Archive for April, 2007

April e-newsletter

Dear all,

Yesterday evening several of us went to central London for the MBA fair organised by AMBA. If you have ever been along to a fair, you will know they are somewhat bizarre (or perhaps just bazaar), a hotel ballroom with jumble-sale tables and the crazy presupposition that a manager will compare, select and even decide on which MBA to take on the basis of short ‘visits’ to the various schools in the room.

Whilst it is certainly true that Henley benefits primarily on word-of-mouth as its best form of recruitment (and with that in mind, I should plug the forthcoming June intake here!!) I find that MBA Fairs are good for two things:

1. they are an excellent tool for thinking about and then learning how to express succinctly what makes Henley distinctive. This is an often asked question. Frankly, it is best to have a Programme Member to hand to answer that from a learner’s perspective (as we did yesterday – thank you Andrew Nagberi). My own answer revolves around four things – an Intake full of depth of experience and width of background, a practical, integrated curriculum that develops the ability to see and think strategically, an environment conducive to and focused only on management education, and an attention to your personal development that assumes you already hold the key to your own success. If I’m way off the mark, please let me know!

2. they are even better as places to listen to people like you, and actually that is why I enjoy them. Asking questions of the people who come up to the Henley stand is a great way to communicate to them that Henley expects people to take charge of their own learning. Or perhaps I’m just naturally curious.

Anyway, I would encourage you to think about coming along to an event some time. If nothing else, it will make you think about why you are on the MBA.

MBA Home Straight Community

As you may recall, in last month’s newsletter I told you about a plan to launch a group within the DL MBA aimed at all those at Part Three who were behind schedule on completing their dissertation. We decided to call this the “Home Straight Community” and two experienced tutors, Richard Lacey and Mike Green, were appointed to co-ordinate.

The first community event took place at the College on April 21st and was very well attended. Richard and Mike spent some time focusing on many of the most common aspects of the process that people find difficult and also on where the best resources are, in particular the Dissertation area on the eLearning site, run by Ken Bull.

We also tried to allow space for those present (some 35 of you) to get into groups to share next steps. Interestingly, people naturally gravitated to groups that corresponded to four key phases along the dissertation route – a] not yet started, b] pre-proposal, c] post proposal, doing literature review, research methodology, and d] post lit review, doing or done the fieldwork.
A special blog has been set up at http://henleyhomestraight.blogspot.com/. It’s private, so you won’t see it unless you have been invited to register. All those attending have already been invited, and if you are in Intake 26 or lower and would like to follow and contribute, drop me an email.

Another opportunity to get involved with some research

You may recall in previous newsletters call from Mike Griffiths, an alumnus of the College for assistance with some really interesting research projects, several of which were useful for people in the dissertation phase of their MBA. Mike writes again:

“we are a small consulting firm called PDN based in the UK and US (since we last spoke we acquired another firm and our previous firm CSI has been rolled into this larger firm PDN) and have been invited to share our collective experience to an audience of 300 HR Directors on May 8-9th on the most pressing culture issues today and how you can maximize Human Resources’ impact across the company.

I would be very grateful if you might put me in touch with current MBA students with strong investigative skills and an affinity for this subject who could work with me to collate the existing research available. There are four specific areas we have been asked to comment on:
1. Creating a cost cutting culture that doesn’t kill morale
2. When leaders need to change culture. What is the leader’s role in changing culture. How much does their personality and leadership style affect cultural change?
3. Creating cultures for growth – what are the cultures that are most predictive of growth?
4. Cultural issues in mergers and acquisitions Is there research that demonstrates that culture affects performance? Where are the most compelling examples of culture helping produce high performance?

The general theme is “What are the typical approaches to and models of culture diagnosis and change and how can they practically be applied by leaders, HR Dirs and their teams? And throughout all of these subjects we need to examine where HR has played an important part and what is HR’s potential role in creating and changing culture in the future? It’s very important for this audience that we not only provide practical tools and ideas but we have cases where things have worked and failed.

“If this is close to anyone’s heart and they have time, I will happily pass on your details to Mike. I think there would be some excellent networking and mentoring opportunities in return.

