Vienna November 2012, Palace Ferstel, in the grand settings of the Palace, memories of Menger, Hayek, Freud and Kohr laced with Elizabeth Of Austria presence are lingering. Mitteleuropa no more...or actually more than ever?
This is the gala dinner of the 4th Peter Drucker Forum, the Austrian- born writer, teacher and consultant, who was once tagged as ''the Man who invented management ''. He liked to call himself a "social ecologist" - i.e. someone who deals with the man-made social environment in which we operate.
For two days last week, an eclectic mix of close to three hundred corporate executive, entrepreneurs and prominent members of Academia from all over the world gathered at the heart of the Austrian capital to debate and reflect on the future of Capitalism - no less!
The Forum covered a wide array of topics from role of education to the emerging needs of social entrepreneurship.
Squarely rooted in what we would now tag as more than familiar emerging global trends:
•The unfolding worldwide value crisis
•A burning imperative to reconcile profit and social justice, or as mentioned by Georg Kraft-Kinz the Deputy CEO of Raiffeisenlandesbank Noe-Wien and Holding, ''economic success needs to be combined with welfare''
•The raging talent war where...'' Talent won'' joked legal Peter Y. Solmssen -Member of the Managing Board and General Counsel of Siemens
•The need to re-kindle economic elasticity via fostering entrepreneurship, that by the way can be taught as asserted by Dan Shechtman Professor Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Department of Materials and 2011 Nobel prize laureate in Chemistry
•The impact of social media in traditional and emerging economies
The conference was however, thought provoking and innovative. It positioned itself as providing orientation in the jungle of ready made solutions and answers. Getting participants thinking in new ways about key issues was a key objective.
It was particularly evident in their challenge of the sacrosanct concept of shareholder value.
Shareholder value was for once not tagged as necessary evil that one would have to accept and live with, but as a concept in great need of tweaking and repackaging as Roger L. Martin, the dean of Rotman School of Management eloquently described.
The notion of ''comprehensive profit''- profit that would harmoniously balance short-termism and sustainability was presented and debated, but not in a vacuum.
Different operating models - from customer owned companies, to entirely non-profit organization, from global partnership, to state-owned entities were presented to give a framework or contextualized the concept. The models worked as a large term of reference to explore, pick and choose, mix and match.
This desire to show potential paths for evolution was even clearer when the role of education was tackled and the need of constant learning to engrain in the wonderful world of corporate.
'Corporate acts as environment were not enough space is given to develop new mental maps of thinking'' mentioned Thomas Sattelberger Vice-President Board of Trustees, European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). The role of business schools of the future would be to act as laboratories of creations of ideas and minds.
''Opening closed systems, by pushing the exploration side to the traditional exploitation side that corporations cherish so much is the name of the new game, creating army of volunteers workers that feel thriving '' he added.
Roger Martins Opposable mind meets purpose driven millennial- should be the battle cry of any corporate executive.
So what it is to bring back home?
The first thing is thinking differently, breaking free from some of the old models is the only way to create a paradigm shift. There is a community of kindred spirits in the Peter Drucker Forum- ready to step in and help. It is a question of taking the first step and reaching out.
The second thing, and it will appear counterintuitive, the community of kindred spirits that showed up in Vienna was largely European, educated, born and raised. It comes with predefined psyche and patterns.
As the executive of a prominent pharmaceutical company currently stationed in Brazil mentioned'' There is an emerging theme in Brazil- Capitalism is too important for us to leave it to the capitalists.'' Emerging countries want to create their model of capitalism and, actually of leadership that talk to them, makes sense for them.''
Europe and the US are not longer the reference. Asia is too fragile stuck between Lee Kwan Yew benevolent leadership and the new direction of China 18th Party directives Africa is still suffering from perception issues hard for westerners to truly overcome.
The world currently emerging is still hesitating between a muli-polar structure or a truly global and collaborative structure. What is it going to be and how can we influence it?
This is the challenge I want to pose to the 5th edition of the Peter Drucker Forum, let's hear it from the BRIC, the next eleven, the women, the twenty something, and the African - they ARE the paradigm shift- let's debate collaboration and technology they are the driving shaping forces of economies and leadership of tomorrow... Until 2013.