Tuesday, July 19, 2011

IMD Business Forum June 20, 2011 - Dublin

On June 20th IMD organised a business forum, hosted by the Swiss Embassy, at the Ambassador’s Residence in Dublin on the topic of "Leading in a connected future".

His Excellency Mr. Beat Loeliger opened the event by greeting the many participants present. IMD’s Director for the UK and Ireland, Lynn Verdina-Henchoz then warmly thanked the Ambassador and his staff and introduced Professor Tom Malnight and the topic of the evening. Tom is a professor of Strategy and General Management at IMD, whose fields of interest, research and publication are global strategy, evolutionary organizational change and internal growth and renewal. Before joining IMD in 1999 he taught at Wharton business school for 7 years and previous to that worked for Mitsubishi for 10 years before his doctoral studies at Harvard. At IMD he teaches on a number of programs, including an on-going project with Enterprise Ireland to help CEOs of companies from the food sector to grow their businesses.

Professor Malnight is also currently directing a research project, involving interviews with about 120 CEOs of companies around the world and focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing their businesses and leaders alike. This research was the basis of his presentation at the forum – the topic being particularly relevant for Irish business leaders addressing the short-term pressures associated with local market uncertainty, whilst at the same time having to build long-term competitive positions for their businesses.

Tom started by exposing some of the global trends and their impact on the world today, including for example technology, demographics, the environment and the global economy. He mentioned some of the challenges firms now face in their interactions with consumers, such as the commoditization of traditional products and services, rapidly changing consumer demands, the emergence of new competitors with different business models and falling industry boundaries. He discussed the different and shifting generational values and behaviours which are impacting how we live and work – companies will need to have the flexibility to cope with the needs and demands of 4 concurrent generations of consumers and employees. Relationships with society at large are also evolving, requiring more of a stakeholder-partnership approach and creation of shared value.

All of these trends will pose fundamental and holistic challenges for leaders of companies in all areas of their business, whereas many leaders are busy coping with short-term challenges and not preparing themselves and their organizations for uncertainty and volatility. Indeed, Tom mentioned that they will need to define priorities from two directions: solidifying the foundation (what must one do to fix the current business today) as well as transforming the firm (what must one do to enable the achievement of the vision). This requires different leadership capabilities – balancing the more operational aspect with visionary leadership. His final message was however positive – at a time of crisis, there may be many new opportunities “Never waste a good crisis"!
The evening ended with very pleasant cocktails and networking. Several positive reactions were received in the following days “Tom’s presentation was excellent and it was enjoyable for me to step out of my normal working environment “same old same old” for a while”.

Tom Malnight's Presentation

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