A crisis of trust is at the heart of global uncertainty

By Guest Contributor
January 26, 2012

By S. D. Shibulal, CEO of Infosys. The opinions expressed are his own.

During the first day at the World Economic Forum yesterday, we witnessed delegates arriving with two things on their minds — how heavy the snowfall was and the realisation that new business models are needed to overcome global economic pressures. (It goes without saying that the mood at Davos hasn’t been helped by the IMF downgrading world growth targets). We all agree that we’re living in a volatile world and it cannot go ignored that there are many uncertainties we face, including currency volatility and high unemployment.

The euro zone crisis will undoubtedly be at the centre of the discussions concerning “uncertainty” but what the attending business leaders, governments and global organisations must understand and discuss, is what they can do together to put in place measures to transform and change, so we can better safeguard our future.

The discussions I had at Davos yesterday support my fundamental belief that corporations have a critical role to play in creating a future where opportunities are abundant and growth inclusive. Moreover, at the heart of the global macro-economic uncertainty is the crisis of trust. Leaders across businesses and governments alike need to work together to rebuild that trust. Creating jobs and fostering sustainable growth is the first step in this journey. While businesses will need to look at measures to manage their short term crises and be truly evolved, smart enterprises will have to balance their focus between “short term needs” and investing for “long term growth through innovation”. We must also recognise that the emerging  future is being shaped by global mega trends in business and society, along with changing demographic profiles.

In view of these trends and the events that led to the recent economic crisis, leaders have their work cut out. Balance the short term versus long term, create a frame of reference to drive growth and innovation, and envision and create a sustainable future. All the views that I shared above resonated strongly with the panel that debated the critical issue of “the role of the CEO” at the Infosys Lunch Panel discussion yesterday. The panel also concurred that talent, which will be at the centre of these strategies is in short supply. Organisations therefore, not only need to look at new hubs of talent but also at retraining and reskilling existing talent pools. Businesses increasingly need to work in partnership with governments and educational institutions to ensure the mobility of talent and the career development of generation Y so tomorrow’s workers are in line with business demand.  Finally, there was unanimous agreement that leadership by example, client centricity and healthy balance of choices are the need of the hour.

Image — A visitor walks past WEF logos at the venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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