Date: 9th Dec 2016
Bucks New University's new International MBA has modules covering subjects such as digital leadership and marketing in an always-on world and is designed to develop creative thinking, problem solving and empathy.
It is recruiting now and will enhance career development in a world where many existing management theories and working practices are being disrupted or made irrelevant.
Greta Paa-Kerner (pictured) is a senior lecturer at Bucks Business School and writes about how the International MBA fits into today's world.
"It's been an extraordinary year of narrow electoral victories, which will have profound long-term effects rippling down the corridors of power and into our everyday lives.
In June, Brexit kicked it all off with a surprising vote by UK citizens to leave the EU. In October it was then followed with the rejection from voters of the Colombian FARC peace deal which, really, was supposed to be a rubber stamp formality, not a popular protest. Most recently was Donald Trump's surprise victory over opponent Hillary Clinton in the US elections.
"These three examples demonstrate a radical disruption within politics. But this shouldn't be surprising, in fact, it seems that radical change and the uncertainty that surrounds it is just now spilling into politics. This raucous revolution has been shaking up businesses and the economy for some time; pundits call it the new digital age.
Digital disruption and the pace of change
Change has been happening at a frenetic pace and for some, this is unsettling. Facilitated by the age of the Internet, we have fundamentally changed the way we shop, do business, communicate and even the way we spend our free time. Almost every aspect of our lives has changed in the new digital age. We can now use a smart phone as a tool to do everything from paying a bill to finding love. To put this in perspective, Facebook was launched in 2004 and the first iPhone only launched in June 2007, which isn't even 10 years ago.
These shockwaves of technological advances have affected everyone and for many, especially those who have not grown up as digital natives, these changes are unsettling. Even more unsettling is the speed at which this transformation is happening. Change happens exponentially; meaning today's technological gains virtuously feed into even faster hi-tech advances. Moore's law highlights this reality. Gordon Moore, co-founder of technology giant Intel developed a theory in the late 1960s that computing power doubles every two years.
As a result of faster computing power and other advances in the digital age, technological change is accelerating. Yet, for human reasoning, this is a difficult concept to accept because if we look at a narrow part of an exponential curve it looks linear, our brains work like that. We are only looking at a narrow slice of the curve because it is deep and rapid immersion in change. This means that when we reflect on all the changes that have happened over the last few years we may falsely project growth to continue along the same continuum. It's unsettling for most to think otherwise as it ushers in a lot more uncertainty.
Uncertainty is unsettling
So, as a species we aren't naturally equipped to accept the idea of exponential change and we definitely don't like uncertainty. According to research carried out by the University College London, uncertainty can cause more stress than something inevitable, even if it is pain. The research found that high uncertainty matched higher stress levels. We naturally like a predictable world and become anxious with the unknown.
Preparing for uncertainty
How do we equip ourselves for the frenetic pace of change and the looming uncertainty in the world around us? Can teachers help develop resilience in students who will be the next generation of leaders?
After all, this rising talent are the post-millennials (General Z) who are fluent in smartphone and emoji communication and who see the world in a visual, collaborative way. The first evidence indicates that they won't be happy with a job for life but will change roles and careers, which may move them in quite diverse career directions. They will live harmoniously with technology; work the hours that they need to and no more. They want to operate in spaces where empathy of environment matters more than pure functionality. Having seen political scandal and economic mishaps caused by previous generations, this new generation is uncertain about the future.
It will bring challenges, as commentator and founder of RainmakerThinking, Inc. Bruce Tulgan said: "Managing Generation Z requires a huge remedial effort on broad transferable skills like work habits, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking and a huge investment in remedial technical training. On the other hand, there will be a growing elite among the emerging workforce, those with the greatest technical skills training and also the benefits of personal development opportunities. Retaining those among the growing elite will require increasing differentiation and reward." (Tulgan 2013,7)
This emerging talent will bring significant challenges to our structured, hierarchical workplaces and it will be something to consider when thinking about the organisations of the future; the very near future actually. If it is assumed that employees wish to work in an environment that suits them and employ behaviours and approaches that they have developed from being born and brought up in the flexible, media and social media saturated information age; the workplace will need to match those behaviours - and reflect them - to use them effectively.
We can't precisely predict the job functions that will dominate the workforce in ten or 20 years, but we have a good idea of the direction of travel. Most importantly, we can equip the next generation with the tenacity, confidence and curiosity to adapt to a world of perpetual change."
Greta Paa-Kerner @gretapk is a senior lecturer at Bucks Business School. She specialises in marketing and digital strategy and also runs her own consulting firm Ganduxer Ltd. Visit her blog and LinkedIn profile at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gretapaakerner