Notes From the Field: Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change Conference Report

Prasad Kaipa

 KaipaThe Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC) of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, organized a three day conference between October 23-26, 2008. It was very well attended—150 participants, 20 sponsored delegates and about 30 volunteers and ISB community members. The conference was supported by State Bank of India (Diamond Sponsor), Andhra Bank, Aankhen, Cavera Systems and Sierra Atlantic (Silver Sponsors). Deloitte was a Knowledge Partner. About 68% of the participants were senior executives—General Managers and above—about 25% of them were middle managers and participants came from eleven countries. About 30 Speakers came from around the world and two thirds of them were from US and UK.

The conference started with Dean M.R. Rao welcoming the participants, Prof. Prasad Kaipa, Executive Director of CLIC set the context for the three-day innovative conference. President Abdul Kalam conveyed his best wishes and his Lead India Coordinators Prof. Acharya and Dr. Gundlapalli gave the opening keynote address along with several teenage students sharing their dream to lead the country in various ways. The kids did really stole the show through their one minute speeches on why they want to lead and what their visions and dreams are.

The following three days had a different theme on each day. Leadership was the theme for October 24th and Innovation and Change management were the themes on subsequent days. Each day we had sessions divided into a wisdom perspectives panel, a scientific perspectives panel and a management best practices panel. Everyday in the evening, we had a World Café session integrating the perspectives, principles and practices on the theme that participants will carry back to their respective organizations. Finally, we had dinner speeches from Nobel Laureate Dr. Lee Hartwell on leadership and innovation, State Bank of India Chairman Om Prakash Bhatt on transformation in SBI in addition to Dr. Acharya and Dr. Gundlapalli along with the kids.

We also had a renowned business artist Kriss Wittman come from Colorado to map the entire conference through visual representations:

wittman graphic 1

Whitman graphic 2

When the conference ended, we still had a majority of participants lingering after the conference on the last day—even though it was the day before a major festival, Diwali.

Summarizing, there were several innovations introduced in this conference—

The entire conference was organized in an open air Atrium and the design of the conference was built around Peter Block’s community building concepts. Delegates were given significant control over their participation and contribution.

The conference had three themes instead of the usual one. The integral approach to global leadership—innovative leadership, change management and developing other leaders—was received with enthusiasm.

The sessions were designed so that formal speeches were limited to less than 50% of the time allocated for the session and dialogues among tables and interaction with panelists filled the other half.

The conference was more like a mini workshop with 200 participants. Several companies are now interested in the design of the conference as much as the content generated in the conference.

Visual, auditory and kinesthetic engagement was designed as part of the conference. All sessions were video taped and graphically mapped.

Technologically, there also were innovative touches in the conference for ISB—we had all the participants, speakers link to a wiki. All the presentations, photos, articles and images were made available mostly on the same day. We also are looking at continuing blog conversations and supporting community building among the delegates.

A post conference publication is planned around the theme ‘Igniting the Genius Within.’

Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and many of them wanted to have the conference more often than once a year. The conference did find that the integral approach that CLIC is promoting is very much appropriate and further research is very much warranted to make it more accessible to managers around the world. The organizers felt that CLIC was able to showcase what it is about through the conference instead of just through brochures and other promotional material.

The next steps are to do more thought leader gatherings on wisdom perspectives on innovation, leadership and change management, to write up case studies on various innovations that are taking place in India and other emerging economies and publish articles on change and transformation that is taking place in State Bank of India before we plan another conference on igniting the genius within in one year.

The links below give access to daily summaries, photos and other details.

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Prasad Kaipa is the Executive Director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, ranked by Financial Times as one of top 20 business schools in the world. He has consulted extensively whit global corporations and is a leader in the exploration of Indian wisdom traditions in business. He lives in Campbell, California.