Shaping the impact of ‘disruptive’ technologies

29/06/2018

Our world is being transformed by such technologies as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing and blockchain, which impact the way we work, live and relate to each other. During Ethical Leadership in Business, an event of the Caux Forum, participants and speakers explored the question of how to lead in times of disruptive technological innovations. From 28 June to 1 July, leaders from various countries and sectors learnt how ethical leadership can drive innovation and build resilience, thus strengthening organizational performance while furthering the future of society.

ELB 2018

Christophe Barman, ex CEO of Loyco, showed how, by introducing a flat hierarchy, his company increased employee engagement and responsibility and established an innovative and resilient corporate culture.

One of the greatest challenges brought by disruptive innovations is the likelihood of large-scale work displacement, as more jobs are automated than created. Ambassador Christian Dussey, Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, pointed out that we constantly update our phones but need to ask ourselves how often we update our mindset. While our digital and other ‘hard’ skills need constant updating, it is equally crucial to work on our attitudes, so that we can seize opportunities in a constantly changing environment.

Japman Bajaj, a telecommunications executive from Calgary, Canada, maintained that ‘adaptability’ is the most important skill, and requires a sense of humour, integrity, and ‘looking at the world from 19 different perspectives’. Angelica Kiboro, Deputy Principle of the Strathmore Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, said that leaders must remember that not only technical skills matter but also ‘soft power’ skills such as attitudes, communication and being a team player. In summary, business leaders must ensure that employees have the skills and attitudes to remain relevant on the labour market.

Leading in times of disruptive innovations not only requires leaders to keep up with trends, but also to think ahead, about the impact of the technologies they are developing or applying. Eric Salobir, a Catholic priest who founded the OPTIC Network and is a consultant to the Holy See, pointed out that technology cannot be neutral: ‘It is always for a purpose.’ So it is crucial that various representatives of society, including business, build a shared vison of technology’s role. For example, society needs to define what role and responsibilities it wants to hand over to robots. The celebrated robot inventor Professor Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann said that social robots could mitigate the negative impact of ageing populations by taking care of the elderly, but that society must ensure that technology is used for the common good.

Ethical Leadership in Business explored many other aspects of ethics in business and new technologies, the role of being human in a machine age and how to strengthen personal and professional resilience. It was a starting point for conversations and joint actions. The Ethical Leadership in Business community on Linkedin aims to continue sharing practices that can support business leaders.

Join it to keep informed about upcoming webinars, meet-ups and other events.

Ethical Leadership in Business will take place from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 June 2019.

 

With contributions from Mike Smith, Anna Luliza Behrens and Annika Hartmann

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