Man be­hind Davos

The Washington Post Sunday - - BUSINESS -

Ac­cept­ing cul­tural dif­fer­ences is key to the mod­ern busi­ness world, Klaus Sch­wab says.

David Ig­natius, Washington Post colum­nist, hosted an on­line dis­cus­sion with Klaus Sch­wab, founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, which met last week in Davos, Switzer­land. Q. As you talk to busi­ness­peo­ple around the world, do you have the sense that the global eco­nomic cri­sis is end­ing? That we’re get­ting bet­ter con­fi­dence and mus­cle tone, if you will, back in the world econ­omy?

A. I think we have to rec­og­nize that the post-cri­sis world will be very dif­fer­ent, and should be quite dif­fer­ent, from the pre-cri­sis world. We have to deal with a com­pletely new re­al­ity. We have the emer­gence of new pow­ers. We have the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion com­ing up, which will change cer­tain so­cial pat­terns.

If we re­ally look at how to come out of this cri­sis, we have to take into ac­count those new power man­tles which will de­ter­mine our world in the next years. Q. So you think it would be a mis­take for busi­ness man­agers or lead­ers to try sim­ply to re­build the old world that ex­isted? Maybe you could say what the newer goals and ideas might be.

A. We first, of course, have to sort out the con­se­quences of the cri­sis, and here we have to make a dif­fer­ence be­tween po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and busi­ness lead­ers.

If we look at the fu­ture for politi­cians, I think we have to change the pat­tern from a re­ac­tive to a much more proac­tive be­hav­ior, pol­icy set­ting.

For busi­ness lead­ers, I think the key is what we are see­ing now, it’s de-lever­ag­ing to come back to more rea­son­able, more sound frame­works of how we do busi­ness. And par­tic­u­larly to con­cen­trate on real busi­ness and less on vir­tual busi­ness. Q. When you be­gan World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, one pur­pose was to ex­pose man­agers in Europe to Amer­i­can man­age­ment tech­niques that were ad­vanc­ing quickly. De­scribe what Amer­ica was bring­ing to the world of busi­ness 40 years ago.

A. It was cer­tainly ef­fi­cien­cies and en­trepreneur­ship or risk-tak­ing. And the United States still is a role model for those traits of a leader. Q. And what do Amer­i­can busi­ness lead­ers have to learn from the rest of the world to­day?

A. In the past, the most de­ci­sive suc­cess fac­tor was how pro­duc­tive you were and which ef­fi­cient way you used re­sources and so on. To­day, the most im­por­tant suc­cess fac­tor is to rec­og­nize risks and to mit­i­gate those risks. Let’s look at BP. It went from very solid to sud­denly stum­bling over a risk.

The other is­sue is that we have to learn from one an­other. We are now much more in a mul­ti­cul­tural world. Chi­nese com­peti­tors will rise. In­dian com­peti­tors will rise. A leader of to­day has to be some­one who is not only very un­der­stand­ing about cul­tures and very at ease in deal­ing with dif­fer­ent cul­tures, but is some­one who ac­cepts cul­tural dif­fer­ences as a nat­u­ral way of do­ing busi­ness.

Klaus Sch­wab

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.