IDEAS DINNERS

WHY THE IDEAS DINNERS?

“If I give you a dollar and you give me a dollar, each of us will only have one dollar. But if you give me one idea and I give you another idea, we will both have two ideas” (source unknown).

Too often, we have a tendency to favor those well-established ideas that are deeply interwoven with and influenced by our personal and professional lives. In consequence we rarely think “out of the box” in a way that yields new ideas that can create a “Eureka” moment and compel us to question some of our beliefs, values and assumptions. This is regrettable because novel ideas are just those that may open the gate for new ways of looking at familiar things, thus leading to a new project, a new investment, or a new endeavor. Our Ideas’ dinners are an effective shortcut and catalyst to come up with such news ideas (we don’t have to read lengthy treaties, books, or articles – we just listen to what everybody around the table has to suggest).

HOW DO THE IDEAS’ DINNERS WORK?

They are organized throughout the year in various locations (London, Geneva, Paris, NYC, Chamonix, Washington DC, Singapore, etc.) and on each occasion gather 20 participants max (not exclusively Summit of Minds participants, but all subscribers of the Monthly Barometer). The choice of guests is essential: they must come from varied backgrounds and have different perspectives to avoid the trap of group think and lame ideas. Diversity is therefore key!

To succeed, the dinner requires a bit of preparation on the part of everybody but it’s a great challenge to embrace. Guests normally get excited and interested. If it works well (as it normally does), everybody leaves enriched by 19 new ideas! The Monthly Barometer team then compiles a curated précis of the ideas arising from each dinner.

WHAT SORT OF IDEAS?

There is no limitation in terms of what sort of ideas should be submitted to the group. Of course, coming up with a new idea that nobody in the group knows about is virtually impossible - we all know, as Mark Twain once said when discussing the combinatorial nature of creativity, that “all good ideas are second-hand”!

Premium and institutional subscribers have access to the curated précis of ideas, emanating from dinners in all locations. Those interested in any particular idea have the chance, after an initial conversation with us, to connect with the person who formulated the idea with a view to moving it forward.

A curated précis of ideas from the most recent dinners can be found below.


Ideas Dinner Chamonix, Friday 21 June 2019 (19.00-22.00), Buvette de la Cascade du Dard

1) Embrace the healthcare revolution (FC)
A major shift is occurring from hospital intervention to lab-based therapy. The doctor/surgeon will become the advisor supported by AI. Revenues and the investments are already shifting to labs.

2) Develop direct communication with the brain (EB)
Sensing, capturing and processing directly the various signals generated or received by the brain will enable us to modify and influence its activities. This has already been explored with a type of headphone that measures the electrical currents going through the brain and uses their shapes and intensities to create, for instance, sounds to soothe the mind.

3) Create a multimedia pen pal network (JB)
Understanding each other better is the best antidote to rising intolerance. Using the education infrastructure, we could establish direct contacts by messages, audio and video, and thus upgrade the pen pal concept using today’s technology. Public funding and private donations could be used to set up the service.

4) Understand that the world is indeterminate to reduce norms and standards (PEC)
We need to come to terms with the principle that we cannot protect our societies and institutions against every possible risk. If we accept the idea that there is an “indeterminate” in our lives, we’ll be able to reduce the rules and norms designed to protect us but that have become so inflated that they are suffocating us.

5) Activate women’s investing in venture capital (AR)
Unequal access to opportunities and systematic bias are two significant challenges women face in today’s world, and women are still abdicating decisions about investing and finances at alarming rates. Less than 5% of VC goes to women who founded business or businesses with a women co-founder, impacting the kind of companies that are founded, the products that are developed, and the culture and values of the companies. Thus, it is time to activate women’s investing.

6) Immersive empathy-learning field trips for the political and business elite (MAM)
Numerous recent crises have exposed how disconnected the elite can be from the everyday realities of their fellow citizens. It has been proven that empathy improves social welfare, so the political and business elite should give higher priority to seeing for themselves what these realities are (e.g. through something as simple as a ride on public transport) to avoid the perils of ivory tower isolation.

7) Support democracy with digital technologies (MH)
The underlying flaw with representative democracy is that the very people who seek power are exactly those that should not hold it. Expanding the usage of digital technologies in various ways could help societies make better and more democratically driven policy decisions.

