Here’s the second five of my selection of the 25 best quotes from the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit 2012, which took place last week in Sandton. I’ll be releasing five a day throughout this week. The series includes quotes from all the speakers: Adrian Gore, Garry Kasparov, Pravin Gordhan, Prof Tim Noakes, Sir Terry Leahy, Michael Porter and Tony Blair. See if you can identify a common thread or theme. Submit your summary of that theme, and if your summary gets chosen I’ll publish that next week so you can win bragging rights over your peers!
Sir Terry Leahy #2 | On vision, values and culture
“Vision, values and culture matters more than hard skills, because of how it affects the people who work [in an organisation]. At Tesco we asked the staff what they would like it to stand for. It was these values that people could identify with and be committed to [that meant the staff] brought all their talent and effort to work.”
Garry Kasparov #2 | On having goals
“When I was crowned as the youngest world champion ever, at 22, I was approached by the wife of the late champion Tigran Petrosian. She said to me: “Young man, I feel sorry for you because the happiest day of your life has just passed. I didn’t register at the time, but it was a great gift, because she set up a goal in my mind, a goal to prove her wrong. I decided I would always look for new horizons, if not at the chess board then somewhere else.”
Prof Tim Noakes # 1 | On pain
“Keep the faith. Believe in the outcome. These are not just sayings, they’re true. In sport if you don’t see the outcome it won’t happen. Pain is merely a sensation that the body uses to ensure you don’t kill yourself during exercise. You can always do better.”
Michael Porter #2 | On the next big innovation challenge
“The opportunity for businesses to think more broadly about what needs they are serving and how they are addressing society through their business is the greatest innovation challenge and opportunity in business in the next twenty to thirty years. This will create more innovation and entrepreneurship than anything else I can think of. How do we from within our company come up with a way? With corporate social responsibility it comes from the outside and you tick the boxes. Instead we have to figure out what our leverage points are. How can we engage in solving society’s major problems through applying leverageable business models and in what way?”
Pravin Gordhan #2 | On the way forward in South Africa
“What can we learn [from the Mandela-Sisulu-Tambo model of leadership]? What is clear is first the importance of a clear vision. We do have a 2030 vision. The NDP points out very clearly the need for huge investments in infrastructure. We should not start and stop but have a constant pipeline of projects. How do we build on that and get the right public-private platform? What we need to work on a lot more is the dearth of small businesses in South Africa. We need a lot more research and development, it’s way below the norm. We need to find ways to increase that and find new niches for innovation where we can build competitive advantage. South Africa’s opportunity to contribute to the African continent is one we should not miss.”
Tony Blair #2 | On making change happen
“The Twentieth Century was dominated by ideological debate. Today it’s pretty clear you need government to do what it can do and a thriving private sector. So it’s not a compromise but a modernising agenda. The biggest issue today is not ideological, it’s how do you make change? Take health care: people are living longer and technology is transforming it, so it wouldn’t make sense if you were to keep those changes from the society in which it’s occurring.”
Neil attended the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit 2012 courtesy of Leadership magazine. Look out for more comprehensive coverage and commentary in upcoming issues.