The Davos World Economic Forum

Day 1: Wednesday

Coat Check in Congress Center

This week, I’ll be blogging daily from the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where I am an invited participant and a member of the faculty. “Davos” is legendary, of course, but it’s my first time, so I don’t know quite what to expect. Earlier this week, extended articles in the print media had a distinctly snarky, expose quality to them.

The New York Times reported that the absolute lowest price for admission is $70,000, ranging up to $527,000 for the Strategic Partner level, which entitles you to buy five admission tickets to Davos, at $19,000 each, costing an additional $95,000 for a total of $622,000.  It makes me dizzy just typing those numbers! When this same article was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, which I picked up in the Zurich airport Wednesday morning, the headline was something like “How much does it cost to attend Davos? If you have to ask…(you can’t afford it).” (Fortunately, because I am on the faculty for the event and moderating several sessions, I attend for free.) The New York Times article made the whole event sound like an expensive version of high school, with everyone wondering if they got invited to the “right” party with the “right” people. (Full disclosure: I haven’t been invited to any of the right parties. And I was a geek in high school, too.)

Here’s the lead from another article from the New York Times, 24 January, by Jack Ewing:

Leaders in business, politics and academia from around the world will gather in Davos, Switzerland, this week to try to rescue the planet. It’s a safe bet that, for the 41st year in a row, they will fail.

Vito J. Racanelli, in Barron’s, opened his 24 January article like this:

Gather about three dozen of the world’s most powerful political leaders, mix them with 1,400 international corporate executives and a few Nobel Laureates; add hundreds of top-tier bureaucrats, academics and intellectuals, and sprinkle in Robert De Niro and Bono. You get Davos, the picturesque Swiss mountain resort that has become synonymous with the annual World Economic Forum meetings.

The Wall Street Journal’s coverage has been remarkably neutral and non-snarky by contrast. The WSJ web site has the best coverage, with several updates every day.

But in general, it seems like it’s open season on Davos. It’s an easy target when the rich and the powerful get together in a pricy ski resort and exclude everyone else. And I haven’t even mentioned yet the anti-globalization protesters who usually show up at such events (I haven’t seen any here so far, but in previous years they were apparently a constant).

So is it worthwhile? I came here because I believe in collaboration, in the power of bringing people together to exchange and share ideas. If the WEF lives up to its ambition, it will generate a unique form of group genius, bringing the world’s leaders together–people who might just have the ideas we need to “improve the state of the world,” the official mission of the WEF.

Stay tuned for my next postings.

6 thoughts on “The Davos World Economic Forum

  1. Keith, agree with your comments completely. And no, it probably isn’t worthwhile, but perhaps some of the connections have led to better lives for some.

    My colleagues have facilitated sessions at the WEC for years now, trying to make it more collaborative and output focused. You can see their work here. You should stop by and see it in action as well.

    1. I have actually already seen that video! Because I know of the work by Matt and Gail Taylor. They also use the phrase “group genius” in their work. The only person I’ve met from their organization is Lisa Piazza. I will certainly stop by and hope to meet you.

      1. Keith, I am not there – in Tucson using our process (Matt and Gails) to help. Look for Sita Magnuson or Aaron Williamson though!

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