8) Create a safe platform for leaders to exchange, listen and disagree (TEL)
We increasingly live in our own bubbles, surrounded by people who think like us, and shutting down on people who have different perspectives. This idea is not new (it was created in 1949 in Colorado with the Aspen seminars) but it needs to be expanded. Debating values, exploring what brings us together and what sets us apart, could contribute to bridging some of today’s divides.

9) Harness simple communication techniques (MH)
Relationships and communications between children are simple and straightforward. How can we preserve and expand some of those simple communication techniques into adulthood through education and culture?

10) Find solutions to today’s problems in the natural world (HG)
Life has existed on earth for 3.8 billion years, while we’ve existed for only about 300,000 years. The natural world is governed by some important principles that also apply to our lives: optimization of resources, diversity, interaction (between different species and between a species and the physical environment) and constant adaptation. We stand to gain important insights if we take the lessons from the natural world and learn how to apply them to human activity.

11) Identify what we would put into today’s ‘Ark’ (BA)
At the recent Armenian Summit of Minds, President Sarkissian suggested that we need an “ark” that can serve as a ‘safe’ place to discuss what’s going on in the world and what to do about the problems that we collectively face. Before we embark, the idea is to discuss and select what should be put into this metaphorical ark.

12) Promote citizen implication and personal investment (OL)
Individuals feel increasingly isolated and ignored - sentiments that feed into populism. This could be stemmed by an improved system motivating and rewarding individual implication and investment in the workings of the political system. Engagement could be encouraged by local governments, with incentives to convert accumulated participation points into local tax credits, university entry points of their monetisation for community projects.

13) Replace workshops with ‘walkshops’ (TM)
Misery at work is increasing, non-monetary incentives work better than bonuses for improving productivity at work, and being outdoors is better from all angles. This all points to the need for conducting more work outside, hence turning workshops into walking activities – ‘walkshops’. This could be done via coupons or credit systems.

Ideas Dinner London, Wednesday 1 May 2019 (18:45-22:00), RSA House

Ideas below are listed in no particular order. Environmental concerns and the deployment of technology emerged as two themes, but as one guest observed: “all ideas were somehow linked to each other by one degree of separation”.

1) A map of the links between the ruling elites (SC)
Map the links and connections between businesses and politicians, the different sectors and people at the top in each country (this knowledge often already exists but is usually ‘for sale’). Making this information transparent and widely available would benefit not only investors, but also help redress the trust deficit of citizens vis-à-vis their leaders.

2) Map the human terrain that favors the propagation of good ideas (JA)
Innovation and ideas are transmitted through social evolution and connections. The pace of this transmission is already accelerating, If we could track how good ideas are transmitted we could better enhance and scale their positive effect. (Caveat: the same could apply to bad ideas!)

3) A global environmental fund for charities (ZF)
Ask all charities (including small local ones) to contribute a small percentage of their income to a global fund dedicated to projects aimed at improving the environment. This would combine forces for maximum effectiveness in tackling the single biggest issue facing the entire global community.

4) Engage our best brains with climate change (AS)
The reality is that we cannot halt climate change. But we need to do something that ensures deployment of our best brains (otherwise focused on tech innovation or making money) to address this existential problem.

5) Ban the over-55s from politics (SJB)
The younger generations are increasingly politically empowered, and have the tools for this, whereas the older generation feels unjustifiably entitled. We should prevent anyone over the age of 55 from holding any kind of executive political power. Prince Charles could lead the charge by ceding his position as first in the line of succession to his son.

6) Immersive empathy learning field trips for the political and business elite (MAM)
Crises like the gilets jaunes in France have exposed how disconnected the elite can be from the everyday realities of their fellow citizens. It has been proven that empathy improves social welfare, so the political and business elite should give higher priority to seeing for themselves what these realities are (e.g. through something as simple as a ride on public transport) to avoid the perils of ivory tower isolation.

7) Use the power of sharing food in a communal setting for positive impact (MN)
Growing, cooking and sharing food can be used to improve the health and wellbeing of those involved and increase inter-generational connections. It can help tackle problems of loneliness and obesity, by helping establish a happy and healthy relationship with food while building human connections

8) Aerial visual information delivery in disaster zones (MH)
Repurpose communications and space technology equipment to create armadas of airships that can deliver public information to areas and communities that have been hit by disasters and where all communications have been cut off

9) Revive consumer boycott (JB)
When approaching the question of what it means to be a responsible citizen in this digital age, the reality is that everyday purchases are just as important as how we vote. Individuals should consume to the cause, reviving the past concept of ‘consumer activism’ or boycott in a new guise of digital strikes

10) Create an ethical framework for policy discussions (CL)
How best can we re-define a meaningful social contract to address the two problems of almost unimaginable magnitude currently facing society: the future of work and climate change? An ethical framework could help inform political and business leaders decisions better define their moral responsibilities.

