Monthly Archives: February 2000

Davos Newbies Home

Although the Annual Meeting ended yesterday, one group carried on through this morning. The GLTs, or Global Leaders for Tomorrow, have part of their private meeting on Wednesday morning. Over the years, this has been occasionally a social morning, but since 1999 the GLTs have been organised in workgroups dedicated to particular tasks.

There are seven groups which were founded last year, but the most interesting aspect of today was the discussion on potential new workgroups. There are two new ideas that I think are worth noting.

First, Pippa Malmgren of UBS suggested that the GLTs form what might be called a mentoring corps. The corps would not mentor younger leaders, as might be expected, but more senior ones — in both business and politics — who, in the modern phrase, still don’t get it. The GLT mentors would be available on a private, informal, off-the-record basis to induct an older generation into some of the mysteries of new thinking and the new economy.

The other new idea, which came from several directions, was the creation of a GLT foundation. A lot of details need to be worked out, but the basic idea is to build a fund “to enable the passions of GLTs in the context of improving the state of the world”. It’s a grand aim, but the extraordinary energy of the GLTs should be channelled to achieve something remarkable.

Davos Newbies Home

This will be the final posting before I leave Davos this year. A few impressions of the final day.

Once again, the Schatzalp lunch was extraordinary. In my eight years of Davos, only one Schatzalp lunch has been blighted by cloud, and this year the sky was the cerulean blue that one only finds in the high mountains. One thousand people came to the lunch, which suggests that my advice that it is one of the highlights of Davos (I’m sure others say the same) is being followed by many.

This afternoon, I chaired a plenary on “Shock of the new”, how new forms of business and new attitudes towards it are emanating outward from Silicon Valley. It isn’t a technology story, but an organisational one. Once again, we had an excellent panel: Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of Ebay, Chuck Parrish, head of, Kari Stefansson, CEO of Decode Genetics, and Barbara Kux, executive director of Ford. What worked (and this wasn’t because of my chairmanship) was an excellent rapport among the panelists. Remark was followed by response without much prompting from me.

The conclusions? We are moving from a business world where Machiavelli is the touchstone, to one where trust and collaboration are the foundations. And business will be based on biological metaphors (co-dependence, ecosystem, organic) rather than mechanical ones.

One other touch from “Shock of the new”. Kari, whose company is purely based on intellectual property, noted that over 1,000 years ago, Iceland’s only exports were intellectual property. Iceland supplied the poets for many of the courts of Europe. I was going to mention in conclusion that I wonder how much we’ve progressed in 1,000 years since we don’t, to my knowledge, export poets. However, Kari went on to note that among the ways his company remains human and averts stress is to bring poetry into the workplace. A few of us on the panel concluded we need to visit Iceland.

Right now, the penultimate plenary, on a values-added century, is running (please note the “s”: it’s not value-added). One quote from the opening remarks. “Values are for the soul what colours are for the eyes.” ´Xóchitl Galvez Ruiz from Mexico.

Today started with perhaps the most startling images of Davos. Rajendra Pawar, chairman of NIIT, India, showed some clips of a screen that had been embedded in a wall in a poor village in India. Next to it was a touch pad. The clips showed children approaching this unfamiliar device and within two minutes they were exploring the web.

Pawar called it “minimally invasive education”. That will change the world.

In the same session, “The world joins the World Wide Web”, we polled the audience on whether there was an Internet stock bubble. Seventy per cent said yes. On whether the Internet market would be bigger than the PC market, over 90 per cent said yes.

***Advance warning
Our entire IT infrastructure will be disassembled this evening. So tomorrow’s posting will be, at best, done when I get home to London in the evening. So loyal Davos Newbies (and the stats show there are a few) will find nothing new tomorrow until around 10pm GMT. I’ll keep filing today, however, until the closing plenary.