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What really works and what we really need within todays’ global business environment...
On January 17th at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Pisa it was presented the 2nd Edition of the University of Pisa International Master in Business Administration. This year edition features 29 students from 21 different Countries. The recently nominated President of the Economics Faculty of the Univeristy, Dianora Poletti opened the introduction together with Professor Marco Allegrini (Director of the MBA) and Professors Sbrana and Cavalletti. The remarkable roots of the University of Pisa are well known (it was founded in the year 1343) and it was pointed out the relevance and breadth of its several postgraduate programs with a particular emphasis on the International MBA http://mba.master.unipi.it/ which represents a pride for the university since it truly shows (with its international students and international professors alike) a real global and dynamic network of knowledge.
The introduction continued with the presentation of the students’ Handbook and thereafter Riccardo Paterni (course coordinator of the “Individual and Group Development” and “Students’ advisor for personal development and career” within the MBA) lead a workshop roundtable titled “Management and Entrepreneurial Experiences in an International Context”. Alessandro Colombini (President of the Tuscan Association of the Young Entrepreneurs), Simone Donati (Director, Supply Chain - R&D - Sofidel Group), Nicola Lattanzi (Professor of Family Business Strategy - Pisa and President of the Carrara Marble Association), Nick Watson (CEO of Abitalia) were the entrepreneurs and managers participating to the workshop.
The debate developed along topics introduced by an article written by Riccardo Paterni titled “An opportunity for leadership and change from a global perspective ...” http://www.knowledgeforaction.info/articolo.php?id=109:
Identity: the necessity to focus on it
This is what works within todays’ globalized and ever changing world
Identity plays a key role to the success of any size entrepreneurial or organizational activity: it is essential to articulate well who we are, what values and principles we stand for and utilize all of this to make the organizational project unique towards the perceptions of the market (that needs to feel a concrete value added) and the expression of the true potential and talents of the people part of the organization. This process can be accomplished through developing deep active listening skills and focusing on constantly improving skills helpful to truly perceive what happens around us on a local and global scale. Defining well the project we are working on and sharing it well with colleagues and collaborators has become essential. Andrea Colombini pointed out a quote from the roman philosopher Seneca to underline this concept: “There is no favorable wind if you do not know where you are going”. Also it was pointed out that it is necessary to go beyond simple analysis of economics or financial numbers in order to develop and execute a sound strategy: it is more important than ever to explore and experiment developing and trusting the own perceptions and skills, as Nicola Lattanzi put it “you need to kiss many frogs to find a Prince”.
The roots of productive innovation: how to keep knowledge and organizational practices flowing, effective and efficient
Working on constantly upgrading the own professional skills and doing it in a humble and yet focused way is an essential ingredient to this key task. The outside market conditions are changing fast, no matter what is the economic field in which the organization operates; inner organizational dynamics need to be in place not only to keep up with the changes but also to foresee and lead them. This can be done by making sure that any person part of the organization understands that the improvement of the inner organizational dynamics and contribute to the development of products and services. As Simone Donati put it “Recently one of the owners of our group pointed out to us that our Research and Development department is made of more than 4500 people (all the people working for the company)”. All of this requires a strong sense of shared determination (linked to the identity issue above mentioned) and also a willingness to seek and implement constantly organizational improvements eliminating the organizational structural barriers and organizational/individual resistance to change. Change is coming, change is present and rather then feeling victimized by it we need to develop a cultural organizational and individual approach to embrace it. Once again, also for this, it is essential to increase the individual and work group abilities to perceive reality not only from the problems perspective, rather from the opportunities perspective that any change can bring.
Diversity: the fuel to innovation
The International MBA represents concretely diversity not only from a conceptual point of view but also from a very practical one: the wast array of Countries and cultural perspectives represented and brought to work together with professors coming as well from different parts of the globe; different professional backgrounds of students brought to share common goals within an environment projected to the future and at the same time deeply rooted within historic traditions and meanings. The round table debate on the topic of diversity pointed out two key aspects: the need to learn and practice respect for other ways of thinking and the very practical importance of doing that in order to innovate and enrich product and services with immaterial values; influencing perceptions, meanings and experiences has become essential in order to differentiate and make unique the organizational product or service, learning how to embrace and foster diversity is a key ingredient to all of this. This is when the concept of globalization really becomes meaningful to truly enable more and more people to fully discover and express their potential.
Ethics: another word for sustainability
The topic of ethics came spontaneously related to the concept of respect and diversity. It stirred up a lot of debate from many perspectives. Nick Watson pointed out interesting studies and researches linked to the scarce level of values that are present within the cultural mindset of prestigious institutions educating organizational leaders and managers of today and tomorrow. He also provoked thinking in all of the participants and students with the affirmation that “legal and ethical not always match”. Simone Donati remarked that “ethics has become another word for sustainability” meaning that a business developed on unethical basis is no longer sustainable in the mid to long term and he explained that by making concrete examples with Sofidel Group experiences.
Riccardo Paterni underlined what is evident to anyone: the current global and financial system is not working properly, rather then progress is generating uncertainty and financial regress for many of us; this is due to the lack of ethics from an operational and strategic point of view. He pointed out to all the students that they have a unique opportunity to concretely contribute to lead the way in changing and improving the system itself. The unique characteristics of the International MBA in Pisa are set for that and not simply to give them better opportunities to fit within a system that is unhealthy to its core. It is up to them to take this opportunity and make a real difference in whatever context (small or big) they can influence and it will all start from a deeper knowledge of themselves, their real talents, potentials and ways to express them in a constructive way.
There was debate on these topics with the students and overall it proved to be an energizing and inspiring experience for all the people present. A great way to start the MBA.
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