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Building what's next at the School for Advanced Digital Technology

A message from Jim Gibson, Chief Catalyst
A message from Jim Gibson, Chief Catalyst

I use two sayings frequently — perhaps too often — but they shape how I view the world and how I see SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology moving forward.

The first saying is “The Tyranny of the OR”.  It reflects the idea that life's difficult conversations in our politics and about our uncertain future need to avoid simplistic, black and white responses to complex challenges. The opposite of “OR” is “AND” — and that is where we need to focus.

The second is the “Innovation of Ways and the Innovation of Things.” The innovation conversation needs to focus on our human process with the same exponential zeal as the conversation about the march of the ‘tools and toys’ of technology.

Both come to mind as I reflect on what’s next in our launch of the School for Advanced Digital Technology.

First, the “AND” conversation. 

We must think “down and in” as we become laser-focused on building our programs, curriculum and events to meet the growing demand for talent development, change management and learning in digital transformation. But — as my partners in the school are getting used to me saying — we must also go “up and out”. We have to be mindful of the need for inclusivity in our quest for enabling the future of technology — from the recently under-or un-employed Oil & Gas manager to the single mother, to the new grad trying to find their way in their first job. While we can’t be everything to everyone, we can — we must — design first with inclusivity in mind. 

These “AND” conversations are hard. The easiest thing to do as a school is survey the current companies and build a talent pipeline to serve that need. We need to lead the conversation and reach out to those who feel disenfranchised from the future. Advanced digital technology by its very nature lives on the cutting edge of our economy — but new economic thinking is telling us that great cities become great because of great citizens. By developing the most inclusive and advanced talent strategy possible we will support the capacity and velocity of our emerging, digitally transformed and digital-by-design companies.

The second saying — which is deeply important to me — is best summed up by renowned entrepreneur and modern-day philosopher, Dan Pollatta,  

“While human ingenuity has exponentially increased the transistors on a chip for the past 40 years, we have not applied the same exponential thinking to our dreams nor human compassion .”

I summarize this as the Innovation of Ways. As we build the curriculum of the future within the school and the broader education system, we need to provide equal weight to the training of “ things” along with the education of new “ ways”. Our courses will be rooted in the foundations of essential competencies of design and critical thinking, of agility and human understanding. Most importantly, the appreciation for the underlying ethics of an exponential advancing technology portfolio that needs to address the most fundamental question, “Just because we can, does it mean we should?”.

Innovation of Ways means arming our students, faculty and the organizations with whom we work with the guideposts and capacity to continuously learn and challenge in new ways. We cannot create skilled human beings that will inevitably and sometimes very quickly, be caught in the crosshairs and unable to adapt to what's coming next.

“AND” and “WAYS” are the foundational building blocks of the School for Advanced Digital Technology and of our shared and amazing, rapidly approaching future. If we get it right, we will shape a city and province for a generation!

In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to sharing more “on the ground” concepts, fleshing out these guiding principles and providing concrete examples in our curriculum, programs and events. 

Learn more about Jim Gibson and the School for Advanced Digital Technology

In partnership with the School of Business, join us on Thursday, Nov. 12, at noon to hear Jim talk all things tech — the first of several events from our digiTALKS Series highlighting thought leaders from SAIT speaking about digital transformation and the integration of technology into industry. This series is free and open to employees, students, alumni and industry.

New World. New Thinking.

Learn more about our new course for the future #hereatsait

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