We’re Saving Big Business. We Need to Focus on Small Business.

Bill George’s core competency is his deep experience, in-depth understanding of America’s major players and the intricacies of business economics. He led Medtronics, joining as CEO in ’91. He grew Medtronic’s market capitalization from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging 35% a year, from 1996 to 2002. Today he delivered the opening keynote at the World Business Forum in NYC, where I saw him live.

He applies his 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, story-by-story illustrating how executives and organizations have either adhered or strayed at great cost to their organizations and our financial system.

George is a US business elder. His wisdom is penetrating, dispensed with clarity, aimed at long-term recovery. He often counters conventional intents and is not afraid to name names.  His presentation was a call to action. Here are some sound bytes:

We need to focus on the root cause of our problem, not the symptoms. The root cause of this financial mess is leaders who practice short-termness. It takes years to create solutions, not quarters.

The recession may be over, but hard times are ahead. We need to create jobs. 

Innovation makes good fortune, not the other way around.

We’re focusing on saving jobs. We need to focus on creating jobs. We’re saving big business. We need to focus on small business so the opportunity is there for great value creators.

Markets never come back the way they were. How are you going to get out in front? You can’t just have a defense team; you need an offense team.

George closed by quoting Robert Kennedy, "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation." Then he said, Crisis may be your defining moment. Who are the members of your community? Who will you join forces with to make a difference?

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Stay tuned today as I continue to cover the World Business Forum live from Radio City Music Hall. 
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Seth Kahan is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan’s CEO Leaders Forum, a community of CEOs working together to innovate through the current economy. His next book, Getting Change Right: Guaranteeing Buy-In from Your Most Valuable Players, will be published in spring 2010 by Jossey-Bass. Visit his other blog, GettingChangeRight.com for more info on the book.  

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