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Better Choices: Blockchain

By Jesper Dalgaard Pøhler

Jesper Dalgaard Pøhler, Editor of Leadership Today, published the following article about the theme of Thinkers50 European Business Forum.

Why does Martin Lindstrøm not have a phone? Why does Don Tapscott think the world is failing? What is the next big paradigm shift, according to #1 thinker, Roger Martin? What do Whitney Johnson and Alexander Osterwalder have to teach us on innovation and disruption? And how come Esben Østergaard wants to make factory workers sexy again?

For those of you unfamiliar with Thinkers50: It is all about good ideas. Actually, it is about great ideas. Those kind of ideas that shape the world.

Since 2001, Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer – founders of the Thinkers50 – have been scanning, ranking and sharing the very best ideas in management thinking. It has been a shift away from focusing on “Who is most influential?” to “What are the most influential ideas?”. Every second year, an updated list is published, celebrating management thinking and thinkers that enable organizations and individuals to perform more effectively, responsibly and succesfully.

Thinkers50 has its very own European Business Forum in Odense, Denmark. This years’ theme is “Making Better Choices”. Why? Because businesses make choices every day: Between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing. Today, both thinkers and businesses are interested in making the world a better place, and this is also the demand from consumers and workers.

This kind of thinking leads big businesses to start new initiatives like Coca Cola’s PlantBottle, WeFood’s waste food supermarkets, TOMS One for One, and Unilever’s Sustainable Living – to name a few.

The arena has changed, and many companies are becoming B Corps, sending the signal that it is time to put humans before machines, and hold each other accountable for our actions.

I have got to meet some of the thinkers, who are an inspiration to creating a better world through leadership all over the world. In this article you get a brief insight in the thoughts from the #2 thinker in the world right now: Don Tapscott.

Businesses cannot succeed in a failing world

Don Tapscott and the Blockchain Revolution

You have probably heard of Blockchain. But if you are just slightly like the rest of us, you are not 100 % sure, what it is.

You might think of it as something digital, making those Bitcoins that everyone keeps talking about possible. But it is so much more.

The Blockchain revolution has the potential of creating a whole new paradigm for the digital age. Blockchain is about trust, transparency and social contracts.

That is clear to me after attending the opening presentation, where Don Tapscott talks with great and convincing enthusiasm, and after meeting him afterwards for some extra questions. Here is why:

Unstable solutions in unstable times

A lot of the information that we share is actually just copies of information: E-mails, Power Points, websites. When you are reading this article, you are really viewing a copy of the article I just wrote.

But there are some areas, where we do not want other people to have a copy: Our identity. Intellectual property. Our money (unless, they hand them to us afterwards). Votes.

So why do we let them? Why do we create personal value, and then hand it over to companies like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn? And why do we pay middlemen for transactions that we should be able to do ourselves? Think, for instance, of Airbnb.

The virtual you knows more about yourself than you do. You do not remember where you were a year ago. Or what you ate, what your heart rate was or what you bought a year ago. But some companies owns most of this data. And they know.

How come that we are so careless about our privacy? Privacy is a fundament of freedom, if you ask Don Tapscott. He stresses that a lot of the information that we share is not just information. It is something of value that someone created. It belongs to someone.

These solutions are not stable. And the time we are living in is unstable: Democracies are failing, climate change is threatening, the economy is growing, while the middleclass is shrinking, and privacy dissolve.

Social contracts, built on trust

According to Don Tapscott, we need new social contracts. Contracts that are transparent. Contracts, we can trust. And we need good leadership to make that happen.

With Blockchain, people can make transactions peer to peer for the first time ever. They can trust each other, because the contract is self-executed, self-policed and secured. And everyone has a copy of the details, making it almost impossible to hack or manipulate.

Some companies are already using the technology for making better choices and doing good. Sweet Bridge aims to refocus the way we buy and sell. Walmart is tracing their food, making the supply chain transparent. CarbonX is using Blockchain to fight climate change. And Estonia – yes, the country – takes the top spot in the National Cyber Security Index, after becoming e-Estonia, using Blockchain.

Blockchain is very real and very present. But it takes leadership to start using Blockchain and to rely on the technology. A technology that relies on trust. Whenever we make social contracts, we trust each other to comply to that contract.

Therefore, I will leave you with some wise words from Don Tapscott on trust:

Trust is the expectation that the other party will act with integrity, and will do the right thing.