Once again from St. Petersburg- Discussion between Mr. Palmisano, Chairman of the Board, IBM Corporation and Mr. Cho, President of Toyota about innovation


On Tuesday, 5th I went to Hermitage, the long awaited place.  Everything was wonderful and splendid. 300 years ago, Peter I the Great ordered to build a city on this barren land. Huge number of people must have died, as it is a damp area at the mouth of the river. In the winter, it will be cold beyond one’s imagination, so the situation must have been tragically miserable. Information about this place is available through the column which I posted last time and the site of Mr. Deguchi. Speaking of it reminds me the tragic story of Napoleon’s attack on Russia and his defeat.

‘Wonderful’ is the best word to express this Museum. There is a nice view of the porch (Photograph 1) after climbing the main staircase of entrance; it is also good that most of the internal flooring is made of wood. How did the people in those days live and what did they do to earn their living? What was the lifestyle of the people called as common people or the serfs? What was the composition of the population? Most of these exhibits are available on the site of Hermitage.

When you see the site, you can understand the extent of the support of IBM. I think that there are hardly 20 paintings of Davinci, but his very famous 2 paintings “Litta Madonna” and “Benois Madonna” are exhibited in a pair here.

If you see the pictures you will say “Oh! those pictures.”

“Head of Medusa" of Rubens was also on special exhibition. (Taking snap of that picture was not allowed). Matis’ collection was also wonderful. These paintings can be viewed on the website as above.

Like Vatican and Louvre Museum, the banquet hall gives you an idea of the great luxury in those prosperous days.  It was really something.

Let me show you some of the photos (Photographs 1-6). The photographs may be blur, as they are taken with a small camera.

Stpetersburg2014_3Photo1: Porch after climbing the main staircase of entrance of Hermitage

Stpetersburg2010_3Photo2: In the court of Peter 1 the Great

Stpetersburg2009_2Photo3: Banquet hall (1)

Stpetersburg2011_3Photo4: Banquet hall (2)

Stpetersburg2007_2Photo5: Pictures of Generals

Stpetersburg2012_2Photo6: Hall

In the evening, I attended the reception hosted by IBM in the courtyard. After the reception, others went on admiring the beauty of Hermitage in the midnight sun but I returned back. It seems that many of them had returned after midnight.

Stpetersburg2017_2Photo7:  In the Hermitage courtyard, Professor Takeuchi of Hitotsubashi business school (On observer’s right) and Mr. Nagashima, President of Teijin Limited

Stpetersburg2016_2Photo8: In the same courtyard, Mr. Mehta, former Chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on left, Mr. Arimoto (on extreme right)

Next day, I attended the Business Leadership Forum of IBM, for which I came here. It was held in the Philpharmonic concert hall in front of Russian Museum that I had introduced in my column of June 4. A welcome speech by Mr. Palmisano, Chairman of the Board, IBM Corporation (he had worked in IBM, Japan during year 1991 to 1993) followed by a speech of Mr. Cho, President of Toyota.  Then, a discussion by those two moderated by Mr. Takeuchi, whom I had introduced to you before. The duration of each speech was about 45 minutes, but the content was so excellent that two and a half hours passed with surprising swiftness before one could know, and all were very pleased. There were about 20 participants from Japan as well. It was a pleasure to see that 2 out of the 3 people on the platform were Japanese which had an impact,  and the contents of speech were filled with knowledge and inspirations.

Especially, the Q and A session of Mr. Cho was excellent. Situation like this, where Japanese played an active role was rare recently, so people who participated must have been encouraged and given energy.  Mr. Takeuchi has presided over very well as if he was like an outstanding entertainer. Mr. Takeuchi was entrusted to host 2 panels in the morning session. Apparently people highly trusted him which is very nice.

Stpetersburg2018_2Photo9: In front of the assembly hall, Mr. Otoshi, Director of IBM Japan and Mr. Arimoto. They were classmates at the university.

People came to participate from various countries and all were great people. To name a few,  Dr. Carlota Perez, Dr. Rosabeth Kantor, and people from Telstra of Australia and ZARA of Spain (both are distinct enterprises) were fantastic. I think hereabouts are posted on IBM’s website. I also heard several instructive phrases all of which are placed in the latest "Innovation 25".

"My confidence became strong assurance”, as Daisuke Matsuzaka put it, best expresses my feeling.  However, the challenge is whether it can be implemented. The problem with Japan is always whether they can carry the plans out.  At least the people who have visited my blogs will understand the reason. Action is vital.  I don’t want to hear any reasons for not being able to implement plans.

At night, there was a reception in Russian Museum of Ethnography (Photograph 10, 11). Next morning I woke up at 3 a.m. I am writing this in the flight to Vancouver via Frankfurt.

Stpetersburg2019_2Photo10: Bird eye view of Assembly hall of Russian Museum of Ethnography

Stpetersburg2020_2Photo11: Mr. Arimoto and Professor Wu Maw-Kuen, Head of Institute of Physics, Taiwan