Archive for November, 2009

Dear all,

It’s a cold, wet, miserable November morning at Henley and the place looks somewhat deserted, as if retreated to an inner world to contemplate. Feeling introspective, I got to thinking about an item on Radio 4 this morning marking the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest grouping of what were then called natural philosophers and what we now call scientists. There’s little doubt that this marked the beginning of the modern era, leading to many breakthroughs (and some set-backs) in science. In 1660 the Society published the first peer-reviewed journal, heralding the birth of the idea, prevalent in universities still today, that it is by careful measurement and observation, combined with a detached (Descartes had mind separated from matter) reasoning, that we reveal the laws that govern our universe.

The empirical way of seeing the world has been extremely effective in ways that seem to have benefited us, although there are now nearly 7 billion of us that need these benefits, compared to only around 10% of that in 1660. If I may be provocative, I’ll suggest two other things it has done. The first has been to tie us to a philosophical microscope through which we have convinced ourselves that anything may be understood by breaking it down into parts. In the world of forces and impacts this, until fairly recently, looked to many like it explained things pretty nicely. In the world of living systems, however, things have been less clear because of the impossibility to separate the observer from the observed, and because while the effects of climate change (for example) are linear, the causes are circular. The second thing has been an obsession with giving everything a price and calling that its value.

With regard to the impact of the chain of human activity on our environment, 1660 may yet prove to have been the beginning of a Royal road that brings so many worried people to the summit in Copenhagen. The question for us at Henley is whether we should be talking more about this. Or do we not yet have the language to do so? As Einstein is quoted as saying, “you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem.”

Henley on Linkedin (featuring Research Corner)

We’re still growing the group, and there are three sub-groups, with two more (Third Sector and Coaching) in the offing. Membership now stands at 4,745. Please do get involved with some of the discussions, and there are also several opportunities to help out other members with their research projects.

Jane McKenzie has asked me to mention the KM Forum, which may be of interest to anyone looking for activities connected with Knowledge Management:

” Celebrating Connections: evocations and provocations for the future. 24th and 25th February 2010

The Henley KM Forum annual conference is always a great event. The 2010 conference looks all set to be outstanding. It’s the 10th Anniversary of the Forum and for two days, Henley will be hosting some of the most recognised names in the field. Key Note speakers include:

Leif Edvinsson, Janine Nahapiet, Dave Snowden, Hubert St Onge, Karl Erik Sveiby
They will be joined by an international cast of experts including

Verna Allee, Daan Andriessen, Chris Collison, Niall Cook, Ron Donaldson, Sami Kazi, Rongbin W.B Lee, Richard McDermott, Victor Newman, Geoff Parcell, Goran Roos and Euan Semple
In addition you will gain access to the latest research produced by the Henley team in cooperation with the members. You can download the full conference brochure and speaker biographies from here. Your relationship with Henley entitles you to a discount of 10% on the one day or two day rate.

We are also looking for up to 4 helpers for the conference, who can attend at no cost, in exchange for two days effort helping to keep things running smoothly. To qualify you need to have submitted a proposal for a Management Challenge or Dissertation that has knowledge management at the heart of it already. If you have then here is your chance to do an in depth dive into some of the thinking in the field. Conversations with the delegates in the networking breaks, all of whom have considerable KM experiences, are a great opportunity to get further insights. If you can spare a couple of days in February next year, this is a real opportunity to inspire your thinking. For more information please contact Professor Jane McKenzie – Director of the KM forum – here at Henley. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. ”

Attainment report

You know that from time to time I like to give you all a quick run-down of the Programme Examiner’s Meetings to let you know what the average grades achieved in assignment and exams have been in the last quarter. It’s only a general picture, but it should reassure many of you that you’re doing just fine.

[sorry, for the blog, this info has been removed].

International Business Environment elective – book now!

