Davos 2011, the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF), began this week in Davos, Switzerland, a renowned winter ski resort for the wealthy and connected. The agenda at Davos reveals the global agenda of the World. The Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum made compelling statements that the world is at a turning point. “The new reality is an acceleration of globalization,” said Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman of Investor, a Swedish investment firm. To keep pace with emerging challenges, “we need to see more collaboration and dialogue between different stakeholders, which is what Davos is all about. As the economic center of gravity has shifted East and South – to nations such as India, China, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria and South Africa – a dual-track of global economic growth resulting in high rates of growth in emerging nations, and relatively low or stagnant rates in historically rich Western nations – such as the US, Britain, Germany and France – was recognized as the “New Normal.”
DAVOS 2011: The World Economic Forum Begins
What Wallenberg said about the need for collaboration has already been experienced in the U.S. The books “Firms of Endearment” and “The Necessary Revolution” highlighted companies that collaborate to achieve their sustainability goals AND win in the marketplace. Companies that embraced sustainable management practices in all areas of their business outperformed the S&P 500 by an 8 to 1 ratio.
Doing right can lead to doing well, and nation states could learn a lesson. One of the key differentiators of sustainable companies was the commitment to focus on long-range infrastructure building and not just next quarter’s investor report. The value was built in the long-term. As I pointed out in my blog, The Most Powerful MAN in the World, China has a heavy advantage against the U.S. and Europe in their ability to take swift government action and commit, without dealing with opposition, to long-term infrastructure development and the education of their people.
So, the U.S. needs a more sustainable form of government. Hundreds of countries have lived successfully for years not being the dominant superpower in the world. It generally means less of the GDP is devoted to military actions in foreign countries and a greater focus on domestic economies. So it may not be all bad. But if we are stuck on being Number 1 then we need to get real about what it takes; a commitment to education and infrastructure.
Where do everyday Americans come in? Well other nations are taking to the streets. Demanding responsive governments and a refocus on providing opportunity for all. Voting is great, but when your choices are corrupt or most corrupt it can feel ineffective.
What did my parents do? Good old civil disobedience, marching and protests. There is no better time than the present to redefine America. But all this is taking place while everyday Americans are struggling to make sense of their own new economic reality. Their struggle is overshadowed by exciting announcements of more “IPAD” like devices and an IPhone from Verizon. What does the “New Normal” mean to everyday Americans? Now is the time in our life where we will discover that – Together.