Archive for December, 2008

Yesterday I attempted, and failed, to get to the Reading Whiteknights campus without getting lost. My third attempt to do it seamlessly. I am, however, picking up a fairly well mapped knowledge of the suburban side streets of east Reading. The reason for going over there was to join colleagues from Greenlands (we must nowadays avoid saying “from Henley” in the context of meetings within the Business School) in a research awayday – our first stab at bringing the two faculties together to discuss a research agenda.

It’s not going to be all plain sailing.

If Henley (here I use it to mean the College) was known at all for research, it was best known for either the type of faculty-led enquiry that is likely to lead to practitioner adoption, or the type of practitioner-led problem that required more rigour in investigation than most companies are prepared or equipped to do. This is sometimes referred to as “Mode 2” research.

Reading was, and is, very well known in the circles that know these things for its “Mode 1” research agenda, which is driven by successful applications for grant monies from public bodies and measured by the amount which reaches publication in the 4 and 5-star refereed journals in the area of the research being carried out.

So which one rules? Or do you do both? These questions are not at all trivial because a lot of other things affect and are affected the direction you take. If publication is key for institutional and personal position and reputation, then those undertaking that type of research need the luxury of time and training to focus on it. If practical application and excellence in delivery are important, then other things follow.

The College faculty were most recently drawn up around five schools of thought leadership. These, of course, are not to be abandoned – they feed a lot into the MBA programme, for example, but they do need to adapt to whatever strategy for research that the new Business School decides to follow.

The Merger, which in many ways was always a good match, will find that the Devil is very much in the detail. It is actually quite exciting to be part of such a discussion. For many of the Greenlands faculty, the door to scholarship beckons, while for the Whiteknights faculty, there is a chance to bring their agendas face-to-face with end-user organisations and managers. Let’s hope that both ends of the research continuum continue to be valued.


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Here are 10 of my current favourite pieces of music; my version of an iTunes play-list. Most of them I can listen to again and again. In no particular order:

1. ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ – The Smiths
One of their best songs, showing the perfect mix of elements that made them special. I saw the Smiths play live twice, once at a university gig in Kent when they first made it big, and another at a GLC concert in London when they were at their peak.

2. ‘Utru Horas’ – Orchestra Baobab
I came across this track searching for some music to play alongside a PowerPoint presentation at Henley. It works so well because it can sit in the foreground and the background.

3. ‘Suite for solo Cello No. 1 in G Major – 1 Prelude (Bach)’ – Yo-Yo Ma
I really can listen to this short piece over and over again.

4. ‘Into My Arms’ – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
There are plenty of Nick Cave tracks that I like (love, in fact) and I not only think he is one of the strongest lyricists around but as a live band they are just about the definition of cool. This is one of his quieter tracks – a beautiful love poem.

5. ‘Riders on the Storm’ – The Doors
I love the polished menace in this song and have been able to listen without tiring of it since I was about 15.

6. ‘Paris, Texas’ – Ry Cooder
Great film soundtrack.

7. ‘(Birtwistle’s) Girl in A Shop’ – The Fall
The fact that I don’t usually have a clue what their songs mean doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy hearing them again and again. This is my current favourite. I think the John Peel quote, “The Fall – always different, always the same” sums them up.

8. ‘Fohat digs holes in Space’ – Gong
This is from one of my most treasured LPs, “Camembert Electrique” and is for me the best track on the album,

9. ‘There’s No End’ – Holly Golightly
Lovely, groovy twangy guitars and moody girl vocals.

10. ‘Blue ‘n’ Boogie’ – Miles Davies
Made for Sunday listening. Ni-i-i-ce.

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Yoga’s bearable

Just completed my second Yoga class. It’s much harder than it looks!

Actually, although it reveals one’s own physical limits and imbalance in quite a cruel way, it’s the extent to which it was mentally challenging that I found interesting. I think it could be a very long process to reach (in every sense) anything like competence in it, even after two sessions the effects are evident – more centred, more awake and (somewhat) in pain.

It has also got me thinking more about the question of mind versus matter, which has also surfaced lately in my reading for the PhD. Expect a blog entry on this once I get my ideas together.

At Henley, we’re coming in to the last full week of work before Christmas. Quite a year.

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e-Newsletter for November & December

Dear all,

The idea that we live within, not apart from, a globally inter-connected world is not new and has been around since at least the 1970s, but the economic events of the last few months have probably revealed with frightening (though hindsight) clarity how the world’s major economies have become linked in a complex system and how trying to understand and make corrections using only tools of linear cause and effect is about as useful as trying to deal with California’s forest fires simply by making sure that there are never any fires in the forest.

It’s interesting to note that these things only become truly obvious when something happens to cross a threshold of bias and force a change to the system. Business Schools, and in particular MBA programmes, have come in for a fair amount of stick in recent years for being in part responsible for our current woes. This debate will continue, of course, and I hope both that you all manage to avoid the most unpleasant aspects and effects of the recession, and that you grab the opportunity to incorporate personal and professional insight with both hands.

This newsletter, delivered a tad late for November, will double as the e-newsletter for December. Henley will re-open after the Christmas/New Year break on January 5th

Henley on LinkedIn

We’re up to nearly 3,600 members of the Henley LinkedIn group now, and I’m glad to report that there are a healthy number of discussions going on. If you haven’t joined LinkedIn, or have but haven’t joined the Henley group there, you can do so by rewquesting this online. Please make sure your profile is up-to-date and accurate about your Henley studies, otherwise it’s very difficult to approve your request.

