When Values Are More Important Than Technologies (Part I)

I am going to talk about something that happened in the beginning of December. However, the even was so important, interesting, and prospective, that I believe it may give a good start to my blog in 2017. I am talking about the 2nd Annual Festival of Corporate Cases at the Moscow Skolkovo School of Management. Tomsk State University was awarded with a Skolkovo Trend Award-2016. At a glimpse, it does not seem unusual. We have got used to hearing the word combination “Skolkovo School of Management” and we know that TSU is awarded with different awards here and then. So what is so special about this award?

First, this year the festival of cases was coincided with the largest Russian HP business forum ReForum. It brought together 500 companies and 700 most progressive top managers. The content and the format of the forum were very unusual. I will talk about it a little later. Second, our university has become the first among all Russian universities that have ever received the award. We owe it to our systematic training of groups of project leaders as part of the university’s development programme. First and foremost, to our strategic sessions we have been conducting for three years in collaboration with Skolkovo.

Награды от Сколково

Over 800 TSU employees have participated in the sessions. We have discussed many times before and will discuss the future of TSU and of the whole system of Russian education. We have been looking for new ways to provide education. To achieve the goals in the area, it is necessary to build new policy in education, science, and innovations that will allow our university to meet new challenges and, at the same time, to maintain TSU’s historical and cultural missions.

The university will be able to achieve good results only if people who work in it believe in changes and understand the reasons to make them. We have been trying to explain the reasons and to make people reflect on them. The most valuable result for us is that we have changed the mentality and the attitude of those people who have become part of the process. Most universities need 10 to 30 years to do that. Of course, there are still changes to be made. But what we have done so far has impressed our colleagues. From this point, Skolkovo Trend Award is a professional recognition of our efforts and results from the Russian community of managers. The award was handed out by the Deputy PM Arkadiy Dvorkovich.

Вручение награды

The other eight awards were handed out to the largest industrial and service corporations, such as Gazpromneft, The Russian Railways, Vimpelcom, Roskosmos, and so on. The Charity Fund named after Vladimir Potanin and the Republic of Bashkortostan were also awarded this time. What do such different entities have in common?  They all appear to consider human assets and workforce capacity as foundation to develop their strategies, despite the fact that business is oriented towards making profit.

The main goals of the festival of cases were to find and share stories of success and the best examples of projects of corporate development. The main purpose of the ReForum was to help Russian business to achieve better results through promoting new approaches to motivation and creating new meanings for people’s everyday activity. Organizers of the forum believed that underestimating human resources leads to severe financial losses. Applying new principles of management helps business to achieve super results. The forum was supposed to gather the most progressive managers who could apply new standards to build businesses. The event was aimed at inspiring people and making them invest in human resources.

The organizers used new approaches in holding the forum. They proposed to the participants TED-style presentations, debates, panel discussions, business games, various forms of interaction, and informal communication. New technologies were used to make performances vivid and spectacular.

Зал и сцена во время форума Сколково

Huge screens were installed on both sides of the scene. They provided the audience in every corner with an opportunity to see all the details. First-class sound and light accompanied the show. They used scribing technology to  immediately display the highlights of the speeches on the screens in the halls. One could take photos of the screens to keep the information from the performances. Using all those new technologies and engaging various methods of event-management, the organizers tried to change the way people usually think about business events in Russia. I must say, they achieved their ambitious goal. Not only Russian, but international partners and speakers as well considered the forum a success.  

However, the most interesting events for me personally were presentations from business and state top managers. Particularly, from Gevork Sarkisyan, co-founder of Innova Systems and Governor of the international park of edutainment KidZania in Russia, and  Ruben Vardanyan, entrepreneur, manager and philanthropist, one of the founders of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and its first president. Gevork Sarkisyan talked about conscious choice and about how to start dreaming. Ruben Vardanyan described the concept of trust as a strategic foundation of a company.

These two performances were extremely inspiring. They showed that even in an unbearable competitive environment and with a goal to gain profit, businesses can and must consider such values as trust and respect towards people; employees’ right to have better life and labor quality; self-development; and actualization of creative abilities. Moreover, considering all these values allows any company to succeed. In other words, achieving success is not a goal by itself. It turns out to be an expected result of appropriate relations in work teams. 

Слайд_ Геворк Саркисян

Слайд_ Рубен Варданян