To Nandan Nilekani business creativity is in understanding different trends and different incidents that are completely unconnected in some ways and sTo Nandan Nilekani business creativity is in understanding different trends and different incidents that are completely unconnected in some ways and saying, “Hey, maybe if we take these two or three things together, this is the likely way thing s will go. If we do the right thing, we can take advantage of that.”
A lot of business creativity has to do with visualising a future that others don’t see, explains Nilekani, co-Chairman of Infosys, in one of the essays included in Creativity: Unconventional Wisdom from 20 Accomplished Minds edited by Herb Meyers and Richard Gerstman ( www.palgrave.com). “You can’t predict where the idea will come from, nor can you centralise ideas. But you can create an ecosystem where ideas flourish,” he says. Karim Rashid, a renowned designer, declares, in a different chapter, that we are all born creative. Yet, we need to be encouraged to be creative, he argues. A major hurdle, according to him, is laziness. To Steven Holl, who was named ‘America’s Best Architect’ in 2001 by Time magazine, creativity is the breaking out of the habitual ways of thinking. “Creativity is central to our survival. Imagination is central to our survival. Without these, we are dead.” Creative people are driven by factors of validation and a sense of acknowledgement, says Chris Bangle, BMW Group chief of design. “That does not mean they need a third party to do the acknowledging.” “Often it can be a dialogue only between the designer and the creation, but this needs to be a loop of personal satisfaction to the tune of: ‘I came, I designed, you exist.’ The bigger the loop and the more people that enter into it, the more energy a creative person is usually rewarded with.” Great collection....more
The most important clincher of success is trust, says Joe Healey in Radical Trust ( www.landmarkonthenet.com). “Managers who are capable of building hThe most important clincher of success is trust, says Joe Healey in Radical Trust ( www.landmarkonthenet.com). “Managers who are capable of building high trust dramatically increase their ability to lead, to create loyalty, to retain talent, and to foster creativity. Conversely, I have seen extraordinarily talented people greatly reduce their success because they are not good at building trust.”
The economic value resulting from building trust is simple, he says: “Talented people are more productive and tend to stay around longer if they have bosses they can trust.”
Also, high trust increases the pace or speed of change. In contrast, low trust slows down plan implementation, owing to ‘resistance to change, higher cost of change, and far more burnout.’
There is a ‘business case for trust,’ urges Healey. Because the topic has ‘switched from being a moral choice of more upstanding leaders to an economic necessity in the way managers lead.’ Trust can be built, he assures. And, ‘like digital technology, trust can create profound improvements in productivity.’
Rather than fear, it is trust that can work better in today’s competitive climate, which demands ‘ creativity, knowledge sharing, problem solving, and diverse talent,’ the author finds.
A major shift is underway, he observes. “Organisations are being forced to embrace the idea of being a partner instead of a boss. While fear is the primary currency of a boss, trust is the primary currency of a partnership.”
The book talks about four competencies that build radical trust, viz. character, execution, communication, and loyalty. A must-read for managers.
It wasn’t the invention of the computer that triggered a great 21st century transformation, says Peter Fingar. “It was Sputnik in 1957, and the beginning of global telecommunications,” he adds, in Extreme Competition ( www.mkpress.com ). “Now all the world’s computers are linked by the Net, shrinking the planet to the size of the screen on your cell phone.”
To him, the dotcom crash of 2000 was not the signal for the beginning of the end. “It was a signal that we had reached the end of the beginning. The tinkering phase of the Internet was complete, and now it’s time to get on with the real transformation of business and society.”
The next big thing in business, according to Fingar, is not about dotcom booms. It’s about operational innovation and business transformation, driven by the emergence of a wired world, he declares. Discomfortingly for many, “the days of market stability and competitive advantage from a single innovation are over.” So what is the path of salvation? “Today, companies must respond to new entrants in their industries that come from nowhere,” advises the author. “And they must not just innovate, they must set the pace of innovation, gaining temporary advantage, one innovation at a time, and then move on to the next.”
In the new breed of companies, the Internet is ‘a digital nervous system’ that makes “deep structural changes in their core business processes. They innovate not just with clever new products, they innovate with services wrapped around these products.”
Meanwhile, employees of modern corporations are not bound by the master-servitor bond, as earlier. Fingar cites the example of Ford Motor Company that once had its own ‘factory police force’ to monitor the men, and keep away people related to unions! “Today, specialised knowledge workers are, in growing numbers, not even employees of he corporations they serve. They are equals in creating the means of production, not indentured minions.”
Knowledge as business capital is the first of the five transformers that the book discusses. “The knowledge society is a society of seniors and juniors rather than bosses and subordinates.” The information society is more than just technology, explains Fingar. “It includes social, cultural, institutional, moral, and political dislocations during our transition from a brute-force industrial society to a brain-force economy.”
The Internet is the second driver. The author speaks of the Executable Internet or X-Internet as the next giant leap: Not page-by-page download as we’re accustomed to, but programs that execute on the users’ desktops. “The X-Internet is precisely why Google strikes fear in the heart of Microsoft, for Google isn’t basing its future on its search engine, it’s building the next-generation computing platform, wanting to supersede today’s dominant Windows platform.” Heard about Ajax?
