Inside the World Business Forum Day 1 - First Half
The 2010 HSM World Business Forum kicked off promptly at 9 AM. Patricia Meier, HSM CEO, took the stage of Radio City Music Hall, welcoming the 4000 attendees with a friendly introduction. She laid out the agenda for the next two days, and reminded everyone of just how impressive the speaker list is. Kicking off the event was Jim Collins and he didn't waste time diving in.
Collins speaks passionately, a preacher of business case studies and stats, gesticulating around the pulpit delivering his sermon of success. He outlines a belief that greatness and defeat are data driven constructs formed of concrete stages. Decline is a function of hubris and denial, while success is a hard-won product of compassion and effort. Collins focused his talk on the collapse of business, breaking the process of corporate failure into five stages, but he continually flipped back into what makes success happen, the flip side of why failure occurs. The five stages were punctuated with various anecdotes and models, and tracked decline from over confidence and denial to fighting for survival and succumbing to defeat. In his reverent way, Collins concluded with ten to-dos for the many executives in the crowd, asking everyone to engage in their organization in ways that varied from analyzing challenges to reserving time during the week to quietly reflect. Before wrapping up, Collins ended with a sentiment from his mentor, Peter Drucker, "Spend more time asking how you can be useful, and if you do that you'll never want to give up."
McDermott, CEO of SAP, came onto the stage with hands raised, calling out to the crowd with a showmanship cadence and Long Island accent, and plunged into his three point agenda: major shifts in the global economy, technology and leadership. McDermott seemed equally comfortable in the center ring of a circus, calling out the next high-wire act, as he is running a global software industry. He addressed the changing global economy, and where the United States fits. While the US is struggling to keep up with the changing trends dictated by China, India and others, we must accept our reality and fight to keep up. He went on to proclaiming that in the up-coming years, "Mobile computing will lead the way." McDermott echoed the sentiment that many have accepted as a foregone conclusion: the mobile phone is going to replace the personal computer. Finally, McDermott, discussed his passion for leadership, the lessons he learned running a deli on Long Island, and the notion that, "The soft stuff is the real stuff - It's all about the people."
The best way to cover Jack Welch is with his own words. In his blunt and humorous way, here are some of the quotes he dropped on the audience during his talk. He started with, "Complacency is one of the dangers we all have." The world is changing, and leaders need to react and respond, complacency is a concern we should all work to avoid. In reacting, leaders need to be candid with others and themselves. Accepting the potential for being considered cutting Welch explains, "Without question the difference between candor and abrasiveness is pretty close." Regardless, for Welch, "The team that fields the best players wins . . . Business is a game, and if you don't suit up the best team, you don't win." Being honest affords leaders the opportunity to attract and motivate the best, and in keeping the best at the top of their game, Welch embraces leadership development. "There's nowhere near enough attention to leadership development, conferences like this," Welch began, "I see leadership development pretty low on the priority list, and it's tragic." The world of leadership seems pretty straightforward to Welch: Leaders have to develop themselves, develop others, invest in their talent, and celebrate success.
Stay tuned for the salient points from this afternoon and tomorrow's presentations.
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October 5, 2010; 8:47 AM ET
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