Looking for the sixth wave

by Ross Jordan MBA, PGCertHE, FHEA

A few short weeks ago I was invited to give a guest presentation to a group of international students loosely themed around scenario planning and creative destruction.

We debated what would be the underlying force of the next wave of innovation in the entrepreneurial environment; the sixth wave if you will.

Artificial Intelligence seemed a popular choice, albeit I pointed out that if we had the discussion 10 years ago we might have been convinced that it was to be 3D printing (the benefit of grey hair) so should we be so convinced about AI?

As is often the way in the world of enterprise we were debating a future in which the only certainty was that we would be wrong.

So perhaps the sixth wave is the Covid-19 crisis, and the future is now. To be clear, the current situation is an horrendous one for so many, a dystopian present to some extent. However, and without belittling the misery involved, there will be change to a ‘new normal’ and the move to that point will be an entrepreneurial one.

In an environment where the pace of change is even faster and steadfast rules are put to one side in the interests of survival opportunities abound. These are opportunities in the broadest sense, not purely economic. Indeed if this is the sixth wave then we are closer to the Schumpeterian prediction of the collapse of capitalism than we might have imagined 12 months ago. There will, of course, be plenty of fighters for a return to the ‘old normal’, and who may see the crisis as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage in an economic and political sense (just hear the noise being created on both sides of the Atlantic to ‘end the shutdown’.

However, my sense is that there is a strong desire for change. It was there before in terms of sustainability in all senses (environmental, personal, and business), but now it is apparent that change is possible at a macro level and we have been given an insight into what that means at a micro level (the clarity of the sounds of nature; the car in the driveway getting dustier as it devalues; the better use of our time etc.).

The last thing we need now is another person predicting the future when we are struggling with the present. But I am finding it helpful to listen to others as they engage in the current challenge from a cognitive perspective. So I thought I would use this blog as a means to share some of the content which I am finding useful and stimulating at this time in the context of the start-up environment and students of enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Here goes:

  1. This is a great webinar from Paul Polman. Paul is a Dutch businessman who, as you discover through this resource, is extraordinarily well connected with government and business leaders across the world. He calmly narrates the sort of discussion being had on Zoom et.al at the highest level in this time of crisis.

“Leadership in Extraordinary Times – Paul Polman in conversation.”


  1. Beauhurst is an online tracker of 28,000+ high growth UK businesses. It’s a great resource for start-up intelligence. In this report we see in stark contrast to my opportunity view the realities of the current challenge.

“Covid-19 Business Impact Report – Beauhurst Tracker.”


  1. Mary Meekers is a Venture Capitalist who produces trend reports focused on fund investment opportunities, and thus start-up opportunities. This is her latest report with a fascinating insight into trends related to the crisis.

“Mary Meekers Coronavirus Trends Report – Bond Capital VC Fund.”


  1. This is a useful article which details the provisions for UK start-ups announced by the Treasury, and which have been a little lost by the MSM. Some good news, some arguably less helpful, but definitely fast.

“UK government pledges £1bn to support startups

Around a quarter of the money will go towards a public-private fund called the Future Fund.”



  1. Finally this is the thoughts of Ben Evans who I would describe as a Futurist in the realm of tech and investment. It is particularly appealing to me in terms of the underlying principles of entrepreneurship to which I subscribe (and teach), i.e. fake it till you make it, test everything, go lean, go fast, be in contact with your customers, and (ironically) get out of the building.

“Covid and Forced Experiments.”




Ross Jordan teaches on Entrepreneurial Business Management and Planning New Business Ventures at Oxford Brookes University and is a director of Oxfordshire Business First

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