Strategy + Business recently published an interview with CK Prahalad conducted prior to his sudden death in April 2010: “The Life’s Work of a Thought Leader,” by Art Kleiner.
It's a delightful read, and a reminder that interviews with really fascinating people, conducted by skilled interviewers such as Art Kleiner, can provide a real window into someone's thinking.
CK Prahalad is best known for his books, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits and The New Age of Innovation: Driving Cocreated Value Through Global Networks.
Here are a few of the quotes from the article that I particularly liked:
“A lot of times, research tends to start with the methodology. I prefer to start with a problem that’s of interest and apply whatever methodology is appropriate.”
“Every one of my research projects started the same way: recognizing that the established theory did not explain a certain phenomenon. We had to stay constantly focused on weak signals. Each weak signal was a contradictory phenomenon that was not happening across the board. You could very easily say, 'Dismiss it, this is an outlier, so we don’t have to worry about it.' But the outliers and weak signals were the places to find a different way to think about the problem.”
"Big impactful ideas are conceptual breakthroughs, not descriptions of common patterns. You can’t define the 'next practice' with lots of examples. Because, by definition, it is not yet happening.”
“If your aspirations are not greater than your resources, you’re not an entrepreneur. For large companies to be entrepreneurial, they have to create aspirations greater than their resources. You can call it 'strategy as stretch' or 'strategic intent.'"
“No entrepreneur starts with adequate resources for his or her aspirations. If you want to create entrepreneurial drive in a large company, you have to create aspirations that lie outside your resource base.”
“Strategy is about creating new competitive space.”
“If I had to characterize my deepest belief, I would say it’s the centrality of the individual.Institutions are not central. Institutions are different ways of combining skills and capabilities of the moment.”
“When you look at an organization’s core competencies as its most valuable resources, you can begin to think of learning, creating strategy, and innovation as parts of a single long journey. The journey is iterative, interactive, and full of small steps. Nobody gets a big aha one day. Instead, there is searching; there are missteps, experiments, and doubt. … There are breakthroughs, but they happen over a long period of time.”