis situations

Three "SMEntrepreneurs" told the audience about the genesis of their enterprises. The comments by Bea Knecht, co-founder of Zattoo TV, Thomas Binggeli, CEO of Thömus, and Luciano Marinello, entrepreneur and former owner of the Marinello shops, made clear that changes of perspectives were often triggered by feelings of success or crisis situations.

With more than 1,200 participants, the 2016 SME Day was again fully booked. It is offered and organised by the Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of St.Gallen (KMU-HSG) and by the alea iacta ag agency. It is under the patronage of the Swiss Arts and Crafts Union (SGV), economiesuisse, the St.Gallen-Appenzell Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the St.Gallen Cantonal Arts and Crafts Union. The 15th Swiss SME Day will take place on the premises of the St.Gallen Olma Fairs on Friday, 27 October 2017.

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