It's been a hectic morning, as usual. You're struggling to keep your head above water. And here comes an email from HR: Apparently, it's time you participated in another development program. Just what you need!
You think back on the last one: It was pleasant enough, especially the discussions with other managers in the halls. You even picked up some interesting ideas in the classroom. (What were they again?) Then you came back to a big pile of work, not to mention snickering colleagues. ("It must have been tough with all that great food.") Then a few days later, it was as though it never happened.
"Henry Mintzberg from McGill University in Canada, a high-profile champion of the middle manager, takes this approach one step further. He believes the best way to win over this group is to get them to train themselves. His “Coaching Ourselves” organisation brings experienced executives together for 90 minutes at a time. Managers are supplied with learning guides but not teachers. The emphasis is also unashamedly Luddite. Laptops, BlackBerrys and the like are discouraged in favour of old-fashioned pen and paper. “They discuss and reflect on how the topic impacts on them,” says Mr Minztberg. “[The managers] learn from each other and, most crucially, develop actions for their workplaces."
Get his managers around a table periodically to reflect on their experience and share their concerns and insights with each other. This he did, informally over lunch every week or two, using some of the material from the IMPM to initiate the discussions.
It was so successful, both in promoting changes in the workplace as well as in developing the managers, that it continued for two years. That experience eventually led us to incorporate the whole idea as CoachingOurselves.com to enable other groups of managers to do the same thing. Today, companies sign up, form small teams of managers, and download materials on all sorts of management topics (e.g., Silos and Slabs in Organizations, In Praise of Middle Management, Developing Our Organization as a Community) for personal and organizational development. Some companies are now using CoachingOurselves to drive turnarounds in their businesses.
Sometimes the wisdom you are seeking can be found within. One Montreal-based firm has developed a program that enables teams of managers to coach each other. "(It's) the concept of practical learning in a team meeting setting," Coaching Ourselves founder and executive director Phil LeNir said in a phone interview. The program brings together eight to 10 managers for frank discussion about a specific business topic such as branding or strategy - the theory being that managers will learn more by reflecting on, and genuinely sharing, their experiences with each other.
Harvard Business Review
Beneath the current economic crisis lies another crisis of far greater proportions: the depreciation in companies of community—people’s sense of belonging to and caring for something larger than themselves. Decades of short-term management, in the United States especially, have inflated the importance of CEOs and reduced others in the corporation to fungible commodities—human resources to be “downsized” at the drop of a share price. The result: mindless, reckless behavior that has brought the global economy to its knees.
Harvard Business IdeaCast
Important knowledge is embedded in managerial practice. We can create business education that makes use of this personal and tacit experience by using ‘close learning’ — students are all practicing managers and work with a personal tutor to make use of theories and models that encourage practical improvements. Wikipedia provides an even more radical metaphor for management education Coachingourselves.com is a new company that helps managers to learn from their own experience.
Establishing knowledge about customer satisfaction, for example, rests with the managers responsible for delivering it.
CoachingOurselves pulls together the people with fragments of experience across a company and provides the intellectual framework, asking provocative questions to organize it into a well-tested theory.
Managing author Henry Mintzberg believes that to improve business schools, we must first understand the essence of what managers do.
by Art Kleiner
One of the most consistently interesting sources of management thinking and education is Henry Mintzberg, the John Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal. In 1973, Mintzberg first made his mark with The Nature of Managerial Work (Harper and Row), a study of the working lives of five chief executives. Since then, he has been a prominent voice against ritualistic decision making (in his influential 1994 book, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning [Free Press]), in favor of business school reform (in his 2004 book, Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development [Berrett-Koehler]), and in support of commonsense organizational practices (especially in his most recent book, Managing [Berrett-Koehler, 2009], a tour de force based on in-depth observation of 29 executives at work).