"A Significant and Real Change Requires Leaders Who Are Willing to Listen to Each Other”

Irina Nevzlin, founder and chairman of IMPROVATE, explains how leaders who find a real shared language can act and lead for the benefit of the global community

Irina Nevzelin and Toni Blair
Oded Karni

At the end of July, Washington lawmakers created a historic moment that brought leaders of the four most powerful tech companies together—at least virtually—before Congress. The goal of the antitrust hearings was to determine whether Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are taking unfair advantage of their market dominance to crush smaller competing companies.

What struck me most about the ‘showdown’ wasn’t the year-long investigation by Congress involving millions of documents, or the statements by these businesses. Although the idea was for people to express their side of the story—it seemed like no one was really listening to the other side. It felt like they were not even speaking the same language!

Did both sides come prepared to fight or to find a solution to the problem? Although they (and we) perceive this as a conflict with two sides, both the tech companies and the government leaders really have the same goal in mind. Both sides are interested in bettering the situation of ‘the people’. Whether as voters or consumers, we represent the same target audience.

If these leaders all have the same ultimate goal, wouldn’t it be better if they worked together to find a win-win-win solution so that all parties benefit: the government, the tech companies, and the people?

Finding a win-win-win solution is only possible when people come together on an equal footing, ready to listen and accept others—and understand that we are stronger together. To reach this environment of mutual respect and cooperation we must first understand that the world is changing rapidly and we need to slow down, think and agree on new paradigms to make it work—whether from the perspective of government leaders, tech businesses, or people. Once we can agree that fresh definitions are needed, it becomes obvious that there is no one side that is completely right or completely wrong. Everyone needs to listen, to re-evaluate, and to compromise in new ways.

The laws being questioned in the antitrust hearings were originally created when big business monopolies started flexing their muscles in the days of John D. Rockefeller or industrialist Andrew Carnegie. But today, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Cook, and Pichai are using their access to our information in ways that never could have been foreseen when these regulations were formulated. Any new regulations must be crafted in a way that takes today’s tech and societal factors into consideration.

In this era of information and technology revolution, both the elected politicians and the tech and innovation companies represent world leadership.  Both groups of leaders have an enormous impact on the quality of life for billions of citizens. I feel strongly that this meeting, and any other interaction between government and technology leaders, should be a dialog on how to cooperate to make our world a better place.

The world is so complex now and change is happening at such a rapid pace in so many directions that no single person or group can make the changes needed alone. True leadership comes from caring, cooperation and connecting to reach a win-win solution.  If you think about it, the government is probably the biggest client for the tech companies. Innovation is what will enable governments to effect change across the world. And together is the only way they can serve us better. But the first step needed is being ready to listen.

Bringing the value of tech innovations to the masses requires that government officials and tech companies speak a shared language. What tech companies and government seem to forget is that each group speaks their own jargon, so to say. For some reason, the tech companies are convinced that everyone now speaks ‘tech’. The same goes for politicians, who also have their own jargon. It is not better or worse. It’s not less modern or influential. It’s just different.

The reason I became involved in projects like The Museum of the Jewish people was because I saw it as a platform where everybody is open to hearing about and from “the other” without prejudice. Everyone is part of the same story. When we meet in an environment where everybody is seen and respected, there is no one party that feels the need to win or judge. We become stronger together when we are all part of something bigger that has meaning and purpose. In the case of the Museum, this is about belonging to the Jewish people. But this same reasoning can apply to any group of diverse individuals who need to find a way to connect. To achieve this goal, we need a platform that is engaging, where people can meet “the other” in an environment that facilitates mutual understanding. Only then will they be able to think together.  

By establishing IMPROVATE, a company dedicated to connecting change-makers in technology and industry with leaders in governing positions, we feel this is a valuable step towards helping realize global progress through innovation. In a world where the focus is often on problems, IMPROVATE is a platform dedicated to building collaborations that inspire solutions to improve the quality of life. It is a platform that can help anyone who chooses to be a part of it understand and build a shared language.

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On October 29th (Thursday), IMPROVATE will hold a conference on "Smart Agriculture" in Europe with the participation of former Bulgarian President Rosen Flabniev, Ministers of Agriculture from Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia and Israel, UN Envoy to the Middle East Nikolai Maldanav, and Israeli agro-technology companies: AGRI-GO, AGRI-GREEN, GRO-FIT ROOTS, BERMAD, ADAMA, AGROSCOUT and Groundwork BioAg.

For more information >> IMPROVATE.NET