I was privileged to meet with President of Israel Shimon Peres in November 2010; he gave me 12 pointers on leadership. The current McKinsey Quarterly features President Peres in a discussion on Leadership in the 21st Century. Here is a profound insight on Ideas and Revolution from a man who forged his life’s work by brilliantly waging the traditional tools of power: political determination, military strategy, economic leverage.
Shimon Peres: The last two decades have witnessed the greatest revolution since Genesis. States have lost their importance and strength. The old theories—from Adam Smith to Karl Marx—have lost their value because they are based on things like land, labor, and wealth. All of that has been replaced by science. Ideas are now more important than materials. And ideas are unpredictable. Science knows no customs, no borders. It doesn’t depend on distances or stop at a given point.
Science creates a world where individuals can play the role of the collective. Two boys create Google. One boy creates Facebook. Another individual creates Apple. These gentlemen changed the world without political parties or armies or fortunes. No one anticipated this. And they themselves did not know what would happen as a result of their thoughts. So we are all surprised. It is a new world. You may have the strongest army—but it cannot conquer ideas, it cannot conquer knowledge.