You can’t fake change at the World Business Forum

You can’t fake change at the World Business Forum
June 5, 2017 Anne Fulwood

5th June 2017:

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wants to fix the news. That was the biggest story from day two of this year’s World Business Forum in Sydney.

As an internet entrepreneur he knows a thing or two about disruption but has deep concerns, like so many of us, about the rise of fake news and its impact on public debate. He denounced the social media business model, which surrounds us with our own world view and encourages a click-based “race to the bottom”.

Many of us have aired similar grievances but Jimmy’s doing something about it. In the coming weeks he’ll launch Wikitribune – an online news service employing journalists, editors and fact checkers – with the lofty goal of delivering news with integrity.

Can he repeat the success of Wikipedia, which is now the fifth most popular website in the world? It seems unlikely given his new venture’s subscription model. Even the most respected publishers are struggling to make people pay for content in an industry where free is now normal.

Still, it’s difficult not to wish him well in this new venture. The first Wikitribune article will be an interview with Edward Snowden who, as we all know, leaked classified information from the US Government and is now exiled in Russia.

Building social impact into business strategy

Professor Ian Williamson, Chair of Leadership for Social Impact at the Melbourne Business School, challenged us to think about how social issues impact economic activity. For this reason, he said they need to be part of your business strategy or you risk disruption and even irrelevance.

If social issues have as big an impact as changes in technology, customer preferences or demographics, what does this mean for leadership? Ian suggested a good leader needs three attributes to meet these new challenges – Awareness, Motivation and Capability.

  • Awareness – Know which information you can’t ignore and accept that things are constantly changing. Diversity, age, migration, knowledge workers, part-time employment – all big issues that require awareness and action.
  • Motivation – Once you have an awareness of the social trend, it requires acceptance and then motivation to implement new processes. Ian argued that diverse workforces bring positive outcomes and keep your business relevant: “If you can do more things for more people, you create greater value.”
  • Capability – Finally you have to bring it all together, mixing new insights or expertise that might never have been combined before. This ties in nicely to the concept of openness put forward by Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the first day of the forum.

Getting ahead with emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman, a world renowned authority on emotional intelligence, played on the forum’s theme for this year of being in a constant state of beta. He claimed emotional intelligence was the key to making us all “better betas”.

Daniel put the case that the higher you rise in an organisation, the more your EI matters. After all, you’re mostly managing people so the art of leadership is getting high-quality work done through your team. Skills and IQ help get you the position but it’s the management of people, and effective communication with them, that matters more once you’re there.

Daniel’s four competencies of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. And, if you’re a day-dreamer, you’ll be delighted to know it has huge potential benefits. He explained how this gives your brain space to make new connections. This is where great creative insights are born.

From Silicon Valley to Broadway

The day ended with a ball of energy in the form of Randi Zuckerberg – the sister of Facebook founder, Mark. She noted that the best features of social media are also the worst. For example, each one of us has become a media company – we all have capacity to publish but that’s a big responsibility because one press of a button lets you reach the world but could also can ruin your career.

Her coup de grace was singing a stanza from her latest gig, where she’s achieved a dream of being on stage in the Broadway musical Rock of Ages. This felt like a fitting end to the two-day conference, a real-life example of how we’re constantly in a state of beta. Put another way – it’s never too late to learn a new trick!

Anne Fulwood, Media Director