This article was written by Andrea Chen, from Boma China. It has been translated here for our English speaking audiences.
On September 25-26, the first Boma Germany Summit was held in Berlin. Hundreds of attendees participated in discussions about technology, humanity, ethics, and the future of leadership. Well-known professors, entrepreneurs, and designers from more than 25 countries participated in this feast of change and influence.
The Boma summit was held in the heart of Berlin, just five minutes from the official residence of German Chancellor Merkel and right next to where high school students in Berlin were conducting a climate protest. The first day of the summit also coincided with the four-year anniversary of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
We know that the future is one of exponential growth. The first solar-powered aircraft has already been born, and it’s only a matter of time before driverless cars are on the road. These technological advances, and ones similar to them, bring infinite opportunities. However, we also face a tough situation and more than a few problems. The agriculture we depend on is one of the primary causes of global warming, and our population is continuing to swell. Tech companies and unequal access to education are increasing the economic divide. Automation is erasing entire jobs and leading to a dramatic increase in the need for high-skilled workers.
Individuals and organizations alike are facing unprecedented challenges.
But according to one speaker, Trent McConaghy, the future can be a utopia. He calls it "Nature 2.0," a time where artificial intelligence and blockchains are synthesized like creatures, and a time where roads and power plants flow smoothly like rivers. But in order for this vision to be realized, we will need to focus on more than just the bottom line. We will need to build with a careful balance of profit and purpose.
McConaghy states that this means that we must change our way of thinking; "Now, the KPI of human civilization is money, but the KPI of our future civilization needs to be that every species has the opportunity to realize itself," he said. This will require thoughtful leadership across all levels.
According to Salim Ismail, to realize the most positive future, we will also need to embrace exponential thinking. Ismail is one of the founders of Singularity University and the best-selling author of Exponential Organizations. More than a year ago, he became a director of the X-Prize Foundation, as he was looking for a more radical approach to innovation that could change reality for the better.
Ismail asserts that, if individuals and organizations are to keep pace with advances, they must be prepared to confront disruption and fully integrate novel technologies and systems into their business models. If we stick to the status quo, we will be left behind.
Ismail spoke at length about what it will take to adopt an exponential mindset and become an exponential organization, stating that, in the end, it all comes down to a willingness to question and challenge the way things currently work. "If you are not disrupting your business or industry, someone else is," he said.
According to Davos global youth leader Insa Klasing, to lead effectively, individuals must also realize that they aren't the only ones with good ideas. Corporate leaders and decision-makers are no longer seen as omnipotent, and they need to start acting accordingly. Leaders need to learn to “lead from leave management” and give the team more autonomy, she said.
After graduating from the top of Oxford University, Klasing built a school in the Himalayas and then returned to business, becoming the helm of the four European countries for KFC. In her time away from daily management at KFC, which resulted from an injury, her subordinates accidentally invented a very popular product: a burger without bread. This made her reflect that what is most needed in the business world is cognitive change, increased autonomy, and an openness to ideas — regardless of where they come from.
Carlo van de Weijer is head of the Strategic Area Smart Mobility at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. On the stage, he did not promote the future of self-driving cars, like many people, but instead suggested that the future of urbanization and travel lies in the "carless driver" — in alternate forms of transport that don't rely on automobiles at all. Such changes will do more than just transform the way we travel, it will reshape who we interact with and how we conduct business. In light of all of these changes, one thing is clear: leading in the world of tomorrow will require new ways of thinking and new ways of acting.
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