We’re On Our Way: Prahalad Delivers Opening National Human Capital Summit Keynote Speech

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Speakers |

IMG_1236 HCI Executive Director and SVVP of Research Alan Schweyer led off.  Brief commercial messages included growth: Last year, HCI was at approximately 80k. We’re now over 106,000 members, over twice as many as last year. That represents over 60 countries.

C.K. Prahalad keynoted.  Dr. Prahalad is a prominent world-class figure, an influencer of leaders like Bill Gates,  and professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.  Prahalad has been pushing management  change throughout the world. The focus of Mr. Prahalad’s speech was strategy and the centrality of the individual.

Prahalad started the discussion with large companies inability to grow organically.  Big companies need to rely on M&A to grow. Why?  Because innovation has changed.


Prahalad says true growth occurs by focusing on next practices instead of best practice.  Best practices leads to agreement on mediocrity. People and employers are changing their relationships to meet the new economy.   Human beings are the new form of currency and valuation in companies.

The Internet has changed everything.  Connecting people together means quite a lot.  Co-creation levels developing worlds and the west.  There is no difference in the current innovation.  Internet-enabled strategy creates micro-producers and micro consumers. Social networks change everything.

Entrepreneurial talent is attracted where your resources are low and enthusiasm is high.  When resources are high, but enthusiasm is low, innovation becomes hard to find.  Satisfied employees don’t mean anything. Excitement is what creates energy and innovation. Democratize information, change the game, and leverage the resources.

Five year budgets do not equal strategy. Can we imagine the future we want to create? Can we fold the future in? Aspirations excite people.

Innovation can be constrained. Embrace constraints allows people to recognize the sandbox they have to play in.

The four steps:

  1. Aspiration > Resources
  2. Folding the Future In
  3. Focus on Next Practices
  4. Innovation Sandbox

Starting from Where We Are


Value creation is always about the experience, not the result.  Consider the Build a Bear experience, says Prahalad.  Then C.K. uses pacemakers as an example to show balance.

Employees see themselves in an experience within the company.  Now C.K. says high cost, margin, moderate business is better than large, commoditized businesses. Business occurs one experience at a time. Consumers need a whole range of suppliers to achieve their needs. No one company can do it.

Platforms are critical for success.  Platforms allow widespread customization. Examples Starbucks, Google, Amazon, Build a Bear, UPS, etc.

Core competence is a new form of currency. Experiences are what creates value.  Allowing consumers to co-create, allowing employees to co-develop makes the big difference.  Customers and those outside of the company are a huge portion of the innovation continuum.

The world and people use to revolve around the factory. No factories revolve around the individual.  C.K. says we have gone from custom made products, to no customization and mass markets, to highly solutions and services, to co created consumer experiences.

Talent Management

Talent management is 1) global so you must be color, gender and ethnic blind; 2) rigorous gates and testing have to assure people are genuine and 3) high tolerance for ambiguity yet attitude processes must be in place to assure workflow.

Talent management connects social and technical business processes. You need IT and analytics to achieve data management.  Without understanding who is doing what, without having the business processes in place to understand the social aspects and focus on the individual, talent management cannot occur.

Talent is about competitiveness, so we should focus on importing great talent rather than losing jobs. The global search for talent changes the way we manage as companies.  Cultural differences between countries changes corporate approaches to building seamless global teams. Intellectual diversity requires ways to train for collaboration.

It’s important to test for attitudes as well as skills.  It’s important to have diverse people and not put lemons together.  Balance in countries, work type, etc. is important to balance intercultural needs with interpersonal demands. It’s also important to have methodologies in place to get rid of friction and posturing between cultures.

We need to move from U.S. centric views to individual, global talent management approaches.  Inside and outside of the country is what’s important, not old perspectives. Businesses need to transform.

Transformation requires:

  • imagination
  • passion
  • courage
  • humanity
  • humility
  • intellect
  • luck!

More C.K. information:

The Co-Creation White Paper

C.K.’s Tie Entrepreneurial Summit


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[…] very successful Deloitte’s Film Festival campaign, which engaged more than 30,000 or almost 25% of Deloitte’s […]

[…] biggest shifts came courtesy of C.K. Prahalad. Prahalad represents one of the country’s brightest minds, according to BusinessWeek, often […]

[…] purchased in the Long Tail are executed through co-creation with customers (as introduced to me through C.K. Prahalad). For example, the process of building a more customized bear, a Nokia ring-tone or a Mini-Cooper […]

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