GENEVA – It would be an understatement to say that our world is undergoing rapid and far-reaching change. The global economy, the geopolitical landscape, the environment, and technology are subject to constantly shifting conditions that reinforce and transform one another in a web of complex interactions. In such an unpredictable and interconnected setting, effective leadership must be based on a radical outlook, a multifaceted skillset, and an understanding of technology and talent.
The trends that are shaping the twenty-first-century world embody both promise and peril. Globalization, for example, has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, while contributing to social fragmentation and a massive increase in inequality, not to mention serious environmental damage. Likewise, big data offers untold benefits to companies and consumers, but poses a real threat to privacy and personal freedom.
A similar dichotomy applies to many other critical issues, including adaptation to climate change, efforts to improve resource management, urbanization and the rise of megacities, increased labor mobility, and human-capital expansion.
The scale and complexity of the challenges that lie ahead are undoubtedly daunting. But rapid, far-reaching change can also present great opportunities. To make the most of them, the world needs technologically literate leaders – call them “techno-politicians” – who have an intuitive understanding of how to shape progress in this new, unpredictable environment.