Heard in Davos 2009: Dispatches from the Conference

'Collaborate to Innovate'


I have to own up to something that you all probably knew already. There are times when a CNBC presenter does not know the intricate details of the subject he has to cover, either in a report or in an interview.

OK, we can all get our heads around most of the major themes of Davos this year. We all understand the risks of climate change, even George W. Bush has joined the party this week. We all understand the threat of reduced energy supplies, or missing the technology wave and of failing to achieve a deal in the world trade talks.

But, and it's a big but, I had to start from scratch on a key Davos theme and it's been causing me restless sleep all week. The long and the short of it is that I was asked to moderate a panel at this year's World Economic Forum. Great, I thought, I can cover most things, I even have a good working knowledge of obscurities such as credit derivatives. But I got pitched a curve ball and I've only just recovered.

My panel was called 'Collaborate to Innovate'. I was to lead a workshop of eighty top chief executives through the intricacies of 'open source', 'al qaeda' and 'market place' models. What, I hear you ask? I asked the same question.

In truth all my fears were misplaced. It turned out to be pretty simple, just think Wikipedia, just think YouTube i.e. networks of individuals collaborating to create businesses where the CEO is defunct and networks rule.

These workshops are amazing. I had some great people to work with including top brass from Cantor, Merck, Skype, Dassault Systemes and Lenovo to name but a few. So as the fear evaporated the power trip took over. The lesson for me? Simple. Try something new, it really isn't that scary after all.