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The Disrupted Issue

Karen Christensen

In the past 18 months, we have all been disrupted to some degree by the COVID-19 pandemic. But disruption is a shape-shifter that can take many forms. It can mean changing the face of an organization to reflect the society it serves; creating a product that has minimal impact on the environment; or switching your mindset by 180 degrees from where it started out.

It can also involve long-awaited changes to the status quo or courageously declaring one’s true self in an environment that looks and thinks very differently. In this issue of Rotman Management, we dig deeper into all of the above in an effort to share the skills, tools and mindsets that will be required to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Mission and vision statements are great, but they are no longer enough. Rotman Professor Anita M. McGahan argues that duty-based purpose — anchored in explicit values — has become critical for companies to thrive. The Purpose Paradigm: Towards a Common Understanding of Corporate Purpose starts on page 20.

Companies like 3M, BASF and PepsiCo prove that it is possible to create social and business value with one powerful business model. On page 38, BCG’s David Young and Marine Gerard provide a clear path to achieving this in Four Steps to Sustainable Business Model Innovation.

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature Gillian Hadfield, the University of Toronto’s Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society, in our Thought Leader Interview on page 12; Accenture’s Gregor Barry describes the new post-pandemic motivations of global consumers on page 26; and professional development expert Herminia Ibarra describes the five skills required to lead in a disruptive age on page 52.

In our Idea Exchange section, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman shares insights from his latest book on page 89; Canada Research Chair in Diversity and Inclusion Sonia Kang describes the art of disruptive conversations on page 97; and Stanford’s Robert Siegel describes how an organization can build up both brains and brawn to fight disruption on page 103.

One of the main challenges of the past 18 months is that we were all disrupted at the exact same time. In a world where shocks can — and will — come out of nowhere, the way forward does not involve developing a meticulous strategy for the next 10 to 20 years. As Paul Polman points out in this issue, the priority right now is to become crystal clear about who you are: What personal and corporate values do you hold that will never change? Why does your organization exist, and how can it help to build a thriving world? In short, what is your purpose?

As Polman reminds us, there can be no systemic change without organizational change, and there can be no organizational change without individual change. It’s official, then: The baton has been passed to each one of us.


The name Karen signed in cursive
Karen Christensen, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @RotmanMgmtMag

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