“Internet creative destruction, round two,” reads a quote of George Colony, Chairman and CEO at Forrester Research, that Fingar cites. “Now, you’ve got brains at both ends of the wire, resulting in a high-IQ, interactive, valuable conversation…”
How did the coffee bean, grown first only in Ethiopia, find its way to our cups through Java and Colombia? How did a camera find its brand in BodhisatHow did the coffee bean, grown first only in Ethiopia, find its way to our cups through Java and Colombia? How did a camera find its brand in Bodhisattva’s name Avalokiteswar, translated in Japanese as Kwanon? How did Europeans learn to play the violin with a bowstring made of Mongolian horsehair? How did the US currency get its name from a German silver-mining town? And how…
“The questions are as varied as they are unending, and they go to the heart of the all-embracing phenomenon of global interconnectedness,” writes Nayan Chanda in Bound Together ( www.penguinbooksindia.com ).
Though the word globalisation may be new, the process it describes ‘has worked silently for millennia without having been given a name,’ he explains. Looking ‘under the hood of our daily existence,’ Chanda finds that globalisation stems ‘from a basic human urge to seek a better and more fulfilling life’ and that the key actors behind the process have been ‘traders, preachers, adventurers, and warriors’.
The book opens in Africa, because “we now know that around sixty thousand years ago, a small group of people — as few as perhaps one hundred fifty to two thousand people from present-day East Africa — walked out.” The five billion inhabitants of today’s non-African Duniya are descendants of those villagers who walked out of Africa, argues the author, citing DNA studies by Allan Wilson, Rebecca Cann, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Peter Underhill.
The global journey was almost entirely on foot, with occasional use of rafts or dugouts over waters, postulates Chanda. For, “the horse was not domesticated until 6,000 years ago, and the camel only 3,000 years ago.” About 30-40 million pastoralists continue their nomadic life, while the rest settled down.
“The forty or fifty thousand years that our human ancestors spent walking the length of the earth, experiencing the unimaginably harsh weather of the late Ice Age, have carved our bodies, altered our faces, and changed our pigmentation. The effect of the first globalisation — the dispersal of humans around the globe — has been the emergence of a superficially diverse human species.”
The author travels ‘from camel commerce to e-commerce’, explores the ‘preachers’ world’, inspects ‘slaves, gems and Trojan horses’, before asking ‘Who’s afraid of globalisation?’ Who? It’s the West, which is suddenly worried that millions of Chinese, Indians, and Vietnamese want to join in the global trading system, notes Chanda. But ‘the growing concern in the West is seen by many in the developing world as overblown fear about countries that are still desperately poor.’
These are days of high-speed globalisation, unlike as in the past, he warns. So, it is impossible, even dangerous, for the winners to ignore the losers as they could in the era of sailboats and camel caravans. Globalisation process cannot be reversed, Chanda declares. “It can be slowed down by raising barriers, but those barriers are only temporary hurdles to the march of global interconnection.”
There is no alternative to rising above our tribal interests, he exhorts. “Calls to shut down globalisation are pointless, because nobody is in charge, but together, we can attempt to nudge our rapidly integrating world toward a more harmonious course – because we are all connected.”
In October 1990, Paul Romer, a 36-year-old University of Chicago economist, published a 32-page article, ‘Endogenous technological change’ in the Jour
In October 1990, Paul Romer, a 36-year-old University of Chicago economist, published a 32-page article, ‘Endogenous technological change’ in the Journal of Political Economy. Now, here is a whole book about that paper: Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations by David Warsh ( www.landmarkonthenet.com ).
The first paragraph of Romer’s paper had this sentence: “The distinguishing feature of… technology as an input is that it is neither a conventional good nor a public good; it is a non-rival, partially excludable good…” A sentence that initiated a far-reaching conceptual rearrangement in economics, writes Warsh.
For starters, governments usually supply ‘public’ goods, while the market participants provide ‘private’ goods. The rival-nonrival distinction is about “goods whose corporeality makes possible their absolute possession and limited sharing (an ice-cream cone, a house, a job, a Treasury bond), and goods whose essence can be written down and stored in a computer as a string of bits and shared equally by many persons at the same time practically without limit (a holy book, a language, the calculus, the principles of design of a bicycle).” Rival goods are objects, while the non-rival ones are ideas, existing as atoms and bits. Where you can control the access to goods, they become excludable.
To Warsh, the paper by Romer had won a race of sorts: “A race within the community of university-based research economists to make sense of the process of globalisation at the end of the twentieth century, and to say something practical and new about how to encourage economic development in places where it had failed to occur.”
As a consequence, we now have a new economics of knowledge, concludes Warsh. Governments have understood that it is in their interest ‘to subsidise the production and diffusion of knowledge, to support the useful arts, to extend education, to protect intellectual property, and to promote free trade’.
For instance, the German central bank decided to ‘sell much of its gold and invest the money in German universities’; the UK government ‘offered a large contract to the successful developer of a malaria vaccine, much as once it had offered a substantial prize for the invention of a reliable means of finding longitude at sea’; in Singapore, ‘higher education is practically a state religion’; and ‘in India and China university systems are training engineers and PhDs at a furious rate and thinking rigorously about how to improve their universities to a point at which they too can compete for international students’…