The Supper Club - Logo

5 things this week including Cop26, the metaverse and more

1. Cop26 and Dornbusch's law

We're not quite half-way through Cop26 and yet the breathless rate of announcements and pledges, launches and innovations continues. It's hard to pick out the most important elements, but Mark Carney managing to corral a fair chunk of the global financial community into GFANZ (regardless of whether or not the headline $130trn figure was disingenuously overblown) feels pretty pivotal. Business will follow the money and innovations and new initiatives will spring from this wealth of funding. But a less glamorous announcement from the IFRS Foundation on sustainable reporting standards also catches the eye. If meaningful progress is to be made, we'll need accurate and transparent reporting on firms' progress to net zero, as well as auditors trained to monitor activity and call out any inconsistencies. But perhaps the most optimistic review of Cop26 came from former US president, Al Gore. He cited German economist Rudi Dornbusch, who claimed that in economics things take longer than you expect to get going, and happen much faster than you thought they would. Fortunately he was referring to innovative technological and economic solutions rather than the crisis itself.


2. Culture wars

There was lots of discussion on corporate culture within the Club this week. Member Tamara Littleton appeared on the BBC's CEO Secrets series with a story of how she had built a culture that was too nice. At the same time, at a roundtable dinner on Scaling Beyond £30m a member discussed how it was troublesome to talk about a business as "a family", at the same time as wanting to build a high-performance team. Putting it bluntly, he explained that its rare to fire people from a family, but removing under performing team members is essential to building the sort of high-performance culture that leads to growth and success.


3. enter the metaverse

Like a lot of non-technical people with only a passing interest in science fiction, this week has been the week that the phrase metaverse landed in my consciousness. Naturally I spent some time digging around and reading what I could to catch-up. I am not entirely sure I'd be happy answering other people's questions on it, but it at least sort of makes sense as an idea to me. This was largely down to this excellent FT article and this Today In Focus podcast with the Guardian's Alex Hearn. The latter also led me to watch parts of Mark Zuckerburg's rebranding presentation. The section with Sir Nick Clegg sets new benchmarks for the definition of awkward.


4.ssshh…its bonfire night

An email from Change.org landed in my in-box this week, telling me there was a new petition I would be interested in signing. The petition was for all fireworks to be made silent, as well as for some new rules and regulations on how they are sold. I can perhaps understand better regulation on where and how they are sold. But silent fireworks? I get that one of the main arguments is to stop pets and other animals suffering. And I am the biggest animal-loving softie, and not a particular fan of fireworks, but I couldn't help but do something of a double take at the idea of silent fireworks. For a moment I wondered if it wasn't some kind of April fool, then realised it was November and the best April fools happen at a totally different time of year (you can Google the details). Fireworks without the whizz, bang and crackle? Sorry to the nation's cats, dogs, horses and ferrets, but that's just not going to light up the sky for anyone.


5. Book of the week

I had one of my regular, minor panics about the state of technology and the grim future that lies ahead this week, reading an interview with Professor Stuart Russell, who is concerned about the impact AI may be having now that it has escaped the closed confines of the lab and is out and about in the world. My unease was not relieved by reading about a new book from three big hitters, exploring pretty much the same ground. The Age of AI and Our Human Future by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher would be scary enough written by more or less any single expert. The fact it comes with the weight of no less than three significant names from such diverse arenas makes it terrifying.