Davos 2020: Awesome week of great conversations
It was my first time at Davos and here are some highlights which could find a way to guide and grow our industry.
Definitely, those were days of conversations with a much more diverse group of people than most expect and a foremost creative force of various agendas and fringes. With topics like how next-generation technology will introduce new possibilities, how collaborative leadership is a key to sustainable solutions, and how we can tackle issues such as the growing skills and global enforcement gap.
“The purpos of a company is not only to serve its shareholders, but socitey at large. “ — Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
WEF Annual Meeting has been witness to many mega global trends and events. This year it comes against a potential environment and climate crisis, the backdrop of a global economy, the emergence of data as a new currency, and polarized views on each of these themes. That is why Davos 2020 theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” could not have been more relevant.
There were seven subthemes under which the various sessions of the conference and a couple of them stood out for their importance, audience interest and lessons thereon. It is no easy to summarize precisely all of that, but it would be valuable strength and potential to reflect a few things stuck out and are essential for the creative industries.
👉 Climate change was a key theme at Davos 2020. According to the scientists, one reason action to tackle climate change is so urgent is that we are close to several tipping points which could accelerate global warming even more. While businesses may greenwash and talk about all great things, they’re doing there has to be a stronger sense of setting up incentives to get this addressed. A process that has already started and may gain momentum with the creation of company accounting standards for climate-related risks.
👉 Collaborative leadership: The successful leaders will be the ones who can lead their organization and teams to make adaptability a standard way of life. That is more challenging than leading for efficiency because it requires skills in leading others to discover new disruptive problems and implement new disruptive solutions. It will be especially crucial for leading interdisciplinary teams in thinking innovatively together. Valuing different stages of the process and appreciating different ways of understanding things and using such understanding is especially important in collaborative leadership.
👉 Initiatives launched: The 1t.org project aims to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world to sequester carbon from the air and to protect biodiversity. The Forum unveiled UpLink, an open platform to unite problem-solving entrepreneurs with the backing they need from the World Economic Forum’s communities. The idea is to scale up solutions to the challenges the world faces — from climate change to poverty — to meet the UN’s global goals for a fairer world by 2030.
👉 View on the future: We heard so much about the enormous promises of technology, and these promises are undoubtedly real. But technology might also disrupt human society and the very meaning of human life in numerous ways, ranging from the creation of a global useless class to the rise of data colonialism and digital dictatorships. Yuval Noah Harari spoke on the Congress Hall stage about how nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption pose an existential threat to human civilization.
👉 The era of trust: In a session on the future of stakeholder capitalism, the Forum’s underlying belief that businesses are responsible for all parts of society, business leaders called for a new era. Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce, said: “ Capitalism as we have known it is dead. This obsession with maximising profits for shareholders alone has led to a climate emergency.” And now, as the WEF Annual Meeting marks its 50th anniversary, Professor Klaus Schwab has released a new Davos Manifesto to ensure that stakeholder capitalism delivers on its potential to tackle today’s environmental and social challenges.
“If you are attending this conference, you need to commit to job training. If you are attending this conference, you need to commit to reskilling. And that is what we mean by stakeholder capitalism, serving all stakeholders — including the workforce.” — Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
👉 Businesses have more to do: A multitude of critical voices demanded a paradigm shift for more sustainable and responsible solutions. What is of essence is not hard power, but inspirational leadership, humility and determination. As Satya Nadella said: CEOs in today’s world have more to do to communicate that stakeholder capitalism is for the shareholders’ long-term benefit.
“CEOs in today’s world have more to do to communicate that stakeholder capitalism is for the shareholders’ long-term benefit.” — Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft
👉 Research and creative thinking can change the world. Quality academic research and innovation are crucial. It is equally important to get ideas out into the world beyond academia. It could make a real difference in people’s lives.
“We need to not have the end goal in sight, we need to play and have fun — and innovation will come out of that naturally.” — Fionn Ferreira, teenage delegate at Davos
Listening and having many exciting conversations these days, I believe the WEF Annual Meeting has much to offer the creative industries — business model differentiation, change and a vision for it.
Creative industries can’t afford to have people holding back potential breakthroughs. It is essential to recognise that radical, disruptive thinking is not something that can be mandated. Each stakeholder of the industry is responsible for creating a working environment in which critical thinking, new ideas, creative solutions, and innovations can flow unencumbered.
No matter where one looks around the world today, organisations face a common challenge: the need to improve their performance to capitalise on rapid change.