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John Sculley weighs in on Asian Talent and Innovation

John Sculley weighs in on Asian Talent and Innovation

John Sculley, most renowned for his introduction of the famous Pepsi Challenge and position as former Apple CEO, spoke recently at the ITMA CIO Executive Summit in Singapore. While there he took some time out for an interview with Computerworld to discuss Asian innovation and the biggest differences between the philosophies of entrepreneurship in Asia versus other western countries.

John Sculley’s Philosophies

“I’d say in terms of sheer talent, it’s extraordinary how much talent there is in Asia. But while there are great success stories that are developing in Asia, on the other hand I also see a major limiting factor.”

Asia’s business model is very top heavy. It is well known that across Asia there is a lot emphasis placed on the perfection of students. This search for perfection can certainly yield a class of hard working and diligent individuals, but, as Sculley points out, if you look at the history of successful entrepreneurs in Western culture, many of them are college drop outs or have, historically done very poorly in standard educational settings. That Asia, as a culture, tends to discount this population out of hand is a real limitation on their innovation since many out of the box thinkers are also those who do not necessarily thrive in a standard academic setting.

On Asian Talent and Innovation

On this surface this comment may sound like a call for democracy or a complete break from the tradition and rules that currently govern Asian business acumen, but Sculley does not actually believe that one has to do with the other.

“I don’t think innovation has much to do with democracy. In fact, I think that if you try to be too democratic, you’re going to be making compromises, because democracy is by nature a compromise-based system. So if you want to have true innovation, you have to be prepared to do things and take risks and make choices and maybe fail and then try again.”

This idea of breaking the rules is intimately familiar to Sculley himself. He is the man who decided to market Apple computers to the same customer base as IBM. Sculley believes that in order to be truly innovative there needs to be elements of all of it. A willingness to break the rules with the ability and singular drive to make the necessary decisions that will allow a company to reach their goals.

To read the full interview please visit: