Meeting Future Global Challenges: Women, Leaders and Big Ideas?

Posted by Dr. James Canton on November 3, 2011 under Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

Recently I gave a talk at the International Women’s Forum http://www.iwforum.org/ in Washington DC, just near the White House. I don’t think I have been surrounded by so many dynamic, smart and educated women from around the world, 35 nations. This was an impressive and epic event well crafted where men were the minority in the room. This event brought together innovators from the Arab Spring, corporations, scientists, health economists, Ambassadors and diplomats to discuss balance and power on the planet. Human rights, innovation, freedom and prosperity were common themes. I learned a lot.

I gave a talk about the tech and science innovations coming in the future. I challenged my audience to use these tools–nano, bio, neuro, quantum, IT to make a better future–better health care, climate management, security, education, water and poverty management. I came away thinking these are the dynamic women who could shape the future, actually these 500 women from all over the world could do it.

The truly remarkable reality that exasperates the current economic crisis is we are all held captive by a lack of future visions; an absence of Innovative Big Ideas not being put forth by our global leaders. And those that should lead do not have and the courage to act on those few visions they do have. This obvious absence of leadership is a huge galaxy killing black hole that is the primary challenge facing our civilization: if we do not learn fast enough and come to understand the complexity of the challenges we have created so that we may find enduring solutions, we will encounter a clouded if not dismal future.

The list of complicated challenges demanding a future global vision includes: forging a sustainable global economic model that balances, growth and social responsibility; managed climate change; secure and affordable energy and affordable health care. My focus has been and I believe that investments in science and technology will play a large role in addressing global challenges of the 21st and 22nd century–but not without our leaders embracing the courage and the visions to apply these innovation tools.

The battle for the future is being played out now by our global leaders. Our economic models are in conflict. Our managing great challenges like water, climate change, health care cost containment, innovating in science and technology for making a better world is essential to our future. The economic uncertainty that will continue for some time will be a drag on the very investments in the future that may solve some of the large problems of our time.

The crisis in global leadership I would bet will be met by corporate leaders. Top talent from IBM, Cisco, Apple, Philips, GE and numerous emerging nation high tech start ups especially run by women will change the game. The leaders of the future may be dominated by women who will have the smarts, collaboration skills, tech savvy and maybe the Big Ideas that are needed to shape the future of the world for the better. I am betting on them.

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