There is still time for any of you looking to take part in the exciting, week-long elective trip to Hungary in March next year. Expressions of interest, though, need to reach Susan Parr by December 18th 2009 and places are limited. More details of the elective (March 7th – 12th) can be found in the electives area on HenleyConnect.

News from the Greenlands Site (or, “Tales from the Riverbank”)

From January, work will begin here on the creation of a new suite of teaching and learning facilities. We will be creating a new and state-of-the-art Academic Resource Centre (ARC) by moving the PowerGen library to another side of the inner quad (phase one) and then the creation of a new, Hambleden-size, classroom and six new syndicate rooms in the vacated area (phase 2). All of this should be completed by July and we will try to ensure that disruption and noise are kept to a minimum – though there will be some impact. By the way, our excellent library team has asked me to mention that our subscription to Business Source Complete (EBSCO) now includes a business video collection, with 55 videos from the Harvard Business School Faculty Seminar Series.

Work on the new boilers for Paddock House is continuing and the refurbishment of Thames Court is finished. The Bar Common room will now be a space for both clients and staff, so expect more mingling! One other quick point, the IT system at Henley will be down for essential work for 2 hours on Saturday December 12th from 10 until mid-day, so no access to our web-site or HenleyConnect.

That’s it for this month, and because of the December holiday season, it’s the last newsletter of 2009. Good luck to all of you sitting an exam later this week, and I hope that you all take several minutes away from your MBAs for letting your hair down (collectively) in December. Consider it my gift. In the meantime, if you have any interesting news about you or your businesses, let me know. You live interesting lives and it would be good to tell some of the stories where they relate to the Henley MBA “effect”. For example, Dave Cox (HB31) was kind enough to let me know that in November he was selected to be a plenary panellist on industry ethics at a major World Petroleum Council event held in Paris.

Chris Dalton


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Dear all,  

Whether your measure is calendar, fiscal or academic, you probably won’t be surprised to know that this has been the busiest month of the year here at Henley. The cycle of the MBA is now largely annual, so there have been plenty of Stage 1, 2 and 3 starts, arranged with much the same unrelenting elegance as the line of jets manoeuvred in the skies over Henley to feed in for landing at Heathrow. The pace has meant that, sadly, this newsletter is a few days late coming out to you, so apologies.

In the last month or so, we’ve had new starts for groups from Malta, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK, as well as in Trinidad. As mentioned, many other groups have reached either Stage 2 or 3 workshops for the first time, and what with welcomes to a new full-time MBA intake as well as the Executive MBA we’re feeling very full. As I look out of my office window, I see the space normally occupied by rabbits on the lawn is being taken by preparations for work to be done on Paddock accommodation. Before those of you who know and love those bedrooms break out the champagne, I should point out that this phase of work is largely structural – work on the same level of refurbishment of bedrooms we have seen in Thames Court will follow later.

 A new name for the programme

I don’t know how personally you each felt about the tag “distance” to describe mode of study on your MBA. I’m guessing that probably you either ignored it (because it had no connotation, or no  positive connotation, in your part of the world) or disliked it (because it created a somewhat old-fashioned or snail’s-paced impression way to learn), although you recognised it as a term often used to differentiate the three-year MBA from other lengths or modes of study. Well, I’m pleased now to announce that with immediate effect we are rebranding the programme from “Distance Learning” to “The Henley MBA by Flexible Learning”.

You will begin to see us use this where necessary to differentiate from other ways of achieving the same degree.  You are all on the Henley MBA, and you share this in common with the Full-Time and the Executive programme members. However, we see that you may also need more flexibility in how and where you do that studying and, more importantly, you benefit from tailoring your assignments to your own organisations.  We will take time to allow an elaboration of what this term means for Henley over the coming months. Of course, just as the change from Management College to Business School took time to get used to, so will it take a little while to get our tongues round the new title. Since Henley is already regarded as the market leader in this format of management learning, I’ve no doubt that we will make it our own.


