Innoversity: Innovation and diversity in enterprise

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June 2008 | By Yanire Braña, Director of the MET Program at IE Business School

Forget established patterns of behaviors. Innovation plays a key role in growing a business and making it profitable. But companies also have to remember to include diversity in the equation.

In an age where attracting talent and brand power are fundamental, many companies have been forced to cultivate their uniqueness, looking for new ways of developing the values and factors that enable them to do just that. Accordingly, they turn to innovation as the only way to maintain or create a new competitive edge that can be sustained over time.

The most innovative enterprises are aware that innovating is not simply creating or modifying products and services, but rather it is sometimes important to create an infrastructure of people and processes that allows them to respond to all their current and future needs.

The need to grow their business and making it profitable makes companies occasionally focus exclusively on their competitors, customers and employees, but what happens with other factors? Business reality tells us that customer retention and loyalty strategies are often designed but that they do not always include employees and often overlook an important potential market: non-customers and non-employees. Then there are the difficulties involved in learning about this particular segment, which is the result of massive demographic, economic and sociocultural change and often fails to present the kind of segmentation criteria that makes for in-depth knowledge. New technologies make it easy for enterprises to see beyond their traditional sources of advantage, but sometimes this is not enough to actually innovate or the renew competitive advantage. In order to maximize all the options, companies also need to invest in discovering the differences among their customers and employees that can take them beyond existing demand and open up the door to a new mass of customers and employees that did not exist until now.

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The Reign of Spain: European champions (of nearly everything)

This article was published last month in the Independent, and certainly is catches your attention as it describes many undiscovered attributes of Spanish life: Food, Fashion, Architecture, Society, Cultural Heritage, Travel Destination!

Sunday night’s triumph in Vienna was a moment of pride, unity and joy for this nation â?? and a mark of how far it’s come. Elizabeth Nash reports from Madrid

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Spain is enjoying a moment of glory. Last night’s triumphal homecoming of Euro 2008’s conquering heroes revealed everything that is good about Spaniards today, their spontaneity, their gregarious sociability, their unbridled â?? sometimes excessive â?? lust for partying.

The celebrations have shown something else: that Spain is enjoying a new confidence, a relaxed sense of national pride, a self-esteem it has rarely if ever experienced before, divested of old complexes. One of the commonest comments made by those celebrating Sunday’s victory was “I’m proud to be Spanish” and “I’ve never felt more Spanish”. And they said it without the defiance you used to hear, but naturally, with joy in their faces. They were not trying to convince you of their superiority. They were having fun.

And the reason for their new-found ease was that the old braggadocio that compensated for feeling small, dark, isolated from Europe, hopeless at languages, a failure at the game they loved, was replaced by the serene confidence they absorbed from their youthful footballers. No fake heroics, no swaggering, no assumed “Latin” passion, just the pride of a nation of small, dark blokes of humble origins who ran rings around the blond, cultured man-mountains of Europe’s mightiest footballing nation.

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India: Third Ranked World Economy

rev102_economia.jpgBy Rafael Pampillón published in IDEAS, IE Business School alumni magazine

After Vietnam, India is the world economy that will enjoy the highest growth, with a forecasted yearly average growth rate of 8.5%.

Almost everyone agrees that the country in the starring role during the first half of the 21st century is China. But no one has any doubt that the second half of the 21st century will also feature India as a protagonist. The largest populations in the world â?? for some years now both countries have been implementing reforms enabling change of their economic model, from high-intervention to market economies. These reforms have consisted of ambitious economic policy strategies that have meant greater internal deregulation, and opening to the exterior, that have produced high economic growth rates. This growth process has been accompanied by reductions in poverty levels in both China and India, although, unfortunately, social and regional inequality has increased. All this means that the governments of both countries continue to prioritize the adoption of measures for maintaining or even increasing economic growth, to raise the populationâ??s level of per capita income, and to generate a higher level of wellbeing to allow sustainable development.Economic structure
As a consequence of the economic reforms, Indiaâ??s productive structure has undergone notable changes over the last 15 years. Transformations in the production system led the services sector in 2006 to generate 55% of the GDP, industry 27%, and agriculture 18% (see table 1). Services use 27% of the working population, and also represent the sector with the highest growth rate. In the Services sector as a whole, special mention must be made of the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector which is expanding in a sustained manner and growing at a yearly rate of 25%. The success of the ICT sector in India has had a significant impact on the countryâ??s economic productivity. The arrival of the digital age, and the new workforce with a high level of education and the ability to speak English, has gradually transformed the country into an important destination for international companies looking for technological support.

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IE University reinvents Architecture – design, innovation & management

IE University has reinvented university education with its new degree in architecture, one of the international universityâ??s flagship programmes for the academic year 2008-2009. The new degree is run in English and Spanish and will combine online and onsite training with internships whereby students can gain work experience in other countries and learn languages. The…

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Ferran Adrià: The Alchemist of the Senses

ferran-adria1.jpgFerran Adrià is featured in the current edition of the IDEAS magazine, the IE Business School Alumni Magazine. Read this interesting interview with the considered to be best chef running the considered to be best restaurant in the world, in Spain!

Today, he has become a living legend of the gastronomic universe. His proposition? Demonstrate that cooking is the best expression of intelligence and creativity.

