Insider bet news for digitalswitzerland challenge
Without fanfare or public attention of its massive potential, digitalswitzerland’s challenge has reached a critical tipping point. Designed as an opportunity to jointly develop innovative concepts and crazy ideas and put them into action, challenge bets are entering the 2nd half of their race to the finish line to produce working prototypes and MVP’s (minimum viable products).
When the starter’s gun went off on April 3rd, 2017, ten round tables kicked off the challenge initiative by making eighteen bets. Six months later, the field of contenders has narrowed and the bets themselves evolved – or iterated, in the jargon of innovation. Some bets proved too much and dropped out of the race. Others split up into different parts to exploit even more exciting ideas than originally imagined – an intended by-product of the “orderly chaos” framework the challenge was designed to foster.
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be diving deeper into the individual bets (see list at end of this post), meeting the people who made these (some call them outrageous;-) wagers and observing the progress and setbacks challenge players are experiencing.
To appreciate how far the challenge has come, and what the results will be if the bets payout or go bust, imagine an Olympic “dream team” of Switzerland’s brightest leading minds. Assembled under the challenge umbrella are blue chip corporate CEO’s, distinguished professors, high-ranking government bureaucrats, powerful politicos, financial wizards, tech gurus and VIP’s who know a power-networking opportunity when they see one. Think 250+ people.
Now, give them no more instructions than to jointly develop innovative concepts, i.e. crazy ideas, and put them into action. Do not give them a budget. Do not give them an office or job titles or a business card. Do not give them anything besides hosting milestone events where they publicaly announce their progress (or lack of). And expect sensational results.
Are you thinking this is a recipe for disaster or another “brand Switzerland” marketing campaign? Or do you see the opportunity digitalswitzerland has invented to counter the threat characterized by “wait and see” attitudes?
No question, digitalization is radically changing the way we live and work. Without much imagination, it’s easy to see if Switzerland, or any country for that matter, rests on its past performance and fails to innovate, it will likely lose out in the high-stakes game of global competition.
When I first got this assignment to parachute into the challenge and find good stories to tell, I was both thrilled and skeptical, feelings likely shared by the men and women who answered a CEO’s or professor’s call to come join their roundtable and contribute to realizing their ambitious bet. I asked one of the players, Anne-Claire Pliska, Head of Mobility Lab for PostAuto and the Mobility round table bet Captain, why she signed on.
“I’m really into improving mobility experience. This is a great chance to be involved in something I care about and help drive innovation,”she said. To which I countered, “but are you getting paid or expect a promotion?” She gave me a quizzical look and patiently answered, “It is rather a matter of personal values and working on something that makes sense.”
High risk bets and Swiss make strange bedfellows. But that is exactly what Stefan Schöbi, Head of Engagement Migros and Chair of the challenge’s Steering Committee, intended when he pushed digitalswitzerland to initiate the challenge. “We want Switzerland to become the leading global hub in digitalization,” Schöbi told me.
Before I could question this ambitious ideal, he cut my skepticism short by saying, “We all know that this can stay as a marketing slogan or it can be turned into action, which means we will probably have to discover new fields to test out digital innovation. For Switzerland, it’s all about our contribution. Because this is not about marketing, this is not a communication thing. This is about action.”
It’s unlikely you or any of us will ever play a game of poker where the stakes are so high, the winner’s payout will affect the future of every man, woman and child in Switzerland for the next 20 years. Yet that could very well be what’s at stake in digitalswitzerland’s challenge.
If you believe that innovation has always been – and will always be – the key factor for Switzerland’s prosperity, the outcome of these bets may determine if our present prosperity and high quality of life will continue – or we lose our hard-won privileges to another country more able to foster digital innovation better or faster than we can.
Which bet would you put your money on? Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about how the bets are working out and what’s not going as planned – as well as all things digitalswitzerland. Send me your comments and the topics you would like me to cover as the challenge race continues.
NEXT UP: Blockchain Bet: Digitalization of the Entire Swiss Economy
Below are links to the challenge roundtables and current bets competing for time, money and the future success of Switzerland.