Lessons Learned: Bannana in Russia

While reading the recent book Bannana in Russia by Martti Vallila, I validated the following lessons learned from Steve Blank:

If you don’t teach it or write it down, the accumulated knowledge of your career is gone.
War stories about your career can be entertainment, or even better if you want to teach, make them the basis of a strategy and methodology worth passing on.
Retirement doesn’t have to be only about golf and skiing.

In this book Martti explains how Russians with potentially transformational technologies can first protect and then launch their technologies into the outside world and how FINLAND can have competitive advantage in facilitating that. Vallila writes:
Finland, a country of 5 million, with a long boarder and history with Russia, is blessed with few natural resources and must rely on the resourcefulness of her people to create wealth. Finland is in a position to provide what Russia needs: trusted, transparent access to the world market, an incubator of technologies, developer of prototypes. Finland has historically played the lucrative role of middleman between the dollar and ruble zone in the days of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was Finland’s largest trading partner.

What mesmerized me the most is the following statement:

Quiet, reserved Finland makes a potentially efficient “gear-box” between mysterious, complex Russia, and the outside world.

Personally, I have never thought this possibility. I really thank the author in opening my eyes about this “gear-box” possibilities for Finland and SITRA has published a report from Trade to Partnership. Mr. Vallila has made a good reference of “The Russia Action Plan” published by Government of Finalnd. The emphasis on this report is in the area of close co-operation in the field of innovation.

My interest area in the book was on the competitive advantage angle for Finland and Martti’s conclusions in this chapter might wake up the brains of Finland as well:

Business Lessons in Martti’s words:

• Small, trusted neighbors with complimentary skills, are often the best partners for practical steps forward.
• There is great risk of “thinking small” if you are not big.
• The small should not be afraid to think big where they have a unique contribution.

Any comments and suggestions are welcome! The new frontier has just begun!!

According to Mr. Vallila, Russia has experienced a tumultuous 18 years, has emerged stable and confident, and faces its moment of truth: does she recoil into the stable state of a banana republic of oil and gas or does
she step forward, enter the global village, and contribute her considerable talents to the game of integrated human progress?
He concludes:
There is clearly a right answer.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Hey Krishna,
    Did you get any responses to this provocative review & comments?


  2. Posted by Nidhi Sen on September 13, 2010 at 18:21

    Well-written article, Krishna. You have sparked my interest in this book, which ofcourse is the goal of any good book-review!

    Take care,


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