11) Legalize recreational drugs for the over-70s – a pilot scheme (RC)
Over-70s are typically out of the workforce, cautious drivers, not caring for young children and already on some form of legal drugs. Recreational drugs (regulated along the same lines as alcohol currently is – licensed premises etc.) would bring some pleasure and improvement to their lives. Eventually, the minimum age would be pushed down and recreational drugs would be legalized for all, and monitored in the same way other dangerous activities like driving and alcohol currently are

12) Regain control of the internet (JT)
We have created, in the form of the internet, a single global brain but this brain is developing a mind of its own over which we wield very little control. Algorithms now dictate to almost every aspect of our lives, shaping despite ourselves our very own bespoke version of reality largely beyond our control

13) Reframe the discourse around the environmental crisis to make people care (CM)
Any hope of containing climate change and limiting the environmental crisis will demand huge societal changes and some sacrifices. Governments and corporations have a role to play, but will only be effective if they have the weight of individual conviction behind them, and this requires people being emotionally engaged. The discourse must change and adapt to engage all sectors of society

14) A new empathy for the ruling class (NG)
The political class cannot handle the enormity of what they call populism that could be relabelled ‘pushbackism’. There is an arrogance of power and lack of humility which prevents them from engaging with the population, and yet the only way to respond with effectiveness to ‘pushbackism’ is through empathy with those pushing back.

15) Replace workshops with ‘walkshops’ (TM)
Misery at work is increasing, non-monetary incentives work better than bonuses for improving productivity at work, and being outdoors is better from all angles. This all points to the need for conducting more work outside, hence turning workshops into walking activities – ‘walkshops’. This could be done via coupons or credit systems

16) Make multi-disciplinary engagement compulsory at corporate level (EL)
Thinking sourced through cross-semination often yields the best ideas, yet once we are out of higher education there are few incentives for multi-disciplinary learning and experiences. To resolve this, a company review should include a measure of the company’s performance in engaging in multi-disciplinary fields. On an individual level we should each have a diverse and multi-generational, personal ‘advisory board’

17) Encourage employers to seek out ‘special talent’ (VN)
Young people with special educational needs who have been through the education system are rarely connected with opportunities in the professional world (although good practice does exist). This is a loss for employers and a waste of investment in special needs education. The gap between education and work could be bridged through re-branding the issue as special talent for employers and creating a hub to provide access to the talent pool.

18) Invest in character for meaningful change (IF)
Instead of investing in a company or an idea, it is possible to invest in character – individuals with tenacity, courage, and moral integrity, who are pushing for meaningful change and can become leaders capable of bridging divides. This form of investment into social change makers already exists, but could it be brought to the UK

19) Holiday courses to teach children about the issues that matter (JF)
If we got education and teaching right from the beginning, we would solve a lot of problems. Implementing meaningful change in the school curriculum is too big a task – instead, fill children’s holidays with government- and corporate-sponsored courses tackling and teaching about issues such as climate change, leadership, the impact of technology

20) An on-demand learning system for children (ZP)
There is a lot of criticism leveled at the primary and secondary education system, ill adapted to the individual and too focused on scores. Through blockchain, we could implement an on-demand learning system for children to go at their own pace, building their own curriculum and taking time to face issues such as mental health, regardless of their socio-economic background.

Ideas Dinner Geneva, Tuesday 2 April 2019 (19:45-22:00), Les Philosophes

Ideas below are listed in no particular order. Environmental concerns and the deployment of technology emerged as two themes, but as one guest observed: “all ideas were somehow linked to each other by one degree of separation”.

