Powering your inclusive, diverse teams to greatness

Innovation starts with focusing on the data, and a diverse team must include cognitive variety, said Harriet Green in her OWP live keynote address. 

“We [leaders] are the center of this vortex of change. How we are, what we exude, what we put into ourselves, and our wellbeing will affect others. That is not ego, it’s about our ability to lead and inspire,” she said.  

In her talk, “Supercharging innovation-led growth – powering your inclusive diverse teams to greatness”, Green, who is currently a Member of the Board both at EDB (Singapore Development Board) and King’s College London, said leaders must help drive a growth mindset through innovation.   

“A fixed, non-growth mindset is about knowing it all. Instead, we must help our teams to learn and take advantage of this downturn.”  

Innovation in such times, she said, is not about old versus new. It is about earmarking the five biggest issues or growth opportunities that you have. To do so, “drill into the data, understand users and employees, and put your best people forward to create the drive to make new things.”   

Training the mind and heart to a more caring society 

Yes, you can change your brain, said Professor Tania Singer in her OWP live keynote address aimed at improving one of today’s most pressing issues: mental health and well-being. 

Complex global problems call for innovative solutions, real change and a new approach to leadership. An increasing number of business leaders are embracing mindfulness and empathy techniques to better understand the challenges they face, how to address them and how to lead teams through necessary transformations. 

Emergingscientific fields such as social and contemplative neurosciences have produced promising findings that may help inform and tackle these challenges, especially in the areas of brain plasticity.  

In her OWP liVe keynote address Professor Tania Singer, Scientific Head of the Max Planck Society’s Social Neuroscience Lab, explained how the development of different aspects of our mind could transform economies and build healthier societies. 

Frame or get Framed: how businesses use words, images and symbols to sway their audience  

Framing, the strategic use of information that shapes behavior, is a tool all businesses must be attuned to, says David Bach, Professor of Strategy and Political economy at IMD. 

By using language and images, we are shaping the way people think about a set of options and influencing how people make decisions. Bach used examples of public health and from social media to illustrate the widespread and powerful use of framing. 

When considering how your organization might frame a key issue to your advantage, consider these tips on how to frame effectively: 

  1. Identify your audience – who are you appealing to?  
  2. Appeal to deeply entrenched values – attach your issue to beliefs people already hold (‘this is about fairness; patriotism; independence’) 
  3. Be clear and simple in your message 
  4. Frame early, before your opponents 
  5. Select spokespeople with authority 
  6. Use emotive language 
  7. Be consistent 
  8. Repeat, repeat, repeat 

And a word of caution: framing can be considered manipulative and lead to feelings of betrayal. But it can also be powerful. Choose your message well.  

Disruptors like tech giant  Netflix  helped  push  local  telecom firm  Swisscom  into a global mode of thinking  

Don’t wing it in todays’ environment, said Professor Omar Toulan, adding that preparation is important but flexibility is vital. 

Without a doubt, firms today face unprecedented turbulence. But companies like Swisscom have been dealing with disruptions – mostly in the political and technological realms– for decades.   

In this intimate “Courageous Conversation”, Omar Toulan, Professor of Strategy and International Management explored these challenges with the unique perspective of Swisscom CTO/CIO Christoph Aeschlimann.   

“Swisscom will always survive in the local market in telephony services, where regulations make it uninteresting for big players,” said Aeschlimann. “But to innovate in this international context where scale is important for implementing most ideas, we must know exactly where we want to go and what we want to achieve.”  

Professor Toulan quizzed Aeschlimann on how Swisscom was able to achieve the transformation necessary to manage the continuity of disruption and what skills were needed.  

“Focus on mindset and culture rather than processes and organization,” said the CTO/CIO. “Build a culture that is able to cope with change.”  

Female leadership in impact investment  

The aim of the “Courageous Conversations” sessions is for me to act as a bridge between our guests, said Vanina Farber Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as she opened a lively discussion with women about impact investing. 

Farber was joined by Julia Baladina Jaquier, member of the investment committee at the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets, who is also author of the book Catalzying Wealth for Change, which Farber recommends: “You can learn about how to make decisions in this practical industry bible.” 

One way to break into the male-dominated financial world is through impact investing. 

Education is key, Farber said: you need to know your field. But after that, Baladina Jaquier added, “Determine ‘What do I want to achieve?’ and get your voice heard not because you want to be heard but because you want your idea to be heard. That gives wings to women who are normally shy.” 

Watch the highlights of Professor Farber's session here.

Europe's edtech pioneers face more critical funding challenges than US peerssays SYLVA CEO 

Education startups in Europe can struggle to attract vital early funding because European investors are more concerned about revenues than the popularity of a new technology, said MaikMeusel, CEO ofedtech platform SYLVA. 

SYLVA’s all-in-one learning and assessment software, which saves educators time with AI-powered technology such as auto-grading for exams and integrated teaching tools, won backing this year from Swiss philanthropic seed fund Venture Kick. 

European, in particular, Swiss investors are very revenue focused, while US investors are more user-traction, user-growth focused,” Meusel told OWP liVe participants during a virtual in-company visit. 

This is one of the most difficult things for edtech startups because the sales cycles are typically very long compared to other tech fields.”  

The Man vs Machine struggle has evolved into Man + Machine matrimony 

Democratize AI and create the notion of the citizen data scientist, said session panellist Bertrand Bodson, CTO of Novartis  

AI has begun to perform lie detection, play complex games like “Go”, diagnose diseases and even create art. But in today’s panel discussion at OWP liVe, Professor of Leadership and Organizational BehaviorJennifer Jordan and industry experts agreed that it isn’t time for us to pack up just yet.  

“AI always seems like magic to people who don’t know much about it,” said Pedro Bados Co-Founder and CEO of NextLink. “It’s a great tool to save time and automate in systems that can be concretely defined.” 

Jordan reminded the group that humans, unlike AI, are good at domain-switching— rather than being built to do only one specific thing: “Humans can play golf, have a meaningful conversation and then watch a movie shortly afterward.” 

Chief Ethics Officers could help companies navigate ethical maze of AI  

The increased adoption of artificial intelligence has created an extremely dangerous battlefield” where companies face huge ethical challenges without benchmarks, said Professor of AI, Analytics and Marketing Strategy Amit Joshi. 

In his Open Office Hour session “Prepare for the next global crisis: how AI can help you predict and prosper in the face of uncertainty”, Joshi urged participants to align business models, data infrastructure and ethical structures before the next crisis struck. 

“This is going to be a very difficult bargain. Where do you draw the line between personal and organizational gain and privacy and ethics? There is no gold standard,” he said, advising companies to appoint ethics experts to their leadership teams.