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Archive for June, 2008

e-newsletter for June

Dear all,

There are some events in the UK that are synonymous with the name of their location. Wimbledon, Ascot, Glastonbury and Notting Hill all come to mind as both places and experiences. In the social calendar it is now Henley’s turn – that time of the summer when the banks of the river Thames in front of the College fill up with moored (and very expensive) craft and the early mornings are punctuated by the hortative shouts to rowing crews from coaches on bicycles. Henley Regatta week.

When Shakespeare wrote “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” he was right to detach the name from the thing it named. Nevertheless, it is noticeable how much meaning we do attach to words; it seems the human brain works best by co-creating meaning via associations. For any of you who have spent time here at the College the name Henley will bring to mind many different things. I suspect that a fair amount of that vast reservoir of connections are things held in common, shared and highly prized. What we all want is for a virtuous circle of reputation whereby the strength of the name encourages the best and brightest to apply, which strengthens the reputation, which… etc.

This means, therefore, that we need to be careful and clear when things are in a state of change, as they surely are at Henley at the moment, in order to protect what we value most. For me, Henley should always mean certain things, among them the insistence on balance between rigour and relevance in teaching and learning (and research), an environment conducive to reflection and personal growth, creation of insight via discussions with talented colleagues, and pride in the ability to act quickly (sometimes quirkily) and flexibly when needed. As the deadline for the merger gets closer, I’m sure we will all be reflecting on this and other things. As long as we remember how we got here, I’m trusting that we’ll still all attach the same meaning to Henley in the future.

Having said my piece, here are this month’s newsletter items.

Novation

You should have heard from the College by now, either via email or letter, of the need to ‘novate’ your terms and conditions from Henley Management College to the new legal entity of Henley Business School from the end of July. This is a necessity because the College will cease to exist from that time and in order to deliver your programme, and your degree, you will need to accept the new terms. This is a fairly simple exercise that involves you logging in to your e:assignment portal (the login is your student ID and whatever password you reset when you first logged in) and looking for this as a task in your intray. If you joined the College before the beginning of 2008, you will be asked also whether you wish to be presented with the current design (oak leaves) on your MBA diploma, or the new Reading-shield design.

(Pre)-newsletter?

This newsletter idea is catching. Lucy Carter, who is working as Brand Manager on the MBA here, is interested in developing a newsletter which she can circulate among those who are interested in applying to Henley. As part of this exercise, she is interested in hearing from anyone actually on the programme who would be willing to share their experiences. As Lucy writes, we’re looking for “a monthly/bi-monthly round-up of progress/challenges/activities that month – whether it was the programme itself with visits/workshops etc or whether it was work/personal/family based in relation to their studies – just to show that these are real people with real challenges all round.”

I know some of you write a blog (and if you’d like to link yours to mine, please let me know), so it might be a great way to broaden your audience.

Dissertation Corner

Tarek Dawas, a programme member on HB27 at Part Three, writes “I am currently looking for willing participants for my research project which is focused on identifying the cross-cultural critical success factors for the implementation of Talent Management systems in global organisations. I am ideally looking to interview project managers who have had experience implementing systems in multiple locations or globally to help me identify the cross-cultural critical success factors for these types of projects.”

I’m always willing to run adverts for anyone looking for people to help them with their MBA research, or from those who might have suitable dissertation-sized projects in search of someone to do the work. Professor Ghobadian has asked me to place a quick reminder of his research project, mentioned last month, the survey on how managers obtain, bundle and deploy tangible and intangible assets.

Keep in mind that the next Dissertation Clinic will be on September 17th at the College. Contact Susan Parr on for further details and booking.

PE Hub MBA Forum up-date

With thanks for Onat Atayer, who informed me after last month’s email that he was able to log in to the PE Hub MBA Forum with the password I provided using his regular email address, so no need for one that ends in ‘.edu’.

Welcome to our new Intakes

We had 36 new members joining us as part of HB38 recently. Nearly half that group is taking part in the International Stream, so we had a global starter. Joining them were 21 new members from Malta, and we expect between 45 – 50 new members in the Trinidad which kicks off in a day or two. We have an ambitious target for the next Henley-Based intake, HB39, in September, so I’d like to ask anyone who has a good contact in need of a good MBA to let us know.

