The art of business

Three hundred powerful Davos executives standing up with their arms outstretched, singing Happy Birthday at the top of their voices to a complete stranger balancing precariously on a chair at the front?That’s what happens when you attend a session led by the conductor and management guru Benjamin Zander. That’s what happens when you mix the arts and business and that is typical of the mixing that goes on here at Davos.

Zander took us on a journey from the Nine Dot problem to the Holocaust, from a spontaneous, deeply emotional performance of Mozart by a string quartet to the whole room thundering Ode to Joy in German.

His message was simple. It’s up to us as individuals to decide how we look at the world. We decide whether our conversations are about downward spirals or about possibilities. As his father told him “there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothes”. We left buzzing and it certainly made a huge contrast to a parallel session that I think should have had the title “That’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into”.

Thus inspired, I now need to deliver my own talk this afternoon at a Harvard Business Review session, on the emergence of the semantic web in the artistic Pecha Kucha format. You get exactly 15 slide images.

Each slide stays on the screen for exactly 20 seconds. And that’s it. Fifteen pictures and five minutes to explain to a completely non-technical audience one of the most fundamental, technical changes that is happening to the web over its 20 year life.

You can take this “art of business” thing too far, you know!

Tom Ilube is chief executive of Garlik, who advise on security on the net

Davos blog 2009

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