The King and I: A Royal Suggestion

September 14, 2022

This is a true story (‘whatever you mean by true’, to adapt what the Prince of Wales said on a different matter. Some of the facts that follow can easily be checked).

My recollection begins with the visit some years ago of Charles, then Prince of Wales, now our new King, to Manchester. His journey was to include a visit to the University and to its Business School, where I was a junior lecturer at the time.

For the royal visit, the staff were deployed doing scholarly things around assorted class-rooms large and small according to student numbers.

I had the good fortune of being in a well-ventilated lecture room which could accommodate many more that the eight students taking my option on creative problem-solving. We were to demonstrate the Manchester Method of learning and problem-solving, working around a large A1-sized flip-chart, similar to those still found on easels outside meeting rooms during business conferences. 

The students were briefed to act as if they were not being scrutinised by the heir to the throne. Sniffer dogs had already confirmed that the room, like the rest of the building , held no bombs.

More or less on time, the door opened, and a large policeman with a large black beard loomed at the doorway. I recognised the figure of the Chief Constable, James Anderton, already a nationally known celebrity.

He scanned the room, and escorted in HRH and one of two other dignitaries. The students and I were fulfilling our ‘don’t notice the Prince’ act. 

The flip chart was filling up with ideas on the carefully selected topic ‘how to make city living more attractive‘.

The students were cheerfully adding ideas at a speed that forced me to abbreviate what was being called out, and act as an idea-warden holding out my non-writing arm to slow the flow of ideas. I sensed our time on stage was much shorter than Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame. Movements behind me suggested the show was coming to an end. The Chief Constable was preparing to usher out the royal group. But as he was leaving, the Prince of Wales intervened briefly, and pointed to me and then the flip chart. Time stood still. ‘Make architects live in the places they design’ he said, ‘Write it down.’

So I did. The illustrious guests departed. I am left with one regret…

I wish I had kept that piece of flip-chart paper.


Red Glory. Manchester United and Me, by Martin Edwards

February 7, 2018

Red Glory. Manchester United and Me, by Martin Edwards

Book Review

I learned about this autobiographic story late last year  through an event organised through Simply Books of Bramhall. For personal reasons, I went along to meet the author. It had been nearly thirty years since we had last met. We had both attended a dinner at Manchester Business School. The main guest of the evening was Harold Wilson, the former Prime Minister who was a life-long Huddersfield Town supporter. We both vaguely remembered the event.
In Red Glory, Martin Edwards writes as a former chairman of Manchester United Football Club over the golden period of the club’s sporting success. As Peter Schmeichel put it in his foreword to the book, it was the period when United ‘became the biggest and best club on the planet’.
The book covers ground much of which will be familiar to MUFC fans, as legendary in this footballing city. I already knew how Matt Busby escaped death in the Munich air disaster to go on and rebuild the broken team. But nuggets in the book are new. I did not know, for example, that Sir Matt was later granted rights to what became the famed Superstore at Old Trafford. Edward estimates Busby’s assets from these arrangements amounted to a hundred million pounds market value by 1998.

One anecdote describes the negotiation between the young Chairman of Manchester United and the chairman of Leeds United. The style was firm, but not blustering. Schmeichel confirms it matches Edwards’ typical approach to dealing with negotiations.  I like it as a counter illustration to the mythology of deal-making according to Donald Trump.

Without doubt, the book will appeal to fans and historians of Manchester United Football Club. I have no hesitation in recommending it to students of football for insights into how a seriously competent leader thanks and acts, written in such a readable fashion.

Acknowledgement: To Simply Books, for organising the book-signing event, and providing the image. [Your Editor is the somewhat shorter figure on the left.]


Susan Moger (6 July 1954-12 September 2017)

October 13, 2017

Susan Moger

 

Susan Moger: ‘She was beloved on earth’

 

We all have our own Susan though our various memories. I want to share some of mine, together with contributions from Susan’s family and from her many friends around the world.

