Posts Tagged ‘Henley MBA’

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).

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Last week the Economist published a supplement called “Distance Learning Special 2101: Which MBA?” 

The report, available to download here , (the link sometimes doesn’t get you the whole Pdf, be warned) “rates”, not “ranks” a number of DL programmes. What I quite like about this is first that it doesn’t pretend that you can easily rank programmes such as this (in fact, the whole idea of a ranking is pretty ludicrous when you think about it since it squashes innovation) and instead provides the results of people rating various, fairly sensible, aspects of distance education.

However, since much of the input comes from current students, the problem is that (as any fule ‘kno) if you ask students in the US to rate anything, they will invariably rate it very high, and if you ask anyone in the UK to rate something, centuries of restraint and decorum prevent them from ticking the top box. So there is a correlation between whether the programme listed has a major US influence or component, or whether is has a strong British dimension.  

That said, Henley comes out of it comparable to Warwick and better than OU, Aston, Bradford, Imperial and Royal Holloway (the other UK schools rated). We come nowhere near Florida, IE or Thunderbird. In Florida and IE’s case, closer examination reveals that these are actually much more like our Exec MBA in price, cohort size, length and frequency of campus delivery, so more comparison of “apples” with “oranges”, in my opinion. Florida’s program is unusual in the US market, but would not really be considered a DL programme over here.

 The dark horse is the Euro*MBA, a consortium DL MBA between 6 European schools.  However, even that seems to have a relatively small number of students. Henley, OU and Warwick are the ones which have scaled up and managed to maintain some seriousness. There are a few minor factual errors in the description of our MBA, but I’ve never seen a piece of journalism about Henley that didn’t contain at least one mistake.

As for us, we seem to be rated in the upper “average” band for “Overall”, “Programme Content” and “Effectiveness of Distance Learning elements”, and “Good” in “Quality of fellow students”.

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Dear all,

This month, I wanted to talk to you about Learning Journals. As Programme Director, I get email alerts each day to tell me whether there has been any activity over the last 24 hours on all the HenleyConnect MBA intake areas. If I’m waiting for a daily deluge, however, I appear to be waiting in vain as, apparently most of you are reluctant diarists, and in some intakes an outpouring of reflection looks unlikely.  That’s not the case for some of you, and I know that the process and habit of vocalising your thoughts can become an MBA routine (even the occasional, but timely, record of an insight, event or thought begins to pay you dividends in others way, on the MBA and beyond).

However, for the silent majority, there may be a blockage. Now, although I thought I would talk this month about the art of reflection and of writing Learning Journal entries as part of your personal development, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason for taciturnity is because you feel a little self-conscious about voicing your thoughts in public, or maybe you lack the confidence to write. My going on about it would, in fact, be counter-productive and would send you further into your shells. 

For those of you who have not got the writing bug,  I’d like to invite you to turn inward – grow even more taciturn – with the question of how you feel about expressing “you and the MBA”, or you and your work/career, or, for that matter,  you and the world you’re in.  If, after doing that, you really feel there’s nothing to say, then I urge you to carry on not saying it, your secret’s safe with you. If you feel that thoughts do occur to you, but (for whatever reason) you object to writing them down, then I encourage you to hold on to that objection as hard as you can and, in as unchanging a way as possible, don’t let it go.  After all, you have paid for this, so who are we to tell you otherwise?  As for me, I’ll just carry on praying for rain.

Now, on with the newsletter and no more about Learning Journals. Honest.

Henley on Linkedin

I’m always keen to start with news of the Henley group. We’re about to hit 5,000 members, and so there’s a tremendous amount of potential there for you to maintain a profile and make good and collegiate contacts with fellow members and alumni around the world. The Special Interest or local alumni subgroups are growing, albeit slowly, and we’ll see whether the model is viable. That will depend, I think, on whether the technology enables something you’d do anyway.

Right now, there’s a second wave of discussions about the Henley merger and the MBA brand reputation, and several others have posted requests for assistance with their dissertation or management challenge research projects, too.

Research Corner

No items here this month, but don’t forget that if you’re looking for people to respond to your Dissertation or Management Challenge questionnaire or survey, then you can also ask me to advertise it here.

