If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What Would It Be?

Wef_logo (1) Next week I will make my annual trek to Davos for the World Economic Forum. I will be tweeting during the week and I will post my findings from the event on this blog -- most likely the week after.

I always go to Davos with a simple survey question that I ask everyone I meet with. Last year the question was: "When will the recession end?" The answers ranged widely, but averaged to April, 2010 (in retrospect, too gloomy). 

For this year I'm considering: "What is your number one priority for the next two years?" But that feels way too vanilla. 

So if you could ask a worldwide group of CEOs, political leaders, artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, academics, and media leaders one question, what would it be? I'd love to get your ideas.

I'd also appreciate your thoughts on social's impact. One of the sessions that I will be speaking at is titled: "The Growing Influence of Social Networks: How is the growth of social networks changing society?" Other participants include Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn, Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, and Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy.

What are your thoughts? If you had to name the primary impact of social, what would it be?

Thanks in advance for your ideas -- if I use any of them, I will be sure to give you attribution.

George

Comments

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

What are the major deterrents to a leader's enabling people within their organization from free use of new media tools (social networks, blogs, video, etc) as part of their role in the organization?

External security threats?
Internal security threats?
Lack of employee literacy?
Lack of leadership literacy?
Wouldn't fit within organizational culture?

(i conduct research and teach a class on new media theory at Indiana University, and would love to share this sort of information with my students)

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

My question to world leaders:
What measures are being implemented in order to minimize or avoid a relapse of another global economic crisis such as the one we are currently facing?

As for my thoughts on social media:
We've already seen the impact of social media on presidential elections and most recently, during the recent battle for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat right here in MA.

As social media evolves, so will its importance to candidates running for office. It will no longer be about just debates and showing up to rallies. The influence social media has had on recent elections is one that will continue to grow and become an integral (if not crucial) part of any political campaign.

On another note, with so many adopting social media around the world, we've also seen a rise in unqualified "expertise". For example, nowadays, anyone with over 1,000 followers on Twitter all of a sudden call themselves "experts" (on social media, SEO, or any other number of topics).

The question now becomes, how do you sift through the rabble and correctly identify the real experts while filtering the wannabes?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

A well known spiritual leader said the biggest issue facing humankind is overpopulation - do world leaders agree? - why is this issue so easy to ignore? We only have one home and it's earth.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

How do you adapt your business model if protectionism ramps up around the globe?

Safe Travels.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

What financial incentives and mechanisms can be put into place to promote a positive environmental impact over the next decade?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

my question would be : dear CEOs, political leaders, entrepreneurs, and media. In consumer surveys asking for the most trusted parties, you and your organizations all receive the lowest rankings.
Why you think that is the case, and what do you think to do in order to rebuild trust ?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

How can political and business leaders encourage the middle eastern countries to use some of their oil wealth to solve the problems of their own displaced people, and to contribute to international crises like Haiti? Perhaps a coordinated regime of specific tax concessions could mobilize an effort there.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Question: How will governments around the world, particularly Greece, Portugal, Ireland, UK, Spain, Japan and the US head off almost inevitable fiscal or currency crises?

Social media: Isn't social media just one more step, perhaps one of the last steps in the shift of overall power from producers to consumers? From organized groups to individuals or unorganized groups?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Do you believe that claiming natural resources as private holdings and selling those resources to the rich while the poor suffer without has once again made kings and rulers out of men and left us without any hope of being created equal in this world thus giving an impassible imbalance to a free world economy?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Hey George,

Given your "social" bent on this year's conference (and my own current curiosity), I think your question for the folks at Davos should be as follows:

"It is being said ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJlCkAz4D3o ) that what we are experiencing right now in terms of communications advances can be compared to the advent of the printing press; with that in mind, how do you see the web changing the world in the next 5 years?"

Cheers,
Curt

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Do you believe political democracy is a pre-requisite for economic opportunity? If yes, when will democracy be ubiquitous around the globe.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Perhaps ask about their level of commitment to anti-corruption. Particulary when it lessens their competitive advantage. Do they measure anti-corruption impacts in their CSR strategy?

Thoughts on social impact: It works for those who want to invest the time in it.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Suggested question for leaders:

What one thing would you like to happen in the near future in order to improve the lives of people around the world?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Questions:
1) 'What are the official reasons that overpopulation is ignored on the world political agenda?'
2) 'Why has no Western country yet taken any regulatory steps to stop the kind of financial activity that caused the crisis?'

On social networks from my blog:
I see social networks as the 'The Noble Sword' (the keyboard is mightier than the sword ...) that enables humans to adapt better than ever before by sharing knowledge. Empowerment of individuals by technology can change this world. Mobile phones already enable societies to leapfrog generations of political progress. There are those who dislike that kind of progress. We have a neo-communists trend in the interest of the large bureaucracies who try to turn the sword around. Spreading fear, envy and guilt is the key to control the access to information: global warming, terrorists, child pornography, cancer, social imbalances.