At first, I thought our various individual memories would be unique, but I quickly discovered several widely shared themes. For example, if there is an essence of Susan that could be bottled, it would be undiluted high-concentration determination always to do what she had set about doing, to the limits of her remarkable abilities.

In this respect, I recall catching a glimpse of her many years ago, walking up Oxford Road to the University of Manchester, though a blustery rain storm, leaning into a head wind. Metaphorically, it captured how she met subsequent headwinds in a similar way.

Another favourite memory of mine illustrates how she was often incapable of claiming credit for much of what she did for others. At times that later became painful, as she learned how the world rarely notices unpublicized efforts. We were working together once with a particularly favoured organization, Guinness Ireland, in Tinnakilly, County Wicklow. Susan had become a huge favourite of the Guinness executives. Our job was to help them come up with their own ideas to solve a tricky corporate problem. Susan came up with the idea which was eventually implemented. The client thanked me for the idea, publicly, at the end of the meeting.  Our rule was to say the team got the idea not an individual. Susan never claimed ownership, although she rightfully reminded me of the injustice of what had happened.

Her distaste for self-marketing was shown in her customary introduction to new groups of executives. When teaching together, Susan would begin “I qualified as a nurse, becoming a Senior sister in intensive care. I then took a degree in history at the University of Manchester, before becoming involved as a member of Manchester Business School.” For whatever reason, I had to add the additional information that her degree was a first-class honours one, and that she also had a most appropriate Masters’ degree, by research, in business, researching personality styles.  The case examples from her Masters’ were later to form the basis of the Handbook for Creative Team Leaders.

Theory and practice from her research were to come together when attended a session on personality profiling on styles of innovating and managing change. It turned out we had polar opposites on all the factors of the test. The distinguished tutor used our results to suggest that if we worked together over an extended period we would be an example of a dysfunctional team, because we would have too many personality differences to resolve. He was right about the differences, but was wrong about his prediction that the relationship was ultimately doomed through our incompatibility.

We had a scholarly riposte to that scholar, subsequently. We wrote and published a paper examining the dynamics of the film The Odd Couple, with its characters Felix and Oscar. We drew on our own diverse styles, to illustrate the tensions and nevertheless the richness found in such a diversity. Felix, the neat meticulous and responsible partner, Oscar the slovenly disorganized one.

An achievement of which Susan was rightly proud, was the success of the international journal, Creativity and Innovation Management (CIM). At first it was produced by ourselves, during which she showed her exceptional editing skills.  It was work for which determination and acceptance of little immediate recognition are required. The Felix of the partnership so often took the lead. Susan had those requirements in bucketfuls. As the Oscar, I had thimblefuls of either, in comparison.

One article from Japan was eventually to become a tipping point. We could have rejected it as it needed such extensive deciphering. Late one Sunday night, with the copy still incomplete, we decided we had gone as far as we could with the article and of ten years of editing the journal.

A new editing team was needed, and ownership passed to a wonderful group at the University of Twente, and later, more recently to Potsdam.

Today it is one of the recognized journals in its field, retaining our original concern for understanding the practice of business creativity and innovation, while holding to high standards of research excellence. In recognition of her contribution, an annual best paper competition was instituted in her name, giving her great pleasure as a way of continuing our association with the journal.

Over time, Susan became a much-loved member of the international community, and a familiar contributor to conferences around the world. Friendships were forged from Twente to Taiwan, from Buffalo to Brussels. Her editing skills also began to reveal themselves in a range of books. Notable among these were collections of he annual conference reports from The European Association for Creativity and Innovation (EACI). The rewards were friendships made around Europe.

Back in Manchester, Susan became a source of comfort for ‘our’ students who often became part of our extended international family.

