Armando Dal Colletto, the EFMD EDAF Committee Member and Academic Dean of iPL – Institute of Performance and Leadership, invites the academia to integrate and correlate knowledge in order to create new discoveries to confront the VUCA world in its various forms.
All the impacts that this pandemic has caused in society and specifically in academia may not yet have been fully realised. We know well the impacts on health and mortality, but we know less about the other consequences, whether socio-economic, political, or technological, in the medium or long term. We do not even have mastery of the most important variables that we should track and, if possible, manage from now on.
These impacts brought enormous changes in the personal, family, social, and organisational areas, forcing us to think differently to face these pandemic times. We learn, with the help of COVID 19, a lot more than is known as the VUCA* world.
The challenge is how to associate knowledge, skills, behaviors, and execution capabilities to develop and manage new solutions for the actual problems.
Important examples were brought by companies that in a short period of time modified the production lines to manufacture respirators, or to produce masks or alcohol gel. Several cities have also transformed soccer fields into field hospitals, changed mobility systems, rules of coexistence, and migrated regular classes into virtual ones. All these examples demonstrate and illustrate the ability of human beings and organized society to face crises and mitigate the serious consequences, finding fast and effective solutions to new and global problems that require a holistic and complex vision. The challenge is how to associate knowledge, skills, behaviors, and execution capabilities to develop and manage new solutions for the actual problems. Relearning in every way is the most critical competence in these moments!
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 300 million people are losing their jobs in this crisis and more than 400 million enterprises will be seriously damaged. The forecasted reduction for 2020 world’s GDP is above 3% instead of above 3% growth. Academic institutions, currently focused on the digital transformation of their in-person courses, may face serious economic difficulties resulting from this conjuncture. Most of them still do not know if they will return to normal activities in the second semester either due to regulation restrictions or lack of revenue.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 300 million people are losing their jobs in this crisis and more than 400 million enterprises will be seriously damaged.
A last April survey conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) among 310 North American Colleges found that 50% will resume their in-person classes next fall, but with other patterns of student density in the classrooms and mandatory use of masks, among other measures. 2/3 of the respondents will provide a quarantine area for new and returning students, and another group questions whether public health conditions and supply of tests allow schools’ return to regular activities.
No matter the economic scenario after COVID 19, from the best one, in V (recovery happens at the same speed of the fall), to the most expected in U (recovery takes more time than the fall), or to the unstable W (contiguous waves of fall and recovery), to the feared L (long period of stagnation), higher education institutions will also be challenged on their main educational role to supply 21stcentury skills, update knowledge and lifelong learning.
The academia’s destiny is also to put its research capacity to solve post-COVID-19 problems and benefit society in a highly practical manner, through extension projects and partnerships between peers, companies, governments, and non-governmental organisations.
It is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate its relevance to society and nations.
More than ever the ability to integrate and correlate knowledge will be the key to new discoveries to confront the VUCA world in its various forms. Understanding what data says and find solutions is a science that researchers and academia dominate. The X.0 society, abundant in technology, information, and financial resources, still has a long way to fix COVID-19 damages.
It is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate academia’s relevance to society and nations.
*VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity)