Davos: Where epic shifts are converging

By Felix Salmon
January 10, 2011
differ on whether Davos is actually important. I say it isn't, and Exhibit A is this invitation, which I received today.

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Chrystia and I differ on whether Davos is actually important. I say it isn’t, and Exhibit A is this invitation, which I received today. There will be many, many more like it arriving over the next couple of weeks:

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The whole thing, obviously, is [sic]. But Davos does tend to attract the kind of people who can straight-facedly pretend to believe that entering the human age, or the New Reality, or unleash and leverage human potential as the key competitive differentiator to win, or entering a new era, or epic shifts are converging, or talent is the new ‘it’ actually mean something.

The panel that these people have put together is prototypical Davos: dean of this, best-selling author of that, general secretary of the other, plus a CEO and a corporate president. There’s no shared expertise here, and there won’t be any real debate. Instead, they’ll all intone sonorously in an attempt to appear visionary and important, as jet-lagged delegates ask themselves why on earth they dragged themselves out of bed at 7am Swiss time (which is 1am New York time) to listen to such pablum.

The main purpose of these panels is to make their sponsors—in this case, CNBC and Manpower—feel important, as they splash their logos around in front of a select group of the most important people in the world. They either don’t know or, more likely, don’t care that their panel discussions look utterly ridiculous. Just about everything in Davos is ridiculous in its own way. It’s like Disneyland. So long as you suspend your disbelief, you’re fine.

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