3. As the world gets increasingly connected we are also sometimes getting more disconnected: Today over 3 billion people are connected with over 1.5 billion people on Facebook alone. But oddly a combination of people seeking out people like themselves, algorithms that maximize engagement by showing us things we agree with has actually left us disconnected from ideas, individuals and initiatives that do not “fit” our lives. Thus we float in our little bubbles, warm in our soapy self-loving embrace, while occasionally flaming and pricking other bubbles that float by which are not aligned with our way of thinking.
This lack of connection and trust was seen in Edelman’s Trust Barometer where trust levels for business, leaders and the media were at all-time lows. People now look to friends and family and people like themselves for news, opinion and expertise. We can make fun of some of our “post-truth” politicians but if we spend our time in our own self-reinforcing chambers are we not also “post-fact” or “post-truth”?
And it is here where I found the folks at Davos were behaving with trepidation and uncertainty. For instance, given the huge concentration of wealth or revenue in a sliver of companies and people (10 percent of the companies drive 80 percent of profits, 8 people have the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, and technology is actually making more wealth go to fewer people with in many tech industries one company taking it all) there was very little real discussion on any painful steps that would be needed to be taken to ensure that those left behind and angry do not explode. No talk of new regulations or laws. No talk of taxes. No talk of re-distribution. Apparently providing training (with no details of even how this was to be done) and some light self-regulation will be enough.
The reason that at Davos there was uncertainty because the folks know that society is changing in ways where an unmitigated quest of globalization, improving the state of the world at the expense of the state of a country and pursuing stock holder return/wealth creation alone, no longer resonates or will be accepted.
It is the reason many companies are leading with the “Responsible and Responsive” focus ensuring that in addition to CSR activities they truly help people’s lives get better. The soft edges of a companies will become competitive edges.
#3 of the 7 takeaways from Davos.