Do you want to develop yourself further and either become an expert professionally or realize yourself as a blogger or even as an author / speaker? But you have a problem: which topic should I work on and what could be my workhorse? Every topic is somehow exciting and you would like to do everything, right? Or are you even unable to concentrate on a specific topic because of your job, for example because agility is not yet an issue in your company or because management is not introducing cloud computing due to high costs?

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

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

By the way, this is an academic farmer’s wisdom and can also be found on Google Scholar. Incidentally, this means that great researchers have built on the results of other experts. This is what entrepreneurs also do in practice, which for example Build on the successful products and services of other companies. The philosophy of science says: “A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant can see further than the giant himself” ( Source TUHH) . So in science, scientists build on other findings.

My story: How I found the shoulders of giants

In the following I will tell you my story. When I started my doctorate, I wanted to find a topic. So I looked for studies on agility in the literature (I had agility as a topic firmly in my head). Then I searched until I found 5 studies that 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 research and these authors had already made their first insights.

Now I have looked at: Where did these authors publish and what other studies do they have? I also analyzed the bibliography: Which other authors have the authors cited. It struck me that everyone even quoted each other and also mostly published in the same newspaper: HMD – Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik.

So I had found my giants. Now I had to stand on your shoulders. I contacted all 5 of them and carried out a total of 6 studies with 4 of them. All of my studies have built on the studies of the authors. As you now suspect, the majority of my studies are also in the 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 my 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: Which specialist articles from practice magazines do you like and where can the authors be found (e.g. important trade fairs or conferences). Go there specifically and read the magazines which articles by the authors are reprinting. Publishing houses are also exciting, as they are increasingly printing topics from the authors. For me, it’s Springer and Haufe, for example.

Now you need to get the writers’ attention. So contact them and suggest a collaboration. Afterwards you can also give lectures and write technical articles together with the authors. My tip for getting in touch is that you shouldn’t just write to the author, but rather, for example. to offer: I wrote a professional article. Would you like to give me feedback and appear as a co-author? The article builds on your article. It is also possible to ask whether you would like to give a lecture on agility at conference XY. You can send the slides to the authors and offer co-authorship. The important thing is: Deliver something to the experts. These are often very busy and have little time.

Through the contact you have a personal mentor who has a lot of specialist knowledge and contacts. So a giant! In summary, I recommend the following:

Find your giants!

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

What’s next?

Now you have the first insights and also a specialist article on the topic. You can now find exciting user groups and conferences that the experts are also at. Get to know them and build a network. Make presentations out of your specialist articles and present them at the conferences. Tip: At the end, give the PDF for download and distribute the technical article at the conference. This is how you build your visibility and network. You are now on your way to becoming an influencer.


Image source: Pixabay


I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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