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Archive for April, 2010

Dear All,

How did Eyjafjallajökull affect you? Were you left unmoved (as in stranded), cursing its unpronounceable existence? Or were you unmoved (as in it unaffected), left in peace simply to enjoy (probably for the first time in your life) the realisation of a sky blue and clear of all traffic? Or are you wondering what on Earth Eyjafjallajökull is? Lucky you.

Like others at Henley, I guess I belonged initially to the group which stared up in muted puzzlement, looking for the (invisible) ash and thinking how lovely it looked. As the days went by, though, several other intangibles became more ‘visible’. The obvious one was the extent to which we just take jet travel for granted. I don’t think we really realised how much flying gets done, and how much gets done by flying. I’m not that old, but even when I was younger, travel across Europe by plane was not automatically the most obvious or affordable choice; journeys more often resembled the patchwork of ground-routes and adventures that many of those who were left without a way to fly home during the air-space closure experienced. Another, related, revelation has been the homogenisation of distance that the airlines and the Internet have helped create. Getting quickly almost anywhere and getting instantly almost any information have become commonplace ideas within our grasp, unless, of course, you are one of the1.2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. At the back of our corporate, global minds, this last point must be a salient one, though it is also a ‘can of worms’.

I’m sure these thoughts, and others, were on the minds of the numerous faculty members and Henley MBA Programme Members temporarily marooned (often near beaches and swimming pools, funnily enough) around the world, and perhaps they will percolate into discussions about creating a more sustainable definition of business.

Meanwhile, back at Henley, our late spring has firmly arrived and we’re seeing the grounds and surrounding countryside coming into their best. By the time the marquee goes up for the graduation in a couple of weeks time, I hope the woodlands will still be carpeted by wonderful Bluebells and the Wisteria on Engine House in full floral flow (tip: great backdrop for the Graduation photo before tea on the lawn). 

Henley on Linkedin

Having reached the 5,000 mark, we have reached a small plateau this month with fewer new sign-ups. Nevertheless, there are still about 50 pending requests to join in my inbox, and most of them are waiting for their authors to up-date their Linkedin Profile with accurate details of the Henley Programme. Without that, no-one else in the group has a handle on who is who. So if you do want to request membership of the group, only do so if you have placed Henley in your profile first. Thanks.

Research Corner

Full-time Programme Member Jan Kodadek is running a research survey and writes “I am part of a team who are researching a new business opportunity in the United Kingdom market. We are seeking the thoughts and opinions on fashion, from women of any nationality, who live in the UK.  I would appreciate if you’d help by completing this extremely short, anonymous survey – we are looking for responses by Friday 7th May. www.surveymonkey.com/s/handbagshoesurvey ”. 

Jan’s survey is also a link in the discussions area on Linkedin, as is Henley alumnus David Monk’s new project, www.thinktankpolitics.co.uk which allows you to explore your agreement various political parties’ manifesto statements without letting you know which party they’re from (though I think it tells you afterwards).

And, if you are looking for one, Linda Thorne linda.thorne@henley.com has a number of potential topics for Management Challenge projects. Contact her for details. Each project has a company willing to sponsor and facilitate the project. Alternatively, if you’re in survey mode on your own Dissertation or Management Challenge and need to access respondents who match the profile of fellow learners, then you can always advertise that here.

Results from last month’s poll

I mentioned that I had placed a poll on my blog asking about your attitudes to using Learning Journals for reflection. You can still visit this poll and take part, but I thought you’d also be interested to know what the results have been. Here are the four statements, with the %:

The question was: “Which of the following statements most reflects your opinion about Learning Journals on the Henley MBA?”

  1.  They have become an intrinsic part of my learning on the Henley MBA.                (22%)
  2. They should be an intrinsic part of my learning, but somehow I never get round to writing.    (48%)
  3. I’ll write them, but it doesn’t yet feel natural and I’m not really enjoying it.   (22%)
  4. Frankly, I don’t get what they’re for, and although I sometimes read other people’s, I won’t be doing this myself.     (9%)

 Encouraging that nearly a quarter of respondents are hooked, though I’d like a bigger sample size (hint, hint).

  New lick of paint

 The Bar Common Room and the Chiltern Room at Greenlands have both now been repainted in preparation for the next phase, which will see new carpets, curtains and seating. Yes, gone will be the days when, after a long workshop, members could sink into one of the green chairs and then continue sinking. Gone, too, is the infamous graffiti behind the pictures which were hanging on the walls.

