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The Big Ideas Issue

Karen Christensen

Leadership today is permeated by paradoxes: leaders must hold and share power; generate short term and long-term results; provide stability and display adaptability; optimize data and use hard-earned intuition — to name a few.

The zoom buttons on our digital devices provide an apt metaphor for the mindset required to achieve this balancing act: on some days you need to look at things close up (your employees, customers and other stakeholders); while on others, you need to step back and view things (implications, outcomes, societal issues) from afar.

Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts has summarized the skillset required by today’s leaders as “meta, macro and micro all at once”. In this issue we attempt to move between these three levels to touch on some of the concepts and topics leaders need to think about and incorporate into their mindsets going forward.

As access to space opens up, there is renewed excitement among investors about the industry’s potential. Rotman School Professor of Strategic Management and Creative Destruction Lab founder Ajay Agrawal and colleagues kick the issue off on page 6 with Blast Off: The Space Economy Takes Shape.

We have come a long way in figuring out how to measure just about everything. But Gallup CEO Jon Clifton argues that we forgot to analyze something really important: how people feel. The Global Rise of Unhappiness is on page 16.

Companies that perpetuate gender pay gaps need to know that public disclosure of this practice leads to significant changes in consumer behaviour. Rotman Professor or Organizational Behaviour Katy DeCelles explains in Principled Consumption on page 22.

Starting on page 88, our Idea Exchange features CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin on what happens when women lead (page 103); NYU professor Tessa West provides advice for working with jerks on page 109; and Rotman faculty Alan Saks, Jody Grewal, David Beatty and Claire Tsai share their latest insights.

Legendary Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter first wrote about zooming in and zooming out more than a decade ago. But for leaders, the capability to adjust one’s focus on a regular basis seems particularly timely right now.

In many ways, one cannot zoom out until one zooms in completely — to one’s self. Without self-awareness, consciousness of our blind spots and biases will be lacking; and with it comes the ability to identify which lens to apply to the challenge at hand. So get your lenses ready: it’s time to embrace some Big Ideas. 


The name Karen signed in cursive
Karen Christensen, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @RotmanMgmtMag

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