Many scientists hate Wikipedia with a vengeance because it robs them of their monopoly to control what becomes public knowledge. Tax authorities are given free access to our bank accounts and request preemptive data mining on bank customer data to identify possible tax evasion. Governments hand control and surveillance of the Internet to the police forces, to ‘protect us’ from terrorists and child pornographers. Global media businesses lobby for across-the-board copyright monitoring. Global pharmaceutical and life-science corporations lobby for patent laws so they can own this planets DNA pool.
The shareholders of these large corporations will not allow executives that act morally. So ask yourself, what do we need to change as a first step to turn the sword the right way? Where do we need to cut the money supply that provides the power for all this to happen? Now you know why there is no financial market regulation coming our way.

Systems Thinking does not allow me to offer a simple alternative but I am asking for people to cooperate in finding it. I am trying to create awareness aware, that Information Technology is just about to become the most powerful means for political and business domination and control. If we don’t take the right steps NOW we will be in for a long bad turn.

Where citizens can vote and consumers can freely buy they are in control. Taking matters into our hands is not anarchy, but it is what true democracy and free markets is all about. But I admit, that – like Martin Luther King – all I have is this dream. The people of this planet need to make it happen.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Question for anybody: What opportunities do you see for Simplification in your world?

Social networks are still in an early stage of development and will improve interconnection between people enormously; great opportunities for organizations and governments in the field of e-participation.

Good luck in Davos! I wish you unrest, courage and real meetings. Improve!

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

George, my question for the leaders is:

Can any government or organization grow and prosper over time without underlying moral and ethical values?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

I love the quesiton about trust because I think it ties into Social. So I'll second that idea in this form, "How do leaders, who rank the lowest in current perceptions of trust, reposition themselves as people who should be followed towards a better future?"

With regard to Social, I believe that behavior anticipates and drives tech change more often than the reverse. Social isn't new, it's behavior that always existed. Technology has enabled an enormous extension of Social and the biggest impact is with respect to reach. Politicians and businesses now have more and better reach opportunities than ever before - it's power, it comes with responsibility and successful engagement depends on trust.

Enjoy your trip!

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

How does social impact, if not further, the gap between the have and the have nots, be it access to technology, education, income, or any other resource or product?

How do we ensure that public debate does not end up as simply two sides lining up and shouting at each other? Are we moving toward mob rule where opinion trumps fact? As social gains traction and media companies align with one side or the other, what is the affect on society?

If there is not reporter of facts, or critics watching and commenting without vested interests or agendas, how to we slow and address the potential for an even more fractured society?

Someone commented and posed the question, "When will democracy be ubiquitous around the globe." Put another way, will social grind down our representative democracy into true democracy and mob rule?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Question: What do you see as the single greatest threat to the stable long term growth of the global economy?

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Here’s my question: “Where did all the money go?”

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Question for leaders:

Will eocnomic development or improving global healthcare most impact the lives of the next generation?

On social media's impact:

Social media has forced us to consciously develop a variety of personas to use in different media, fragmenting even further the attention span we can devote to really important issues.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Hi George –

My two cents…
In this time of planetary emergency (cf. The Long Emergency by Kunstler) we are seeing combinations of systemic failures that call for far more proactive and cooperative government response. Peak oil issues, climate change induced natural disasters, the arguably failing model of globalization as a means to sustainable economic growth and stability, the lack of necessary cultural checks and balances to reign in and thoughtfully adjudicate the more negative aspects of extraordinary technological innovation and foster more beneficial applications --- these are just a few issues that spring to mind. Why have governments been so slow to acknowledge these problems in the aggregate and bring new and radically creative approaches to their resolution?

Regards,
Tom Valovic

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Wow -- Thanks to everyone who contributed a suggested question -- there are some amazing ideas here.

I will ruminate and pick one (most likely a hybrid of what was contributed). I will be posting the results of my mini-survey here.

Thanks again to all.

George

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Keep it simple... ask them what is the BEST thing that has happened as a result of the recession.

A Fortune 500 General Counsel recently quoted Rahm Emanual to me... "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." The executive's point? It may have been good to be forced to return to what matters, what we can afford, do more with less.

re: If You Could Ask World Leaders at Davos One Question, What

Dear sir,

I wanted to highlight a report recently published by gartner http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?id=1275913&ref=g_fromdoc. It is written through outsourcing (gartner outsourced this work to a BPO - WNS in gurgaon) & has highlighted the WNS employee as one of its own.
Do u think, this kind of activity is fair. This outsourced report in that case should have been priced at 20 cents rather than $2495.