The BBC’s What Not To Wear

I know you are generally a dapper lot, but here’s a chance to boost visibility your start-up business and learn a few sartorial tips:”The BBC’s What Not to Wear is back for a new series and are currently looking for entrepreneurs who feel their appearance is holding their business back. Image is key when running a successful business, especially if you are the face of the company, get this wrong and it could have drastic affects on your turnover. We want to find 60 people who fall into this category and within those 60 two will go forward for a life changing makeover. We are aiming to find all 60 by the end of April – can you help?”Anyone interested in this can either let me know, or contact Janet Till at Henley

Personnel changes at the College

From time to time it is useful to let you know of some of the changes in key positions here at Henley. Our Dean, Jean-Noel Ezingeard, will be leaving in July and he will be replaced by Abby Ghobadian.

Several other faculty members to go include Trevor Long, Vic Dulewicz and Chris Head. We’re all sad to see them leave, but I’m glad to say that many will return as Visiting Fellows. I’m also glad to say that the team administering your programme (Susan, Natalie and Charlotte) remains firmly in place!

Other changes include the departure of Phil O’Neil as Director of Operations. He is replaced by Nigel Francis.

We’re looking forward now to May, which will include a fairly gregarious Intake 29 Part Three start and – of course – the Graduation ceremony on the 26th. It’s also the month one begins to see more activity on the river in front of Greenlands, and you know that summer has arrived.

Chris Dalton
Programme Leader


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"After all is said and done, more is said than done"

I have made mention in some previous posts that I participated in Henley’s Virtual Tutor Course (VTC), a certificate which is a prior necessity for anyone active in Henley’s virtual learning environment.

Part of the evaluation for this course is to summarise my own thoughts from my Learning Journal, a kind of blog-within-the-course, and Ithought I’d add those here to share.

In Henley workshops I go on so much about the value of sharing of experience that at the start of this course I was genuinely looking forward to experiencing interaction with live fellow learners. I wanted to place myself firmly in a student’s pair of shoes and push every button, pull every knob to get as much out of the experience as possible. If from nothing else, I thought I would learn from doing so. In short, I felt like a participant.

In experiential training, most debriefs revolve around three questions:
What went well?
What got in the way?
Do what differently next time?

Following this pattern now in my own summary, I was pleased to note hat I continued all the way through as a participant. I made time to visit the site very frequently, and that reading the contributions of others sometimes brought forward my own thinking, and occasionally revealed an insight.

The learning journal worked well for me. Reading others’ thoughts was a delight, and knowing that I had an audience for mine was a great help in constructing my entries to make sense.

A few things still feel like they were barriers. They include:

Most of my written contributions were ‘fired from the hip’. Unlike this one (Blogger) the VTC web-site had limited editing facilities and I did not choose to write something in draft elsewhere for revision before posting.

I had the feeling that others varied their input (and, sometimes, their output) over the life of the Course. Because so many of the tasks were simply collaborative activities within the sub-group, this was quite uncomfortable.

Attuning the two roles of participant and facilitator was also difficult, but not impossible. It was more of problem (for me) that every activity was a task.

I reflected more than once during the course on how so many distance learners fail only by failing to finish. A convert now to reflection, the only drawback has been the necessity to stop, or suspend, this in order to complete this assignment!

So finally, after the Virtual Tutor course has been said and done, I find that I want to draw some ‘doer’ conclusions that reflect how I would choose to behave as an e-facilitator (were I to do this again). These are:

Adapt what you know works in a training or classroom (or just with any face-to-face encounter) and apply it online. Good planning is essential

As facilitator, be comfortable enough with the technology of online learning for the learner to forget about it

All learning is blended learning. We need to employ all our senses, and the facilitator needs to tune into the unique way each person learns

Build in a mechanism to ‘tether’ the learner to the course so that they don’t drift away at the end

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March e-newsletter

Dear All,

March has come and gone and I have failed to deliver my usual monthly newsletter in time. I ask that you overlook this, and I plead an agenda that had me out of the UK for much of the last two weeks. For the very curious, some inkling of where I have been can be found (along with this newsletter) on my blog.

