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Practice-Research Workshops

The iCom project aimed – besides building multipliers in practice and research – on an intensive experience and knowledge sharing process between research and practice, on creating networks between universities and IT companies, and therefore generating new impulses for current, practice-oriented, relevant research topics. To fulfill these objectives, so-called “Practice-Research Workshops” were regularly organized across borders. The workshops offered the participants the opportunity to share challenges with others, find solutions and new impulses for research and practice, and build cooperation networks between universities and industry. To support the tight connection and sustainable knowledge transfer, the intensive sharing and building of personal relationships between researchers and professionals were focal points.  Between 2011 and 2013, eight of these Practice-Research Workshops were organized altering in Vienna, Brno and the border region between Austria and the Czech Republic. Researchers, PhD students, teachers, IT-professionals, consultants, project managers, team leaders and other interested persons came together in various settings: from formal 4-hour workshops to open settings over a 2-day period. Through trying various settings within the iCom project, a special format that fulfills the particular needs of researchers and professionals was developed.  In addition to the eight Practice-Research Workshops, two public events were organized to address a broader target group and media: a panel discussion on in February, 2013 in Vienna and an iCom Symposium in March, 2014. In total, the iCom events attracted 84 business partners from 48 different companies and organizations (24 from Austria, 21 from the Czech Republic, and 3 from Slovakia) – some of them accompanied as throughout the entire project – supporting us with examples from their organizations, helping us to improve the workshop setting format by giving feedback, and even encouraging us in writing our practice-oriented guide “Constructive Communication in International Teams”.

The first organized Practice-Research Workshops in Brno and Vienna focused on introducing the content and goals of the iCom project to potential business partners and discussing – together with the participants – current challenges and problems in IT projects / IT companies. Thanks to the openness of the participants, these two workshops set the further outline for the iCom style and gave impulses for new research. The 3rd Practice-Research Workshop in Chvalovice in the Austrian-Czech Republic border region was highly content related: in a very personal, natural and open environment, participants shared their experiences with communicating in difficult business situations. Effective communication, transparency and openness as well as team cooperation in IT environments were topics of the dialoging. Also, several inputs by researchers and practitioners – e.g. “Stop negotiating, start cooperating” by Michael Leber (Agile Experts e.U.) – enriched the setting.

The 4th Practice-Research Workshop in Vienna took place in a formal setting in the Palais Festetics. As the event was organized in cooperation with the Austria Economic Chamber Vienna, Mag. Dr. Ernst Jauernik (member of the Committee of the division “Management Consulting and IT Consulting”) opened the event together with Univ.-Prof. Dr. Stefanie Rinderle-Ma (Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Vienna). The main aim of the workshop was to facilitate a sharing between representatives from the University of Vienna and the Masaryk University Brno with numerous small and medium enterprises from Austria and the Czech Republic regarding topics such as:
  • Communication as Success Factor in ICT-Projects
  • Building Competences and Knowledge Management in Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Agile Teams – Challenges in the International Practice

While the 5th Practice-Research Workshop in Brno focused on technology transfer between universities and industry on a meta-level, the following workshop in Austria specified on how to solve communication issues on a team level creatively. Inputs from a research perspective on how people learn in practice and insights from practitioners (Antonín Moravec, Kentico, CZ) provided impulses for the workshop group session on intercultural teams, transparency in team work and encountering change by implementing agile methodologies in practice.

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n the 7th Practice-Research Workshop in Mušov-Pasohlávky (Czech Republic), the director of the organization CERIT Science Park and former rector of the Masaryk University Brno, Jiří Zlatuška, was invited as keynote speaker. Further, Mag. Olga Bohuslavová, doc. RNDr. Tomáš Pitner, Ph.D. and Prof. RNDr. Jiří Zlatuška, CSc. presented their perspectives and examples on technology and competencies transfer. In the workshop part, open space settings – in which people can propose topics they want to deal with in a group – were performed.   The 8th and last Practice-Research Workshop in Vienna examined the issue of volatile external environments as – especially in the IT sector as well as in SMEs and Start-Up companies – such circumstances cause a high degree of uncertainty in preceding project. Often, such unpredictable situations demand new strategies or fundamental changes. The workshop questioned how to deal with such external and internal changes. Participants elaborated how to deal with ambiguity in projects, how to manage relationships (towards customers as well as within the team or organization) throughout a change process, and how good communication can reduce ambiguity.

Thomas Spielhofer, management consultant for agile and traditional project management, introduced a real-life case from the network “Platform for Agile Management” (www.p-a-m.org). He demonstrated how changing requirements throughout a project can cause downfalls of projects, and showed what different aspects may have caused the failure in the case. In the workshop session, the participants could propose their own challenging situations which ranged from ambiguous business situations over changes within project teams to complex organizational changes. In an “open case” workshop setting (developed within the iCom-project and the uniMind-workshops), the “case-providers” examined their cases with other participants.