Archive for February, 2007

February e-newsletter

Hello all,
It’s a short month, so a short newsletter.

New Intakes

This month saw the launch of both our 34th Intake on the DL MBA and the 2007 Full-Time MBA programme. Involved in the delivery of the opening day on both, I have been reflecting on how interesting new starts are, and how the College should be making the most of all that is going on inside your heads as you come into the MBA.

If you are in an intake that has heard me tell my ‘mountain’ story at the Starter Workshop, you’ll know that I firmly believe it’s our job to mess (in the nicest possible way) with whatever your view of the world is and challenge you – right from the word go – to challenge yourself, your assumptions, framework for making sense of the world and awareness of your own true potential. Management at senior level involves a lot more than just theory, and requires the capability to think critically and deal with multiple contradictions without losing the plot. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it is exciting watching the first step.

Intake 34’s first step began in mid February with 38 Members. The vital statistics of the new intake are an average age of 35 and average number of years of work experience of just under 14 (8 of which in managerial roles). The group is 70% male, has 11 nationalities (but is 68% British) and about 50% are self-sponsored.

Dissertation Clinics

At the other end of the production line, you may find it useful to note in your diaries the following dates for one-day dissertation clinics. These are ideal jump-starts for anyone post Part Three exam but pre dissertation proposal, especially if your registration clock is ticking noisily toward the end of your normal registration period.

Thursday March 15th
Friday May 18th
Friday June 8th
Saturday September 15th
Thursday October 11th
Tuesday December 4th

It seems getting back on track by booking yourself into a clinic is all the rage these days and while we cannot promise you will meet Britney Spears, we can make sure that you leave with a much clearer idea of how the dissertation process works and how it can be useful for you in your career. Contact your course administrator for more details.


A couple of accolades have come the College’s way this month. The first was in a memo from Chris Bones; “Henley has been voted a 2007 Business Superbrand by an independent, voluntary council of experts and 1500 business professionals. From thousands of brands initially considered, survey participants assessed each entrant on their perception of its strength in the market, with particular reference to quality, reliability and distinction. The Business Superbrands supplement was published in the Sunday Telegraph on the 25 February.”

I must admit I had to hunt a little on the Superbrands web site to find us, ranked at 168, but that actually equates to fourth on the list in Executive Education.

The other award was a Silver Medal in the category “Best UK Management Training Centre”, voted by the Meetings and Incentive Travel magazine. These recognise and reward service excellence.If there was an award for “Best spot to reflect on the MBA”, my vote would go to the area on bank of the tranquil river Thames next to the Henley boat house. I’d be very happy to hear other nominations.

Good luck to all of you planning to sit a Part One, Two or Three exam in March.


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Read Me

This weekend we took some old friends who were staying the weekend out on a tour of the Oxfordshire countryside. We visited Blenheim Palace (getting in the free, but legal, way) and then went on to Great Tew, a lovely little village full of picture postcard thatched cottages and Porsche 911s.

After popping in to the pub to avoid the frequent rain showers, we walked back to the car. On the way I glanced into the village phone box and noticed a clear plastic bag containing paperback book propped up on the shelf. I thought someone must have left their book there by mistake, perhaps a freebie in one of the Sunday papers.

In fact, it had been left there deliberately, a fact that emerged when I picked it up, got it out and noticed a sticker on the cover; “Free Book – please read label inside cover and follow instructions”.

The label inside told me that this book was traveling around the world making new friends. It went on to hope that it had made a new friend in me and directed me to a web site www.bookcrossing.com, where I could enter a code and find out where it had been, and – presumably – add something about what I thought of it and what I planned to do with it next.

Are there dozens, hundreds or thousands of books doing the rounds like this? I think it’s intriguing and a great way to use the leveling of the world that the Internet can help create. in years gone by, people travelling on tight budgets would often leave books or pick up books left in far-flung parts of the world. I remember reading a Dornford Yates novel found in a youth hostel in Israel and passing it one to another back in the UK. But the World Wide Web adds a chance not just to enjoy a random book, but also to create a story about its journey. Great idea.

Haven’t decided yet where this one will wash up for another person to discover.

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Belbin rocks and roles

Henley has been looking back to look forward. The research into and publication of a new book called “Henley and the Unfinished Management Revolution” (I keep thinking this sounds like a synth-pop band from the 1980s), coupled with a whole set of changes in curriculum, faculty orientation and operational structure have meant we are now very conscious of the heritage of the past 60 years.

Yesterday part of that history visited us in the person of Professor Meredith Belbin, the ‘father of team roles’ (his own web site’s description of him). Belbin is a man of huge standing. Literally as well as figuratively, as he is very tall. He was attending as a speaker at the launch of the Henley history book.

I wanted to see him in action, and I wasn’t disappointed. He spoke quietly and without notes. He began recounting stories of the early years of experimentation with teams at Henley and as he got into his stride he became more and more professorial, placing both hands gripping high on his jacket lapels. With evident dynamism for his topic, he took us through his own development in thinking – paying frequent tribute to others, including family – on teamwork, the nature of work and job roles, ending on the evolution of human behaviour and the effect of that on modern organisations.

I know it’s not new, but it was my first introduction to the use of colours to talk about assigning tasks and roles at work along the axes of a] task vs. responsibilities and b] individual vs. shared. The resulting 2 x 2 matrix has each cell coloured (Blue: structured work (individual tasks), Green: reactive work (shared tasks), Yellow; decision work (individual responsibilities), and Orange; collaborative work (shared responsibilities). The misallocation of work (and cause of much kerfuffle, I see) is represented by two more colours. Pink (imaginary work) for work performed and not needed [meetings, meetings!] and Black (the black hole of disownership) for work needed and not performed.

Meredith Belbin is now 81. The day before the Belbin talk, I was in the College restaurant dining with Intake 34 on their final workshop day. At a neighboring table there was a group of elderly people, also enjoying lunch. One of their number a man aged 85, appeared to slump to one side, and it emerged that he had suffered a stroke. We gathered round to assist and an ambulance was called and as we waited, tending, we learnt that he was a former professor at Henley, and had served as Assistant Principal at one time. It is the tragedy of life that the longer we live it, the more we are able to reflect on it and understand, yet the less of it remains for us to enjoy that wisdom and understanding. I sincerely hope to hear Dr Belbin speak here again.

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