Rick Nason in “It’s Not Complicated: The Art and Science of Complexity in Business” contends that in a modern business context, complexity appears in many places: cyber security, financial markets, economic turmoil, demographic shifts, social media activity, politics and marketing. Complexity is also present in the daily activities of managers as they manage their teams, their clients and even themselves. It is essential that we explore life-long learning to progress in our personal lives and career pathways.(Excerpt taken from It’s Not Complicated – The Art and Science of Complexity in Business Page Preface xi))
How does life-long learning influence our participation within an ever-changing, mercurial global world?
This question was given to CFAME Connection contributors: Shauna Wakeman and Rick Nason.
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Life-long learning has been a defining influence and, in many instances, has changed the trajectory of my personal and career objectives.
During my MBA studies, I found myself even more intrigued to branch out, learn more and apply my new skills. I accepted a new position as a senior consultant that required travelling away from home five days a week, venturing to new cities far from home each quarter. I would hop a plane and come to a new destination, on my own, renting a car and travelling through an unfamiliar area. These trips presented opportunities to meet and work with a new group of people. I found that my MBA learnings complemented my role as a teacher and mentor. I enjoyed sharing knowledge to help people who, in turn, increased their individual capacities.
Each quarter, when I shifted my attention to a new location, I would also begin a new course in my learning journey which would open my eyes to a new area of knowledge and a new approach at work.
Shauna describes the concept of the Renaissance person, a vital element required to cope within an increasingly connected world that is becoming more complex. The need for individuals whose knowledge and interests range across a variety of fields and disciplines is greater than ever.
Successful organization will be those that develop a Renaissance mindset. Organizations must actively promote diversity, not only of culture but also of mindsets, if they are to compete successfully in a complex environment. They must proactively train people in different knowledge and skills sets. They must recruit from a diversity of background and from different fields of knowledge. They must work to cross-train managers more than they are currently doing. The challenge of management lies in allowing diversity to function – tolerating and even welcoming differences; it is the only way that an organization can grow and learn.(Excerpt taken from It’s Not Complicated – The Art and Science of Complexity in Business Pages page 110)
I agree with Rick that engaging within a learning environment offers opportunities and fresh perspectives on how to participate within complexity. My educational journey expanded my travels and networks both personally and professionally.
During my MBA, I traveled each semester to a new city to take part in the intensives: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Halifax. My Toronto intensive was the first time I had ever been to Ontario. (I lived in B.C.) In the final year of my MBA journey, I packed up and moved my entire family across the country from B.C. to Ontario to begin a new chapter in my life and take on a new challenge in my career as a District Manager. This type of move is something we would never have dreamed of or even entertained before beginning my MBA. The relocation has brought great changes and possibilities to my family, for which we are all thankful.
Shauna’s experiences confirm that working within complexity can be fun. Indeed, successful managers will learn to have fun with complexity.
Complex systems cannot be mastered. They are a continually evolving and emerging portfolio of activities. This implies that the manager’s style needs to be continually evolving as well. Complexity is a reality. It is a fact. It is not a fad, and it is not going to go away. It is not going to diminish in importance; it is only going to grow in importance. (Excerpt taken from It’s Not Complicated – The Art and Science of Complexity in Business Pages page 115)
I agree with Rick that we must be willing to continually evolve. I feel like there is no limit to where we can go or what we can do if we take that next step to try something new. This spirit has been passed down to my two sons, ages 10 and 12, who have learned from watching my transformation. They attend university education camps in the summer (even though they are both still in elementary school), and do not feel tied down to one city or one field of knowledge. I am happy knowing that they feel they can chase any dream. I look forward to watching them learn and grow following those ambitions.
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