Learning in the Market   by Professor Jurgen Zimmer

Learning in the market means learning amidst insecurity. In every business decision, a risk is inherent. With a wrong decision, economic sanctions will sooner or later come into effect. Good decisions lead ultimately to higher takings. Entrepreneurship is a serious game.

The market is like a school without a schoolhouse, which sometimes manifests itself as an obstacle course, a complex labyrinth, sometimes as a place for lightening-quick decisions, a workshop for tinkerers and inventors, an Ashram for the reception of otherworldly inspiration, an office for unusual measures, a stock exchange of ideas, a show-ground; it allows input from school-less teachers in various roles: as competing entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, managers, business partners, inventors, customers, enemies and friends. The teaching and learning materials stem from reality and are often home-made. This school, having next to nothing in common with the institution of the same name run by educators, finances itself.

Oh yes, and neither are there grades – the customers express their approval or displeasure in Euros and Cents. Exams are no longer short-term events with dubiously little long-term value: the consumers continue to spread their praise or their aspersion. The consumers force entrepreneurs to keep on learning, to constantly gain new competences in their field and produce new ideas. If they take the first early warning signals seriously enough, producers usually have enough time to readjust to the increased or changed demands of their customers before failing to meet the class target – ending with a balanced account sheet. Repeating the grade does happen when entrepreneurs pay too little attention to the market or get out of their depths, but there are no permanent expulsions from this school – new beginnings are also possible. And no one who’s there as an entrepreneur needs to be motivated because they’re motivated already, and the more fascinated they are by the game, the less they worry about timetables and vacation, they want to be there day and night.

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