 Events coming up

 With thanks to Amanda Proddow, here are a few selected highlights of forthcoming events (most in the UK, so if you have news of something in your region, let me know, or publicise it on LinkedIn):

  •  19 May 2010: “Innovation in Healthcare: the Route to Saving £20Bn?” – Healthcare Special Interest Group event, Clydesdale Bank, London EC2V 7QQ Speakers: Jim Dawton, Designit UK; Andrew Rudd, Andrew Rudd Consulting and Peter Ellingworth, ABHI.
  • 20 May 2010: eBusiness SIG – with Natalie Turner, CEO of entheo, a leadership innovation network, at the British Bankers Association, Pinners Hall, London EC2N 1EX.
  • 20 May 2010 – the Annual Belbin Award Keynote Lecture – ‘The food industry is a great place to work’ with Justin King, Chief Executive of J Sainsbury plc . Professor Meredith Belbin will be in attendance.
  • 26 May 2010 – Career Development Service – Evening event Optimising Linked-in, Job Search and Research – the latest cutting-edge strategies at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 27 May 2010: RREF Breakfast Forum – ‘The London 2012 Olympic Story’ – with Chair Duncan Innes, Director of Real Estate, Olympic Legacy Company and speakers Lawrence Chadwick, former Development Director, Grosvenor, currently working with Newham London on the legacy implications of the 2012 Olympics and Ralph Luck, Director of Property, Olympic Delivery Authority.
  • 02 June 2010: “Growing People – a Leadership Journey” – with Dame Mary Marsh, Director of Clore Social Leadership Programme. Henley Third Sector Network event, Henley Business School, Greenlands campus.
  • 8 June 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Gavin Sanderson, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP gives an insight to life at PwC at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 15 June 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Don Leslie, Director, Management Consultancy Recruitment Division from Beament Leslie Thomas will present MBAs & Management Consultancy at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 17 June 2010: Leadership of Organisational Change SIG: ‘Leading Organisational Change Through Conversations’ – with Richard Hordern, Client Director, Henley Business School. Venue: British Bankers Association, Pinners Hall, London EC2N 1EX.
  • 19 June 2010: Henley Alumni Germany: Top Event with Henley’s Moira Clark. – For full details please see: www.ha-g.de/
  • 22 June 2010 – The London & SE Group – Summer Garden Party An opportunity to bring your partners and guests to a networking event in the gardens of the Athaenaeum, London.
  • 4 July 2010 – Members’ Day – Bookings will open mid-May. If you would like to receive an invitation, please email us on: alumni@henley.com
  • 6 July 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Senior level executive search with Eric Salmon & Partners at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 8 July 2010: Career Development Service – ½ day workshop CV Building at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 9-11 July 2010: Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010 – If you would like to join the Henley sailing team to compete against and beat other leading business schools.
  • 28 July 2010: The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus. 
  • 24 September 2010: Henley Golf Day – Sonning Golf Club. Calling all golfers! Join us for the 5th Henley Golf Challenge for an 18 hole Stapleford competition.

Who’s Who, Who’s New?

 The search for the new Dean of Henley Business School has been going on in the background and although I cannot reveal any details (inasmuch as I don’t know many) I can confirm that the selection panel has completed its first round and is finalising a short-list of candidates for the final round.  As soon as there is some word on this, I will pass it on.

 Good practice – Bragg and TED

 Here in the UK, on Radio 4 (and one way of knowing whether you’re old enough to be doing a Henley MBA is whether you have started listening to Radio 4 instead of Radio 1) there is a weekly broadcast on science, culture, philosophy and the arts, made by veteran broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. The show has been running for some years, and one reason for mentioning this now is to highlight that the BBC have just placed every show on an archive at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/in-our-time/.  Another reason it to encourage you to sign up to Melvyn’s personal weekly newsletter, which often features his walks through St James Park in London.

 And this month’s TED.com viewing tip? Try this one at http://www.ted.com/talks/catherine_mohr_builds_green.html, a talk recorded in February by Catherine Mohr, which looks at decisions she made in building a new house using, or trying to use, sound environmental decisions, and a good debate starter.

 That’s all for April, then.

 Chris Dalton

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Is this what the world is really made up of?  Were one inductively to examine, for example, the way most (perhaps all) MBA programmes are conceived, constructed and – above all – replicated, one might reasonably be forgiven for thinking so.

