Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld says innovation is key

The problems facing our country and our global economy are far too complex to be the province of one party or one individual. And I think one of the things that I am most impressed by in the early days of President-elect Obama's administration is his willingness to gather around him a variety of points of view. That notion of fighting it out to get consensus is a very powerful idea that I hope will continue into his administration.

Q: Could that work in business? Usually when one person gets the top job, the people who are passed over send out their résumés.

A: It happens every day in a business setting. The challenge (is to create an) environment where people are comfortable speaking their minds. The more we can encourage that kind of culture in our companies and our government and in any other institutions that we're dealing with, that's how we're going to be able to get better solutions.

Q: Do you make special accommodations to get skeptics in and avoid group-think?

A: I believe very strongly in the value of having a diverse team around me that comes from very different backgrounds and different points of view. My chief financial officer comes from Ingersoll-Rand, which is about as far from a consumer company as you can get. And he brings a very different perspective than my head of strategy, who comes from Bain Consulting, or my head of international, who comes from another consumer company.

Having a diverse set of perspectives around the table in an environment where they are encouraged to speak their mind and to bring their differing perspectives to the solution to our problems has served us exceptionally well. And it's a model that can work in the government, it can work in business and in academics, and any institution can benefit.

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