MBA Student of the Year Award 2010

You’re an impressive bunch and I am often amazed at the jobs you are doing, and occasionally of the lives you are managing to lead side by side with the MBA study. AMBA, the Association of MBAs is again launching a campaign to find the MBA Student of the Year, and is asking Henley to nominate one strong candidate.  Shortlisted candidates get invited to interview in London and get whittled down to four finalists. I don’t know if swimsuits are involved, but it would be great to have someone from Henley represented. So, if you’re interested, and if you think you meet AMBA’s selection criteria of a strong academic record, a contribution to group dynamics and leading groups, as well as commitment to the School and the MBA programme, and also (there’s quite a list) that you have demonstrably benefited from the course in your career and/or you have overcome a significant challenge to get to where you are, then please let me know and we’ll look at the rest of the criteria together.  Closing date for nominations is 21st April, with judging and interviews in May and awards presented in November.


Amanda Proddow writes the following: “can you please ensure that all your current programme members are aware that they are very welcome to join the Henley Sailing Team to compete in this year’s MBA Regatta.  Please note the event has been renamed from the BSAR (Business Schools Alumni Regatta) to the Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010  and encourages current programme members, staff and alumni to take part. Paul Bennett and Richard Steele from Henley are members of the team!

Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010 – 9th to 11th July The Cranfield MBA Regatta website has been updated with a bit more info on the event. See http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/mba/regatta . The event is slightly changed on last year with an overnight stop in Cowes on the Saturday and four races. The entry requirement is described as “The Regatta is open to all Business Schools MBA students and alumni”. As before, they also include Business School staff and partners in the teams. Tim Lawson, (DL MBA 2001) is the team organiser and has scheduled 2 practice weekends in April and May.  If anyone is interested, I need to firstly register their interest and then will put them in direct contact with Tim for full details. There is a page on the alumni website advertising the event:


Advanced notice now of this year’s Henley Golf event, which will take place at Sonning Common Golf Club in September. More details to follow, apparently.

Also, there are quite a number of other events being organised in March, and here are some of the details and contacts. I know that many of you are living or working outside the reach of these, and it would be good to know what’s been going on with you in your regions, so please do let me know:


I’ve mentioned this site before, and my tip for a good video to watch this month is Jamie Oliver, speaking about his mission to change America’s eating habits. He looks a little out of place on the stage at first, but stick with it and you’ll end up rooting for him. This clip is especially important for anyone working in food or health related industries. View it here.

New Intake

Today we’re running the opening day of the latest Henley-Based Flexible Intake, HB43. There are 49 members of the group and as I type they are sitting in their syndicate rooms getting to know each other. Easily the most rewarding part of Day One, I always think. 

Good luck to anyone preparing to sit for their exams in March.