Another editing task she later would refer to time and again, was that of The Routledge Handbook of Creativity during which she was the ‘front office’ for dealing with twenty or so groups of leading academics in the field, including some for whom the description Prima Donna would not be too far from the truth. If the Japanese paper was my sticking point, this Handbook was Susan’s.  She vowed never to edit a collective work of that kind again. You will not be surprised to know that she kept her word.

On a more personal level, Susan was a gold-medallist in sending greetings and Thank-You cards. She would replenish a stock which was being regularly depleted through birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations for achievements, and after social meetings. I would sometimes be co-opted to share in their signing.

In these and other more personal situations, Susan had a remarkable memory. Her knowledge of sports of all kinds was encyclopaedic. In football and tennis, she was unmatchable. As far as I detected, it was only cricket which defeated her, and in particular the follow-on rule.

Her greatest sporting love was tennis. She became a member of the Northern Tennis Club, Didsbury, and helped for several years in running the junior tournament, and one of the Ladies’ teams. Both would have served as case studies of sports leadership and creative problem-solving.

One of her other sporting memories was of work at Manchester United, where at a dinner at the end of one event, she won a competition for a signed United shirt awarded by Sir Bobby Charlton, ever-after a prized possession.

Susan was a much-loved sister and aunt, generous to a fault, always willing to be supportive and provide encouragement. Never looking for recognition and with her contribution often only really known to those who were the direct recipient of it. As I learned later, in her final months, Susan kept sets of rosary beads – in her handbag, in her home desk and also in top bedside table drawer along with rosary prayer books and prayer cards for those in pain. One can only hope that in small hours of the night these brought her comfort and strength.

In the last decade of her life, Susan encountered a series of illnesses which required all her determination, and which left her increasingly frail.  Recently she regained her old enthusiasm with involvement with riding for the disabled. Music filled the house, until one piece from Sibelius became one of those themes which would not go away, as she prepared for an event which would require her to demonstrate new skills of dressage from a standing start.

In this, as in her later determination to continue to pursue tennis using lightweight balls and racquets, her courage shone through.  I began to see in her an anger against the challenges posed by her illness, which reminded me of the famous Dylan Thomas lines

Do not go gently into that good night.

Rage, rage against the passing of the light.

 

A consoling few lines were sent by editor Katharina Hölzle, speaking on behalf of the CIM journal. I will let her words speak for themselves.

“Susan was one of the most inspiring persons we have ever met and her warmth and passion have inspired us tremendously. And if there is a person where we found the Late Fragment by Raymond Carver better reflected, then it was Susan.”

Late Fragment

by  Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

As Katerina put it, Susan was truly beloved on earth.

We must appreciate her as a gift received, and , together with our mourning, cherish the memories of the kind I have outlined

TR, October 10th 2017


Creativity and leadership

September 1, 2015

Creativity and Leadership Twente

Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger of Manchester Business School review their work on creativity and leadership at the 5th Creativity and Innovation Management Community Workshop at the University of Twente

http://www.utwente.nl/bms/nikos/newsevents/cfp5th-cim-community-workshop/

 


Sports management: Coaching the coaches

July 20, 2015

Tudor RickardsSport is big business. Do you know how to apply the latest business ideas into your sports management courses?

For over thirty years I have been working with colleagues at Manchester Business School introducing experiential learning ideas into business courses. More recently, we found out that our work with business managers could be transferred into sports management courses.

Why sports management and business management are similar

The discovery was unexpected, but afterwards was rather obvious. It came about when we realized that professional managers and athletes have similar developmental needs.

The Manchester Method approach

The approach was recently described on the MBS website

The Manchester Method is a practical, situation-based way of studying business that runs through all of our programmes.

It pushes you to your limits to bring out your best, focusing on group work, practice-based learning and self-reflection. You use and build on your own experiences to improve your leadership skills and manage complex projects.

Living cases

On important feature of the approach is the use of living cases. The term indicates that the topic under study is not bounded by the text provided.

