I was fortunate to attend the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, China earlier this month and, as I reflected on the many high-level discussions that took place around the theme of “Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy,” it occurred to me that the discussions began to share a common idea: that in order to progress the way we do business and interact together, we must first and foremost be inclusive.
Gone are the days where companies grow in isolation in their own industry, watching competitors from afar and trying to out-hire, out-produce, and out-expand them. To be successful now, companies must take an approach that connects people, ideas, and opportunities from all sides. In other words, the key to success today is being inclusive—which means bringing together a diverse leadership and workforce to promote and encourage a range of thoughts and ideas that could propel the company forward in a new way.
It also means being inclusive with customers, creating a two-way dialogue and enabling customers to be a part of solutions. And it means, ironically, inclusion with competitors—not just learning from them, but creating opportunities to partner and work together to create circumstances that benefit the consumer (and the world), not just the business.
There were many conversations at the Fortune Global Forum that underscored this way of thinking. Below are a few ways I believe organizations can create a more inclusive model, and strengthen their business by expanding their ability to connect and include others in the process:
Put people before technology
When we think about an inclusive mindset, it goes for including people in that vision as much as it does technology. Jack Ma, founder of the Asian e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba (baba, +0.26%), said it best during the forum when he said, “As a business, it’s not about empowering ourselves. It’s about the legacy we leave to the world for human beings.” And, while artificial intelligence will be a part of that legacy, he noted during a discussion with Alan Murray, president of Fortune and chief content officer of Time…