So April may well bring you two newsletters for the price of one. It has certainly brought the promise of growth that lengthening spring and summer evenings tend to do, and the feeling here at Henley is one of green shoots after a winter of pruning. We are now into a real period of change, with launches of the new MBA curriculum for intakes in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and South Africa.

MBA Student of the Year Award 2007, sponsored by The Independent Newspaper

This award is organised by AMBA, of one Henley’s accrediting bodies. “The Independent Student of the Year Award celebrates the impact that MBA study can have on the development of the individual. It also recognises the positive benefits that they can bring to their course, the welfare of their fellow students and the world beyond their business school. ” If anyone is interested in nominations for this award, then there are three weeks left to do the paperwork. Details are available from Harle Shaw at AMBA on +44(0) 20 7246 2692 or email: h.shaw@mbaworld.com

Intake 25

On Friday March 30th a dozen members of Intake attended a special dinner at the College to mark the end of their scheduled study period. Of course, the way of things is that for many in that group studies may have come to more of a halt than an end, and as with previous get-togethers, this was an opportunity for some to re-energise their dissertation writing. Apropos of this topic…

On the Home Straight?

Those of you who are already there will know that the final part of the MBA is the hardest, and we have been looking fresh at what support mechanisms we can put in place to support you effectively once that scheduled dissertation due date has been passed without incident. We are pleased, then, now to announce the creation of a new community, called ‘On the Home Straight”, which will be run by two experienced tutors (Richard Lacey and Mike Green) and which will “organise events, co-ordinate communications and facilitate sharing” for programme members across all Intakes where people are at or beyond their schedules for part three. There will be a special ‘kick-off’ event at Henley on Sa April 21st in the afternoon, co-ordinated by Charlotte Ordish.

An invitation from Professor Jane McKenzie to attend will be sent out shortly to affected members in intakes up to 26. Naturally, if you have already submitted a dissertation proposal, you will continue to work with your appointed supervisor and this community support is in addition. Richard and Mike’s work will, however, replace the Personal Tutor cover, which terminates at the end of your scheduled study period.

I should also add my usual plug for the dissertation clinics remaining this year:
Friday May 18th
Friday June 8th
Saturday September 15th
Thursday October 11th
Tuesday December 4th

Finally, for anyone looking to graduate in October 2007, bear in mind that your completed dissertation needs to be submitted by the end of this month.

Course Reps meeting

The next Course Representatives meeting is now set for Friday May 11th. If you would like to raise a cross-Intake issue or question, please let your course rep know this no later than April 26th.

Happy Easter

The team here wish you all a restful Easter break. According to my extensive desk research via Google, I find that about 10 kg of chocolate per person is consumed in the UK every year, and that we spend a weekly average of £1.33 on it. In fact, the average UK family spends more on chocolate in a year than a cocoa farmer earns in the same period. The UK chocolate market is worth around £3.9 billion, so I will be doing my bit by buying FairTrade products.

Chris Dalton, Programme Leader

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Just returned from my second foreign assignment for Henley in as many weeks. This time, the privilege to run the first half of the Starter Workshop for the latest MBA intake in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The visit was pitifully short, really, lasting only three days. Enough to fly from the UK overnight, land, settle in and set up and then work for 1 and 1/2 days with the new group, some 80 managers from South Africa and beyond.

The focus was on self-awareness and team building and I have to say that they (and the staff and managers at Henley in South Africa) were a great group to work with – very demanding, for sure, but also very bright and very much determined to make the most of the opportunity.

I don’t know what they will make of the three day workshop, but I am hopeful that they will do as asked, and reflect on their impressions by making entries in their online Learning Journal Entries. There was already a sense among some of those I spoke to that we had confounded their pre-workshop expectations (by this I mean we had met expectations they didn’t even know they didn’t have…).

Johannesburg I glimpsed only on the journeys with my delightful and patient driver, Jotham. One cannot tell all from such observations through glass, but it reminded me in scale of a city in North America and in wealth, too (poverty living side by side with wealth). This was my first visit to Africa and first time south of the Equator, so I am eager to spend a little more time there on my next trip over.

If you’re wondering about the title of this post, it refers to a bird I saw there. The hardida is roughly the size of a duck and has a long curved beak that it spears into lawns to prize out insects. It also has a very loud and grating call!

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