Web-based work is increasingly important. Students, often working in teams, search for the most recent information of the current situation in each project. The work is evaluated from two perspectives, one its critical understanding, and one for evidence of appreciation of the practical aspects of the case.

In longer projects, a business client brings his or her ‘living case’ into the Business School. In shorter projects the business client is role-played by a tutor. These cases are chosen from the recent posts on leadership to be found in leaders we deserve. These have the added attraction of being updated regularly, giving emphasis to different leadership dilemmas.

A suitable course textbook is Dilemmas of Leadership which encourages students to examine the living cases for the tough decisions business leaders are taking. In its most recent edition, it comes with web based Tutor’s guide, power points and chapter by chapter revision quiz.

Sports based applications

Although the cases are selected for their business relevance, some have been sports-related. The role of the coach in team sports such as football and rowing has been studied, as well as the nature of charismatic leadership of managers and of on-field leaders. Another shared issue is that of Corporate Social Responsibility

For more information

I would be pleased to share experiences with sports management professionals interested in exploring the methods outlined in this post. You can contact me by email by submitting a comment below.


The Manchester Method: A Leaders We Deserve Monograph

May 21, 2015

by Conor Glean

In April 2015, Leaders We Deserve announced the publication of a series of monographs selected from materials published in over a thousand posts over the period 2006-2015 Manchester Method

The Manchester Method is an experiential means of supporting business education which was developed within The Manchester Business School, primarily within its MBA programmes.

It was chosen as the topic of the first monograph in the series, and published by Book Tango in April 2015.

To purchase The Manchester Method you can use various devices such as

Your Kindle/e-reader

The kindle app (downloadable from Apple App Store, Google Play, Microsoft Windows Store)

Or you can use this link

[£3.49]

To purchase directly from Google, search for “The Manchester Method” in Google play, or use this link

[£2.62]

To purchase in PDF, MOBI or EPUB form, use this link

[$4.99]

[Prices may vary and those quoted were available at May 18th 2015]


Sir Terry Pratchett and Sir Douglas Hague: two gentle knights depart

March 13, 2015

Discworld Gods Wikipedia

On Wednesday March 12th 2015 I learned of the deaths of Sir Terry Pratchett and shortly afterwards of Sir Douglas Hague. I like to think this coincidence would appeal to their shared sense of humour.

They are now linked together in my memory, one, a great creative writer I never met, and the other an economist and statesman who became a mentor for myself and for generations of business and economics students

Pratchett in the sky over India

I was introduced to the inspired fantasy world of Terry Pratchett many years ago by John Arnold when he shared his travel reading with me during a visit to meet business graduates in New Delhi. He had taken with  him one of the early Discworld books.

John, himself a distinguished economist, could well have had something else in his carry-on bag written by our mutual colleague Douglas Hague. If he had, it is little surprise he had decided to fill a gap in my cultural rather than my economic knowledge.

Terry Pratchett’s creativity

I immediately became one of Terry Pratchett’s countless admirers. I remain richly entertained by the unique style of humour to be found in his books. He would have been an excellent subject for a deeper study of artistic creativity. Maybe, one day…

Discworld

His Discworld characters rightly earned mention in his obituaries. Death, of course, gently mocked as a not totally grim reaper; Granny Weatherfax the grumpy no-nonsense witch, and a host of others.

Terry Pratchett retained his glorious humour as his terminal illness prepared him for his personal encounter with death (and with Death). He chose to tweet: Just think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush.

Sir Douglas Hague

Sir Douglas HagueMy memories of Douglas Hague are more direct,  a result of a considerable number of years during which we were colleagues at Manchester Business School. The excellent obituary in The Times prompted me to offer a letter which may or may not be published in its columns.

Letter to The Times

Correction to Obituary of Sir Douglas Hague

Your careful and warm obituary to Sir Douglas Hague today [Thursday, March 12th, 2015] noted he founded The Manchester Business School. That is accurate to the extent that he was among a small influential group of ‘founding fathers’ whose numbers included Professor Grigor McClelland, the first Director of the School.

