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Former Member

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam addressed the sap employees in Bangalore labs, and it was one of the most prestigious occasions for sap. This session was well attended by all the leadership and employees of sap in india, and most importantly the first Indian in the sap board Dr. Vishal Sikka.

Dr. Kalam speech was titled ‘Creative leadership empowers organization’. Great title and very relevant for the existing and aspiring leaders in india. Dr. Kalam mentioned that he was reading a book named ‘Empires of the mind’, and was using few aspects he read there modified to the Indian context and including his real life examples as he shared this speech.

The famous quote from the speech was ‘What worked yesterday, will not work today’. The below table summarizes few aspects on what the quote means



Natural resources defined power

Knowledge defined power

Hierarchy was the model

Synergy is the mandate

Leaders commanded and controlled

Leaders empowered and coached

Shareholders interest come first

Customers interest come first

Employees took order

Teams made decisions

Seniority signifies status

Creativity attracts status

Value is extra

Value is everything


Dr. Kalam recalled an example of a mission critical project where due to US sanctions, the project had to be completely managed by Indian scientists and defense finance. He proudly shared how the Indian scientists could achieve success on their own, and he shared this as a great example of ‘Creative Leadership’ through great synergy and team work to achieve success that was mission impossible. He also highlighted that collective coordination of scientific and financial management was key, and highlighted that any project can become successful through this approach.


Another example was from Dr. Kalam’s early college days where he was assigned a complex project in a challenging timeline. His professor Srinivasan had challenged him to complete the project in a stipulated time. Dr. Kalam spent lot of nights but finally came out successfully working with the team. Dr. Kalam highlighted how Prof. Srinivasan brought out the ‘Value of Time’ as an important aspect of accomplishing desired results by challenging and stretching the team member. Dr. Kalam also thinks that if challenged – Human minds gets ignited and working capacity gets enhanced, to deliver wonderful results.

Dr.Kalam still recollects the wonderful  ‘Madras coffee’ he got from Prof.  as an appreciation for all the effort. Coming from madras, I know how it feels to have a good ‘madras coffee’.

Dr. Kalam also shared the two great minds that he had worked with  :

Prof. Vikram Sarabhai – Dr. Kalam attributed the success of how a creative leader needs a vision to achieve great results – Prof. Vikram Sarabhai had the vision to make india an india a self sufficient country to make and launch its own space satellites. Dr. Kalam describes the great ‘One page’ vision document that Prof. Sarabhai had created that turned out to be the national agenda document for space programs.

Prof. Satish Dhawan – Dr. Kalam highlights how creative leader manages success and failures very effectively – in this incident Dr. Kalam mentioned how Prof. Satish Dhawan who headed the ISRO, took all the blame when the first rocket launch was a failure by facing the press and one year later gave all the credit to the team after the success. Every creative leader takes the blame for failures but gives the credit for success to his team.

To summarize Dr. Kalam shared the seven qualities required to be a ‘Creative Leader’:

  1.  Great vision
  2.  Travel to unexplored territories
  3.  Manage success and failures
  4.  Courage to take decisions
  5.  Nobility
  6. Transparency
  7. Do everything and get success with integrity

Dr. Kalam concluded by asking everyone to stand up and adapt a style that would make them ‘creative leader’ and achieve the vision for 2020 that he has laid out for india to become a developed nation.

It was a speech par excellence and definitely lucky to listen and get inspired from Dr. APJ.

Could not resist from sharing this with the extended ecosystem of sap….