There is a clear connection between Ferran Adriàâ??s work and the various artistic and philosophical trends of the 20th century, from surrealism to the new critique of the theoretical movement of deconstruction… His gift can be compared with that of other Spaniards, such as the painters Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, or the film director Luis Buñuel.â? These have been the arguments put forward by the Scottish University of Aberdeen to award Ferran Adrià the title of doctor honoris causa in Humanities â??for his contribution to contemporary thoughtâ?. The comparison Aberdeen made between Adrià and artists who have stood out -but until recently of minor importance as far as the Spanish public is concerned- is surprising at the very least. It would appear that eccentricity is more recognized than excellence, as if both qualities were incompatible and the â??fusionâ? never happened.The son of a plasterer, he preferred not to do a degree in business and launched himself on the adventure of finding summer work in restaurants and tapas bars on the Spanish coast. However, destiny had already outlined his name in capital letters. During his military service in the Navy in Cartagena, he decided to accept a friendâ??s proposal to start work as the kitchen hand in elBulli, a restaurant already of known prestige of which, interestingly, he had not heard until that moment. The restaurant was located in Cala Montjoi, 6 km from Roses (Gerona).

Today, elBulli has three Michelin stars, opens only seven months a year, and offers almost zero possibility for booking a table. All thanks to the genius of this masterchef, a simple man of few words, but owner of a brain that is constantly simmering.

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Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF): Heroes or Villains?

1554.jpgJuly 2008 | By Juan Pedro Gomez, Professor at IE Business School

They are about liquidity and a desire to invest millions in leading international banks in order to leverage the subprime crisis. They are sovereign wealth funds, the new focus of debate in the western world.

In February, the Qatary Investment Authority (QIA), the Qatar governmentâ??s investment fund, purchased between 1 and 2% of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse. More recently, rumours of investments by the same fund in the Royal Bank of Scotland increased the British bank´s share price by 5% on the London Stock Exchange on 25 February.

In January this year, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup received a total of $21 thousand million from sovereign wealth funds (SWF) from the Middle East and Asia. Overall, according to Morgan Stanley, since the liquidity crisis began in August last year, more than $69 thousand million have been invested by SWF in financial groups in developed countries. There is not the slightest doubt that the money has been welcome, not only by the banks (who continue to lower the market value of mortgage portfolios and their derivatives), but also by the market as a whole, anxious for liquidity and stability. So far, SWFs are heroes.
At the same time, leaders such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel have promised to protect their investors and managers from the “aggressive practices” of these funds.

The president of the European Commission, Durao Barroso, commented that “we cannot allow non-European funds to be used to carry out geopolitical strategies”. The European Commission has recently approved a proposal for the SWF to voluntarily subscribe to corporate government and transparency policies that are common in Western economies. And now, it would seem that for political managers and legislators they are villains.

Who is behind these funds? Are they a recent phenomenon? Should we be concerned about their movements? Are they heroes or villains?

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What drives enterprise: talent or motivation?

1551.jpgJuly 2008 | By Javier Roza, Professor at IE Business School

The alignment of markets and companies is an inevitable result of globalization, but a highly motivated team can gain competitive advantages by breaking the mould.

Let us accept for a moment that multinational business sets the latest trends in management. In this type of environment, country managers do not normally generate product innovation or communication on an individual basis; they are usually not even responsible for production, and in some cases they do not produce their own organisational design. In this situation, local responsibility consists of implementing the strategies developed centrally.

Let us also accept that countries in the same geopolitical environment have a similar level of development and that the consumer pattern is one of convergence. Enterprises also converge in terms of the brands and products they market. Systems and processes are also global. Even the type and quality of employees are becoming more and more consistent owing to the similarity of recruitment and promotion processes. And to cap it all, competitors are the same in each country, complete with globalised strategies.

Furthermore, technical capacities are increasingly reaching the same level. It is becoming more and more difficult to gain a sustainable competitive advantage through technology. When a new product triumphs, competitors rapidly appear with similar products and more competitive offers.

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Why are online MBAs not cheaper than traditional ones?

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imagen1.jpgIE Business School is set to invest around â?¬14 million in the former convent of Santa Cruz la Real in Segovia to convert the building and the adjoining land into an international business university equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The project aims to make IE University a European benchmark for quality.

 

The venue chosen for IEâ??s university project is the former convent of Santa Cruz la Real, a building which was declared a national monument in 1931 and is one of the architectural gems of the city of Segovia. The restoration project for the building, which is located by the city wall and is very close to the aqueduct, was presented at a press conference in July by Miguel Sagüés, IE Universityâ??s managing director, and the architects Fernando Serrano-Suñer and Ismael Rodriguez.

 

The whole restoration project involves five phases which will take in the buildingâ??s 18,000 m² surface area, in addition to a plot of land covering 30,000 m² adjacent to the former convent. Restoration work began a year ago on the communal areas of the ground floor such as the cloister, the chapterhouse, the refectory hall and the dormitories. This summer, work will focus on the universityâ??s lecture halls and include fitting automated lighting and sound systems in order to save energy while respecting the structure of the building. According to the architect, Fernando Serrano-Suñer, work on each of these two phases will cover a surface area of around 4,000 m².

 

After these first two stages, a third phase of restoration work will begin in 2009 and include a complete renovation project which will be presented to the Segovia City Council and the Heritage Commission during the next few days so that they can assess its feasibility. This phase will include work on the interior design and furnishings and will supplement the work carried out during the first two phases. It will also involve work on the outside of the building and the facades and a glass roof for the complexâ??s two characteristic courtyards. During the press conference, Fernando Serrano-Suñer insisted that the restoration work would â??respect the buildingâ??s heritageâ? at all times and stressed that in the case of the facades, which are at present in a very poor state of repair, the aim was to â??restore them to their former splendourâ?.

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