Might I add a personal note? Despite his economic and political achievements, Douglas was remarkably approachable by colleagues and students. As a junior research fellow, I once asked him in some trepidation whether he would review the latest heavyweight economics volume by Sir Nicholas Kalder for an internal networking broadsheet. He agreed without hesitation and met his deadline, although he could have placed his sparkling review in any of the leading scholarly journals.

He was sometimes teased for his unconditional admiration of, and frequent references to ‘Margaret’ in his lectures at Manchester. His loyalty survived an unfortunate remark of his which made the headlines and which appeared to challenge Mrs Thatcher’s housing policy. Unfortunately, his own formal position as economic adviser to the Iron Lady did not survive the remark.

Tudor Rickards, Professor Emeritus

The University of Manchester

 

Images

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Gods from Wikipedia; Image of Douglas Hague from a Margaret Thatcher memorial collection via The Said Business School, Oxford.


Dissecting Creativity: Interview with Tudor Rickards

March 10, 2015

Professor Gerard Puccio interviews LWD editor Tudor Rickards for the 2014 Alex Osborn memorial event at Buffalo State University

Gerard Puccio is chair and Professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity [ICSC] at Buffalo State University. The memorial celebrations honoured the life and work of Alex Osborn who did much of his pioneering work on stimulating creativity there, with Sid Parnes. Sid’s wife Bea also attended and give a further key-note address.

The interview [47 minutes duration] covers Tudor’s association with ICSC, his personal history, growing up in a mining community in South Wales, [in Treforest, home of Tom Jones], developmental influences and how he became involved in creativity, moving from a career as a research scientist at New York Medical College and then Unilever on Merseyside,to his academic base at Manchester Business School where he helped build a network of European practitioners and academics.


Concepts and Pragmatism: Applying original thinking in a Manchester Method way

February 12, 2015

HAKAM1624_1 (2)

Vikram Madineni

Applying theory to find practical solutions in professions like engineering is well-known.  The Manchester Method approach in the field of management comes from  applying the learning in one’s professional life and, leveraging trust and current experiences.

 

The Global MBA program at Manchester Business School gave me a platform to self-reflect and grow professionally, to learn the importance of communication and also to shape my future goals and ambitions

Personal Growth

I encountered many of the nuances of business management early in my professional life, but at first I had a hard time relating to decisions being made from a professional and personal perspective.

The dynamic nature of the Global MBA course work, diversity of people, need for team collaboration and applying theoretical frameworks to understand “why” and “how” part of the decisions, all have shaped my personal growth over the last 18 months.

The focus on teamwork is paramount and there is a regular need to improvise based on dynamics of team members. I have dramatically improved my group negotiation and implementation strategies. For this, I owe much to the information exchange with other students in multiple workshops across countries and partly to the self-reflection of my creativity reports.

By using theoretical frameworks of economics, marketing, operations, accounting, and leadership when answering individual assignments, I gained a better perspective of various factors influencing decisions being made within my own organization.

Manchester Method

The emphasis on “managerial oriented” application of concepts rather than academic discussions has been advocated in all courses. I got a better understanding of the principle after receiving feedback for my final marketing assignment. My thorough research was appreciated, as was required in an MBA course, but both examiners explained the importance of also arriving at practical solutions that could benefit the company.

In the induction session the program director [mention name] explained the importance of networking, teamwork, the value of working within a diverse cohort and building relationships.

This has been an enriching experience and it has helped me to manage assignments and projects in a more efficient and productive fashion.

Chartering the future – Social Responsibility

I dreamed of being an entrepreneur since I graduated from college and I got a new perspective after reading an inspirational book about the TOMS company written by Blake Mycoskie – Start Something That Matters.

I chose the book for my leadership assignment and published a post about TOMS and its CSR in Leaders We Deserve.

