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From the Editor

World 2.0, Winter 2021

Karen ChristensenFEW WOULD ARGUE THAT 2020 was one of the most challenging years in history — not just for organizations but for people around the world. In recent months, simple clarity has been in dangerously short supply. One of the few things we can say with some certainty is that the strategy you had in place last January is very likely no longer relevant.

The seismic shifts we have seen among consumers, competitors and markets themselves inevitably raise questions about your business model’s core assumptions. Unfortunately, the focus on protecting your employees and conducting business amidst deep uncertainty has left little time to step back and explore the new world that is emerging around us. In this issue of Rotman Management, we will introduce you to some key aspects of ‘World 2.0’.

We kick the issue off on page 6 with How to Build Back Better, an insightful conversation that took place in the midst of the pandemic shutdown between Rotman Interim Dean Ken Corts and Professors Sarah Kaplan and Soo Min Toh.

On page 18, John Micklethwait of Bloomberg News and Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist argue that COVID-19 provides us with a chance to rethink the overall design of our system and ask what government is for, in The Wake-Up Call: How the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West.

Elsewhere in this issue, Rotman Professor Claire Tsai explains how COVID-19-driven social distancing impacts us psychologically, socially and physically on page 24; and Nick De Mey describes how defaulting to ‘low-touch’ business models will have lasting effects on our economy on page 30. In the Idea Exchange, NYU’s Amy Webb describes 11 sources of disruption on page 85; University of Toronto Psychiatrist-in-Chief Andrea Levinson describes the toll the pandemic is taking on our mental health on page 122; lawyer and community advocate Anthony Morgan shares his views on how business can tackle racism on page 126; and Rotman faculty Alberto Galasso, Spike W. S. Lee, Walid Hejazi and Wendy Dobson share their latest work and thinking.

As Micklethwait and Wooldridge point out on in their article, the secret of the West’s success over the past 400 years has been its appetite for creative destruction: Just when everything looks hopeless, it succeeds in regenerating itself. Today, regeneration is sorely needed in so many areas that the challenge has intensified exponentially. What lies before us is nothing less than an opportunity to reimagine our future — and as several authors point out in this issue, that future must include a new mindset about who counts in our society.

An unwavering focus on creating a more inclusive economy is essential not only to aid in recovery from the impact of COVID-19, but to ensure our collective well-being for decades to come. Former Dean Roger L. Martin liked to say that the best leaders don’t just accept the world as it is presented to them; instead, they take steps to shape it for the better. May this be your mantra as you go forth to build back better in the challenging months ahead. 

Karen Christensen

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