Twenty-five hundred citizens from around the world have descended on the snowy ski resort of Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum's annual meeting. This year's theme is The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models. I like that it is about ‘shaping' new models and not necessarily ‘creating' them.
The diversity of people and confluence of ideologies is prevalent and core to the lively and smart discussions. Nowhere is the diversity more evident than in the outlook of the world's future. From my conversations thus far I have been struck by the conflict between those who are incredibly optimistic and carry a high level of confidence that new and better solutions are being developed through impactful innovators vs. those who are much more pessimistic about the future and the increasing number and power of the prolonged world crises we are experiencing.
Those bordering on pessimism believe that the new reality is here to stay. I am much more aligned to the optimists. And frankly, I have been struck by the optimism that is a common outlook of most of the social entrepreneurs. It seems rationale that a social entrepreneur exists because he/she is focused on creating solutions to our world's problems. We believe that our society's biggest challenges are solvable, and that, as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus said, "the distance between the impossible and possible is shrinking."
One idea that I am certain is a game changer for all of us is the idea of collective impact. No one business, no one government, no single sector can do it alone. Multiple stakeholders need to have shared values because they truly have shared responsibilities. By taking collective action we can have collective impact, and that will be our fastest and most powerful path to the necessary solutions.
It was an incredibly exciting first day of Davos. While today is the first official day of the WEF, yesterday was a pre-forum day spent with Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs. Between the programming of the brilliant and thoughtful Schwab Foundation's team and the talent of the Social Entrepreneurs in the room, it would have been worth the journey to Davos even if it were my only day here.
How can one not be optimistic about the new models we can shape and the resulting transformations we can have just based on the idealism, experience and perseverance in that room? I look forward to the continuing debate over the next couple of days. I was on a panel this morning for a session called The Creative Workplace. I will share more about that in an upcoming blog.