Around the same time, I became aware of the amazing work being undertaken by the Gates Foundation and within my own company, Ingersoll Rand, in providing opportunities to serve a social cause. I was inspired and motivated to change but also identified the lack of management experience in handling strategy or operational needs of social organizations.

Johnson. W (2012), “Disrupt Yourself”, discusses the concept of disrupting oneself to stay ahead or charting one’s profession career.

I embraced the opportunity to do the Global MBA program, and over the last year I have opportunities to learn and understand the business system at a functional and a strategic perspective. As I progressed through my learning I gained knowledge in operations excellence and insights of marketing for a non-profit organization.

I had to do considerable amount of research on TOMS for my leadership and marketing course assignments. I gained a deeper understanding and need to embrace social responsibility; and also the power of words, advertisement of conscious consumers, and era of storytelling successful companies. I discussed this concept with our company’s marketing team to rethink branding and customer connectivity. We needed a story; a story that connects with our customers and makes them our passionate advertisers.

Original Thinking Applied

One of the most enjoyable workshops and one that I can vividly recall is the Accounting workshop! Marketing, Operations, CIB and all other workshop assignments helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals but Accounting was very focused on one particular aspect of the organization or situation. I probably have never spent 6-8 hours analyzing just 3 sheets of papers before, the Balance Sheet, Cash Flow and Income Statements! It was a workshop in which I truly realized the potential of applying the thinking – understanding what financial ratios really mean, challenging whether the numbers are really telling a true story, what should the company or an investor be looking for.

Our group spent hours endorsing and debating each other perspective. I remember our professor being intrigued by the new metrics and ratios that we identified and how we linked them with a balanced score-card strategy. The level of analysis and realization of the importance of certain metrics all helped my immensely in applying the learnings in the business simulation course.

The business simulation course was another opportunity to bring all our learnings together for the first time and I enjoyed the challenge of managing and competing against my peers. Managing finances, building on equity, improving net margins, borrowing cheaper capital were all a result of application of deep analysis of the company’s financial statements and the market. This was also an opportunity for us to apply the concepts of strategy, adapt dynamically to market changes and build a road map for the future profitability. This gives me confidence in my ability to manage business operations in certain roles like strategic integrator, program manager in companies like TOMS or Gates Foundation.

 Leadership

My perspectives on definition of leadership have gradually changed over the course of my student and professional life. Growing up, my father was a leader for me; responsible, knowledgeable, humble and passionate. I inculcated lot of those values and owe my growth to his leadership skills as a parent. My views on leadership skills expanded during my career at Ingersoll Rand while working with my peers and my manager. We were now in a dynamically changing environment and it was educating to understand the need for a leader to find a “balance” – compassion and setting expectations, leading and allowing to lead, teaching and allowing to learn and most important of all humility and approachability.

The Manchester MBA program has expanded my horizon further on leadership traits and I was introduced to the concept of Servant Leadership. The ability to build a vision and then inspire and influence people to adopt and engage is truly a remarkable skill set. In this era of social consumerism the ability to reach out to people who are remote and influence their decisions is a differentiating attribute of the new generation leader.

The new era of conscious consumers and employees is suited in supporting and associating with a leader who is empathetic and is committed to social responsibility.

 


“What did you do after your MBA?”

February 2, 2015

MBS 2016

MBA Paul Hinks interviewed by LWD editor Tudor Rickards

LWD Editor Tudor Rickards catches up with MBA graduate Paul Hinks and asks about personal development gains since his costly investment

I suppose a declaration of interest is called for from your editor as interviewer. I have been compiling a collection of LWD blog posts about The Manchester Method, an approach to experiential learning of which I have been a long-time advocate. Furthermore, Paul after his MBA became a regular contributor to LWD, so he may be considered a special case (or maybe a convenience sample of one). I may have asked some leading questions, but Paul’s responses have not been edited to obtain the sort of answers I was hoping for.

