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Archive for March, 2011

I’m on my annual pilgrimage to South Africa for the MBA Starter Workshop, so I’m getting my fill of “what’s changed since last time” impressions.

The first thing I noticed as the plane came in on approach to land was that the road congestion had gone. Normally, one observes queues of traffic on the various highways and junctions, but there seemed to be little held up. It wasn’t until I was actually out of the airport and on the way to the hotel that I remembered it was Sunday! Oh well. They have completed the new rail link from the airport to Sandton City, and the road widening works on the city’s arterial routes looked just about complete as well. My driver reminded me that this work was prioritised for the World Cup last year, often at the expense of other, less publicly visible public works – such as the development of more decent housing in Alexandra Township, an 8 square km sprawl of shacks and home to nearly half a million people.

The TV in South Africa is quite different from the mainstream UK. For a start, there are a lot of sports channels, where there is meticulous dissection of cricket, rugby, soccer, swimming and just about any sport you care to think of. This morning they were previewing the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, mainly by reliving the glory year of 1995 when South Africa won it (that winning team have legendary status similar to the 1966 England world cup team). Interesting to note that Mandela’s charisma and humility formed a big part of the tournament and win making such a difference.

Anyway, on this morning’s transfer from hotel to Henley office, the traffic jams had returned with a vengeance. So tomorrow we kick-off the new intake, likely to number around 115 people! It’s going to be an interesting challenge, for them and for us.

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I watched another spell-binding performance from Hans Rosling on TED.com today.  In this talk, recorded in California in December last year, he demonstrated (graphically) how the ability to purchase a washing machine is symbolic of the access to  a type of change that billions of people around the will expect (and probably achieve) over the coming thirty or forty years.

Watch it, and see what you think. Personally, I love his approach and his up-beat attitude, as well as his humour.

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It was quite a productive February. Aside from the progress made on the PhD, the conference paper in particular, I delivered several PD workshops at Henley and learnt a lot about the structure and flaws of the material. I have now started to think about a re-vamp (I won’t say re-write) of the PD materials. The trick will be to bring in some more contemplative or reflective ideas on self without sacrificing the practical and structured element of planning that many people seem to enjoy. But some of the material is frankly now getting a bit long in the tooth. One immediate success this week was completion of the first draft of a new “Values Questionnaire”, which will now need some road-testing.

The PhD is moving up a gear. My supervisors are suggesting I work on two of the chapters as part of presenting for an up-grade in th early summer. I shall also need to crack on with data collection. This is the scariest part, because a] I ave no idea if people will volunteer and co-operate, and b] if they do, there’s no slacking off.

I am enjoying browsing through the Learning Journal entries in the various online learning areas on the MBA. I know a lot of people never bother, or never pluck up the courage, to write, but often those who do are clearly getting something worthwhile from it. Some of them are actually quite moving!

Completed a half day workshop on “Building Career” with a portion of intake 41 today. I had to apologise to the group because there was just too much stuff to get through in half a day, but I think the main points were made. I know that I am trying to twist their brains a bit and challenge their patterns of thought, so I’m grateful they took it in good humour.

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