LinkedIn

You might be interested to know that we are now only a few people below the 3,000 mark in members of the Henley group on LinkedIn. If you’re already connected, then I hope you are finding it useful, especially for research purposes. If not, then it’s fairly easy to register, and you can request a fast link from me. It would be great to get above 3,000 before the end of July.

Member’s Day July 5th

There’s an incredible, and record-breaking, 1,359 people currently signed up to attend this event, so even though some of those people are small children, it should be a packed day out (in all senses). Irina and her team have been working flat-out to prepare a full set of activities and (you won’t be surprised to hear me say) the grounds here are looking lovely.

In next month’s newsletter, I’ll be asking you to take part in the 2008 Annual Survey and I’ll hope to have a review of where we stand with the Home Straight Community. It will also be the last e-newsletter from Henley Management College, so I’ll try to think of some way of making it special.

Chris Dalton
Director of Studies

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A strong week

It’s been one of those weeks very full of many smaller things, like a mosaic. When I was programme leader, I rarely found myself at the end of the line in any process, though I had the good fortune to be at the start of several really exciting lines, such as the launch of a new intake (and there will be a new intake launching next Monday, so I’m really looking forward that). Now, as Director of Studies, it is often me that sits at the ends of lines. Some of these, too, are decidedly pleasant, such as the Graduation ceremony I have written about in another entry. Others are intriguing and challenging in a good way, such as creating the budgets for the forthcoming year, or reviewing case studies for future exams. Yet others are altogether more daunting, such as having to decide on tricky appeal cases, comment on even trickier plagiarism files, or (the worst) sign letters informing programme members that they have failed the course.

Thankfully, these are few and far between, but they are impactful nevertheless, both on me and the ones on the receiving end. This is all new territory for me, but is as much part of the function as the input on academic content, the recruitment of new members and myriad other day-to-day functions. So there are good days and bad days.

This morning I was able to attend the first session of a workshop on how to go about getting published in an academic journal. It was pretty useful and I understand a little better how it works, so the end result (a published paper in a reputable journal) no longer seems like a ridiculous idea. I have been developing and discussing some ideas around my PhD and it is taking some kind of shape, I think. Still a lot to do, though.

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Threadbare

I have been sitting, sifting and sorting ideas and academic papers in self-imposed PhD isolation for nearly three days now. Studying this way is both exhilarating and frustrating.

I have been struggling to develop the thread for my PhD – the story that will connect the parts. There are plenty of ideas but unless I can find a way of organising them I may disappear (intellectually) under the sheer weight and varied merit of all possible input.

After a length of time spent in concentrated contemplation, the brain just does not switch off, even if you think it has. Last night, for example, after I thought I was done and was winding down the day with a glass of single malt, a thought appeared from nowhere. The trigger for the thought was a memory mined from my late teens. Up popped an image of me, aged 16, sitting in a pub in Walmer (the sleepier neighbour of the sleepy Kent seaside town of Deal) attending a branch monthly meeting of the Ecology Party. I hadn’t thought of this short-lived political membership for many years, and its significance is not to reveal or revitalise a party political agenda. The eureka moment last night, and the significance of the recollection of this and other memories of my teenage activities centred around ‘eco’ and anti-nuclear causes, was a reconnection with a strong yet indistinct (and inarticulate) sense that all parts of the world were, are, inextricably inter-connected. So now I find myself returning to an interest in systems and wholes, not parts and pieces. From this a thread for my PhD is emerging (or, more exactly, it is re-emerging).

I already had a sense that if you are going to approach something from the point of view of a whole, you cannot easily do so by breaking it up. What has been added by my reading and thinking so far is a reductionist and overly analytical mindset cannot lead to a change in the way we think about how we think. I think we are seeing in our reactions to the very complex phenomena of global warming and our endless (sic) consumption of finite resources.

We are part of the ecology, not apart from it and despite all the progress that has been made in the scientific age of the last 200 years, we have yet to reach an understanding of management which values the aesthetic as well as rational and which acknowledges the invisible as well as the visible patterns. Few would argue that we are further away from a sustainable way of life now than we were 20 or 30 years ago, or that we have an even greater disconnect from each other, too.

My thread is one that will lend itself more easily to description than analysis. It will need to weave together a critical view of the history and current state of management education, a review of the literature from key domains, such as social & developmental psychology, learning theory, systems thinking and second order cybernetics, identity and self, complexity theory, and systemic family therapy. Should be fun!

On a simplified level, the thread that runs through is about grounding ourselves in the world.

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