How many CEOs and artists does it take to change a light bulb?

9 Oct 2018

As we discussed in my first blog of this series, the grand challenges that the world is now facing, from climate change to social inequality, are simply too big and complex for any one industry, sector or discipline to solve on its own. This is not only a question of how to work together to deliver a solution, which is in itself hard (see report here), but also coming up with the idea (or 'light bulb') in the first place. To solve the world's most pressing problems, we need the best ideas imaginable – wherever they come from.

Chester Cunningham is the Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway.
Chester Cunningham is the Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway.

And yet too often we're stuck in the echo chambers of our everyday lives, unable (or unwilling) to listen to and learn from the different voices and perspectives around us. As Einstein famously put it, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." So, how do we get the light bulb moments we so desperately need? Studies on diversity consistently show that when you bring a diversity of people together, you produce higher quality ideas. At yet at a time when we need to be more open to thinking from different worlds, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Headlines everyday signal a clear trend towards a society that is less tolerant of those that don't fit the mould, as though they somehow pose a threat to our sense of self. We're determined at this year's Xynteo Exchange/Norway, to be held on 28-29 November in Oslo, to buck this trend. We'll have our views (and the assumptions that underpin them) challenged. We'll be stretched to dream of a tomorrow that we didn't know existed. And most importantly, we'll collectively build on each other's thinking for how we get there. In other words, we'll exchange with other people who are very different from ourselves. That's why, when you look at our partners and speakers, you won't just see corporates. You'll see an eclectic mix of industries, government agencies and civil society leaders, passionate about rethinking how we approach the concept of 'growth'. And you'll also see a growing number of leaders from the arts and contemporary culture – including from the world-renowned Munch Museum and Office of Contemporary Art, as well as the incredible Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. Throughout history, artists have played a critical role in society by not only challenging the status quo, but also inspiring action in response to it. With the challenges the world currently faces, voices from the arts and contemporary culture are needed now more than ever to help build a better society. So perhaps it's not so much a question of how many CEOs and artists it takes to change a light bulb. It's the fact that they come together and engage in a new conversation. That's how we set ourselves up for success. That's how we reinvent growth. This is the second in a series of blogs on connecting talent, capital and ideas from Chester Cunningham, Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway. For further details, please visit https://xynteo.com/the-xynteo-exchange-norway-2018/