March 23, 2011 - News
SPRIE executive training session offers Chinese enterprise leaders insights into innovation
By Yan Mei
From how failure drives innovation to the role of government in supporting entrepreneurship, two expert professors at Stanford led a training session for executives from Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOE) as part of the 2011 Cisco China 21st Century Enterprise Leader Program (ELP) hosted by Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE) on March 22, 2011.
Professor William Miller, Co-Director of SPRIE, kicked off the session with a stimulating presentation on Silicon Valley's habitat for innovation. He pointed out that turning technology into business was the essence of Silicon Valley, and a favorable business, social and political environment in the region had facilitated the process. Despite the emergence of other venture capital locations, Silicon Valley scooped up almost 40% of venture deals and dollars across the U.S. in the last quarter of 2010, according to the MoneyTree Report.
The "restless pioneer spirit" of Stanford had always played a crucial role in the effective interaction between research institutes and industry, Miller argued.
Following Miller's discussion of features of Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial habitat, William Barnett, Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, shared his thoughts on how to discover successful business models.
"Having great technologies is not enough," said Barnett. "Entrepreneurs are like scientists. Successful business models are learned from failures." Barnett encouraged the leaders present to create a working environment within which failure would be tolerated. He further urged them to accelerate the learning process by asking what might go wrong.
The purpose of the SPRIE session, which is part of a 12-day US-based program organized by Cisco Systems and China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), is to help the SOE executives understand how to foster innovation and to drive operational excellence. The delegation is composed of SASAC officials, Peking University professors and leaders from 17 SOEs in China, including Southern Power Grid, Three Gorges Corporation, China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, China FAW Group, Harbin Electric Corp., Anshan Iron and Steel Group, Baosteel Group, China Ocean Shipping Company, China Eastern Airlines, China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation, State Development and Investment Corporation, China Merchants, China Railway Group and China Railway Construction.