Afternoon plenary at Orange Business Live

2:35pm We’re underway in the afternoon plenary at Orange Business Live. In this session we’ll be covering innovation in times of uncertainty. There’s been a good debate at lunch over the human factor in social computing, and how IT sector are struggling with the concept, as their natural tendency is to try to build a tool to deal with problems.

Helmut Reisenberg updates us on the football scores before we get on to the keynotes. There will also be a post-event website where all presentations will be made available to participants.

[JJ’s comment: I’d recommend gtting a hold of Peter Sondergaard’s presentation slides]

Michael Escoe, VP Marketing and Comms in the Americas, goes through the international focus of Orange and that the coming upturn in economic situation will result in growth of about 3% in the US but much higher growth in Latin America, particularly in Brazil. Thus he notes the importance of a global strategy with local deployment options.

He introduces Bernard Hebert as VP of Improvement Technologies and Knowledge Management at Cirque du Soleil.

2:55pm Hebert begins byappe video on stage, talking about his history with the firm.

[JJ’s comment: This 3D video conferencing thing is impressive stuff. You have to be here to see just how good it is.]

Hebert talks about the delivery of connectivity for Cirque de Soliel shows, and the challeneges of developing a trusted relationship with suppliers across multiple sites where ‘big top’ shows are held.

[JJ’s comment – this interview covers the outline of services Orange supplies, but most people are distracted by the 3D video conferencing to realise that there’s not much that can really be taken away from this discussion.]

3:05pm Fons Trompenaars is now up, talking about creating a culture of innovation.

Trompenaars says we do everything to kill innovation. In the western world we’ve developed bi-polar thinking.

[JJ’s comment: that’s what Ken Robinson says.]

Trompenaars says that MBAs always think in a bi-polar fashion – centralisation or decentralisation, etc.

[JJ’s comment: Not my students!]

Trompenaars brings up MBTI.

[JJ’s comment: biggest load of rubbish ever.]

Trompenaars says the world is getting more diverse but our education is not accommodating that diversity. The essence of innovation is the art of combining. He brings up Michael Porter’s notions of adding value. Trompenaars says that you can’t ‘add value’; you can only create value. He uses the example of cars and speed versus safety. can increase speed but will compromise safety; can increase safety but this may compromise speed.

We create wealth by combining values that are not easily joined. We develop solutions to communication by increasing awareness, by respecting difference, by recognising cultural connections and then capitalising on those connections.

The meta dilemma of innovation is a conflicting cycle of innovation, diversity and leadership. Trompenaars comes up with a dilemma where person A lends his car to person B, and person B runs someone down, while person A is the only witness. Does person B have a right to lie in court to defend the speed at which person B was driving, and would you lie as person A?

Culture is a dynamic process of solving human problems/dilemmas. Dilemmas are resolved by values.

[JJ’s comment – Gabrielle and I don’t think there’s any dilemma at all. If you value integrity and the law, you don’t lie. and if you are a true friend you don’t base that friendship on lies.]

Trompenaars goes through international responses to the dilemma.

A decentralised, multinational and globalised company is a transcultural corporation, because they can see the range of cultural discourses at play in coming up with answers to such dilemmas.

Trompenaars brings up the KAI theory and questions the value of polar thinking on innovators and adaptors.

[JJ’s comment: I wish my mate Rob Dew was here. He’d argue at length with Trompenaars!]

Trompenaars goes on to talk about the impact of critical analysis and the lifespan of creativity. He notes that positive responses before critical comments provides ‘critical oxygen’ (based on Belbin).

[JJ’s comment: this is VERY old theory. It’s been practised in education of centuries.]

A four pathway analysis technique is presented in terms of corporate culture – person-oriented, egalitarian, task oriented and hierarchical. This produces the matrix of styles of companies – incubator, followed by family company, followed by guided missile, followed by ‘eiffel tower’ of corporate structure. As companies grow they go through these stages in order, and then are ‘reinvented’ through incubation – an infinite loop of corporate development.

Trompenaars says that reconciliation is the art of combining the values of individuals as well as teams. Work-life balance doesn’t work. You need work-life integration. Opposing values need to be innovatively integrated. ‘Exnovation’ is now regarded as an opportunity for innovation, rather than investment in R&D.

Trompenaars concludes that in IT, exnovation – the practice of taking on partnerships and learning from these relationships, as well as deconstructing and rebuilding business models – is essential to ensure that businesses remain competitive.

[JJ’s comment: ‘exnovation’ seems to me to be a pointless neologism. Probably better to say that existing business models need to be broken down to respond in a more agile fashion to consumer needs and allowing consumers to direct or at least influence products, services and processes.]

3:55pm For the final part of the afternoon, Guillame Ramey talks about the challenges and opportunities of telepresence.

[JJ’s comment: some useful points here but it’s just a case study of choosing a supplier, implementation and roadmap to success in future. Main take-aways: get the right partners and match these with the values of the client.]


It’s been an entertaining afternoon, but I’m not sure this has really addressed innovation in an era of uncertainty. I’d like to have seen covered:
– how various economic scenarios could impact on network and communication issues;
– how issues like ubiquitous power and connectivity are developing and how these may assist network business;
– how the growth of BRIC economies will impact on the competitiveness of western nations;
– how the rise in dependence on cloud-based technologies is impacting on litigation and liability.

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