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Perspectives

Navigator’s folio of ideas, insights and new ways of thinking

World, Interrupted

Jaime Watt
Jaime Watt | Executive Chairman
August 1, 2017 lnkdn_btn-svg
17-107 Perspectives Summer 2017_FINAL_v03_JL-2
We live in a world of disruption.
In 2017, we seem to lurch from one international crisis to the next, led by a coterie of excitable world leaders, not the least of whom is president of the United States. Voters are dissatisfied, confused and fickle. June’s election in the U.K. once again upended the expected political stability, as Theresa May lost her majority government. Instead of securing an expanded and stable majority, she will enter complicated negotiations to extricate her country from the European Union backed by a hung Parliament dominated by fractured parties.
Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had to drastically revamp his domestic plans in light of last November’s election results and further developments in the United States.
But disruption doesn’t occur only in the political realm. Our daily lives are changing in ways that may seem hardly noticeable but that in fact have a profound effect on us and our everyday associations.
Our channels of information are not only disjointed, but are transforming daily. Our jobs are changing dizzyingly fast. The way we live—how we eat, drive and meet others, and where we vacation— changes constantly.
This constant disruption is not a challenge that will abate. If anything, it will become even more of an issue for organizations because technology plays a major role in the disruptive nature of our world.
Organizations must adapt, or they will be overtaken by competitors who do.
We have seen it many times, with technology startups fundamentally shifting the ground under incumbents. Perhaps one of the best examples of this insurgency has been Airbnb’s remarkably successful new take on the hospitality industry. Completely unprepared for this disruption, the hotel industry has given up its advantage as the incumbent and is now playing catch-up.
A host of other startups in all segments of the economy are framing themselves as the new Airbnb companies that will undermine traditional ways of thinking about products or services and fundamentally realign expectations in their favour.
These innovative companies have become drivers of the economy, creating new markets and new opportunities, while forcing incumbent companies to invest in research and development to stay ahead of the curve.
Strategic governments have recognized the opportunities posed by these disruptors. For instance, Alberta has embraced the fact that its economic recovery will in part be driven by innovation and challengers to the status quo.
This issue of Perspectives looks at the disruption in this disjointed and perplexing era. We look at the level of disruption in everything from the media to business to government and how it is affecting our daily lives and our future.
These times have challenged business, government and individuals to maintain stability while embracing forward-looking practices. It is not as easily done as it is said, and this issue of Perspectives will explore some of the challenges, opportunities and success stories amid disruption.
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About the author:

Jaime Watt
Jaime Watt | Executive Chairman
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Jaime Watt is the Executive Chairman of Navigator. He specializes in complex public strategy issues, serving both domestic and international clients in the corporate, professional services, not-for-profit, and government sectors.

Widely regarded as Canada’s leading high stakes communications strategist, he is a trusted advisor to boards of directors, business and professional leaders as well as political leaders at all three levels of government across Canada. Jaime has led ground-breaking election campaigns that have transformed politics because of their boldness and creativity.

Jaime has been involved in corporate governance education and thought leadership throughout his career and regularly provides expert opinion in challenging governance situations. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Directors Education Program, jointly developed and administered by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He is also a guest lecturer for a variety of Rotman School programs, and the Ivey School of Business at Western University.

Currently, Jaime chairs the board of OCAD University. As well, he serves on the board of University Health Network, the Literary Review of Canada, CANFAR and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

He is a past president or chair of the Canadian Club of Toronto, the Albany Club, Casey House – Canada’s pioneer AIDS hospice, Canadians for Equal Marriage, Canadian Human Rights Campaign and Canadian Human Rights Trust among others. Additionally, he is a past director, trustee or governor of many organizations including the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Stratford Festival, TD Bank Private Giving Foundation, Clean Water Foundation, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, and the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.

In his board leadership activities, he has frequently been elected to strategic planning, audit, succession planning, search and crisis management committees.

Deeply involved with efforts to promote equality and human rights issues, he was the inaugural recipient of Egale’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has been awarded the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals for service to the community. He recently received Out on Bay Street’s Leader to be Proud of Award. Jaime has been elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, is a Toronto Heritage Companion, and was named one of Toronto’s most influential citizens.

A highly regarded speaker, Jaime appears often as a public affairs commentator in the media. He is a regular contributor to all CBC platforms across Canada. He also writes a weekly column for The Toronto Star and is a Policy Magazine contributing writer.

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