1) A pipeline builder for sustainability (BB)
SMEs can create sustainable economies and local prosperity. Combining the strengths of the UN working with national governments with the skills of the financial industry into a pipeline builder modeled on classical investment banking can reach those goals

2) A database of all non-profit activities globally (SC)
A phenomenal amount of duplication exists in the philanthropic world, making it often inefficient. With the help of AI and machine learning, it wouldn’t take much to build a global database that scopes the landscape, limits redundancy and achieves economies of scope

3) A vending machine that promotes sustainability (CCL)
New technologies and sensors make it easier to recycle. A vending machine that sorts out our waste could provide individuals with credits commensurate to the “quality” of the waste they bring and be redeemable in local supermarkets and shops.

4) Empathy learning immersive field trips (MAM)
The disconnection of elites is a recurring theme. It can be addressed by nurturing a more empathetic elite by engaging in non-mediatized, immersive empathy-learning field trips. They should be given greater priority on our high-level decision makers’ ‘to do list’.

5) The creation of a “Performance passport” (TC)
It can be either a physical book or an interactive e-book that will take us on a reflective and practical health and performance journey - helping each of us to understand and monitor how our posture, movement and lifestyle habits can impact our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

6) Emphasizing the importance of mentoring (MM)
A good mentor can make the difference between success and failure for a young person/professional. Resilience in the face of adversity and preparedness to learn from failure and move on are critical qualities mentors should seek to convey. Promote mentoring in any way you can!

7) Re-Structure the UN Security Council (MM)
This is needed to address the massive trust deficit that currently besets the international governance framework. A new two-tier system with 5 regional councils, an overarching council and regular reviews of vetoes would make it more representative and impactful.

8) Predictive psychology (FC)
Human beings are obsessed with projecting themselves into the future but are not good at it (affected by many biases). AI can now help us find better answers relating to our “future self”. One practical piece of advice: learn to “clean” our deep neural tissues through meditation and other techniques.

9) Being open hearted (MBC)
The example of forgiveness, resilience and generosity of Dr Edith Eva Eger shows how openheartedness can be a source of strength, not vulnerability. Firm in this conviction, we should be sure to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us before it’s too late.

10) Teach about emotions (PS)
The current educational system favours thinking over emotions yet both are vital life tools. If children and young adults are given lessons about the categorization of emotions, this will give them a chance to increase their autonomy.

11) Create more awareness about water shortages (AJ)
And act accordingly. Two strategies must be pursued concomitantly: develop technologies that reduce water consumption (like SMIXIN) and legislate at the same time (by banning plastic bottles, promoting water harvesting for golf courses and gardens, and so on).

12) Define fast the next world order (FSS)
The nation state as a form of political organization is failing humanity in fundamental ways. The fall out from climate change, plastic and nuclear waste will affect us well beyond the lifespan of any organization. Today, the world order is ripe for re-definition and the stakes are high.

13) Transform, whenever possible, workshops into “walkshops” (TM)
Walking is a great antidote to the “misery at work” syndrome that is engulfing much of the rich world. Walking instead of sitting has a positive effect on physical and mental health and improves productivity. Let’s follow the example of big tech by promoting walking meetings.

14) Plant 1 trillion trees (EE)
A small business - Land Life Company - has made it a goal to restore the world’s 2 billion hectares of degraded land by applying new technologies to make large-scale reforestation possible. The result: an 80% increase in tree survival, 75% water reduction and local employment.

15) The Power of Compassion (AM)
Compassion and empathy can and should inform our every move and decision. The more at ease we are with ourselves, the greater our facility to be attuned to the demands of others. Kindness as a default position enhances every dimension of human interaction.

16) Make the CEO a Chief Empowerment Officer (JC)
More than anything else (a freebee, a salary rise and so on), employees want a boss who cares about their own empowerment. Hence the corporate mind-set needs to evolve. The CEO has to become a leader who empowers much more than a manager who executes.

17) A manifesto for personal responsibility (CB)
As human beings, we have rights, but also obligations. We spend our time pointing fingers to those whom we feel are responsible for what doesn’t go right, but we need to develop a sense of personal responsibility: we are responsible for our own actions.

18) Higher priority in schools for ‘La force de la Parole’ (OA)
We all have legitimate ideas, but not everyone is equipped with the same capacity to express them verbally. To re-dress this imbalance, education should place greater emphasis on oral expression through theatre, debating and participative projects.