Jargon busting

Work in any organisation long enough and you tend to use all sorts of acronyms and abbreviations as short cuts to communication, and it has been pointed out that some may need some explanation. For example, I often refer to intakes with a two-letter/number code. “HB” stands for those intakes studying directly with Henley (Henley-Based). Other countries are usually designated by a country code, such as DK for Denmark, SA for South Africa etc. I will think about doing a blog entry with a small glossary. It’s worth remembering that there are over 3,000 of you who receive this email in excess of 110 countries and in almost 70 active MBA intakes.

New Intakes

This weekend we welcomed three new intakes to the Henley MBA at a starter workshop at Greenlands. New groups from Ireland (IE02), Malta (MT02) and Germany (GM02). Hopefully they are all now energized by their workshop and busy analysing everything back at work, whilst carefully filing their reflections on HenleyConnect. We are now in the build up to recruitment of the next HB (quick jargon test) intake, which kicks off at the end of February 2009. Again, if you have any contacts or colleagues

Home Straight News

With the inclusion of those in HB30, the population of the Home Straight Community now stands at 261 members. Nearly half of these have yet to submit a proposal, so a major focus of the efforts of Mike and Richard is support for this. Ultimately, though, only those people can do the work, so if you are in this position, please make sure you go online and look at the ‘Dissertation Builder’, a very useful resource. Details of the next Greenlands Home Straight Event will be included in the January newsletter.

By the way, those of you coming to the very end of your studies and about to complete and submit your dissertations please don’t forget to check whether you have completed both of the compulsory 50-hour electives in good time. It’s all too easy to lose the focus on anything else in the Dissertation, and it can cause all sorts of problems if you get all the way to the finishing line and realise that you dropped the baton at the last inter-change!

Research Corner

Those who posted requests for participation in last month’s newsletter received excellent responses, so many thanks for that. I always believe that it’s good both to support fellow learners’ efforts in gathering data and also see what techniques are being used, which may help when you come to gather your own research data. This month, an external link which may interest you:

Paul O’Nolan, an MBA student at London’s Westminster Business School, has made MBA alumni networks and social networking the topic of his MBA dissertation. He is seeking the help of fellow MBAs to take part in an opinion survey for his dissertation. His questionnaire should not take more than 5 to 10 minutes of your time. It is anonymous. All information will be kept strictly confidential, and will not be used for any purpose other than for Paul’s MBA research project. To access the electronic survey, please click on the following link: [removed from this blog entry].
Paul’s questionnaire has been sent to the alumni associations of every business school in the UK and Ireland as well as to some national and international MBA alumni associations. The survey closes on 12-Dec-2008 and participants will receive summary reports of the results in Feb-2009.

Then, from one of our Full-Time MBAs, Najam Mahmud, for those of you active in the Asian region:

As part of my final phase of MBA I am doing a dissertation/management report and the title of my study is: Identifying effective people management strategies for the Asian Emerging Markets – A Multinational perspective (key focus on India, China and Middle East). In order to gather some primary information I have developed a questionnaire that should not take more than 20 minutes to complete. I sincerely hope you will take the time out to complete this questionnaire, brief details of the study are as follows: To complete the survey please go to this link and once finished you can submit online: [removed from the blog]

International Business Environment elective – last call

This is a call for anyone currently thinking about taking advantage of the March 09 extra elective, the International Business Environment elective trip to Budapest. The cut-off for sign up is Friday December 12th. Payment will be due by January 9th 2009, so we will want to hear from you now even if your payment comes in January. As things currently stand, there are not enough of you signed up to run, so now’s the time to act….

Access to the University of Reading Library and Wi-Fi

Many of you will by now have received an email from me giving you details on how to access the University of Reading e-library and Eduroam-Web Wi-fi access. If you haven’t received it by the start of next week, please contact your programme administrator. It may be that your spam filter caught the email.


A couple of forthcoming dates for the diary (from Amanda Proddow):

03 December – Survive the recession with help from Henley Business School – Free expert advice evening in the City, British Bankers’ Association (BBA), Pinners Hall, London.

04 December – The London Alumni Group – Christmas Networking Event – Building a Business from Scratch with Paul Johnson & Jeremy Richardson, founding Directors of Kew Green Hotels. Price to alumni £20.00.

For full details and booking instructions for the above events please go here http://www.henley.reading.ac.uk/news/hbs-events.asp

March 2009 (date tbc): Pharma Forum – Creating Market Insight: Addressing the Gap between Strategy and Implementation, Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus contact irina.woodford@henley.com

May or June 2009 (date tbc): Pharma Forum – The Reality of Emerging Markets for Pharmaceuticals, Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus contact irina.woodford@henley.com

*Sunday 5th July 2009 – Members’ Family Day at Greenlands, Henley. Please note that this event is on a Sunday next year. Full details will be available on the web from 1st March 2009.

Holiday opening times for the Greenlands library

The PowerGen Library will be open at the following times over the festive period:
Sat 20th December 10.00-15.00
Sun 21st December 10.00-14.00
Mon 22nd December 08.30-17.30
Tues 23rd December 08.30-17.00
Wed 24th December- Sun 4th January CLOSED
The Library will re-open at 08.30 on Mon 5th January.

Good luck to all of you who are taking exams this week, and enjoy a well-earned rest of the Christmas holidays (though I suspect not a few of you will be busy working on pre-reading, core reading, research and writing). Run Towards It!


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