I’m really enjoying the correspondence and energy on the Henley Linkedin group at the moment. We’re still growing (nearly 4,700 now) and the two sub-groups are finding their voice. There are several discussions running at the moment, including one on the new EIU and FT MBA rankings, which brings me on to…

Henley in the rankings

We have had news lately of Henley Business School’s position in the rankings issued by the Financial Times (FT) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).  To quote from our own website :

“Our overall positions remain very similar with our Executive MBA still ranked 44th in the world but we are now 6th in the UK and 15th in Europe (we were 5th and 13th last year).  The Henley Full-time MBA remains at number 4 in the UK, number 9 in Europe and is now ranked 21 in the world (20 last year).”

I was at an MBA fair in Frankfurt this weekend and I think what I find reassuring about the Henley brand is not that it attracts swarms (and swarms at MBA fairs usually mean either you are the big local player or you are an MBA sausage factory) but that we retain a focus on experience in management that is the envy of many of those jostling for position on the listings.

Home Straight Community

Here at Greenlands, Richard and Mike ran yet another successful Home Straight event, timed not-so-subtly the day after the graduation to encourage those attending to focus on the goal of finishing. Mike reports that this month, for the first time, the majority of those in the group now have accepted Dissertation proposals in. Clearly, for any of you out there who are in the same or similar place in programme 4 (Part Three), the key message is “focus on the proposal”, as then you have a lifeline of contact and support from the Henley team. Also, keep an eye on your registration/re-registration clock, and make sure you apply for more time (if you are eligible).

Research Corner

Programme Member John Barnes has the following request to assist him in his research on Six Sigma implementation in UK manufacturing organisations. John has info on this in the Henley Linkedin discussion area and can be contacted at (email withheld from blog)

Christina Unworth, Finance Director at Grohe Ltd and an alumnus, writes: “I currently work for Grohe Ltd, which is a UK subsidiary of Grohe AG, the leading brand for sanitary, water technology products and systems. (Taps, showers and sanitary systems).  We also sell Kitchen taps but this is a part of the market that has not yet been explored in any detail. 

I was wondering if this could be used for a disse rtation student to explore the whole Kitchen faucet market. Including routes to market, distribution channels, market make up and value, competitor analysis etc.”

If anyone is interested (it could also perhaps be an IMP topic), then her email is (witheld from blog)

Finally, Linda Thorne (linda.thorne@henley.com for more details), here at HBS, writes of another potential MBA research project:

“Project Title: Develop airline industry revenue forecast model and its impact on distributors and consumers

 (details witheld from blog) 

Part Three Exam

This message will only affect a very few of you now, but a reminder to anyone still yet to complete their Part Three examination (under the old curriculum) will need to do so in the final sitting, which is in December. In order to be granted access, you will need to provide an appeal, which you can address to Suzanne Goddard at suzanne.goddard@henley.com

Any Other Business

Last year I plugged a HR conference being held in Vienna. Marc Coleman (marc@hrneurope.com) has informed me that another event is happening in February 2010 (apocalyptically titled: “Performance and the Next Wave in the War for Talent”) and details can be found at www.hrneurope.com.

We’re in the middle now of “Green Week” at Henley, whereby awareness is being raised of the School’s efforts to promote sustainable management policies and practices, such as ISO 14001. Of course, this is a very welcome and important topic, especially for someone constructing a PhD around the work of Gregory Bateson!

If you’ve read this far into the newsletter, you’re either looking for distraction activities to avoid writing assignments, or you enjoy online learning and education. If this is you, then as part of our developments to up-grade our VLE, HenleyConnect, we are actively seeking someone who would agree to participate in a development panel alongside developers and faculty. You will need to be within easy travelling distance of Henley and be willing to commit to join us in meetings in November to January. If you would like to know more, then please let me know.

Finally, and off topic from management education, I’d like to say a quick thank you to the two or three individuals who have bought my book on Amazon – the result is a sales ranking of about 1,300,000.

Chris Dalton

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