Ideas Dinner Paris, Wednesday 13 February 2019 (20.00-23.00)
Hosted by Gilles Pélisson at TF1

Ideas are listed in no particular order. Education permeated the discussion – it was one the evening’s threads

1) A long- term stock exchange (PB)
It would be structured with checks and balances to reward long-term investors, and would be articulated around the following four key ideas: (1) long-term voting, (2) long-term disclosure, (3) long-term executive compensation, (4) long-term alignment of the board

2) An inter-school twinning scheme (IS)
This is a bid to abolish barriers and generate greater societal cohesion and mutual understanding. It would involve physical exchanges for students from schools in the suburbs and the countryside and those in big cities

3) Coding courses for girls (SH)
The gender gap is particularly stubborn in the tech industry, where women are significantly under-represented. Offering coding course for young girls would go a long way to addressing the issue

4) An open-access tool for representative democracies (AD)
Being elected is no longer enough to govern. Hence there is a pressing need for an open access tool that gives everybody the chance to express an opinion and interact with democratic institutions. This is a process of re-intermediation

5) Before looking at the problem, look at the person (OT)
This idea is based on an observation: a dentist in Columbia who treats underprivileged children says he overcomes their fears by looking them in the eye: “before looking at the teeth, you must look at the person first”. The disruptive impact of looking people in the eye is major

6) Beware of calls for the legalization of cannabis (RF)
Calls for the legalization of cannabis are ignoring to a dangerous degree the catastrophic psychological effects early use has on young people. These irreversible and life ruining side effects must be publically acknowledged and spoken out about

7) An individual climate change account (OF)
This could be an app that quantifies and rewards ‘power of one’ efforts to counter climate change and improve our carbon footprint. This application would measure and give a value to each of our ‘green’ and not so green gestures

8) Contributions to NGOs should be 100% tax deductible (RS)
A society’s real source of richness is people more than money. Governments should place greater emphasis on the overall contribution made by the not for profit sector of our societies by ensuring that the contributions we make to them are 100% deductible

9) Concentrate on young people left behind (SP)
Our system is failing far too many young people, and our collective efforts should focus on those left behind (60% of the overall youth population in France). We must support them in every way we can: education, training, courses etc

10) A PDA – Personal Data Account (GP)
Data being the oil of this century, we could imagine a grant payable in advance by the tech giants to every individual at birth in the form of a down-payment for the future data that each of us is going to supply

11) Walking to make better decisions (TM)
Our current work culture is a source of misery that affects productivity. A controlled experiment demonstrating that walking outside allows for better investment and strategic decisions would go a long way towards changing company mindset

12) “Opening our eyes, ears and hearts” (DF)
Doing so would allow us to connect who we want and know we should be with who we actually are, and seek ways to connect what we know we should be doing with what we actually do. Very importantly, we have to listen attentively to others

13) A knowledge sharing revolution (AA)
We need to put into place a nation-wide program of knowledge sharing to cope with the fundamental changes that are coming in terms of education (unfit today for the requirements of the 21st century). It could be funded by tax incentives

14) Create a new “Légion d’Honneur” (BA)
The traditional legion d’honneur is the symbol of an old world that benefits very few. A new one could promote long-term commitment for the common good by honoring positive social influencers from the young generation

15) Immersive empathy learning trips (MAM)
The disconnection of elites is a recurring theme. It can be addressed by nurturing a more empathetic elite by engaging in non-mediatized, immersive empathy-learning field trips. They should be given greater priority on our high-level decision makers ‘to do list’

16) The world is quantum (AS)
We must recognize the fact that the world is quantum. This means in particular that seemingly irrelevant events (often amplified by social media) can have gigantic consequences. If decision-makers ignore this, they’ll be lost

17) Create a third block around francophonie (JC)
The creation of a 3rd “block” (alongside the US and China) defined by the Francophonie - not so much defined by common language but by shared values and culture – could be known as the “Freedom block”

18) Territorial laboratories (BFT)
They would co-create a collective project for a city/ territory destined to eradicate unemployment and more broadly poverty. All players would coalesce to make it a success: public and civil society organizations, private companies, and educational institutions

19) Build forests around big cities (ELB)
It’s possible to take the countryside back to the big cities in order to improve air quality and limit carbon-emissions. In France, we could replace the cornfields around Paris by reforesting the green belt. Around all major cities, the State could force-purchase an outer ring of a 50km

20) Create a “Politician of the month” award (VC)
Many private companies recognize the “best employee of the month”. In the public domain, such an award would honor the politician who best manages public expenditures, the one who is best at savings!