Navigating Uncertainty webinar series
Perhaps it is becoming a tired observation, but we are living through a truly unprecedented period. The realities of climate change and social and economic inequality have placed renewed attention on the need to develop a more sustainable and just way forward for business and society. Added to this, the onset of COVID has cast unimaginable levels of disruption, volatility, and uncertainty upon us.
It was within this context that we asked what perspectives can we share that could be of value to those outside of a given course or program? We saw an opportunity and need to draw on areas of research, teaching, and practice that various members of the BCom community are actively engaged in – to leverage their insights on topics that are can help us navigate the realities before us. Thus was born the three-part Navigating Uncertainty webinar series, which wrapped up earlier this month.
In the first webinar, Ross Porter, head of the BCom program, was joined by Associate Faculty Rita Egizii, and we explored the value of entrepreneurialism and busted a few myths along the way. It is imperative that each of us examines what we do and how and why we do it, and in turn, identify and pursue new and better ways of serving and creating value for others. This is the essence of what it means to be entrepreneurial. Venture creation is but one expression of entrepreneurialism in action. Every sector of business and society is in increasing need of entrepreneurially-minded practitioners who are prepared to take chances and see and do things anew – to perceive and pursue opportunities where others only see challenges and adversity. Many established ways of leading, managing, and creating are no longer fit for purpose and we must cultivate new approaches to living and working. Indeed, now is not the time for timidity but rather courage and creativity. Entrepreneurial thinking and action are not the reserves of a few: we all possess and/or can cultivate the very qualities necessary to ideate, create, and innovate.
Building on this, during our second webinar, Associate Faculty Tabea Berg and Ross Porter discussed some of the core principles and practices of design thinking. Where entrepreneurialism and design thinking intersect is a focus on orientation to problem-solving and value creation – to reimagining what’s possible and building better solutions – be they products, services, or entire systems. The open, iterative nature of design thinking and its emphasis on empathy and experimentation is well suited to a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity (VUCA) – where methods designed for simple, structured problems leave us wanting in the face of “wicked” challenges. More and more individuals, teams, and organizations are harnessing the power of design thinking and asking, “how might we…?” and, in doing so, realizing what’s possible.
In the final webinar, Ross and Associate Faculty Michael Pardy looked at the changing landscape of work. As we are all experiencing, our work world is being disrupted like never before. Social, political, technological, and economic forces at home and aboard are upending long-held beliefs and assumptions about the nature of work, the economy, and society. While these developments were already at play before COVID (think automation and contingent work as an example), the effects of COVID are accelerating the depth and scope of change to how work, business, and employment is structured and supported. While many aspects of the future of work are unclear or subject to substantial change, one thing is increasingly apparent: the qualities that enabled some to better differentiate themselves and add value (think self-awareness, adaptability, resilience, curiosity, proactivity, continuous learning to name a few) will increasingly become basic expectations. Our attitudinal and behaviour disposition will only grow in importance and consequence. Those motivated to constructively address challenges and solve problems, not merely to call out shortcomings for others to attend to, will be in high demand.
The success of the series (in terms of strong interest and uptake) has fuelled the desire to host a regular monthly School of Business webinar that focuses on sharing academic insights that can fuel meaningful action in work and life. New webinars will begin to launch in September. Stay tuned for more information!
In case you missed it, you can watch the Navigating Uncertainty webinar recordings here.