The interview took place over the period January 30th-31st 2015.

The Manchester Method

TR: Before getting into the wider issues I want to know if there was much mention of the Manchester Method when you did your MBA? I don’t want to claim more than it really is/was. Assuming you heard of it, was it by Tutors? Marketing? Name names.

PH: Before completing my application for the Manchester MBA I attended an information session held at the Manchester campus. I remember ‘The Manchester Method’ was referenced a number of times during the discussion with an emphasis placed on the practical element of the Manchester MBA ‘learning through doing’. At the welcome meeting to launch the programme ‘The Manchester Method’ was referenced again by the Course Director [Professor Elaine Ferneley].

As I worked through the Manchester MBA I began to appreciate that it was more than just words, or some ‘catch-phrase’. The values and ethos are absolutely ingrained in to the personality of the programme.

Reflecting back the Manchester MBA process can be quite a humbling experience. Sure, there’s the academic material, but the practical elements of the programme provoke some deeper questions. It’s really up to the individual to decide how much they want to explore those personal blind spots. If you are willing to step outside your comfort zone the Manchester MBA provides a safe vehicle to reflect and learn more about yourself.

TR:  It would be interesting if you can illustrate drawing on yourself as part of a ‘living case’. Can you draw on a specific example?

PH: Applying MBA material to unstructured, complex ‘wicked problems’ from the workplace has helped to raise my own profile in my organisation.  Earlier this month I delivered a presentation to our International Leadership Team drawing on material from several different MBA modules. The feedback I received was very positive. I felt the academic lens provided credibility to the message I was aiming to communicate.

One week later I used a slightly revised version to deliver the same message in a company-wide all-employee conference call to United Kingdom and Ireland staff. Again the feedback was positive.

I used material from the Manchester programme to highlight how people have different perspectives of the same situation – how they these offer different solutions based on how they understand and perceive their ‘worlds’. Acknowledging this premise, I worked through an academic framework to explain how I saw the problem – the framework I used enabled me to paint a picture of the situation we were all trying to understand and address. My structure helped me to deliver what you would describe as a platform of understanding.

I was pleased with the outcome. As a project team we now have some clear next steps and confirmation of commitment (I believe) from the corporate leadership internationally.

What sort of learning …?

 TR: As you mention the broader MBA I wonder what sorts of learning and change have taken place in your approach at work? And at home Is ‘leading’ a team of young children connected in any way to this?

PH: It’s worth making special reference to ‘The Reflective Manager’ module run by Mark Winters. I felt the material that Mark delivers really challenges individuals to reflect on their actions, and also to reflect in action – the concepts are powerful. It takes time to digest the deeper messages, but there is so much in this module that echo the sentiments laid out in “The Manchester Method” and ultimately helped me question my own raison d’etre.

TR: Mark’s work is much influenced by Peter Checkland, a pioneer in the use of systems theory applied to action research The   MBA was not a process for you that ended with a piece of paper?

PH: Personal growth has always been important to me – it would certainly have been easier to have taken a more reticent view, and overlook the opportunity to pursue Manchester’s MBA. I believe it’s really down to the individual to take ownership of their personal development – it isn’t the responsibility of the firm, or anyone else – it’s down to the individual.

Working through the Manchester MBA started as something of a personal challenge – the process is tough, but it becomes more familiar. You learn to adapt. I started to take time to reflect and examine my own performance. Was it what I expected? Where could I have done better? I learned more about myself and started to measure my own progress in different ways. My personal priorities changed along the way too. my understanding of what a work life balance means to me. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending time relaxing, or going to the gym more. Sure these are important, but I also found researching and reading more deeply into situations was also of greater interest to me than perhaps I’d previously realized.

The challenge is in how best to apply that learning every day in both the workplace and also with my family life.

