lndia Opportunity: Lessons in Innovation and Humility
London, UK - 29 June 2007, 11:56 GMT - In response to the Launch
of the International Inquiry Report - Tomorrow's Global Company - Challenges
and Choices signed by senior figures from businesses and NGOs based in Europe,
North America and Asia, we are grateful to Mehmood Khan, Global Leader,
Innovation Process Management, Unilever, based in London, UK, for "India
Opportunity: Lessons in Innovation and Humility"; We are grateful
to Richard Thomas Gerber, CEO, Intelegen, based in Michigan, USA, for "Illusion
of Energy Scarcity & Abundance in The Universe;"
Mark Goyder, Founder, & Tony Manwaring, CEO, Tomorrow's Company, based
in London, UK, for "Co-creation of Sustainable
Frameworks with Humility;" Aurora Carlson based on the West
Coast, Sweden, for "Personal Transformation
First;" Anouradha Bakshi, Founder Director, Project WHY, based
in New Delhi, India, for "Changing Ego-Systems
to save Eco-Systems"; Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman, Anglo-American,
and Member, Tomorrow's Global Company, Inquiry Team, based in London, UK,
for "Need for Legislative Frameworks to Guide
Markets"; and Anouradha Bakshi for "Where
is the Empathy? Short Term Capitalism and Long Term Environmental Damage";
in response to the Launch of the International Inquiry
Report - Tomorrow's Global Company - Challenges and Choices signed by
senior figures from businesses and NGOs based in Europe, North America and
Asia. These include: ABB, Alcan, Anglo American, Amnesty International Business
Group, BP, Dr Reddy's, Ford, the International Institute for Sustainable
Development, Infosys, KPMG, Leaders' Quest, McKinsey, Standard Chartered,
SUEZ, and SustainAbility. The international inquiry draws on their experience
and on dialogues, workshops and interviews conducted across the world in
countries including Australia, China, France, India, South Africa, United
Kingdom, and United States by Tomorrow's Company led by Mark Goyder.
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are
not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and
The signatories of Tomorrow's Global Company International Inquiry
Report include: ABB, Alcan, Anglo American, Amnesty International
Business Group, BP, Dr Reddy's, Ford, the International Institute for
Sustainable Development, Infosys, KPMG, Leaders' Quest, McKinsey, Standard
Chartered, SUEZ, and SustainAbility. The international inquiry draws on
their experience and on dialogues, workshops and interviews conducted
across the world in countries including Australia, China, France, India,
South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States by Tomorrow's Company
led by Mark Goyder.
Mehmood Khan is the Global Leader of Unilever Innovation Process Management
based at the landmark Unilever House, City of London, UK. His latest set
of responsibilities have added another dimension to his core expertise
in the Unilever Business of accelerating business growth through Innovation
by following common global process and systems. The nature of work involves
working with people around Unilever by establishing Unilever Innovation
Communities across the business as well as spanning across Categories,
Brands, Continents and Country boundaries. Through Mehmood's drive, these
Innovation Communities provide platforms for building innovation capabilities,
incubate creativities, and grow them into true business innovations.
Since 1982 Mehmood has been with Unilever and has worked in wide areas
of the trans-national business: Marketing, Exports, Procurement, Business
Development and Innovation. Out of 22 years at Unilever, 10 years have
been in pioneering new Unilever businesses in diverse countries including
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and North Korea, along with developing
new portfolios in China and other countries in East Asia. Mehmood originates
from India and has lived in Holland, Singapore and is now living in the
UK. He graduated from Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) Hissar and
then did his post graduate Studies in Management (1977) from the Indian
Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). While still at IIMA, Mehmood
worked with Prof Ravi J Matthai on Experiments in Educational Innovation.
On graduation from IIMA, Mehmood worked in the voluntary sector on turning
Indian livestock to become a more productive resource and making them
into a base for cottage industries. This work led Mehmood to building
professional farmers organisations. Mehmood is a Managing Trustee of Rasuli
Kanwar Khan Trust and IIM Europe and a Trustee of GEN Initiative UK. He
is married to Sanobar for 27 years. Together they have two college going
children. Sanobar runs her own North Indian Restaurant business in Mongolia
and an electronics marketing company in UK, China & India. He writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: India Opportunity: Lessons in Innovation and Humility
Let me share my experiences based on my education and experience at Unilever.
In the summer of 1976, I worked in a project called "Jawaja --
Experiments in Educational Innovation." The project had a lot
of role models in Prof Ravi Matthai, the First Director of the prestigious
Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and other luminaries
such as Helena, Utpal, Subbu et al. These people came from varied backgrounds.
