6 min read

We talked to executives in Davos about managing uncertainty. Here’s what we learned

Slammed with crisis after crisis, executives are tasked with building resilient organizations and sustainable business models. As part of the World Economic Forum 2022, we invited European digital disruption leaders to talk about uncertainty and share their key insights into managing the unmanageable.

Shanghai under lockdown. More than 100 days of war in Ukraine. Continued inflation, signaling a worldwide economic slowdown. And don’t forget the disappearing bugs. What a time to be alive! And what a time to be a CEO: with supply chain disruptions, inflation on the up, geopolitical tensions rising, where are we headed? And how to best prepare?

A call to manage uncertainty

Business leaders are facing increasingly unpredictable and dramatic shifts, seeking to make their companies more resilient and sustainable. If there’s anything that these last 2+ years have shown us, it’s that addressing crisis management capabilities as well as future-proofing for this defining decade (apparently we’ve got a 50/50 chance to get climate right) are at the top of C-suite to-do lists.

While executives may be skilled in managing finances, people, and strategy, it’s a whole different story when it comes to managing uncertainty. This is why Creative Dock Group was excited to host an event that addressed this very question, in front of a room full of executives, no less. In conjunction with the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2022, we gathered 30 movers and shakers for an intimate evening in Davos, Switzerland.

On stage were two faces of digital disruption: Emmanuel Thomassin, CFO at Delivery Hero, the world’s leading local delivery and quick commerce platform, and Mirjam Mohr, Member of the Board at Interhyp Gruppe, Germany’s largest mortgage broker. Moderating the discussion was Professor Rene Rohrbeck, Foresight, Innovation and Technology Chair at EDHEC Business School. Both Creative Dock CEO Martin Pejsa and Roland Berger Senior Partner Fabian Engels hosted the event.

The question on everyone’s lips was: How to manage uncertainty in light of energy independence, geopolitical shifts and slowing globalization? Or, simply: What do we do, now?

Reality eats plans for breakfast

To start, what are the biggest drivers of uncertainty at the moment for these two leaders? “Our main stakeholders who are deeply in crisis at this moment are our customers,” Mirjam Mohr explained, pinpointing the dramatic rise in interest rates as the main driver leaving aspiring homeowners unsure how to finance a purchase. “We all thought corona was ending, we now have a huge war going on, [and] this really is a burden on people. For us, this is the biggest piece of uncertainty: how will this develop?” And while the company is generally on solid footing, Mohr has no illusions. “I’m a mathematician,” she said, “but I have a sticker on my laptop that says, Reality eats plans for breakfast, because I believe that there is only so much you can do in planning.”

“Uncertainty is something that we have in our DNA. There’s nothing certain as a startup,” explained Emmanuel Thomassin. Despite going public back in 2017 and employing nearly 25,000 people worldwide, Delivery Hero still prides itself on a startup mentality. “Today, what’s most uncertain is the mood of the financial market. [Losses] put a heavy mood on employees. This is a kind of uncertainty that is difficult to foresee,” he said.

Three key takeaways

The discussion in Davos that evening highlighted three takeaways about managing uncertainty: the importance of building a diverse team, a default to clear communication, and a commitment to empowerment at all levels of the organization.

1. A diverse organization has resilience built in. This is essential for managing crises and uncertainty.

A diverse organization is stronger because it considers multiple stakeholders, points of view, and variables in its decision-making than it would otherwise. “With enough diversity, you hear different perspectives of the issues on the ground,” explained Delivery Hero’s Emmanuel Thomassin. “You get different feedback from different cultures, and the food business is very cultural. We know that it’s very important to have local management understand what is important.”

And even though there is a general consensus that diversity is essential, there was also a recognition that the effort to expand diversity of all kinds — gender, culture, age, experience –,is still a work in progress, “At Delivery Hero,” Thomassin explained, “the average age is 30. We definitely also need colleagues from the older generation. Together we can learn from one another. [And] we need to get people hooked on diversity, we need allies for every aspect of diversity. It is very, very important to understand this and to talk about it.”

2. Communication is key. So is treating all parties like adults — because they are.

Mirjam Mohr, Member of the Board at Interhyp Gruppe, emphasized that effective communication is non-negotiable, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty: “It will be extremely difficult to survive the next months alone… You cannot not communicate,” Thomassin added. According to Mohr, honesty is always the best policy, even when topics are unpleasant and complicated: “I’m always positively rewarded when I tell the truth, and people feel that it’s the truth. I keep this mode of communicating: precisely, directly, and truthfully.”

3. A commitment to empowerment.

Mohr emphasized the importance of communicating directly and truthfully with the team at Interhyp Gruppe. Thomassin mentioned the value that diverse members of his team at Delivery Hero bring to decision making. At the root of this is a commitment to transparency and trust, empowering teams with information and the tools they need to best address the situation on the ground: “I believe in having the power locally with the people as much as possible,” explained Mohr. “We have 140 branches with 140 markets and 140 managers [and I am invested in] teaching them the way to act when in crisis.”

