THE BLOG
01/25/2012 08:51 am ET Updated Mar 26, 2012

From Dalian to Davos: A Tale of Two Cities

It was not too long ago that I recall sitting 'on top of the world', enjoying the heated, ultra-automated toilet seats of the hotel I stayed at in Dalian. My 'toasted buns' are perhaps an unusual testament to the modernity and economic prowess of China - emerging beautifully from a silk cocoon onto the world stage in the midst of a great global metamorphosis.

Four months later, I rediscover myself on the way to Davos, a cocoon of snow-capped mountains, immersed in the surreal beauty of the Graubunden. The shuttle bus (uncharacteristically late for the chronologically constipated) is filled with chatter from a dozen countries but is clearly dominated by our Chinese friends as east comes to meet west in this most sublime of settings. The great transformation has begun...

Here in Switzerland, I see no evidence of the austerity that is plaguing much of Europe these days (although I am inclined to practice some austerity of my own after paying 11 CHF for a cup of coffee and a small pastry at Zurich airport. Ouch!). Perhaps European austerity only travels by sea these days, unable to infect the land-locked countries of central Europe. Who knew that this could be a huge geographic dividend!

I luxuriate in the sunlight peeking through the clouds. It is symbolic of the hope that is palpable a day before Davos 2012 commences. It is a hope that the new models of socio-economic transformation emerging from the developing world will force the developed world to innovate its way out of the lackadaisical stupor it finds itself in. Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention and Europe needs its fair share of 'change-making' babies right now.

A pioneering example of this 'great transformation' is the rapid convergence of market development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), supply chain optimization, social entrepreneurship and private citizen philanthropy to create novel, market-based solutions to combating poverty. I will be exploring this theme extensively, along with Prof. Yunus and other panel discussants, during our session on social innovation models later this week. I hope you will join us for a swashbuckling and thought-provoking session this Saturday afternoon. Until then, may the spirit of Davos be strong within you!