A Curious Mixture of Complacency and Dread

John Hagel is no dummy. So when he summarizes his experience at Davos, you can bet it’s worth reading.

More fundamentally, a curious mixture of complacency and dread seemed to pervade the formal and informal discussions at Davos. On the one hand, things are going pretty well in the global economy and the participants kept coming back to the strong performance of key economies around the world. As one economist observed on the opening day, “the outlook for 2006 is basically another goldilocks kind of year.”

On the other hand, executives in particular seemed to have a lot of anxiety about a myriad of challenges and frustrations, ranging from the possibility of pandemics to the intensifying economic competition on a global scale. On the latter topic, there seemed to be growing recognition that the cost cutting strategies that have largely driven corporate performance over the past couple of decades are delivering diminishing returns. At the same time, executives expressed considerable frustration about the difficulty in getting large organizations to deliver more significant and sustainable innovation to the marketplace. […]

Most people immediately assume we are talking about educational policy when we focus on the importance of talent development. In fact, we argue that education is becoming more marginal as the bulk of talent development occurs outside of traditional educational institutions. As one example, the rationale for the corporation is shifting from reducing interaction costs to accelerating talent development.As we begin to recognize that talent development is a continuing process and not confined to one stage of life, we will have to broaden our view of the institutional platforms required for talent development.

Bonus: MP3 of Bill Clinton talking with Davos founder Klaus Schwab (57 min).