World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011

  • IdeasLab with INSEAD: Leading in a Hyper-connected World

    Wednesday 26th January 2011 - 10:45am - 12:00pm

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  • Wednesday 26 January, 10.45 - 12.00

    Expert presentations and in-depth group discussions will explore the impact of hyper-connectivity on:

    Idea 1: Societal change
    Idea 2: Business success
    Idea 3: Communities and teams
    Idea 4: Knowledge and applications


    Key Points

    • New technologies are enabling people to become more engaged in conversations with each other in a rapidly changing environment.
    • Responding more effectively by understanding the customer will decide the future.
    • There is a shift from top down to bottom up with regard to providing solutions.
    • Hyper-connectivity alone is not enough. New ideas must be based on cultural diversity, exchange of talent and experience.



    The world is far more connected today through new and constantly improving technologies. Much, too, is changing across different sectors, such as the impact of Tunisia’s riots on Egypt. This is enabling people, many of whom share a broader set of common values, to be more engaged in conversations with each other. Such interactions are influencing decision-making by allowing people to monitor situations, but also to react in a more informed manner. This can critically improve relations with customers by responding more effectively to their personal needs. Understanding constituencies better will decide the future.

    Facebook has become a powerful zoom lens for transparency, while WikiLeaks might be putting databases at risk. The question is whether such new technologies are helping people become better human beings. The massive amount of knowledge available may often appear as information overload, so it is crucial to connect the dots in order to penetrate beyond existing horizons. With the Facebook Generation, ideas will no longer come from senior executives but rather from the public, a significant shift from top down to bottom up. Audiences with divergent views can help come up with solutions, but such creative energy needs to be harnessed. With word of mouth the most effective means of communication, the challenge is to find the structures needed to deal with such processes.

    Much information still operates in data silos, producing a highly polarized world when confronting the same issue, such as current divergences between Democrats and Republicans in the United States. The fashion industry, however, is one example of a successful hyper-connected community. There is a high turnover in the import and export of talent, much of it young or with experience. This enables the industry to constantly renew itself. For this to happen, the exchange of talent needs to be diverse and capable of bridging cultural differences. Yet, hyper-connectivity alone may not be enough. People are far more productive as groups, but this may mean giving up individual freedoms.

    Knowledge is not always reaching the people who need it. There are clusters of people not connecting with others, such as farmers in Africa. The challenge is how to make information “impactful”. One way of bridging this gap is to make knowledge more widely available. At present, the bulk of the world’s information is only accessible in 600 languages, much of it in English. The challenge is to open it up to 6,000 languages. This can be done through increasingly efficient “automotive” methods that eliminate the need for human beings to process non-political information, such as the weather. This will enable even fast-changing information to be made available via radio or Internet in languages that have almost no written content.

    Such broadening of information networks could produce dramatic improvements for dealing with agricultural output or diseases such as malaria. Many researchers simply do not have time to read outside their areas of expertise. Most applications are formulaic. For example, 70% of CNN’s content is not original. The same goes for most blogs. Enhanced formulaic applications could significantly reduce the cost of disseminating information. One does not even have to be literate to absorb it.

    Finally, clearer “rules of engagement” have to be elaborated. The problem is how to come up with such rules. In the end, numerous groups have developed their own shared values so a more clearly defined shared purpose might help resolve this.


    Introduced by

    J. Frank Brown

    , Dean, INSEAD, France; Global Agenda Council on Skills & Talent Mobility

    Discussion Leaders

    Soumitra Dutta

    , The Roland Berger Chaired Professor in Business and Technology, INSEAD, France; Global Agenda Council on Benchmarking Progress

    Herminia Ibarra

    , The Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Behaviour, INSEAD, France; Global Agenda Council on Women's Empowerment

    Dipak C. Jain

    , Dean Designate, INSEAD, France

    Philip Parker

    , Professor of Management Science, INSEAD, France

    Facilitated by

    Richard T. Pascale

    , Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, United Kingdom



    This summary was prepared by Edward Girardet. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2011 World Economic Forum

    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.

    Keywords: Information, media, communications, Tunisia, Egypt, technology, hyper-connectivity

Introduced by

  • J. Frank Brown J. Frank Brown
    Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, General Atlantic, USA

    Managing Director and the Chief Operating Officer at General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm h...


  • Soumitra Dutta Soumitra Dutta
    Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean and Professor of Management, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, USA

    BTech in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi; MSc...

  • Herminia Ibarra Herminia Ibarra
    Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Behaviour, INSEAD, France

    MA and PhD, Yale University. Thirteen years' experience with Harvard Business School. Currently The ...

  • Dipak C. Jain Dipak C. Jain
    Dean, INSEAD, France

    1976, BSc in Mathematics and Statistics and 1978, MSc in Mathematical Statistics, Gauhati University...

  • Philip Parker Philip Parker
    Professor of Management Science, INSEAD, France

    Degrees in Finance, and Economics; PhD. Formerly, taught at Harvard, MIT, Stanford and UCLA. Chair o...

Facilitated by

  • Richard T. Pascale Richard T. Pascale
    Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

    Twenty years as faculty member, Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Consultant and Advi...