Wayne Clarke at the Delphi Economic Forum

How To Build Back Better: Insights From The Delphi Economic Forum

Wayne Clarke, Founding Partner, The Global Growth Institute
5/16/2022
Wayne Clarke at the Delphi Economic Forum
Wayne Clarke speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum
For leaders to make smarter decisions and nurture a culture of collaboration and innovation primary data from employees and customers is critical
I was honored to represent Crowe Global’s  The Art of Smart at the seventh Delphi Economic Forum, which took place just before Easter. I left Greece feeling educated and deeply inspired. I learned so much during the four-day event, which boasted some 800 speakers – including heads of state, leading academics, and thought leaders – all aiming to address this year's overarching theme: how to build back better and more resilient societies following the pandemic.

Now, as we lurch from the coronavirus crisis to a climate crisis and feel the damage from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we all face various challenges and disruptions that could shape the coming years. And if we do not make smart decisions today, it will have a profound impact on tomorrow's world. Thankfully, many intelligent leaders around the globe are investing their time, energy, and money into achieving a win for everyone – and that was abundantly evident in Delphi.

It was the first face-to-face Delphi Economic Forum in three years, and there was a clear sense that people had been yearning to attend in person rather than via videoconferencing technology. I had high expectations and flew in from London to listen to and network with brilliant, progressive leaders from across the world, all open and sharing their insights. It certainly didn't disappoint. I was impressed by the sheer scale of the event and the exceptional logistics that made it so smooth and memorable.

It was clear that leaders can gain much from The Art of Smart. Last year, Global Growth Institute collaborated on a virtual roundtable series focusing on one of Crowe Global’s The Art of Smart pillars of successful and smarter decision-making to achieve lasting value: growth. The three other pillars are boldness, diversity, and innovation.

Crowe Delphi Economic Forum Team

Engage employees to inform decisions

When I participated in a phenomenal four-person panel in Delphi – titled 'Understanding corporate design-making across generations' – I considered all of those elements. The 40-minute session proved to be a lively debate, alongside Alexia Bakoyannis, CEO of AEA Relate, Yiannis Papachristou, Deputy CEO of Chipita Foods, and Philip Morris International's VP of Market Activation and Support, Tommaso Di Giovanni.

I discussed what the Global Growth Institute and The Art of Smart have seen in all organizations that have made good decisions that will impact future generations, especially in the last two years. The employee engagement data that leaders arm themselves with to inform those decisions is crucial. That internal sentiment feedback has never been more important in this uncertain and rapidly evolving period, where change is more manageable when more staff have a say, and therefore vested interest, in the direction of travel and understand the destination. I worry, however, that numerous businesses are still not engaging their employees regularly enough and second-guessing what they want.

Considering the four The Art of Smart pillars, while they all play a role in smarter decision-making, I believe innovation is currently the most important. Partly because it is arguably the most challenging thing to develop within an organization; it is almost an altruistic act, so how best to encourage people to want to share their new ideas and ways of working?

Leaders should better recognize, reward, and celebrate successful ideas. Seldom is there a big incentive for employees to present innovative concepts, and leaders should change this approach and nurture a truly creative, collaborative company culture.

Innovation is precious to survive and thrive

However, even with the incentives in place, it might not be enough for people to come forward and offer their ideas on top of their busy day jobs. To genuinely make it work, you need a creative brain and leaders to re-think business models and old ways of working.

Today, innovation is precious to organizations looking to survive and thrive, yet my experience is that few leaders have a handle on this reality. It is not as if you can wave a magic wand and – poof – innovation happens. Instead, the mechanisms and structures must be in place to gather together disparate ideas and drive meaningful innovation that generates lasting value. So, again, at the heart of successful decision-making is employee engagement.

For this reason, the other The Art of Smart pillars are vital to keep in mind – boldness in embracing different ways of working and thinking, and greater diversity will achieve better decisions and, in turn, growth. My time at the Delphi Economic Forum confirmed this approach, with many other leaders echoing similar thoughts.

Finally, the number-one tip for leaders is to get into the frame of mind of operating as a start-up. Do not outsource primary research to understand what the market wants and the challenges. Instead, base decisions on internal data and internally sourced data. You have to be close to the action and directly engage employees and customers to make the smartest choices and generate lasting value.

Wayne Clarke
Leaders should better recognize, reward, and celebrate successful ideas. Seldom is there a big incentive for employees to present innovative concepts, and leaders should change this approach and nurture a truly creative, collaborative company culture.
Wayne Clarke
Wayne Clarke
Founder
The Global Growth Institute

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