Innovation as a tool to lead through diversity: that was the crux of an interesting debate on the first day of the World Economic Forum summit that's currently underway in the Alpine village of Davos in Switzerland.
Mahindra and Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra, Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke, Ciisco chairman John Chambers and Harvard University Professor of Business Administration Clayton Christensen, among others, debated whether companies were giving enough impetus to innovation as a means to ride the current financial crisis.
Speaking in the Indian context, Mr. Mahindra said that while the country was at the cusp of a major uptrend in innovation, India and China will not live up to their own aspirations simply by doing jugaad, or frugal innovation. He said there was a need to focus on cutting-edge innovation and the real winners of the next decade would be companies, either from the West or Asia, which "synthesize the concept of more for less and pioneering innovation".
Mr. Mahindra said the past four years have seen a tremendous amount of focus on restricting what CEOs can do, as a result of the several scams and scandals that have broken out and it was thus incumbent upon CEOs to set up systems that would encourage free thinking and innovation.
He said the next big drift would be towards using innovation as a means to reduce poverty in countries like India.