MBAs have the opportunity to bring certainty to an uncertain world

The uncertainty that we are faced with right now, driven by this global pandemic, provides an impetus for potential change to corporate life as we know it and the use of the tried and tested business models that we have relied on for years, says Nathan Ott

For many, particularly the strategists among us, the opportunity to ignite change in our corporate world will be a frightening thought because strategists naturally ask ‘why’ and look for links between events and data.

They bring a logical and analytical mind to making predictions about the future based upon the patterns of the past. 

Data from The GC Institute shows the strength of the strategist proclivity for individuals who hold a senior leadership role within larger organisations.

Strategists will lead with possibilities that are a product of what has gone before

They will present their ideas in a way that engages others and mobilises action. They will bring optimism and energy to a fundamental human need to predict the future by mastering the present. Ideas will become strategies, strategies will become plans of action, and action will help people to feel potent 

Strategists bring clarity and certainty for organisations

However, in these uncertain and unprecedented times the predictability that strategists often seek to make decisions is much harder to discern.

Here at The GC Index, our Chief Strategist was looking to see how we would address, and deal with, the impact the global pandemic would have on our business, community and clients as it started to unfold. He was seeking the comforting patterns and trends that he had seen before while running businesses for technology giant SAP through the Dot Com crash of 2000 and the financial crisis of 2008. He recalled how they had such a negative economic and social effect and that we should ‘plan for the worst’.

However, I have a significantly low strategist score, and true to my game changer proclivity (as a game changer i imagine possibilities that others don’t, and engage others with the excitement and the vision of what is possible), I do not tend to value received wisdom or predicting the future based on past events. For me I couldn’t see the ‘problems’, only the ‘possibilities’ that the current situation has for our global community to unite and serve our clients and organisations better.

For game changers in uncertain times, anything is possible…

Given the challenges that many organisations face going from ‘survival’ to the ‘new normal’ and ‘future potential’ it was clear to me now more than ever how The GC Index could help organisations.

After having a few conversations with our Chief Strategist about this and sharing my perspective, it all started to fall into place for him. He was able to use my ideas to develop a strategy and plan of action that made sense to him.

Interestingly, the AMBA report Exploring the Dynamics of MBA Students and Graduates’  found visionary leaders (strategists/game changers) were most common at 22% among MBA graduates, with 61% having some game changer inclinations in their profile.

So, whilst there is a tendency to look at patterns of the past this research supports a view that MBA graduates are more energised by the world of ideas and possibilities than the world of practical realities. In fact, they have the potential to bring the creative and game-changing possibilities that are particularly important at this time. The reality is that this is the very talent that every organisation needs right now as transformational change is quite simply ‘do or die’.

We are already hearing the media and politicians talk about the ‘new normal’ that will happen naturally as a result of covid-19. We’d suggest in this era of uncertainty a new model of working and business activity is perhaps required and we need to seize this opportunity.

This concept of how the role of the Strategist is changing and how they can best leverage this Game Changer thinking to best effect is well articulated by Caroline Das Monfrais currently the Head of Strategy for global consultancy FTI EMEA. Das Monfrais, who studied at the AMBA-accredited ISC Paris Business School, explains her approach in this interview with Dr John Mervyn-Smith.

If you are a strategist and starting to feel a little lost then now could be a good time to team up with a game changer who you trust. We are also seeing organisations help facilitate this by providing workshops where we pool strategists and game changers together to work on possibilities for the future rather than focussing simply on the problems. 

We have an opportunity to not only survive but thrive and find ways to bring individuals together to innovate and become more resilient in a world of disruption and uncertainty. By doing this we will accelerate out of this crisis and be much stronger as a result.

Nathan Ott is Chief Polisher at The GC Index

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