quinta-feira, 5 de maio de 2011
Dean in London Champions Innovation
London Business School this month will unveil a new center to study innovation. It is a prospect about which the school's dean, Andrew Likierman, is particularly keen.
"Innovation, as far as we're concerned, is one of the key drivers of everything that goes on in business," Sir Andrew said. "I wouldn't have the nerve to get up in front of a group of sophisticated people and say something that didn't relate to the world that actually is."
The institute is LBS's answer to the challenge of staying relevant in a rapidly changing world.
Sir Andrew, who has been with the school on and off for more than three decades—first as a professor—has watched the student body expand and diversify. Today, students hail from more than 100 countries and the faculty from 30, bolstering LBS's position as an international school.
Knighted in 2001 for his work overhauling the U.K.'s internal financial reporting, Sir Andrew spoke about why innovation matters and the global prospects of LBS students.
WSJ: London Business School will soon open the doors to its Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. How do you define innovation?
Sir Andrew: [I] don't define it technically because it's a term of art. It's about the process by which...new things take place. I look at innovation as an approach. However, [the institute] uses the standard definition, which is about novel and creative ways to create value through new products and services, or new business models or new processes.
WSJ: If innovation is a term of art, how do you teach it?
Sir Andrew: One might expect people to read a case, think about the case, what somebody did well and not so well, and then take the opportunity to discuss that in class together so you get lots of different perspectives. We [also] bring a lot of practitioners to talk about their experiences.
WSJ: How will the institute focus on innovation?
Sir Andrew: There are three main areas. One is about research into innovation as a process. The second aspect is what we do for students here. We have innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the core curriculum. Also, we have courses for practitioners. The third area is being highly involved with the world of [entrepreneurs]. Our involvement with the world of practice informs both the research and the teaching. The teaching itself is to people who generate cases, so that feeds across into the research.
WSJ: Beyond the innovation institute, what are some other new initiatives for the school?
Sir Andrew: In a completely different area: the values project. This has been to identify what makes us different from other business schools, what we are seeking to do as a school. We have seven or eight groups of stakeholders here [such as alumni, governing board, students] and we talked to the stakeholders about how they saw us as an institution and what they felt we stood for. We did this over a period of about a year and a-half. The result is a set of statements, which we feel resonate very clearly with us as an institution, and we're in the process of rolling it out now.
WSJ: This is something that you'll have on your website and talk to students about?
Sir Andrew: Exactly. We're not seeking to have these as slogans, we're seeking to have them as ways of looking at the way we do what we do. For example [our] vision, which was about being the pre-eminent global business school, is now about having a profound impact on the way the world does business.
WSJ: What are some other examples of the school's new values?
Sir Andrew: We see ourselves as global and want to make sure that we think in global terms—not just in terms of individual countries.
WSJ: Why is a global outlook so important these days?
Sir Andrew: From the European perspective, the global outlook is an absolutely essential element of doing business.…This is not an optional add-on for us, it's an essential part of who we are as a school.
We have as many [students] here from the U.S. as we do from the U.K. The number of people who graduate from the U.S., in our current courses, is more than twice the number of the entire class when I first got here [in 1974].
WSJ: Why do you think there's been such an increase in U.S. students?
Sir Andrew: We're seen as [a school] that is perhaps more international than many U.S. schools, [where] the culture is more dominated by the United States, but with people from other countries.
WSJ: After graduation, do LBS graduates primarily end up working in the U.K., their home countries or somewhere else entirely?
Sir Andrew: There are probably more who [return] to those countries from which they came as job opportunities in those countries develop. One example: I and a group of faculty members went to Mumbai and Delhi last autumn. What was clear: there is increasing opportunity for people to get financial services jobs in Mumbai that are comparable to those in London.
When I think of the students graduating this summer, somebody might be going to be a consultant in Brazil, somebody else might be starting a small business in the Middle East, somebody else might be going to a big telecom company in India, somebody else might be going to a bank in China. These are very, very different experiences in very different environments. I think the individual experiences are so different, one shouldn't think of things very much in U.S. or European terms, precisely because our people go all over the world.
WSJ: What challenges are business leaders facing today?
Sir Andrew: There's the issue of leadership itself. The whole nature of leadership has become very much more challenging over the last couple of decades, [due to] the common problems of globalization, technological change, and the fact that people's expectations about what they want from jobs has changed so much.
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