Linking theory with practice

TR: You like to explore ideas. I notice you refer to new maps such as distributed leadership. Reading and lectures tend to focus on explicit knowledge. Might the MBS approach encourage learning through linking theory with practice. Nonaka and Teguchi have a tacit-to- explicit ‘map’ of this.

PH: I believe our experiences help shape who we are; I see knowledge as the cornerstone to understanding and making sense of those experiences. Nonaka and Teguchi provide insight into knowledge creation which maps back to the discussion about how best to capture and acquire our tacit knowledge and how we can then attempt to codify this knowledge and make it explicit.

‘Learning through doing’ takes concepts and theory and embeds knowledge and learning through practical application. I believe it’s effective. The process is pragmatic. Delegates apply their learning to case material either as an individual or as part of a group. So you are encouraged to read around the subject and more able to challenge and critique everything, before looking ahead to suggest future outcomes.

Since finishing the MBA, I’ve continued to research and read material. I’ve contributed material to the Leaders We Deserve blog. Recently I blogged about Distributed Leadership as one contemporary lens though which we can explore how social media is effective in bringing desperate groups together. I enjoy the process of applying frameworks to real life scenarios.

Personal change

TR: What sort of personal changes might you be aware of?

PH: I believe The Manchester MBA helps you to think more strategically. It provides you with the confidence and insight to defend your point of view robustly and also to be able to challenge others and perhaps build on initial thoughts and ideas in a constructive way. .

I believe I have become conscious of the traits and characteristics that other see in you – and also where your areas of development remain. Conversely you see the other people’s traits, their strengths, how they can contribute. For the record, I do not see the MBA as some guaranteed ticket to a C-level destination or another level of perceived success. It’s an education that provides you with a credible and powerful toolbox which I believe can significantly help your decision-making.

The Manchester MBA also delivered me with a trusted network of friends and colleagues only an email or phone call away. We think in a similar way, I trust and value their opinion and judgement. They’re good contacts and I know they’ll succeed and do well in their chosen careers.

Social media and technology

TR: I know that you think a lot about the emerging world of social media, technological change and so on. Any comments?

PH: I see opportunities for firms to take advantage of social technologies that are prevalent in our social communities and which leverage those technologies more in the workplace.

I’ve found myself reading around the subject and using the MBA material to explore different perspectives around Social Media – where are the gaps in current thinking? Where are the opportunities for change? Mobile Technology is now mature and ubiquitous, supporting developments into ‘big data’ generation. Data privacy is another contentious issue with potential ethical implications. But the associated commercial opportunities are huge.

Those with the ability to mine big data effectively and efficiently will soon know more about our personal preferences than perhaps we might welcome.

These are exciting times – I believe we’ll reflect on this current technology period and see the exploitation of social and mobile technology as a paradigm shift – in the same that we saw computing power move away from the mainframe in the 1970s and early 1980s to the distributed computing model. There’s huge momentum; it’s compounded by a generation that is growing up this social and mobile technologies as their preferred ways of communicating.

Personal development

TR: Looking ahead, are you thinking of more personal development? What issues interest you?

PH: I see technology as continuing to deliver advantage to firms that understand how best to use it for collaboration, team working, the creation and sharing of knowledge. Technology, Business, Leadership, Sport – these are really my main areas of interest. I remember my Managerial Economics module and the emphasis [Course tutor] Xavier placed on ‘interdependence’ – that there isn’t a binary switch that we can flick to provide a clearly defined path or outcome.

 

TR: Paul, thank you very much. I’m sure you will continue to demonstrate ‘what did you do after your MBA’ as an example of learning through doing.

EDITOR’S NOTES

Image of ‘The New MBS’ is an artist’s impression from 2011. The building work is well underway at the start of 2015.

Paul wrote as an MBS graduate, but we both agreed that the basic principles outlined apply to MBAs more generally. The Manchester Method remains a branded version of the experiential components of MBAs under various titles.

Comments are particularly welcomed for this post.