The first thing that caught my attention about SPECTRA was the ‘Leader board’, partly because my competitive spirit is fed by that idea. The leader board reminds me of a time when a friend explained the idea of a dynamic scorecard at a golf tournament. Imagine playing a game where you cannot see the other 70 odd players most of the time that you’re playing; you play in the same locations, but at different times and under different conditions; the board keeps changing. SPECTRA felt like that sometimes, a place where I’d be watching what was happening some of the time, playing at other times.
Day 2 was like the views of the golf course, viewed from the side-lines; the speakers were like guides, explaining the vista of ideas like explaining the contours of the course, pointing out where you could go wrong (I kept checking the leader board from time to time to see how I was doing), how people played and how to adapt as the course changed.
In the succeeding paragraphs, I am going to try and capture the sense of that ‘guided tour’.
They told great stories, and how stories become narratives, narratives become lessons and how lessons prepare us for a rapidly evolving future. In all honesty, I am not very familiar with the nuances, twists and turns of Indian mythology – or mythology in general, though I know the stories. Listening to bestselling author Amish Tripathi was like going on a fascinating journey that unravelled some great mysteries of India’s past and made them meaningful in today’s terms. Myth becomes metaphor, and that is the power of storytelling.
Deia Campanelli of Wabtec Corporation told stories about the most successful companies in the modern world and how they do it (not like Nike!). In essence, her stories about Apple and Microsoft were stories as if they were people. People have purpose that directs their lives, and so can companies; their organisational cultures are built around being purpose-driven, and in being so, transforming the world. Purpose is a compelling story – leaders’ commitment and employees’ belief. It’s a grand idea, and perhaps just a little overwhelming.
Amidst playing at the leaderboard, and taking the guided tour through the speakers’ minds, I was hungry. It was sort of a late lunch.
Jerilan Greene of Yum! Brands brought me back to 2020 with a bang, longing for Pizza Hut’s tastiest margherita pizza even more amidst the lockdown. The recipe for success (although I wanted the recipe for her pizza), she said, was a having a ‘Recipe for Good’. In other words, organisations with a social purpose were far better prepared to have a big impact in the communities they operated in, on people and society as a whole. Corporations had qualities and capabilities that could also be used to solve big social issues. The Recipe for Good’ is the ‘Recipe for Growth’ – everybody’s growth.
One more foray to the buffet of ideas here – the food theme is all pervasive (and making me a little hungry for side dishes of ideas!). Andy Pharoah of Mars – opened up the idea of tomorrow’s world from where we sit today, in the middle of a global Covid-19 pandemic, the kind that shows up once in a century. Purpose at Mars was about rebuilding a world for all of humanity and planet Earth. Purpose, he said, must be both real and aspirational; for that, we must start with how we do business today, defined by the ‘Mars Compass’.
What about dessert? Think of good content. Jonathan Adashek of IBM served up a generous helping of how good content can create PR that has high impact. A lot of that content, he suggested, would come from inside the organisation; you create content, build it up, and then use your employees as brand messengers. To make it work, the message, the medium and the platforms would have to work together – “fire on all fronts” was the expression he used. Ah! To me, it sounds like the perfect crème brulee.
And then it was time to go check that ‘Leader board’ again. I felt like Tiger Woods!
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