Convention has it (convention as delivered from an institutional point of view) that in the study of Management, or Business, the best way top proceed is by the presentation of what would otherwise be the indigestible “Management” elephant as separate concepts  “carved up” into bite-size pieces. We label these chunks as, for example, People, Processes, Finance, Strategy, Leadership, and so on.  The labels change over the time, though the fact of labelling continues unchanged.

It is very tempting, then, to take this labelling as implicit and a valid reflection of how things “actually are”; that the world really does consist of discrete bits of knowledge which may (best) be “learned” in those parts.  In fact, this view is inculcated.

I suppose one problem might be that, as with all things social, this view is not only constructed but also self-validating and self-reflexive. The more you behave that way, the more it appears to be so, and so the more you behave that way.

Just a thought.

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A while ago, I wrote a post about a rumoured long-lost manuscript that my Father may or may not have been writing shortly before his death in 1973.

The end of that post was also the end of the trail. Though several people had vague recollections of its existence, there was no sign of it anywhere and it was destined to remain an unanswered quest(ion).

Well, it turned up!

An email arrived from a distant relative, whose daughter had come across some old papers in a drawer in a clear-out of stuff in their house in London and who had come across parts of a manuscript of a novel by Desmond Dalton, entitled “The Brandenburg Contingency”. Did I want it? You bet! I fidgeted for a few days waiting for it to be delivered and was almost too nervous to open the package when it was. Nearly forty years old, would it amount to anything?

What I received was really not what I was expecting. It’s a novel – a sort of crime thriller. There are three completed chapters and a synopsis outlining the rest of the story. It takes place during and after World War Two and is quite a caper – one could easily imagine it being both a best-seller and a movie.

But it is not complete. His legacy was the germ of an idea, not its fruit. It feels oddly as though there is something else going on here – to have started something like this, but not complete it (he was not a Completer Finisher!), to discover its possible existence, but lose trace and then to regain the scent – and now it has re-surfaced, it is crying out for completion. So, one day, I will. And that is why, dear reader, I really can’t give the story away just yet. I’d love to – it’s a humdinger – but you’d only feel it necessary to go away and finish it yourselves.

Suffice it to say, for now, that the plot twists and turns its way from the Nazi High Command to corrupt US Politics, via a devilishly clever scheme to heist some jewels…. but I say too much already. Watch this space.

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The volcanic eruption in Iceland which has produced a plume of silicate ash and which is currently hanging over much of the UK has certainly had an effect here at Henley.

On the one hand several workshops, in Germany and in Ireland, had to be cancelled as tutors have been unable to fly anywhere, while some others are currently stranded in fairly far flung places, unable to get back. With workshops still running on site here, a number of non-UK based programme members could make it.

On the other hand, we’re all marvelling at the eerie lack of airplane noise, and even stranger view of the sky devoid completely of aircraft vapour trails. This part of the UK is normally streaked by long lines from high-flying jets, and by a constant background sound of planes circling to land at Heathrow. What’s more, several delegates today have remarked on how quiet normally busy roads such as the M25 have been.

