Oslo Business Forum: Beyond 2020

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Last week, on the 25th of September, the young bi-annual Oslo Business Forum held yet another exciting event. They did not fail to repeat their tendency to produce a roster of high caliber professionals. This time however, with David Cameron, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, as the figurehead.

Beyond 2020

The concept of the latest event was, “Beyond 2020”. The present decade has been quite pivotal for businesses.

As always, we are seeing major technological advances, but at the same time, big social changes. These trends have pressured businesses to change their solely profit-making attitudes to ones that look outwards, commit to CSR projects and support social changes like gender equality and racial diversity.

Businesses may have re-emphasized their focus, but they have yet to completely adapt the traits needed to thrive in this new environment. Hence, this event attempts to give business leaders the tools needed to complete the transformation.

We at Inside had the opportunity to attend the event and would like to share the insights presented by two superb speakers.  

Prof. Nathan Furr. Oslo Business Forum.

Innovation Capital with Prof. Nathan Furr

Nathan Furr is a professor of Strategy and Innovation at INSEAD. The professor introduces “Innovation Capital” (IC), which he explains as the essence of innovative leaders’ ability to get things done. He says that very few people are born with significant IC, most people develop it throughout their lives.

IC is comprised of 3 components: Human Capital, Social Capital and Reputation Capital. These components put into simpler words would be as following: who you are, who you know and what you’ve done.

Your IC will determine, for example, the effectiveness of your next start-up pitch or your promotional interview. Further, the effects of your IC can be amplified with factors called “Impression Amplifiers”. An example of an Impression Amplifier is your ability to tell stories, how well you can convey your goals and intentions to others. Nathan Furr is the co-author of the book, Innovation Capital, where you will be able to gain an in-depth understanding of the concept.

Prof. Costas Markides. Oslo Business Forum.

Institutionalizing Behaviour with Prof. Costas Markides

Costas Markides is a professor of Strategic Leadership at London Business school. Prof. Markides talks about the faults in the methods by which managers enforce certain desired behavior on their subordinates.  

Agility – which he defines as the ability to think on your feet and thrive in chaos – is a vital skill to have in your workforce during these disruptive times. However, merely telling your subordinates to be agile is insufficient, as resisting change is in our DNA.

Prof. Markides further talks about how you should not externalize the cause of failure when faced with a difficult challenge, but rather reassess your approach towards it. For example: when managers realize that the behaviors they have demanded have not been adopted, they will become frustrated with their subordinates or exclaim that the behaviour itself is not worthwhile after all.

What the professor recommends is that you must institutionalize behavior within a workforce. This is done in 3 integral steps: reward the desired behaviour, support and facilitate the desired behaviour and set the desired behaviour as a key criterion in your recruitment process.  This way, he explains, the desired characteristics will become embedded in the very core of the workforce.

Key takeaways for students

There are several points for students to take away from this:

  • Start developing your IC in order to become a more influential individual within your respective arena.
  • If you want your subordinates to adopt a certain skill, support the adaption process.
  • When applying for a certain job, research the company, learn the specific skills they are looking for and exhibit them in yourself in the recruitment process.
  • When frustrated with the failure to solve a problem, don’t externalize the blame, rather, reassess your approach towards it.

Oslo Business Forum announced that for next year, they will hold only one event – “Rethinking Business”, which will be held as a part of the Norway Trade Fair (Norges Varemesse) event. They also promised Arnold Schwarzenegger as the keynote speaker for the event taking place on September 23-24th, 2020.

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