This week marks the tenth anniversary of a stable economy in the UK. The withdrawal of BNP Paribas from subprime mortgages triggered the end of an economic bubble. Economics during times of prosperity is considered a dusty and boring subject. Overnight economics was suddenly catapulted to the contemporary subject as we all tried to make sense of what had happened and, more importantly, our future in this new reality.
But the best was yet to come; the double whammy twelve months ago in the form of the vote to leave the European Union. Politics aside business likes stability in the economy. With stability managers can plan investments and limit their risk. Twelve months after the vote we still have no real idea what Brexit means, never mind how it is going to affect us.
During times of profound business change good analysis is the start of any response. On the opposite side of threat is opportunity and a weak pound is good news for exporters. Interest rates, meanwhile, are at the lowest they have ever been. This has created what a recent Harvard Business School article referred to as a “super abundance of credit”. As a result we have had to change the assessment of a project’s return on investment as this famously high barrier has effectively been lowered. Meanwhile a reduction of the mobility of labour is going to affect workforce planning at every level. Disruption or at least uncertainty is going to affect industries as varied as farming, construction and hospitality as well as the health and education sectors.
Thus an understanding of how to respond to the after effects of the Financial Crisis more recently the challenges of Brexit will be the key to business prosperity. However knowledge is not something that you have it is something that you do. Western views of knowledge are founded on Cartesian thought that separated mind from body. It is so widely encultured that we don’t even notice it. Thus people talk about knowledge as if it has some sort of half-life.
This may be true of how to operate a beta max video or the nuances of driving an Austin Allegro, but critical thinking, sound analysis and genuine dialogue with stakeholders have never been out of fashion. A graduate of an MBA course is a global leader capable of strategic change. The critical thinking an MBA engenders allows managers to respond to turbulent environments. This is not the adoption of an airport-read that allows promises a ten-step guide, but rather the adaptation of rigorous, evidence-based management.
To become comfortable with the uncomfortable is part of being a leader. In a world of uncertainty there will be one constant. Brexit, whatever that means and whatever that implies is going to form the dominant part of the business agenda for the next ten years and beyond.