How to react in a crisis, the UAE’s mission to Mars and China’s five golden rules of disruption - just a glimpse of some of the ideas and innovations that were discussed on the penultimate day of Orchestrating Winning Performance in Dubai.

Here’s a closer look at some of the hot topics on day four.

UAE’s mission to Mars

The UAE’s ambitious plan to send a probe – called Hope – to Mars by 2021 will enhance the country’s science and technology sector and send a powerful message to young people around the world, the man in charge of the mission said in today’s keynote speech at OWP.

While it was announced five years ago the project actually followed nine years of preparation, said Omran Sharaf, Director of the Emirates Mars Mission.

Sharaf believes the mission has the potential to motivate Arab youth beyond the UAE’s borders, demonstrating that the region is playing its role in forging a more prosperous future.

Since the mission was announced, a shift has emerged among the nation’s young people, he said. “We noticed the language of our youth change. Instead of building cars they talk of building rockets. From wanting to fly they wanted to become an astronaut.”

The exploration project also shows a focus on the next generation, he added. The average age of the team behind the Mission to Mars is 28, while 40% are women.

The mission shows the importance of the vision of great leadership, Sharaf said. It highlights the importance of working with others, of thinking outside your comfort zone and of having to think differently and be creative. “You cannot cut-and-paste, you have to be unique. And you have to think outside the box to do that.”

China’s five golden rules for disruption

“The way business is done around the world is changing. Bu China is changing the rules of the game in terms of competition and cooperation,” said Stephane Girod, Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation at IMD during Orchestrating Winning Performance in Dubai.

How has China taken such a commanding position in terms of innovation and disruption? Girod highlighted five golden rules that have fueled China’s progress.

China recognizes the power of big data-powered partnerships, he said, and its companies place a high value on customer relations, with innovators focused on the principle of ‘listen, innovate and personalize’.

China also favors a new way of scaling impactful content that can be viewed widely - using micro-influencers, high-profile social media stars with smaller, yet dedicated fanbases.

Golden rule number four is “to be fast, be first”, while the final trend Girod spoke about is the mantra of being super-local, but also global, such as when looking for overseas investments to strengthen your company back home.

How to know you’re in a crisis

What happens in a crisis, how should you react, and how do you even know you are in one in the first place?

Sameh Abadir, Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD, said lesson number one of being in a crisis and how to get out of it, is to acknowledge it.

This can be difficult, however, because often only the people around us know. “We are who we are, and unless the people around us tell us that we’re facing a crisis, we will keep doing business as usual and no one will know.”

You have three allies to help you deal with crisis situations, Abadir said. “The first is time. Can I buy time to deal with this crisis? Usually the answer to this is no. Second, you have distance. Can I step back and go to my base? This is where I can get help and feel more comfortable. Lastly – your own moderation.”

Read more from the session on crisis management, here.

The biggest challenges facing family businesses

What percentage of businesses in the world are family-owned, asked Peter Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship?

It’s a whopping 70%, he said, showing just how important they are to the economy and wider society in terms of global GDP and job creation.

But with the rate of innovation, disruption and economic renewal increasing, traditional and long-term family enterprises are being disproportionately affected.

Family companies also need to ensure they have structures in place to navigate a unique set of internal challenges. “Poor succession planning is the main reason why family businesses fail,” Vogel said.

They are also at risk from family ownership and governance challenges, family sizes increasing across generations, individualism, changing family dynamics, and the so-called ‘eight Ds’ of disinterest, divorce, death, departure, distrust, deterioration, disillusion and denial.