World Economic Forum 2012 .. some thoughts

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Davos 2012.
Some thoughts on the WEF conference

Having trawled through many of the summaries, videos, tweets and other reports on the conference, I am trying to pull together my overall feelings and perceptions about the 2012 Davos conference.

There were hundreds (perhaps thousands) of issues discussed, but the big themes arising were the Eurozone crisis, the jobless situation particularly among the youth, the impact of social media, the questioning of the capitalist system and the gap between the have’s and have-nots (included/excluded; in-system/marginalised). Naturally, there was also discussion around the ubiquitous topics of energy, social entrepreneurship, visions and values.

I had (still have) a level of discomfort about the composition of the gathering. The governments, regulators and financiers, who must hold some of the blame for what is a less-than-comfortable world economic environment, are those selected to discuss the situation and what should be done about it – without much input from the other 99,999% of the world who are trying to muddle through the mess. And doing it at a venue that costs most of the business people about $40,000 to attend the 5 day event!

A classic example, Vikram Pandit (CEO of Citibank), co-chair of the Forum said “Jobs should be our number one priority”. A few stats about Citibank: they took a $45bn bailout, share price has fallen 91% since Pandit took over in 2007; they announced a 4,500 job-cut in December and Vikram received a $3,7m bonus for his 2011 performance. I am sure some must doubt his capability to envision and champion job creation schemes.

Having said that, I do fully support the Forum and believe Klaus Schwab’s initiative is very important. Perhaps there were fewer solutions forthcoming in this round, but at least the debates were had and new ideas put on the table. Furthermore, despite the tough times and apparent insurmountable problems, the almost TED-like feeling of optimism and good-will that most delegates take away has to be a good thing given the power that many of them wield.

One of the sources of optimism and a highlight of the conference, was the input from the 70 YGL’s (young global leaders) who were invited to participate. Many of them with fresh perspectives on issues and with significant successes already achieved, they offered a new energy and challenge to the status quo. I can recommend watching the closing video  (Note: WEF web-site sometimes has some technology issues in accessing the videos – keep trying!)where 4 of those YGL’s were on the podium – including a young South African woman: Rapelang Rabana. She was an inspiration, especially in comparison to the tired panel called “Africa: from transition to transformation” chaired by Gordon Brown and with 5 African heads of state including SA’s Zuma – all except perhaps Condè (President of Guinea), were embarrassing to watch as they blamed everyone and anyone (except themselves) for non-delivery on the continent and seemed unable to articulate an inspiring and credible vision for Africa. (The fact that some of these leaders continue to address Gordon as Mr Prime Minister left me wondering if they knew he is one of the millions who has recently lost his job!).

I would encourage Klaus to continue including these Young Global Leader’s and also try and open it up to other inspiring segments of the world population who are making positive changes in the world – after all you don’t have to be in the top 0,001% of the worlds richest or less than 30 years old to “make a dent in the world”.

Another theme that is not new, but is increasing in importance and close to our hearts here at Genesis, is the issue of collaboration in decision making. As leaders become more alert to the ramifications of their strategic decisions and the impact that the outcomes have on many lives across continents and even generations, there is a growing acknowledgement that more people must be included in the decision making process. We are not saying that all decisions should be consensus decisions; in fact, we believe the overlap between consensus decisions and intelligent decisions is probably not that large – but where possible, “outcome-stakeholders” need to give their input. Not only by reminding decision makers about the potential impact of the decision, but frankly many people who do not sit at the boardroom table are able to offer crucial, creative and critical insights into the deliberations that could have a significant impact on increasing the possibility of a good outcome. Given we are in a world where many problems require new and innovative solutions and not simply a refinement of past responses, the broader and richer the input, the more likely we are going to make decisions that take us to new heights in growth and exciting, positive results.

At Genesis, we have been lucky enough to find technology partners who are able to provide solutions that can take us beyond old, stale ways of thinking and more importantly allow us to creatively and rapidly gather rich inputs from a broad range of stakeholders. These inputs are important whether we are solving problems, taking decisions or crafting new strategies – and we would be happy to see how we, or our partners, could help you to gain these benefits. Call or mail me for a discussion or demonstration of some of these tools.

Let me leave this summary with (my interpretation) of the thoughts of 3 of the young global leaders when asked what advice they would give the “older generation” when addressing the tough issues of today:

  • Listen: to everyone, not just your colleagues in the boardroom. Listen to youth, disenfranchised people, women, customers … really listen!
  • Do not always think linearly – think divergently and creatively.
  • Consider new technology and the scalability that can be gained through harnessing some of the tools available.

Occupy Davos supporters in their "igloo"

 

Teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime. Expose a man to the Internet & you’ll change his life.
Rapelang Rabana

WEF Global Risks 2012

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World Economic Forum
Global Risks 2012 Report

As we lead up to the annual WEF Davos meeting (The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models) starting this week, I thought I would bring to your attention their latest global risk report.

Any critical initiative – whether it be taking a strategic decision or crafting a new path to guide you through the continuing global economic crisis, it is critical to consider the future environment in which the initiative will be undertaken. An important part of this is understanding how the environment could change and the WEF Global Risk 2012 report is excellent input to this.

The report is detailed and well put together, but I strongly recommend having a look at the  “data explorer” section which has an exceptional set of interactive graphics. Click on the link below to reach the report.

WEF Global Risks 2012

 

 

World Economic Forum 2011 – commentary and CEO report

WEF Davos 2011: second report and global CEO survey

I have scanned the outputs, reports and videos to pick up issues of importance for your organisations. The big themes that are initially coming through appear to be:

1. The “new reality” is the shift of economic power to the East and related issues:

  • Unbalanced world economy including 2 growth rates (developing at 6% and more: developed at 2,5% and less)
  • Leadership and governance at nation level – will the “developing economies” show the necessary leadership and responsibility that goes with their new roles?
  • Western China, S. E. Asia and India will be the new low cost manufacturing hubs

2. Massive risks and uncertainties abound

  • Remaining economic uncertainty – including among others European debt and the threat of inflation, especially among developing economies
  • Possible energy and food crises
  • National protectionism and cross-border restrictions
  • Interconnectedness of everything – companies, supply chains, governments and finances

– all of the above making strategic decision making even tougher in this new reality.

However, there is also good news – CEO’s are more positive about growth in both the short-term and the long-term according to an excellent Global CEO Survey 2011 produced by PwC for the Davos forum. This finding plus a number of other fascinating facts are revealed in the executive summary of the report that you can download by clicking below. Responses include sources of future growth, outsourcing trends, major risks faced and issues around talent shortage and talent management.

2011 Global CEO Survey PwC

For further information around Davos outputs or a presentation (and facilitated discussion) around these presentations, please contact Simon at sgifford@genesis-esp.com.

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