This years’ European Forum Alpbach built all around the topic of Diversity and Resilience. The following is a summary of my notes that I think to be relevant for all leaders who want to drive their teams and organisations into the future, by building diversity and resilience. I put them here as food for thought, either without further comments or with questions added to deepen reflection.


Liisa Välikangas (Professor for Innovation Management @ Aalto University and Hanken School of Economics Helsinki):

“Strategic resilience” = go through change without going through crisis. 

Reg. the hype of Start-ups and the bashing of bureaucracy: Start-ups are not to be compared to other companies, but think of them like a “hypothetis” (note: they show what could be possible. However, many of them fail after the initial hype.) Maybe we are moving too fast by just thinking of tomorrow. Maybe we need bureaucracy to slow us down, allow thinking and more predictable behavior.

Looking beyond the individual company: How can we ensure the resilience of the whole economy? The Peter Drucker Statement “The goal of a company is to create a customer” has to be reframed so that “sustainability” comes in at least somewhere.

How to foster diversity in organisations: “We drive efficiency through alignment (= everyone is in the same boat) but alignment (= everyone acts alike) hinders quick changes. The message to management would need to be : we do not want everyone on the same boat. We want people with different perspectives and talents!”

Note from the Author: this, of course, is a direct call for Charismatic Leadership. The leader who is able to lead his/her team like a Jazz Ensemble – everyone masters his7her instrument and they play together intuitively, following a “Leitmotiv” inspired by the Charismatic Leader.

Steve Denning (Author, Columnist for

Companies need a way of “disciplined innovation”. They need to grow organically from within – not through change thrusted upon them by consultant firms.

Agility means “change or die”. 

Tipps for Start-ups (but not only): you have to answer the following 4 questions:

  1. What’s the NEED? (not: what great invention do you have in mind)
  2. What’s YOUR APPROACH to cover that need?
  4. Who is the COMPETITION? (The primary competition is the RESISTENT CUSTOMER.)


Peter Straub (Founder and President, global Peter Drucker Forum, Vienna):

Note the paradox!: The most resilient companies have lots of touchpoints in various spheres of the economy (i.e. Amazon, Google,…) – but the more they dominate the market, the more theytake away resilience from the market!

Question from the author: is there an exit to that growing unbalance?


Jonathan Sierck (CEO 361 Extended Rerality GmbH and Inspired World GmbH)

There is no lack of diversity, but an abundance of conformity. (Jonathan Sierck) Click To Tweet

Diversity is as soon as two people are in the same room. Are we ready to really see the other person in their difference? 


Juliet Bourke (Partner and Diversity & Inclusion Consultant Lead, deloitte Australia, Sydney)

How do we educate children/ people to listen – not only to speak their point but to listen fearlessly to other points of view?

Problem with diversity: Diversity increases system-inherent tensions. A different style of leadership is therefor necessary. it needs the adaptability to the individual in front of you. People need to feel safe.

Note from the Author: Again, a direct link to Charismatic Leadership. Charismatic leaders distinguish themselves from others by their ability to unite people around one mission, by make them look behyond their current mental and behavioral limits AND by equally approach them – fearlessly – as individuals.

Annabelle Gawer (Professor and Chair in Digital Economy, University of Surrey, Guildford)

Metaphor of the Tower of Bable: there are 2 divergent thruths: people need to be very sure in their own identity – and that is given by education and society. And only if you have the safety, your are able to open up to other culture.

Note from the Author: here is the connection to why being in the “comfort zone” is so necessary. The comfort zone is where we feel completely safe. And only if you feel safe and secure in yourself, you are able to do the next step.

Question from the Author: What can you do in your organization to make people feel safe in the corporate community and simultaneously welcomed to be different and show themselves with their unique talents and traits?

What can you do to make people feel safe in the corporate community and simultaneously welcomed to be different? Click To Tweet

Johannes Steyrer (Associate Professor, department of Management, Interdispl. Unit for Management and Organisational Behavior, WU)

People are driven by a need of personal consistency. That means that they look for conformity in their behavior which is the main lever of manipulation. 

Manipulation is most successful through BEHAVIOR. Make people agree to doing something minor in order to make them agree olater on to what you really want from them. 

The more often people do the same things and are confirmed in their way of thinking, the more they become locked in their own mindset.

Note from the Author:

  1. Book recommendation: “Die Macht der Manipulation. Wie man sich durchsetzt, wie man sich schützt” by Johannes Steyrer
  2. Video recommendation: “13 Elemente der Machtpsychologie entschlüsseln und anwenden”

This post is also available in: German