Last week at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, I sat next to Melati Wijsen, an inspiring young activist from Bali and founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags. When Melati and her sister, Isabel, were just 12 and 10 years old, they launched a grassroots campaign tackling the plastic waste crisis facing our oceans. Last year, their hard work paid off: Bali passed an island-wide ban on single-use plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam. Now that’s real action.
Melati is an example of what’s possible when a single person takes bold action. Her accomplishments should inspire and motivate us to create change in our own work, no matter the cause or the industry. If you believe in something, take big swings and put in the time and energy to make real change happen.
So, in reflecting on my time at WEF, here three bold actions that I believe the global business community can take to ensure success for today, tomorrow, and decades to come.
1. Throw out the old playbooks, and write new ones to inspire the next generation:
Legacy thinking stifles innovation and transformation. Every industry needs to throw away the old playbooks and write new ones to inspire the next generation of great leaders and evolve alongside our ever-changing universe. The rules and regulations that govern some businesses today were drafted for an era long gone. And disruption no longer comes in waves; it is a constant state of everyone’s being. That’s why NBCUniversal will rebuild its entire business model into a single platform. Because our model should mirror the future our viewers have created and evolve as they do. So, instead of rejecting consumer behavior, let’s reflect it. Rewrite a playbook for your business that’s as cohesive and sustainable as the world you want to see.
2. Find value in your workforce’s skills, and invest to help them develop new ones:
Many workers are not trained for today’s jobs, let alone prepared for future ones. And it’s all of our responsibility to help change this norm. Reskilling the workforce was a major conversation in Davos. In one session organized by the White House, I joined leaders from around the world to create a plan to support the Ad Council’s upcoming Workforce Readiness Initiative, led by its CEO, Lisa Sherman. And at the Equality Lounge, I spoke with Gerri Elliott, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Cisco, about championing the importance of upskilling and reskilling the unemployed, which includes women. Investing in our workforce is a critical issue for our nation. And we all can play a big part in helping students and workers prepare themselves for tomorrow’s jobs. Please read more what NBCU is doing for the future of work here.
3. Move away from ‘us’ vs. ‘them,’ and embrace ‘we’
Leaders gather in Davos to change the world together. But, we all know it needs to happen every day. So, when it comes to transforming the marketplace and building a cohesive and sustainable media industry, it’s time to say goodbye to the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mindset and hello to a ‘we’ mentality. In media, that means committing to industry-wide efforts to improve everything from targeting to measurement to pioneering new partnership models to making innovation and collaboration even easier, like we will do with Peacock, our new streaming service. During a panel in Davos, titled, “Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Culture” with our partners David Kenny, Nielsen’s CEO and Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, Marc said it best,
“With all the content, with all the connectivity, with all the technology, it’s so important for partners now, for companies to really partner and collaborate.”
When everyone collaborates, our consumers benefit and we can usher in a new era of business that is better for everyone. Of course, none of this will happen overnight. But, if we can channel Melati’s commitment, we can spark real transformation within our companies, across our industries, and the economy as a whole one step at a time.
Everyone at NBCUniversal is excited to hit the ground running. WE hope you’ll join us.