This is the text from my keynote, yesterday, for The University of Adelaide’s MBA opening dinner:
I’m going to talk to you tonight about paradoxes – the sorts of crazy contradictions that we see all the time, and we are often unconscious to the importance of these clashes.
The very fact we are all here, at the start of an MBA program, means that these strange inconsistencies are nagging at us, sometimes prominently, sometimes as a background unease.
This is, part of the reason for programs like this is an effort to make sense of business contradictions and inconsistencies, to master administration and make a difference.
For me these issues are most easily illustrated thorugh sustainability. There are large contradictions between data and what we think we know. For example, the World Bank recently calculated that tackling climate change would help to grow the world’s economy by US$1.8 to 2.6 trillion a year.
Now, given its Friday night, just let me spend a little more time on that number – there are not many more in this talk! First this is the World Bank – not an environmental advocacy group modeling growth. Second, yes I did say 1.8 trillion dollars a year. And, third, you’re right to be a bit taken aback or credulous about such a number. Surely, if it’s profitable we would not struggle so much to act on climate change.
Concluding para: We’re faced with overwhelming evidence around the need and potential for change. However, this often does not match views around how the world is organised. This is a huge opportunity and gift. Whenever something does not make sense, does not add up, seems impossible or incongruous, have a look for the ‘edges’. These are the places at which you might be missing something. Invariably these are openings into exciting worlds and perspectives – and you’ve been given the keys to this within these paradoxes.