Is Davos just an Echo Chamber?

The yearly migration of the famous, the rich, the powerful, the intellectual and the political to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland is in full swing. The stated goals of the organization that hosts the Davos gathering is:

The World Economic Forum is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. We are striving towards a world-class corporate governance system where values are as important a basis as rules. Our motto is ‘entrepreneurship in the global public interest’. We believe that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while social development without economic progress is not feasible.

Our vision for the World Economic Forum is threefold. It aims to be: the foremost organization which builds and energizes leading global communities; the creative force shaping global, regional and industry strategies; the catalyst of choice for its communities when undertaking global initiatives to improve the state the world.

Call me a cynic – call me short-sighted – call me ignorant, but it seems that Davos is an echo chamber to further reinforce ideas that have failed or are in the process of failing. Do new ideas emerge from the same population that is responsible for governing? Are conceptual leaps made by leaders of the same industries more prone to safety than creativity? Will superstar personalities invigorate new discussion and action? Isn’t the United Nations a gathering of a similar population deliberating the same ideas?

Top down or bottom up – that is generally how I classify “things” – and Davos seems to be a Top Down thing. The honest to goodness new ideas probably do not have a chance to break out in this environment. The Bottom Up – emergent behavior, evolutionary processes, adaptation – injects new ideas and concepts into the world, not egotistical gatherings of people with no motivation to change. The small business owner, not the CEO of a billion dollar company. The individual student, not the accomplished academic looking for funding. The Mom or Dad, not the rock star. Davos seems to be a genetic island of interbreeding, not a diverse gene pool from which the next great idea will spring.

So, does Davos impact you or me? Is it an A-Lister social networking event wrapped in a “save the world” cloak? This week a lot of eyes will be on Davos – and I will be looking for the new ideas, rather than new spins of tired ideas.

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