This was a true experiment of diversity, cross functional working, gender
mix, cultures and diverse minds. The uniting vision in the group were
our common mission to make a difference to rural India and our values
which included a democratic way of life, respect for individuals' own
space, holding truth as the basis of our lives and freedom of choice.
We documented the experiment at Jawaja, Ajmer district, Rajasthan, under
the title "Rural University."
Some of the lessons we have learned from Jawaja, Rajasthan, and other
1. Design and Design Maps are the basic fundamental of agreeing on the
concept at the start of the journey. Design is a source of inspiration
to stay on the course. Design opens the frontier of creativity, challenges
us on what is possible. It brings meaning to life.
2. In the collaborative world , the word control has to take a back seat
to the mutual desire to co-create. Imagination of a bigger dream is far
more important. To achieve something big you have to let go of some small
things. That is why control has to take a back seat. I am not talking
abdication in fact the contrary. Co-creators cover for each others' weaknesses
and can be a source for strength. Positive energy created by value addition
becomes a driving force. It is life changing.
3. We are living in a sublime world. Functional boundaries are eroding
for the good of the world. Learning is a life long process. To live life
with purpose requires reaching out to other areas and humility is needed
in terms of behaviour. The reward comes in the form of the end product..
In any case creativity, requires one to be open minded.
4. Get the basics right. To start, values on which one wishes to live
life are basic foundation blocks. Next is focus. Hard work helps -- if
it is part of the value system then life becomes more enjoyable. Learning
from each experience and making that learning as part of one's habits
helps in going for excellence in the cumulative journey of life.
5. See the developing world as an opportunity. Countries like India are
young. In the villages, where we are running our development experiments,
we are finding as high as 70% to 80% of the population below 18 years
of age. So "Catch them Young!" should be the motto for making
a loyal consumer base. However that will not happen by superficial campaigns.
Companies need to have commitments for deeper insights to draw medium
to long term plans and live through these plans. A young population is
not only one of consumers, they are also an enormous source of talent
for long term resourcing, management and creativity.
6. Application of Technology & Management. In fact, it is new technology
and and its creative application there of: use of micro-credit, latest
management thinking; and all the advances in the collaborative way of
working which are needed to remove illiteracy, ignorance and poverty.
For example, we use the most advanced techniques of "stakeholder
interviews" to understand the areas of focus for our work.
As a global citizen I find countries like India, both a source of inspiration
and frustration. Lots of keys which inspire me are: democracy, deep heritage
of values from ancient scripts to the mahatmas, young population, diversity,
flora and fauna entrepreneurship, centres of excellence like NID, AIIMS,
IITs & IIMs. Lot of areas frustrate me and the biggest one which causes
real concern are poor and myopic thinking on areas like water and its
management; environmental degradation and lack of urgency on addressing
I was transferred by Unilever 18 years ago from India to Holland, then
to Singapore and 9 years ago to London. However I never lost contact with
my village and India. Every year I visit Nai Nangla (the village where
I was born and where my parents are buried). As a time horizon, I do see
countries like India moving closer to the Tipping Point where Sustainable
Development and making India in to a Developed Economy in our life time
is a real possibility. India now has critical mass where the rest of world
looks to India as a source of opportunity in its own interest. This is
the real turn around in the last few years. We recently hosted IIM Global
Management Summit on Business models and Talent. Evidence was clearly
visible both from the attendees and speakers -- of which many were not
of Indian origin -- where India was seen as a major opportunity.
Innovation is the only way for companies and economies to grow. For this
purpose, management needs creative talent and people who are a source
of new ideas. Interdependency between management and creative people is
going to be the key source of addressing opportunities in this collaborative
co-creative world which is emerging.
For Sustainable Development, we need to draw a Design map of the world
now and enshrine it through legislation within the United Nations so this
becomes the source for executive actions. Reduction of poverty is a real
possibility across the world but it will happen with imagination of the
design map, drawn collaboratively by real people, multi-functional talent,
entrepreneurs, managements and leaders together.
Last few thoughts: People (Society), Government and Enterprise have to
work collaboratively. People (Society) need to elect Competent Governments.
Competent Governments set a Framework where Enterprise is given the lead
role to transform the Economy. The responsible Enterprise needs to take
a Sustainable view of Value Creation where all Stakeholders get the rewards
from the prosperity of the Enterprise. That is the kind of world I wish
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
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