What might the CEO of PepsiCo International, Colombia’s minister of defense, and a handful of Kellogg students have in common? More than you might think
6/24/2009 - For the first time in its history, the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) hosted a global summit convening delegates from more than 20 countries and six continents to address a theme of utmost importance — global prosperity.
|Clinical Professor of Management & Organizations Michelle Buck|
|Photo © Nathan Mandell|
|Admiral James Stavridis|
|Photo © Nathan Mandell|
The KIN Global Summit 2009, “Building Global Prosperity: Innovation and Action,” took an unorthodox approach to exploring some of the world’s most significant issues. From June 1 to June 3, academics from around the world, heads of defense from the U.S. and Colombia, CXOs from global corporations, founders of globally recognized nonprofits, and award-winning authors, composers and screenwriters engaged in what many considered a truly “experiential” summit.
“So much begins with a vision of what we aspire to,” said Michelle Buck, clinical professor of Management & Organizations at the Kellogg School. “I want you to write down aspirations for the world that we’re living in.”
Buck began the summit by asking delegates to define their visions and explore issues relevant to them, an on-going theme of the summit. In fact, nearly half of the program was determined during the conference by the 160 invitation-only delegates. Pablo Restrepo, founder and president of Tandem Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, a private consulting firm based in Colombia, led an innovative methodology to enable the delegates to propose and select topics important to them, leading to a series of working sessions.
The summit included never-before-heard stories and insights, shared by an impressive lineup of keynoters and panelists.
Mike White, vice chairman of PepsiCo and CEO of PepsiCo International, opened a session on the corporation’s role in promoting global prosperity. “At PepsiCo, we can’t run a business if climate change causes farmers to stop growing the potatoes and oranges that we need to make our potato chips and Gatorade,” White said. “We have no choice but to invest in CSR (corporate social responsibility).” White’s decision-making is often driven by the slogan “Performance with Purpose.” which translates to reducing salt and increasing nutrients in sports drinks, reducing energy and water usage, and optimizing the potential of employees.
During the panel “A Path Toward Prosperity,” leaders from the Republic of Colombia, including Minister of National Defense Juan Manuel Santos, shared their insights on the political, economic and social changes that Colombia has seen during the past decade.
Santos talked openly about Colombia’s darker days, when the country was plagued by corruption, a weak security force and rampant drug trafficking. “Colombia was on the verge of being a failed state,” said Santos. “We were all prisoners of fear.” He explained that improvements in counterintelligence, efforts to clean out corruption in the military, and an increase in the country’s security have reduced many of Colombia’s problems. However, Santos cautioned, “we are winning, but we have not yet won in our war against terror and drug trafficking.”
KIN founder and executive director Robert C. Wolcott also engaged the Kellogg student body by developing a competitive application process that would lead to an opportunity to collaborate directly with summit delegates. Five teams of students — the inaugural class of KIN Global Scholars — made significant contributions to the summit through quarter-long research projects regarding issues such as the role of the military in supporting prosperity, value creation from the bottom up, and unleashing the potential of the millennial generation. On the second day, the teams presented their research findings to delegates and engaged in discussions with KIN Global delegates with relevant interests and responsibilities from around the world.
One of the student teams collaborated throughout the quarter with the staff of Admiral James Stavridis, commander of the U.S. Southern Command. Partly as a result of the network’s ongoing collaboration with his team, Stavridis delivered an inspiring keynote on the role of the military in supporting societies in which citizens seek their own unique pursuit of happiness. “Understand that the people you are up against are smart,” said Stavridis. “It’s a brain-on-brain competition in the 21st century. We will not succeed because we are bigger and richer; we will win based on our thinking.”
Stavridis, recently appointed to the position of Commander of European Command and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, explained that his success in fighting terror came from employing “smart power” rather than soft or hard power, and trying to “launch ideas” instead of missiles.
The Kellogg Innovation Network is an ongoing forum for select executives and innovators to meet and discuss challenges, business growth and strategies with thought leaders from government, academia, nonprofits, and a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, defense and more.
Their participation reflects the KIN’s commitment to move beyond talk into action. Wolcott, for example, has traveled twice to Colombia for meetings with leaders from business, government and academia to help the nation chart a course toward innovation-led growth. “At a great institution like Kellogg, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to collaborate with people in the world attempting to make a positive difference — to go from ‘success to significance,’ as our dean, Dipak Jain, often recommends,” he says.
One the most novel events at the summit took place the evening of June 2, when KIN Creative Director Jeffrey Ernstoff presented “Etudes for Innovation,” a performance celebrating the fusion of innovation and the arts and the inspiration required to change the world. The event featured world-renowned French cellist Xavier Phillips; a multi-Grammy-Award-winning composer and director, Peter Erskine; founder of Youth Action International, Kimmie Weeks; and percussionists from around the world.
Weeks, who survived the Liberian civil war, founded Youth Action International to support children in post-war countries. He shared his story with the delegates and other members of the Kellogg community. Afterward, KIN Global delegates gathered spontaneously to contribute nearly $50,000 to YAI. Gil Penchina ’97, CEO of Wikia.com, led the charge to “do more than just talk.” As a follow-up, a small group of KIN Global delegates led by Wolcott and Buck will travel to Liberia before KIN Global 2010 to discover additional ways to help.
KIN Global 2009 set the stage for a much larger, ongoing initiative. “We will not solve the world’s issues overnight, but Kellogg can make a difference by providing a neutral, on-going platform for dialogue and action,” Wolcott said. “That is the role of KIN Global, to join leaders of today and tomorrow, to share research, best practices and diversity of experiences in order to build multiple paths toward prosperity.”
The Kellogg Innovation Network was founded in 2003 by Mohanbir Sawhney, the McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology, and KIN Executive Director Robert C. Wolcott, a lecturer of entrepreneurship and innovation. The network informs faculty research by identifying and helping to address issues facing today’s innovation leaders.