RESTORING AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS
At the same time, he cautioned, today’s U.S. businesses must navigate an entirely new kind of competitor in the form of state-owned enterprises. “This is a quintessential issue in our times,” warned Liveris. “They have subsidized capital, subsidized energy, subsidized labor and a single goal that has nothing to do with EVA: employing people. They have a very different business model than you.”
The rapid pace of change today coupled with competition from this emerging force means that if businesses are to survive they must continually find ways to add value. “You need to innovate faster than the enterprises from these nation states that are commoditizing you at the speed of live,” he said. “As manufacturers, the biggest issue we have [in achieving that] is in training a new, technically skilled work force.”
Coming to the Summit fresh from meeting with President Obama in Washington, Liveris added that some progress has been made on that front as part of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee, on which he serves. “The critique of this Administration is hot and heavy, especially around things like healthcare, but you have to give this Administration credit for addressing the manufacturing revolution,” he said, pointing to the launch of five Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation where industry, academia and government partners co-invest and collaborate to nurture manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization. “These are national training centers that you can all contribute to, that will [enable us] to show high school kids and even younger generations that trades are noble professions, that not everyone needs to have a double Ph.D. in economics.”
RECAPTURING THE POWER OF INNOVATION
GEORGE BARRETT, CEO, CARDINAL HEALTH
“We accomplish what we measure, there is great truth to that. We also accomplish what we recognize, what is reinforced, what becomes part of our mythology. At Cardinal, we never miss an opportunity to talk about an innovation, including what didn’t work. I would also tie diversity to innovation. You cannot get innovation in a highly charged environment when everyone talks sounds and looks the same. You need to find different types of people to populate your leadership team. “Finally, we, as leaders, have to give voice to the heretics. We all have those people who can drive you and other people crazy, but that is where a lot of that innovation comes from.”
BOB NARDELLI, CEO, XLR-8, SENIOR ADVISOR, CERBERUS CAPITAL
“You cannot overcommunicate. You may feel that you articulate your vision and your strategy to the point of nausea, but on any given day 3 percent or more of your people haven’t heard it before. “If you only have a $1 to spend, you want to spend 99 cents on people. My success is routed in the success, the strength and the collaboration of other people. “As painful as it is it is, it is always good to have a few internal activists who will challenge the status quo.”
BARRY ROWAN, CFO, COOL PLANET ENERGY SYSTEMS
“The thing that has spurred innovation for us is a deep conviction and shared passion that we have the chance to make a significant impact and change the world for good. The single most important thing we do is attract people of that ilk. We are in this together and linking arms. There is a tremendous foxhole bonding. Getting people who understand it, who live it and feel it in their bones is the most effective thing you can do.”
CONCEPT: In group brainstorming sessions, CEOs tackled the challenges of driving innovation, building effective work environments and coping with regulatory overreach and political uncertainty.
To drive innovation:
• Define what it means for your company. Is it a new product, a process improvement or a new market?
• Avoid confining innovation to a single department—it should wash across the organization.
• Champion, but don’t dictate. Innovation should be bi-directional, top-down and bottom-up.
• Govern innovation efforts to validate ideas and manage the value-add they can deliver.
To harness technology:
• Carefully vet the build vs. buy decision
• Define the technological opportunities in your industry.
• Ensure leadership is engaged in exploring new technological capabilities.
• Identify and prepare for the disruptive forces in your industry.
To cope with regulatory uncertainty:
• Size up your impact by joining forces with industry peers, trade groups or local business networks.
• Hedge your bets by doing business in more than one region to reduce the risk of being derailed by a political upheaval or regulatory event.
• Be vocal about how potential regulatory action will affect your business—and the jobs you provide.
• Look for the opportunities regulation may bring.
To build an effective work environment:
• Recognize that your offices, not you, make the first impression on potential hirees.
• Environment plays a huge role in corporate culture, which, in turn, impacts performance.
• Charitable activities that tie into employee values boost morale and strengthen ties.
• Performance-based compensation is effective, but high-visibility recognition in the workplace also motivates effectively.