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From the Editor

A Toolkit for Leaders, Fall 2020

Karen ChristensenAS THIS ISSUE HITS THE PRESS, leaders are confronting some of the most challenging questions of their careers: How can we keep our employees and customers safe? How is COVID-19 shifting consumer and commercial behaviour? And what will the new normal look like?

No one has a crystal ball offering easy answers. Only one thing is clear: What leaders need right now are tools for problem-solving, adapting and innovating in wildly unpredictable circumstances. In this issue of Rotman Management we will look at the mindsets, strategies and tools that will be particularly valuable as we adjust to the economic and societal fallout from the first global pandemic of the century.

According to Rotman Professor Anita M. McGahan and alumnus Jason Sukhram, moving forward requires a recognition that value creation will never be the same. They explain on page 6 in No Going Back: Challenges and Opportunities After COVID-19.

The coronavirus crisis has been a world-changing event in countless ways. On page 18, McKinsey’s Managing Director Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal explain why, in The Future is Not What It Used to Be.

As we navigate the new normal, innovative thinking has perhaps never been as critical, particularly in the realm of medical research. On page 50, the Chief Economist of the Creative Destruction Lab, Rotman Professor Joshua Gans, looks at Rallying Innovation in the Age of COVID-19.

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Rosabeth Moss Kanter in our Thought Leader Interview on page 12; Rotman Professor Tiziana Casciaro and her co-authors look at the benefits of cross-silo leadership on page 44; and Scott Anthony and David Duncan describe four ‘lenses’ that can help leaders deal with massive uncertainty on page 62.

In our Idea Exchange, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella argues for empathetic leadership on page 93; best-selling author Dan Heath describes how to sense problems before they begin on page 121; Edelman Canada CEO Lisa Kimmel discusses the trust landscape on page 124; and Rotman professors Sarah Kaplan, Julie McCarthy and Brendan Calder share their latest insights.

As our friends at IDEO wrote in the midst of the shutdown, the biggest challenge for leaders right now is ambiguity — a condition in which the future is unclear, the past is no help, and we don’t even know what we don’t know. 

While the way forward is far from clear, in the famous words of Winston Churchill, we must never let a good crisis go to waste. As economies around the world restart and people begin to return to the workplace, this is an opportunity to question and reform virtually every aspect of our lives, our work and our communities. For all you innovative thinkers out there, this is a call to action. It is our hope that the toolkit provided herein will assist you in your quest to shape your organization — and our world — for the better. 

Karen Christensen

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