Fabian Engels, Roland Berger’s Senior Partner, co-hosted the event.

Are we up to the task?

The business community is faced with unprecedented challenges at the moment: supply chain disruptions, an acute need to establish energy independence, and ever-more empowered consumers who demand sustainability and accountability from businesses. “Many feel uncertain because there are enormous, substantial, and structural changes that require high investment, such as digitalization efforts and making the shift to sustainable business models,” said Professor Rene Rohrbeck.

These shifts, he continued, require not only major changes but in some cases also deliberate cooperation and a show of unity between industry actors. Rohrbeck expressed his optimistic outlook, sharing his belief that a concerted effort to meet these challenges was indeed possible. “I’m amazed to see how fast digital companies can actually scale,” he reminded the audience. “These solutions create a lot of hope.”

In conclusion

Creative Dock was happy to gather together with some of the biggest names in digital disruption, especially at this pivotal moment in time. The challenges that face us — the business community and beyond — are unknown terrain, bringing along risks but also opportunities. Of course, conversations are great, but getting things done and putting this wisdom to the test is the next step. That’s our job: building digital ventures from idea to scale. We’re committed to playing our part in this moment of transition, with the belief that we’ll come out stronger on the other side.

More Insights

Psychological hacks to kick-start creativity. How to use them for your business?

Human creativity has always fascinated me. And also the mystery that comes with it. Why does it work sometimes—but other times it just doesn't? Is creativity a limited resource? Do people, at one point or another, just get exhausted from thinking and aren’t motivated to think outside the box anymore? Or do we simply need some extra help to kick-start creative thinking? Let's see what psychology would have to say on the topic. What creativity is, how it works, and how you can make it work for you.

Read more

“We are in the midst of the biggest masonry innovation in the last 6,000 years,” says Jiri Devat

Creative Dock recently presented corporate venture building at its best in a project for Wienerberger. It is no coincidence that the introduction of the new head of the Manufacturing and Construction industrial vertical, Jiri Devat, accompanied it, as he was one of the main actors behind this innovation. During his long career before that, he headed one of Microsoft’s national offices for several years. During that time, Bill Gates made the nickname G9 popular, which became synonymous with his complex name. And what is this disruptive innovation in construction?

Read more

Look into the future! Deploying strategic foresight for your business in 2023

In recent years, the world has seen how the market evolved to be more fragmented, and any existing SME or striving business owner must be able to anticipate the best steps to stay ahead of the game. Using strategic foresight enables a company to strike the right balance between the need for short-term results and long-term competitiveness. They can prepare better for future uncertainties with robust strategies. Let’s see a summary of the experts’ from Rohrbeck Heger by Creative Dock expectations for 2023. Plus recommendations on which areas to pay more attention.

Read more

ChatGPT: is it really that big a game changer for our lives and businesses?

AI technologies are being used to improve efficiency, enhance the customer experience, and gain valuable insights. One of the most significant developments in recent years has been the creation of large language models (LLMs). One of the most advanced LLMs currently available is the conversational AI system ChatGPT, based on GPT-3.5 from research and deployment company Open AI. Despite the rather primitive use of machine learning and statistical models (suggesting the most likely continuation or the answer to the question statistically), ChatGPT gained almost divine status among Internet users within a few weeks.

Read more

Ron van Oijen: If you really want to innovate, you need to hire fresh minds

Ron van Oijen studied actuarial science at the University of Amsterdam and worked in the insurance and finance industries across the US, Europe, and Asia. He is the former CEO of one of the largest Dutch insurance companies, VIVAT. As a long-time believer in innovations, he always pursued change even in big corporations. That meant close cooperation with startups, resetting the mindset of thousands of employees, and assigning real responsibility from the top down. Ron is now an advisor to Creative Dock.

Read more

Going bigger on smaller screens

About the shift of financial services from desktops to mobile applications or how different it is to build an international mobile bank when you have already built a P2P lending platform. This and much more in an interview with Stanislav Filipcik.

Read more

Creative Dock’s Muj Albert app rocks the charts

Retail chain apps are on the rise in Czechia. As the longtime charts leader, Lidl has now been replaced by Albert CZ’s mobile app, Muj Albert, made by Creative Dock.

Read more

The best insurtech in Czechia, officially

Mutumutu, healthy life insurance, won the Zlata koruna award as the number one fintech project in the Czech Republic. But what exactly makes it the best? We asked the CEO, Jindrich Lenz.

Read more

How to innovate in times of Covid-19

Watch an interview with Edward Meegan, Creative Dock’s former Head of Innovation.

