Thriving and surviving in a networked world

Thriving and surviving in a networked world

Two thought provoking days at the Global Peter Drucker Forum 2019 discussing the power of ecosystems in business. Day one made a compelling case of eco-systems as an emerging business model enabled by digitization. Eco-systems are inter-woven relationships replacing products by customer experience, i.e. providing a set of solutions. Assumptions are that networking and inter-dependence will create a better society, stakeholder value will replace shareholder value, etc. Day two looked at changing human relationships in eco-systems, impact on organizational design and leadership in eco-systems. Some of my take-aways and reflections:

1.      When power is no longer attributed through hierarchy, the definition of leadership changes, away from the infallible leader to recognition that leaders are human and thus imperfect. In a networked world leaders need to be teachable, connect, build trust and empower others. Baby-boomer managers today have been conditioned differently. They are in their positions for their ability to enforce, to push through, to decide over others. We are talking about a 180 degree shift in leadership behaviour requiring self awareness, reflection about oneself and the world, and humbleness. I like to think humbleness in the german word DEMUT which contains Mut = courage – THE COURAGE TO SERVE. 

2.      An impressive presentation by Aviva Wittenberg-Cox on inclusion of women: Need for the work place to be gender bilingual meaning to learn the language and culture of women. I’d like to add that vocabulary matters, new words need to be introduced to describe desired behaviours and skills for women and men: Curiosity, compassion, sharing, care ….. 

3.       What fell short was a debate on the impact of a digitized eco-system economy on the outer boundary of all eco-systems, namely society. A probing of the assumptions, an examination from various perspectives. In short, stepping out of the echo-chamber. Which model do we want to follow: the Chinese model? A European model? Who benefits from the value created? Even more profoundly how do we define ‘value’? How much decision-making power should be given to algorithms? Should there be a framework of values governing decision-making? Value created must serve society in an inclusive way or it will lead to more inequality and social disruption.

4. My personal conclusion: Deep changes raise deep questions and need the courage to face them.