Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Leading Global Growth And Protecting What Matters Most - Irreconcilable Goals?

Now I have my own biases, which hopefully I can examine more thoroughly through this weblog. One of which is positively slanted toward technology and MIT. What I admire is that MIT combines the technological insights and scientific discoveries of their labs with the management and leadership of the Sloan School of Management. What is more is that they don't stay sequestered in an academic environment but venture out to help better the world and invite in those who have walked the walk. The question though is what walk exactly?

Recently MIT World had Ellen Kullman speaking on: Leading Global Growth by Protecting What Really Matters Most. The question I am asking myself is whether the same corporate entity can do both?

- Annotated diigo tags: MIT, business, sustainability, economics, management

After 205 years, DuPont has transformed itself substantially while remaining true to its character, suggests Ellen Kullman. “We're a company with a passion for science,” says Kullman. DuPont, which got its start making black powder for explosives, pursued chemicals for its first 100 years, but is now taking its science into energy, biotechnology and nanotechnology, with products and services in agriculture, nutrition, coating and color technologies, performance materials and safety and protection.

It was Ms. Kullman's assertion that Dupont's core values were:

  • Safety
  • Ethics
  • Environment
  • Respect for people and environment

Ms Kullman came up with examples of Dupont's commitment to corporate responsibility. It is a concept, however, that can be attacked from both sides of the political spectrum. One such example was its membership in the World_Business_Council_for_Sustainable_Development . This is also subject to debate. Dupont's commitment to the environment can be questioned.

Yet, despite such concerns, there is still a great deal to be learned from Ms. Kullman's talk. Ms Kullman focused on 7 principles that can be as readily adopted by change-agents and social-entrepreneurs as they are by corporate businesses.

7 principles

  • 1. focus on opportunity not current capability
  • 2. thrive on fast cycle time and feedback
  • 3. communicate, communicate, communicate
  • 4. go beyond assets tremendous opportunity beyond assets
  • 5. open up business models
  • 6. embrace future
  • 7. think big think different

    Ms Kullman emphasized Surrounding yourself with the right people with the right skills.

    From the Leading Global Growth side of the question global exposure means global impact. To sustain the lead for growth meant looking to:

    • Who is the customer. Listening and respect
    • Interdependent innovation
    • Collaboration without borders requires reciprocal relationships
    • Recognizing that while technology and innovation are global humans needs are local
    • That science and technology are not enough, you also need commitment.
    • Finally, it requires optimism

    Ms Kullman has the same bias that I do, that most problems are solvable and that science will help. Organizations seeking to bring about change need to address short term pressures in addressing long term needs. We must realize that people must see innovation to appreciate it.

    She left the audience with some optimistic inspiration.

    If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. - antoine de saint-exupery

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