Read more

The next big thing: tokenize everything

In the near future, both people and things will be tokenized, believes Creative Dock’s Innovation Lead, Petr Vaclavek.

Read more

Startups need to hustle. Just like scientists.

Theoretical physicist Rudolf Krejcar now builds companies instead of particle accelerators. What’s so alluring about the startup life?

Read more

What have we started doing differently? Restarting the digitization of older apartment blocks

The Domy sobe project for Veolia has discovered a lot of things. Why is it that a carpet marketing blitz sometimes doesn’t work?

Read more

How a loyalty app motivates 1 million people to live more healthy

It might be the great chemistry among the Creative Dock team developing the Muj Albert app that contributed to its success. How to achieve over a million downloads and the perfect balance of work and play?

Read more

The story behind Hungary’s most successful eHealth project

“Our heatmap shows that people tend to choose doctors based on their pictures.” Interview with Zoltan Kaprinay, co-founder of the Dokio project.

Read more

Creative Dock buys Swiss innovation company Spark Works

Where is Creative Dock headed and what does its latest acquisition mean for the clients? The companies’ respective CEOs, Martin Pejsa and Linda Armbruster answered our questions.

Read more

Creative Talks: Stories of people who turned a pandemic into an opportunity

What do you do when your business is based on staffing restaurants and other gastro establishments? Would it still seem like a good idea to teach foreign tourists to seek out Prague’s best pubs and bars? And where can you find support if your therapist has barricaded himself at home and refuses to meet face to face for fear of contagion?

Read more

Will content still be king in 2022? An update on content marketing strategies

How to generate meaningful brand content and how to approach new trends? We asked Creative Dock’s Head of Content, Michal Schindler.

Read more

Forget leaps of faith. Strategic foresight is what you need to redirect your business

“Let’s emphasize that no one can predict the future. Our job is to anticipate alternative futures, enabling our clients to drive the desirable ones and build robust strategies against unfavorable ones,” says René Rohrbeck.

Read more

The ultimate metaverse metastudy. What are the smartest people in the world thinking?

A look into the different concepts, criticism, hope, and despair. Will today’s dreams turn into reality? And are we talking sweet dreams or rather a huge nightmare?

Read more

Creative Talks: Plato, Star Wars and Web 3.0. Is it too late for the metaverse?

“We are the gods of AI,” said economist Tomas Sedlacek in our talk show. But is the artificial intelligence going to make our lives truly divine in the near future? Watch the recording to find out what Swiss innovator Linda Armbruster, business foresight expert Tobias Heger, mathematician Karel Janecek, and AI expert Dita Maleckova think as well.

Read more

Fairo won the IN2 SABRE Awards 2022 for the best use of gamification

Fairo helps you manage all your financial transactions in one place. Send and personalize invoices, track payments and run tax reports, all in one app. How does gamification of accounting work?

Read more

We talked to executives in Davos about managing uncertainty. Here’s what we learned

Slammed with crisis after crisis, executives are tasked with building resilient organizations and sustainable business models. As part of the World Economic Forum 2022, we invited European digital disruption leaders to talk about uncertainty and share their key insights into managing the unmanageable.

Read more

It’s not a matter of sustainability anymore, but of survival. We discussed energy independence with European experts

Is energy self-sufficiency a responsibility of states, private investors or simply each and every one of us? At the June edition of Creative Talks, four speakers discussed social responsibility, the potential of green energy production and storage in Europe, and whether a future without nuclear power is even possible.

Read more

“I had never even googled Czechia.“ How a French marketing student landed an internship in Prague

Before Juliette Cordillot (19) came to Prague for her internship, she knew almost nothing about the city. However, her three-month internship has placed Prague, and Creative Dock in particular, firmly in her heart. Maybe it’s because no two workdays are the same, the office is directly in one of Prague’s beautiful parks — and, as a bonus, we have packs of dogs running around.

Read more

Staking a claim in MENA: What acquiring FoundersLane means for Creative Dock

“Corporate venture building is on the rise and it’s the new gold in times of inflation and uncertainty,” says Felix Staeritz, co-founder & CEO of FoundersLane and Creative Dock Group’s new board member.

Read more

“European economy has a certain DNA to reinvent itself.” Talking future strategies with serial innovator Heinrich Arnold

“As an individual, you can probably survive if you decide to avoid digitalization. But not as a society,” claims Heinrich Arnold drawing upon his experiences as a lifelong innovator. He significantly contributed to turning Berlin and Israel into high-tech hot spots, received an honorary professorship at TU Berlin, and helped build over 70 businesses either as director of research and innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG or as a supervisor and investor.

