Navigating “what if’s” at the Xynteo Exchange 2019

9 Oct 2019

Two experienced global leaders underlined the importance of building consensus and navigating steadily towards the future.

Xynteo ExchangeClosing Day 1 of the Exchange, we brought together two very different - yet inspiring - leaders: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Shell Projects & Technology Director Harry Brekelmans. Moderated by Xynteo’s Emma Micklem, they discussed their approaches to taking hard decisions.

Solberg started the conversation by reflecting on Norway’s development, which was based on applying its knowledge base and responsible leadership to its good fortune: “We have always been very resourceful - we’re lucky to have been plentiful with our natural resources, ” Solberg said. “Since the Viking age, we’ve been the most marine nations in the world. We used a knowledge base into our success with oil and gas.” 

But now, pointed out the Prime Minister, Norway is a crossroads: the nation must distill the essence of its past success and apply that towards building its future. “Our biggest challenge is to find the same type of wealth out of other types of technology in the future. We’ve been lucky so far, we’ve been handling things well. But when the future is uncertain, we need to work as a nation together and solve for everyone in our society, ” said Solberg. 

Brekelmans reminded leaders of the importance of co-creating the right solutions. For that, he said, it is key to manage the tradeoffs or interdependencies that play at the economic, environmental and social levels. This is complex and simplification is not the answer. “We should focus instead on the better solution and we should do it in collaboration with customers, investors, governments and society at large– I know at Shell we work hard to do so. I am optimistic that when we set our collective minds to the task and work together, we can actually get to our desired future”.

Erna Solberg underlined that  those better solutions - visionary targets - are now increasingly demanded by many, yet building the necessary coalitions is no simple task: “You need to be able to take people with you - you need to build people’s understanding. So it’s difficult for politicians today to address the fast and big challenges we’re facing, ” she said. 

The discussion left the impression that both leaders emphasised the need for practical leadership: solid decision making to help us achieve impact, while navigating a world of “What if’s?” 

Follow Xynteo Exchange 2019: #XynteoExchange and #XE19.

Learn more about Xynteo Exchange 2019.