The Kanter show

I attended a workshop conducted by Rossabeth Moss Kanter on Innovation and Workshop that preceded the formal inauguration.

The main theme of the session was that Innovation is the only sustainable way to growth and profits and that leadership plays a crucial role in fostering an innovation culture in an organization. Kanter, a professor at Harvard, and author of 18 books, relied on her rich consulting experience to underscore her points.

What stands out most about Kanter is her down to earth and pragmatic advice – for example, Innovation is new ideas put to productive use- as simple as that!

Likewise, she stressed the importance of focusing on “bottom of the pyramid” incremental ideas, especially in times like now. This means that the culture (and leadership) should encourage flow of ideas through the company.

She cited the example of IBM’s former EVP, Tech & Innovation, Nick Donofrio, who regarded the entire IBM workforce as his resources- not surprising therefore that IBM files the maximum number of patents among tech companies.

She also gave the example of P&G in Brazil- and how the involvement of grass root level field workers resulted in creating a Basico range of products that were consumer relevant.

One other important take away – dont be obsessed only with big ideas, or be misled by past success. Innovation can occur at all levels, and can be big or small.

Kanter’s delivery style and conviction ensured that I made time to attend the concluding session of Day 1 – Ready for Change- here she spoke about attributes of winning teams - some important take aways- set measurable and achievable goals so that people feel a sense of accomplishment (so obvious, yet so true), winners “behave” better- that is to say teams that win feel good about themselves and hence get motivated to do more, winners are active ( ie- they engage in activities, big or small) unlike losers who are passive and reactive; winners handle losing better.

It may seem that all that she said is rather obvious – but the point is these are so obvious that you dont quite think about them. Personally I could relate all her pointers to our own company and I realized she was on the dot.

On the flip side, her global experience notwithstanding, I thought she had very little in depth idea about Indian companies and could not offer any deep insights ( like she did with so much confidence about American and other global companies); on the other hand some of her comments tended to be general.

That said, i for one did not mind a start and finish with a good dose of Kanter. Way to go NASSCOM………..