Peaceful…

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Dear all,
For the fourth year in a row, I have been writing this newsletter from Johannesburg on the eve of a starter workshop for a new intake here.  Only South Africa’s still awful Internet provision has prevented me sending it out before arrivig back in the UK this morning. The subject line says March, but it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
Travelling to South Africa, I left behind a more wintry Henley campus itching to burst into Spring, and wondered whether by the time I get back things would have been transformed by sprays of fresh green shoots and leaves on the trees, and carpets of yellow daffodils across the lawns. But return to South Africa affords the chance to see what has changed here. Not surprisingly given that it is just 72 days until the start of the World Cup, the city is showing many signs of soccer fever. There is still work to do. The new rail link from the airport has yet to open and many of the city’s planned improvements to the road network will not be complete in time, but there is also a real air of excitement and optimism. The casual visitor may never know whether what they see is simply window-dressing, but five visits here have convinced me that this place has such potential (and the rest of the world has so much to learn from Africa) that I am glad that Henley has emerged as the only internationally recognised MBA in South Africa. The first workshop for the new intake, SA05, which numbered over 90 people, went really well and they are an engergetic and bright bunch.
Now, thanks to all of you who picked up the gauntlet of last month’s challenge to do something with your Learning Journals. There was extra activity, and healthily some of that was reflection on whether or not reflection is important. (It is, by the way). As part of taking my mission to turn you all into thinkers, I have created a new poll on my blog with a question on writing and sharing learning journals. You can find that here https://henleydlmba.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/a-poll-on-learning-journals/
Henley on Linkedin
As I predicted in February’s newsletter, we have now passed the 5,000 member mark on Linkedin. Online there are still discussions rumbling on the topics of reputation, ranking and mergers, and there’s also speculation about what sort of person the next Dean of the Business School should be (can’t think you’ll all be shy on that subject). In addition, quite a few of you are using this forum to gather data in surveys for your Dissertations or Management Challenges.
As a reminder, if you want to sign up for this group, please make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you have indicated when you plan to graduate from Henley Business School.
Henley at the ratings
A short while ago the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) issued a follow up to 2008’s rankings of Distance Learning MBA programmes. This time, instead of a ranking, they had a system of ratings (from “poor” to “excellent”) on a number of criteria relevant to studying at a distance. Henley did less well when compared with some of the American, or American-influenced MBAs, roughly on a par with Warwick, and a little better than the other UK programmes. However, we did not achieve “excellent” in any category. Since the ratings are the result of input from current students, perhaps we need to take the result philosophically (and stoically). My guess is that is not coincidental that the UK respondents did not rank their programmes in the most glowing terms, and the ratings should be seen in this context. Nevertheless, it would be helpful to know what we can do to improve. I placed a longer response on my blog, for those who would like to explore the link.   
Who’s New
A new addition to the staff at Henley is Sarah Powell, who joins us from London Business School as Development Executive. She will be inviting our alumni and friends to support Henley and to play an active role in helping the business school achieve its potential. Sarah will also be overseeing the Pioneers – an important group of alumni who have made a significant philanthropic commitment to the School. If you would like to find out more, she would be happy to hear from you. You can email her on (email removed).
Sign Up to RISIS
I have been reminded by Sally Pellow, from the RISIS team, that many of you have yet to activate your University of Reading username and email account. This is the one you need to sign in to upload your assignments and receive your marks, and the one that gives you access to the UoR e-library, lets you download University-licensed software packages, as well as (if you’re on campus in the UK) wi-fi access. About a third of you have activated this, but the rest of you need to do this by July 31st as the old (e:Vision) logins may expire after that (two years post merger).
Activation of the username triggers the creation of a “student email account” on RISISweb. You need to visit this account once and then set a forwarding rule to your preferred email account. Since the University will use that account to contact you, it is worth making the effort to set this up.  The RISIS team will, between now and July, be contacting people with information, reminders and assistance to get these activities done, but it would also make sense for you to explore what benefits doing this brings. There are quite a number of impressive resources and offers which open up, all in addition to the environment you use on HenleyConnect.
While I’m on the technical topics, please note that we will have some essential and long-overdue server work being conducted at Henley on Saturday the 3rd of April and this will affect your access to HenleyConnect and our Learning Resource Centre, but not to RISIS.
Research Corner
No member has asked me to advertise their survey this month, though expect one or two in April. Just a reminder that if you have a questionnaire or research that would benefit from respondents from among current MBAs, drop me a line with some basic details and a link, and I’ll put it on.  For those of you who are Henley-based and working your way toward the end of Part Three on Programme 4, don’t forget that Richard and Mike are gearing up for their face-to-face event on May 16th, just after graduation. The Home Straight will be in its own home straight soon, in part in tribute to the great work of the tutors, and in part a simple reflection that registration times are running out. For anyone coming toward the end of your studies but behind on time, please make sure you manage any requests for more time pro-actively. You can always reach the re-registration team via email at (email removed).
I’m grateful to James Boham-Pitt for a link to a site called meettheboss.tv, which is similar to 50 lessons and (somewhat) to TED.com. Check it out. I heard that many of you enjoyed the Jamie Oliver clip in last month’s newsletter, so my tip for this month on TED is Keith Barry talking (in 2004) about Brain Magic http://www.ted.com/talks/keith_barry_does_brain_magic.html
That’s it, a slightly more condensed email than usual, but I want to get it out this evening and enjoy some of the warm evening air in Jo’burg (I can add, now that I’m back, that it was indeed very nice – much more pleasant that the +3 degrees celsius of my return to London).
Chris

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