Mohanbir Sawhney: The professor of agile innovation

An academic, teacher, consultant, speaker and occasional poet, Mohan Sawhney is all about innovation, new media and strategic marketing—and, he’s someone worth listening to.

A Professor of Technology and the Director of the Center for Research in Technology & Innovation at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, Mohan is a pioneer.

In the early 2000s, he made sense of emerging online B2B marketplaces and coined them e-Hubs. He lead research into community-centric innovation and started many companies on the path of innomediation. He encouraged businesses to adopt a ‘metamarket’ business strategy that would see customers’ needs met over the seller’s.

His vision is laid bare in the six books he has authored, the latest, Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused Growth, explores how companies can achieve focused and sustainable growth with ‘fewer, but bigger bets’ and move away from mad dashes towards short-term revenue wins.

The foundation of the book is a seven step program Mohan’s co-author, Sanjay Khosla followed when he was President of Kraft Foods and over five years increased sales from $5 billion to $16 billion.  

But, it’s not just books, leading journals, from the likes of California Management Review, Harvard Business Review and the MIT Sloan Management Review have published his research. He’s also hit the mainstream with pieces in the Financial Times, Fortune and CIO Magazine.

With this back catalogue of academic hits Mohan has turned his hand to advising and speaking to Global 2000 firms and governments. His client list is impressive: Accenture, Adobe Systems, AT&T, Boeing, Cisco Systems, Dell and DuPont only gets us up to the letter ‘D’ in his alphabetised list of clients. He also has, GE Goldman Sachs, SAP, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Nissan Motor on the list.

Then, there are the awards for teaching excellence, best paper, outstanding professor and an alumnus award from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta. In 2014, he ranked 16th on a list of the most influential thinkers of Indian origin by Thinkers50 and the Institute of Competitiveness. He’s also been named as one of the 25 most influential people in e-Business by Business week.

In his talks, Mohan focuses on innovation as the key to sustaining a competitive advantage in a market where disruption is accelerating. He has a focus on consolidating and creating new customer-centred approaches that make the most of a customer’s experience.

He calls for a culture that embraces experimentation and rapid iterative learning and collaborations on innovation inside and outside a company. This, he calls Agile Innovation.

On top of it all, Mohan serves on the boards and advisory boards of several technology companies, including Bahwan Cybertek, Cross-Tab Group, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Georama, LawGeex, PomVom, Sprinklr and vMock.

He continues his research and teaching at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University just outside of Chicago.


 Mohanbir Sawhney is scheduled to be taking the main stage on Wednesday, 31st May at 2pm.

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