As part of my journey during the International Flex EMBA I had the opportunity to attend a World Business Forum in New York, organized by WOBI, which proved to be a very worthwhile and enriching experience.

This year’s theme was “humanification”, which is probably something we need to recover since the world may continue developing but the human side is being somewhat left behind. The world is turning more and more digital and, in most cases, less human. This is a summary of the main inspirational ideas and insights shared by all the speakers.

The 2-day event started with the famous Professor Michael Porter, someone I have admired since I was at university. He talked about how the digital revolution is transforming competition and companies and how we are now surrounded by ‘Smart Connected Products’ (SCP). All over the world we are seeing products becoming complex systems because they include sensors, software, connectivity and operation in the cloud.

These Smart Connected Products require the consideration of a new set of design principles, such as evergreen product improvement, new user interfaces (Augmented Reality), low-cost variability and customization, connected service, product sharing and interoperability and optimization across product systems. Professor Porter also highlighted how augmented reality (AR) will enhance the capabilities of the SCP, which will drive value across the value chain. He closed by pointing out that we should pursue self-making through others by being human and offering insight.

It was then the turn of Abigail Posner, who talked about how the digital amplifies the human experience and how, with the help of social media, people want to rediscover the beauty of the familiar. To become viral on the web, any post should contain something familiar to people so that there can be an energy exchange, and if we share something that transmits humor it has a higher probability of becoming viral.

The next speaker was Oscar Di Montigny, who shared some important insights about people and the managers of tomorrow who should focus on ethics, values and behaviors, considering the real battle today is against mediocracy. He closed mentioning the importance of doing the correct thing, doing good, being honest and thinking collectively for the good of our planet.

The next speaker of the day was Annie Mckee, who talked about the importance of happiness at work. She recommended living our values and have a positive impact with three considerations: (i) make, create and innovate, (ii) fix problems and contribute and (iii), find purpose in your relationships. Mckee also presented a manifesto towards happiness at work that is worth sharing:

  • Be authentically yourself and celebrate others for who they are
  • Nurture optimism, honor the pain of failure, hold on to hope and advance
  • Be calm
  • Be brave
  • Fight oppression, insist on justice, foster humane working conditions
  • Break the rules about overwork – just don’t do it anymore
  • Love yourself and find something to love and honor in everyone
  • Have fun!

 

The first day was full of insights and was closed by Michael Phelps, who said that preparation was key to reaching the top level: “If I am prepared I will win, if not, I’ll get what I deserve”.

After I had given my brain a rest from the great amount of information to process and assimilate, the second day greeted us with sunshine. It started with Professor Stew Friedman, who talked about total leadership, an approach for creating sustainable change to improve performance in all parts of life: be real (authenticity), be whole (integrity), be innovative (creativity). It was then the turn of Rachel Botsman and Stephen M. R. Covey, both of whom shared important thoughts about trust. While Botsman explained that trust is the currency of interactions in the digital age, and thus we are outsourcing our capacity to trust to an algorithm (“in bots we trust”), Covey shared his view that trust is an economic driver and it is reciprocal, so, if you give trust you receive trust (the same applies for distrust). The more trust you have/give, the faster and more inexpensively you will do business with someone.

Closing the event, it was time to hear Professor Jonah Berger, who talked about invisible influences on consumer behavior. To make consumers trust, companies need to build trust based on credibility and behavior; this is why companies need to do the right thing especially when there are huge consequences. Finally, the great Anthony Bourdain shared his experiences around the world and encouraged everyone to stay open to new possibilities.

After the close of the event, I was still processing all the information but so glad I could attend and hear such great speakers thanks to WOBI. Now it is time to spread the word and share all these insights by taking action, living our values and revitalizing our downgraded humanity.