Read more

With energy rationing imminent, photovoltaics can help Europe overcome energy shortages

Photovoltaics are on the rise — at Creative Dock, we know that firsthand. Learning to save energy and using alternative energy sources independent of the political situation are the main ways to reduce Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels. Are energy shortages a real threat? Experts certainly say so. “If gas imports from Russia are stopped, energy will be rationed,” Jiri Gavor, head of the ANDE (Czech Association of Independent Energy Suppliers), told the media.

Read more

Albert Van Veen: I dream of a world without ID cards, keys, multiple different tickets and passes

It might not be surprising that a man who founded FastID, a service to manage your digital identity, would leave very little track online. Therefore, when doing research, you need to challenge your LinkedIn bubble and one of the suggestions you can get is something like “Don’t forget he has four children and he loves talking about them!” So, starting with a question about childhood and the internet seems just appropriate.

Read more

Daniel Falque on venture building in Belgium, banking, corporate culture, and the importance of distribution

If you happened to come across Daniel’s resume with his name missing, you might think some parents had sketched a perfect career for their child. You can almost hear them advising: “Start from scratch, little boy, as an insurance salesman and credit analyst, and through tireless hard work, you’ll work your way up to board member and CEO of the strongest bank in the country.” Yet, Daniel’s resume isn’t a sketch; it’s a real career.

Read more

Sustainability is an opportunity. Not just for humankind, but also for your business

This should be taken for granted: “Sustainability is no longer a choice — it’s survival.” And far from regarding sustainability as a drain on resources globally recognized companies such as Booking.com, Uber, and Starbucks, have all seen exponential growth through putting sustainability models at the core of their business. And in so doing altering the landscape of their particular industry.

Read more

Innovation — it's more than just a buzzword

“If creativity is about inventing new things, then innovation is about making them real,” said the American economist, Theodore Levitt. Is that right and does Creative Dock's statement Creation by Doing correspond to reality? We sat down with Linda Armbruster, Director of Innovation at Creative Dock to get her perspective on innovation and impact.

Read more

Corporate venture building is out to save the world. No, really

Combine the vast resources of a corporate and the speedy and disruptive spirit of a startup and what do you get? Powerful, innovative solutions at scale to solve our most pressing problems. It’s really that simple, and it’s what corporate venture builder Creative Dock has set out to do.

Read more

Can trading your idea on the market show its future success? You bet.

“Only time will tell. We will see. Let’s hope.” Those are the words running through many a managers' head when deciding what innovations their company will invest in. But imagine having a tool that helps you choose which of your services are worth investing in, or which of your innovations are less likely to gain traction. Now imagine that such a thing exists. It’s called Ideapoly® and it is built and run by the European company IdeaSense, now part of Creative Dock Group.

Read more

5 key elements that drive innovation and growth in a business

Since the pandemic, we have observed a steady recovery and steep rise in corporate venture building, especially innovative ideas that are constantly responding to changes in technology, and filling in the market gaps. However, as the reality of growing a business is not a bed of roses, not all companies are successful in executing their plans. In this 3 min read, we explore the core factors that could make or break a company.

Read more

Name entity recognition in the insurance industry: a case study

Companies from a wide variety of domains like insurance, real estate, or medical institutions are concerned with the complexity of retrieving specific information from documents. This has become a major problem in recent years with the digitalization of documents and the enormous amount of data exchanged between businesses.

Read more

Size does matter. A success story of growth. Kick-started through acquisitions

Organic growth is great. But it’s time-consuming. And if you want to expand, you can’t invest years just to establish your business in each new market. “We needed to accelerate our growth and impact, to increase our expertise and service portfolio. Rapidly. Such a thing is only possible by well-selected acquisitions,” says Martin Pejsa, Creative Dock’s CEO. And it was actually these successful acquisitions that turned his European corporate venture builder into the largest independent player in its category — rivaling the venture-building activities of the “Big Four”.

Read more

Navigating the multi-crisis environment and where artificial intelligence fits in

“Societies and businesses around the globe are facing unprecedented challenges and the threat of prolonged difficulties — be they related to war, climate, energy, inflation, etc. But despite these gloomy perspectives, Davos turned into cautious optimism among executives leaders, as the global economic outlook for the year ahead looked better than feared. Large corporations can play a major role in overcoming these hurdles,” Martin Pejsa, founder and executive chairman of corporate venture builder Creative Dock, said at the event hosted by Creative Dock and Roland Berger at the margins of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023.

Read more

Why is the MENA region a leader in digitalisation? Thanks to smartphones

When you say you’re building fintech in the Middle East, Westerners usually think of the strict Sharia banking rules and think it must be terribly complicated. But when you build ventures for banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), you’re in for exactly the opposite type of culture shock. E-Government there has made such progress during Covid-19 that we can be envious. Even financial applications under the tightest security are simpler, more user-friendly, and faster.

Read more
got a project?

Tell us where you want to be, and we’ll tell you how we can help get you there.

Let’s talk
Let’s talk
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.