CHICAGO — Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large of Fortune Magazine, provided keynote remarks to a full room of business leaders at our Doing Business Globally program this morning.

Mr. Colvin discussed corporate culture, competition, and how companies can position themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Some key takeaways:

  • Corporate culture is highly important. What is corporate culture? It’s what people do when no one is telling them what to do.
  • We are in an era where it is increasingly difficult for businesses of all types to gain a competitive advantage that is sustainable.
  • High performing businesses do the following  — they innovate their business model, they integrate the elements of their business to create a fabulous customer experience, and they build new high-value skills.
  • What are those high-value skills? They are changing, and not what they used to be, Mr. Colvin said. They are the skills of deep human interaction – empathy and solving problems creatively.
  • For example, software engineers need to be empathetic so they can feel the experience that the user of their software is having, and they need to be collaborative, because the complex problems they often face can only be solved by a team.
  • Companies that do these three things will be out of the mainstream. It takes courage to do them, but if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re not going to be an outstanding performer, Mr. Colvin said.