Friends and colleagues,
Inspiration comes in many forms and often from unexpected sources. As business leaders we plan, budget and dream, yet we often don’t find the needed spark in the incremental day-to-day events of life. As Seth points out in his editor’s memo, sometimes it takes a calamity like the flood that devastated Nashville in early May to make us see things differently. Crisis can often be the driver of change, and in such change we frequently find inspiration.
In the early days of my management career, a mentor of mine named R.D. Hubbard offered this advice: “Never waste a crisis.” What he meant was that a crisis can inspire us to go in new directions and to think of the world in what Charles Handy in The Age of Unreason calls an “upside-down way.”
In many regards we’re witnessing today the discontinuous change that Handy predicted. It is a time of irrational markets, deflation, unsettling yield curves, overpriced tech deals and talk of the Hindenburg Omen. Yet amid all of this uncertainty, there is opportunity.
At a recent gathering for an advisory group composed of faculty, Alumni Board members, Board of Visitors members, staff and friends, I found inspiration in their longer vision for how to propel the school forward. They suggested that we in the Owen community should “think longer, think bigger, think of the tipping point.” In the coming months I hope you will seek similar inspiration in a plan for the future—to act, to engage and to make a difference for Owen.
James W. Bradford
Dean, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
Ralph Owen Professor of Management