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With the introduction of ChatGPT last year, AI has quickly become one of the hottest topics in the business community. And if it isn’t about AI, it’s ESG, or environmental, social, and governance. Nobody doubts that they are important topics. I believe we need to back up the discussion and try to find consensus on what the business values ought to be. And in this blog, I’ll pose a few questions for business and academic leaders who want to successfully collaborate globally.

Or do you want to continue to live in such a fractured world? We have seen the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) collective announce the development of a new world currency to challenge the US dollar. We were recently surprised when OPEC+ raised the price of oil without warning. And then, the war in Ukraine continues to drag on with little discussions of any solution in sight.

As a project manager, I often see teams who need to develop consensus on how they plan to work together. And I’m not alone. It’s how project leaders get their teams to work together.

Many refer to the period we are in as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by rapidly increasing technological changes and greater interconnectedness. Some experts believe it will have a profound effect on the social structures around the world. Many experts are sounding the alarm that we need to step back and think carefully about how we want to live in this new world.

I wonder if the business community is the place that is better positioned to drive change. But to do that, leaders need to develop some form of global consensus on what the best business values are if we want to successfully collaborate, trade, and thrive as humans.

Can we even have a global conversation that includes everyone?

Or are there countries that we simply cannot engage with? On my quick look at what purported to be the Davos attendees in 2020 versus 2023, there were some significant changes in the countries represented. There is much I am not privy to, so I’m just asking the question.

Can we talk with people with whom we disagree? Most businesspeople will acknowledge that it can be difficult. But those difficult conversations might just be the ones that provide the greatest opportunities. It might be the troubled employee that you turn into a rock star through difficult mentoring. Or it might be the hostage negotiation that saves the lives of the hostages.

Business leaders rarely solve problems with loaded weapons and so, negotiation is one of the critical skill sets for advancement.

Should rich organizations, be they companies or countries, have a greater responsibility?

Capitalism places a burden on companies to maximize shareholder value. But we seem to be seeing increasing numbers of businesses adopting a mission mindset. The Purpose Network is a global network of leaders trying to make the world better by “creating new shared ownership models that move capital into the service of people, planet and community for the long-term.”

What responsibilities do the rich have? And should someone mandate how businesses and governments try to carry out their obligations? Or should it be left to the discretion of individual businesses and governments? This question has made it hard to get global consensus on issues from climate change to worker safety. Could the business world lead the way in helping us develop global consensus on the important business values?

The gap between the rich and poor has grown significantly in recent years. Many believe it borders on the obscene. And one of these days, it may lead to war.  It’s a reality that poverty puts a strain on communities. The same is true when there are people in your organization who are not paid a sustainable wage.

Can business take the lead in agreeing that workers should be paid a sustainable wage? Does that mean that businesses can or should outsource work to countries where child labor laws don’t exist? What responsibilities do we have?

It’s a reality that poverty puts a strain on communities. The same is true when there are people in your organization who are not paid a sustainable wage. #management #economy #leadership #business Share on X

Through what lens are we planning to make ethical decisions?

The US dollar may be the largest currency on the planet and global meetings may most frequently be conducted in English. But does that mean that American, or even “western” values should drive the large number of ethical decisions facing us as civilization changes so rapidly?

FICO and Corinium surveyed 100 major financial firms in the US and Canada and found that the demand for AI has increased much faster than any consideration of ethics. According to an article by Emerging Tech Brew, “71% said AI ethics and responsible AI isn’t a core part of the operational strategies at their organizations.”

Reports such as this, and the fallout from recent bank bailouts, suggest that governments and business leaders take note of their responsibilities. We have work to do. And finding consensus on any business values that would help us collaborate globally is important and urgent.

Do we want to live in a world of fear or love?

We all know that humans are prone to screwing up. And greed can turn nice people into ugly people. At best humans make mistakes. And at worst, they are evil. Yet, we can choose to live in fear or in love. I choose love.

And I see businesses that make that choice thrive. Working in an environment filled with fear is stressful. And the physiological changes to the body that stress causes are not good for anyone’s health.

What price are we willing to pay for healthy employees?

Said differently, are healthy employees a priority for a business, a government, or the global community? What does it take to have healthy employees? What health care rights should employees have? Let’s face it. Sick employees are no good to a business. And it doesn’t matter what kind of illness the employee has. It will impact their output. We need healthy employees. And that includes physical fitness and mental wellness.

The question quickly becomes one of responsibility. Is it a government’s responsibility to ensure that people have access to healthy food, clean air and water, doctors, and safe medicines? Or does business have a role to play? I will not try to take on the debate over socialized medicine in this blog. I will simply say that businesses need healthy employees.

And without access to clean air, clean water, healthy food, exercise options, doctors (including mental health providers), and safe medicines, it’s hard to produce healthy employees. And to hire people with young children, the issue of affordable childcare is a critical question.

What business values can we agree on?

The answer to that question is a long way off. Some years back, I wrote a blog on whether a blockchain based project management tool would improve success. Perhaps a blockchain based work management tool used by the businesses that agree to a certain value system would be a step? I don’t know.

I do know the status quo is not great. Put aside inflation and interest rate risk. Or competition and supply chain breakdowns. We live at the mercy of various political systems that can wreak havoc internationally. We await the next global pandemic. And in the US, we live with daily mass shootings.

Yet I’m optimistic. And I hope the global business community will step up to the plate and try to develop consensus on a value system of some sort. It’s important to remember that many people are not employed by anyone. And all humans should have some inalienable rights.

So whatever business values we develop consensus on should account for the rights and benefits of everyone. That includes children, in whatever way we define them. I’ll leave you with a question that might have seemed like a joke not too long ago. What rights and benefits should robots and AIs have?

Many believe that AI will have the largest impact on the modern world in decades, perhaps centuries. Are you ready?

I know this blog has been a bit different from my normal blogs on project management, but you may be seeing more of my thoughts on this subject.

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