The recent launch of the Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab (I-Lab) offered some welcome light in a dark month when the Nokia/Blackberry/Apple sagas reached their denouement. Failure to innovate effectively finally caught up with Blackberry and Nokia, highlighting the perils of missing your innovation opportunities and giving a warning to business leaders everywhere not to lose focus on product and business model innovation and R&D.
Some might say the failure of two businesses to create a killer mobile phone is hardly of world shattering significance. No, but innovation will be key to providing solutions to truly significant problems — climate change, energy and water shortage, universal education and healthcare, etc. As the world emerges from recession its need to create a sustainable future will provide a wide range of opportunities. Taking up these opportunities will depend on the businesses and their ability to develop innovative leaders and a culture where innovation can thrive.
Nowhere has nurtured a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship more that Silicon Valley and the Bay Area of California, and the University of California Berkeley-Haas School of Business has been at the centre of this culture since its inception 20 years ago. Its new I-Lab was designed to provide additional space for more team-based and experiential learning, cornerstones of the Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) curriculum. Alumnus and key I-Lab donor Mike Gallagher, former CEO of Playtex Products, said recently. "The I-Lab seemed perfect for the ‘Defining Principles’ and the opportunity for students to have a place to work on innovative projects collaboratively and individually and for professors to try new teaching techniques." A look at these four defining principles is instructive, as they sharply define Berkeley-Haas outlook and culture:
Question the Status Quo: “We lead by championing bold ideas, taking intelligent risks and accepting sensible failures. This means speaking our minds even when it challenges convention. We thrive at the world's epicentre of innovation.”
Confidence without Attitude: “We make decisions based on evidence and analysis, giving us the confidence to act without arrogance. We lead through trust and collaboration.”
Students Always: “We are a community designed for curiosity and lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth. This is not a place for those who feel they have learned all they need to learn.”
Beyond Yourself: “We shape our world by leading ethically and responsibly. As stewards of our enterprises, we take the longer view in our decisions and actions. This often means putting larger interests above our own.”
Dean Rich Lyons speaks about the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles at the 2013 Women in Leadership conference: