Monday, July 6, 2009

Radio City Business

The global financial catastrophe has hit companies, families, and individuals. In the background is the endless expert buzz on whether there’s light ahead, with many economists now saying there is. Well that’s where I sheer off. Not because I want to be a one-time dismal scientist, but because the economic and social consequences of living beyond our means has still got a long way to ripple. There is little spare money and this will squeeze consumers and businesses onto a tighter course. We are living through a structural shift, a historic global event that is tilting capitalism from exclusion to inclusion. This is my hope.

For inspirational leaders, the sorts of threats and challenges prevalent today offer excitement and opportunity. Ideas can come from anywhere; the thing is to recognize them and give them shape. I’m picking it will be ideas around a sustainable future that will get the full treatment at this year’s World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall in New York on 6 and 7 October.

The annual forum debates the most pressing issues of the day. It’s produced by HSM, the top management event and content team with whom I have worked with in Europe and Latin America. The line up in October will include Gary Hamel, President Bill Clinton, George Lucas, Irene Rosenfeld, Jack Welch, Paul Krugman, and Jeffrey Sachs. The topics are for the times, ranging from leadership, innovation and branding, to crunch arenas like energy, health…and storytelling.

I’ll be looking at how to create true value for tough times and beyond. It’s clear to me that sustainability, or what we’ve called True Blue (caring for people first and then the planet), is at the core of creating value. To be “good value”, not just good for the world, marks a tipping point for sustainability. Last year, 500 new sustainable products were launched in the U.S. This year it’s looking to be 1,600. Watch as value gets reframed in ways that build sustainability into everyone’s choices. I believe the next track to sustainability lies more in changing the value equation and less in talking about changing values. At Radio City Music Hall this year, expect this to be the theme tune.