The art of unlearning and reimagining

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Graeme Codrington | Author, Futurist and Strategy Consultant | mail me |


This article by Graeme Codrington is about what is needed to unlock what the future holds for tertiary education, learning and professional development in the aftermath of COVID-19, and is the second part of a five-part series on the Future of Education run by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).


While COVID-19 has had devastating effects on our economy and our healthcare systems, we can also look at it as something of a gift. The pandemic has given us an invitation to deal with disruption.

Through this crisis, we have been forced to engage with adaptability, agility, flexibility and resilience, and many industries and companies are accelerating processes they should have been doing already, things that will be valuable into the 2020s.

Imagine radical change

This positive way of thinking can just as easily be applied to the preparation and the ongoing development of Chartered Accountants [CAs(SA)]. To illustrate this, the following analogy from the medical industry makes it easier to see the value of disruptive change when it’s happening to somebody else.

I’m going to tell you a story about the possible reimagining of doctors. If you think about it, we don’t have a healthcare system, anywhere in the world. We have a sick-care system, where you only go to visit your doctor if you are unwell.

I wonder whether COVID-19 may begin to shift this way of thinking. Right now, doctors are consulting over Zoom and asking us to stay away. When my doctor recently asked me not to come in, I started to think about the possibilities of virtual consultations and telemedicine, and it wasn’t long before I went a step further.

As a futurist, I imagined a situation where I would receive a text message or a phone call from my doctor, telling me that I was going to get sick in five days.

But how could a doctor possibly know that?

With access to your Fitbit, my doctor could monitor my heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Perhaps my Instagram feed could provide information about my daily meals, while my calendar could tell my doctor where I am are going and who I am meeting.

Six months ago you would have said I was crazy, but the idea of Track and Trace is not so absurd now. Of course, we don’t want a Big Brother scenario, but COVID-19 is teaching us that there could be value in sharing health information, particularly if it can be anonymised.

With the right information, your doctor could give you proactive, pre-emptive healthcare information. If you consider that the data would be fed into a supercomputer using an AI algorithm, then privacy probably wouldn’t even be too much of an issue.

I believe that embracing big data and AI in this way could lead to a proper healthcare system that is proactive rather than reactive, predictive rather than retrospective and preventative rather than responsive.

Predict, prevent, personalise and participate

Returning to the Chartered Accountancy industry, I challenge the notion of building a profession that is proactive, predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory.

Take audits as an example; why are we


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Read the full article by Graeme Codrington, Author, Futurist and Strategy Consultantas well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the December/January 2020/21 edition of BusinessBrief.


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