Seven internationally renowned speakers on strategy walked through Sri Lankan and regional business leaders on the importance of creativity, innovation, and strategy and how leaders can strategise and execute a well thought out plan to achieve long term success, at the Strategy Summit organized by the Business School of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), on 29th and 30th of July 2015 at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Sri Lanka’s very own Ravi Fernando, who is the Operations Director at the Malaysian Blue Ocean Strategy Institute and recipient of the “Global Strategy Leadership award” at the World Strategy Summit speaking on the lack of Sri Lankan brands in the global market claimed that Sri Lanka is caught in a red ocean commodity trap which prevents it from creating new market places.

“We are happy to be complacent and just export our products instead of crating brands out of it,” he said.

He warned that if Sri Lanka doesn’t get its act together it will soon lose out, because more and more countries and companies are taking competition much more seriously and are developing innovations which were unthinkable at one point. He cites the 3D printer as one such innovation.

Fernando disclosed that Sri Lanka has its very own black gold which is ilmenite, and instead of branding and selling it, we are exporting it to other countries, who instead brand and sell it.   He added that Sri Lanka also possess graphite reserves, but were not branding it and marketing it as they should.

According to Fernando, by just implementing a simple processing step, Sri Lanka can earn billions of dollars as Sri Lanka stakes claim for among the best ilmenite and graphite in the world.
“If Sri Lanka needs to create market spaces, it has to eliminate the commodity and bulk mindset,” he adviced. Fernando also noted that Sri Lanka must create a global mindset by scaling up processing capabilities,” he added.

“As a country we are not short of talent and resources, but what we are short of is the leadership to see this talent and harness it,” Fernando added.

Lack of innovation is perhaps the number one reason why businesses fail, said Greg Bernarda, who works with individuals, teams and organizations on strategy, creativity and innovation.
“We build something that nobody wants. Even if we spend years building it, there is no point if nobody wants it,” he noted, while emphasizing on the need to understand the requirements and aspirations of customers. “We must create value for customers,” said Bernarda, who consults for companies such as Colgate-Palmolive, Nokia Group, Volkswagen, Harvard Business School, and the World Economic Forum

Vusi Thembekwayo, who is known globally as the ‘Rock Star of Public Speaking’ citing grand prix motorcycle racing (MotoGP) as an example, said that in the current business context, it’s not about how fast one can go in a straight line, but how to maneuver and compete at all corners.

David Avrin, popularly known as the ‘Visibility Coach’ and a well-known international speaker emphasized that the current trend is no longer about why a person or an organisation is a ‘good choice’ but rather why they are a better choice.

He stressed that unlike in the past, the modern day consumer is very educated, and it’s not about informing or persuading but instead the (consumer) must be convinced.

“You must stand out in a way that will make someone speak about you, and think about you,” Avrin said, and added that while market share is important, another important factor to be considered is mindshare.