If you did well in geography, when you read “Davos” you think “Switzerland.” If, however, you follow global financial and technology news, Davos is synonymous with the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum.
For those not familiar with it, the WEF is a not-for-profit foundation established in Switzerland in 1971. We all understand that it’s not for profit, but one has to ask, then, what exactly is it for?
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
But what does that mean? Unfortunately, not much of anything.
Every January, the wealthiest and therefore most powerful people in the world don their designer parkas and head for a Swiss ski resort to provide a, “rethinking of our systems and exploration of strategies and solutions that have positive transformational implications.” These are people who the media covers when they so much as fart. They control the destinies of companies and countries. They have names like Clinton, Gates, Medvedev, Huffington, Bono and Kullman. This year, attendees included 69 billionaires from 20 countries. Add to this some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet, and one would think amazing things would happen.
But they don’t.
Four decades on, the WEF has yet to affect positive change. People are, generally, in more dire straits than ever before. I find this incredibly frustrating because these people have the ability. They should do better.
Despite the carefully crafted descriptions quoted above, Davos is the worst kind of insider’s club, one that is concerned only with impressing itself. They don’t even worry about media coverage, because year after year global media prove themselves incapable of doing anything but fawning at Davos and its stellar attendee list.
Davos is replete with talk by people everyone listens to, but action doesn’t follow. The Davos glitterati could change the world without much effort. But they don’t. They are so concerned with maintaining their rarefied environment that they neglect to include (and fund) the people who could actually implement some of the ideas they discuss.
Who am I to challenge these titans? I’m one of the worker bees. I’m one of the people who takes instruction, filters ideas, and makes things happen. I have lots if ideas of my own—big ones and tiny ones—but ultimately, I’m a do-er. I’m tactical implementation more than strategic vision. I’m only a little person, really, one of the millions impacted by the decisions these goliaths of politics and industry make apparently so glibly.
I hope that next year, members of the Davos club decide to include people like me in the conference. I hope they task these people with taking an idea from Davos and make it a reality. A genuine, tangible reality.
Rather than just handing out awards to tech companies and celebrating entrepreneurs, make change happen. On the ground. In real life.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that Davos attendees are bad people. I know from personal and professional experience that some, like Carol Realini, believe in what they’re talking about. I’m challenging them all to make that belief reality.
Four decades on, it’s time.