A Black Swan

What is a Black Swan Event?

A Black Swan event is something that is almost impossible to predict before it occurs, but in hindsight it is self-evident and obvious. Wikipedia: Black Swan Theory. The origin of the concept comes from the fact that Europeans could justifiably think all swans are white until black swans were found in Australia.

The concept is integral to disruptive innovation and strategy. In markets, disruptive and radical disruptive innovations can make previous ideas and products quickly redundant, changing whole environments.

What is the Global Executive Education’s possible Black Swan?

In the metaphor, current thinking is the White Swan. Currently we believe that because leaders in organisations lead people in organisations, their leadership training must be specially designed for organisations and delivered by specialists and gurus in organisational leadership. The overwhelming logic is business is scientific, and therefore people need to be made rational and pragmatic in order to be scientifically driven and succeed.

The Black Swan is a realisation that the schools in the Human and Social Sciences (Humanities) know vastly more about real people from centuries of research and study. The realisation is that critical knowledge and wisdom in the Humanities and Social Science has been ignored or dismissed and the billion dollar global executive education industry is not optimising the resources at their disposal. This industry is in a classical denial, preventing reinvention.

Research and literature describe clearly the inability of established industries to reinvent themselves quickly enough to address Black Swan events. There is a global trend to introduce philosophy and other Humanities topics into EMBAs and executive education.

What might the future look like?

In a future scenario it is possible that business administration will be taught in the Business Schools while leadership will be taught in the Humanities.

IE Brown is the 1st in the world joint venture between IE Business School in Madrid Spain and Brown University in Rhode Island. Could this be a “Black Swan” event that will change the face of global leadership training forever?

The Wisdom Lab Project

A project began around 5 years ago at a top ranked Australian Executive Education provider, where the goal was to fundamentally expand the knowledge about people from the Human and Social Sciences perspective, and bring something more to our existing understanding of people leadership and what else is going on with people systems – culture and groups. The Humanities have vast amounts of knowledge we could and should be using.

The challenge for the Wisdom Lab project was making this knowledge absolutely practical for organisations and people leaders. This required the synthesising of social complexity and customising this for organisational complexity. Over 4 years the 200+ executives who attended a variety of Humanities programs played a vital role in this challenge.