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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,
After a month off, the newsletter is back and this one is packed to bursting with interesting stuff, but first I hope you’ll indulge me in some attempt to connect you to Henley.
Let me paint you the picture. We’ve been enjoying a couple of weeks of classic English indian summer, with blue skies populated by the occasional Red Kite, warm day-time breezes, cool evenings and still, misty mornings. The leaves are beginning to turn, creating a palette of colours to reflect in the steely, smooth of the Thames, where teams of rowers practice and train, followed closely by their coaches on bicycles. Lunches are eaten with the doors of the Hayworth Room open to the sun and air, and the benches and parkland have been more enticing for meetings that the break out rooms. The monastic concentration of those working on assignments in the library contrasts to the labour being put into the renovation of Thames court bedrooms, and other building and repair activities. Indeed, for much of the month, Henley has been a quiet buzz of activity, all managed with quiet efficiency by the catering, hotel and administration staff. That buzz of background activity is actually what creates the tranquillity for members on programmes here, of course, and that’s exactly what helps make Henley special as soon as you rumble across the cattle grid.
October is going to be even busier, and although no doubt the weather will shift and the days darken earlier, the same magic will be here. The marquee for the graduation will be the next sign of where we are in the ‘learning’ season.
The Annual Survey 2009
In excess of 300 of you responded to the annual survey, which is a fantastic response rate. Thank you. I have been collating the results and looking through the hundreds of comments made in order to create a summary. Once this is done, I will be posting a file on each intake’s HenleyConnect under Programme Support with the aggregated scores, (including comparisons to scores from 2008 and 2007).
This year you reported increased levels of satisfaction in 11 areas surveyed (including how you feel about the content, scheduling and structure of the MBA) and falls in 6 others (including tutor support). So while the general trend is up, there are areas that we need to improve on. We will examine individual comments to see where there are specific ideas or issues we can deal with.
I’m pleased to say that the group is making more friends and is likely to top 5,000 members before the end of the year. We now have two sub-groups forming. One is an alumni group focused on Leadership of Organisational Change, and is being managed by Mike Green and Situl Shah, while the other is interested in gathering entrepreneurs or those with an interest in entrepreneurship, and this is managed by Ines Kaps-Mladenhoff.
As ever, if you would like to join the Henley Linkedin community, please make sure that your profile is up-dated and accurate. For anyone starting their MBA after August 2008, this should include referring to us as Henley Business School.
Home Straight Community
Mike and Richard are gearing up to run their second gathering this year, which will be on Sunday October 18th. Of course, this is just a day after the graduation ceremony, so they have the wonderful draw of the marquee and empty champagne bottles to spur those working through the dissertation. This event is open to Henley-based candidates who are very much behind on their work at the end of the programme.
Elective News
One quick point I’d like to make now (and will repeat over coming months) is to announce that last year’s successful International Business Environment elective, which was a study week in Hungary, will be repeated in March 2010. Details are in the elective area on HenleyConnect, but it would be great to get a full complement of participants. The week commences from Sunday March 7th and concludes on Friday 12th. I will be leading the trip, under the tutelage of Prof Emilio Herbolzheimer.
Good ideas Corner
No-one has emailed me during September to ask me to promote their research for the MBA, so I’m launching a new item to showcase some of the neater suggestions and hints that have come across my desk during the month. Feel free to send in more….
With thanks to Woz Ahmed, a tip for anyone who has chosen to activate their University of Reading username and password is that doing so also entitles you to discounted software purchases. Activating your UoR username allows you also to login to the wi-fi on campus, view your (automatically created) student email account on RISISweb (where you can set a rule to forward any mail the university sends you) and access the online learning resources. All this is in addition, of course, to the resources you already use on HenleyConnect.
Another great tip, actually one that was mentioned before, is the TED web site. Subtitled “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”, this site contains a whole bank of high-quality video presentations by some very accomplished speakers, so visit www.ted.com to see more. For example, this talk, by Dr Oliver Sacks, got my interest.
New Intakes
At the end of September I was privileged to be in South Africa for the second time this year to launch the Henley MBA. This was not because it didn’t work first time round, rather this was our second intake, which I think shows the tremendously exciting potential of southern Africa in business education as well as being proof of the dedication of the Henley team there. Late last week we welcomed our newest Henley-Based intake, HB42, which numbered 56 members. Of these, 16 were beginning the Project Management MBA. Tomorrow we see the latest groups from Denmark and Sweden coming here for Dynamics of Management.
From the alumni team, here are three up-coming events in the UK. If you know of any November/December events likely to interest members where you are, please let me know during October, and let’s make this less UK-centric.

  • 8 October 2009 – London & SE Alumni Group Annual Dinner at the Athenaeum, London. We will be having a guest speaker, who will be introduced on the night and are also delighted to announce that Chris Bones and the alumni team will be joining us as guests. A great opportunity to network and dine in fine surroundings. Partners and business guests welcome. Numbers will be limited to 65.
  • 02 November 2009 – Pharma Forum Winter Meeting – “Customer Marketing Challenges in Pharmaceuticals” with Professor Merlin Stone, leading expert on direct and relationship marketing, customer care, customer loyalty and customer information systems and speaker at the forthcoming Chartered Institute of Marketing Annual Conference – at One Alfred Place, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7EB. 
  • 12 November 2009 – Keynote Lecture Lecture Series 2009 with Ian Powell Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers on 12th November 2009.
    Who’s News
    I promised, but never delivered, a proper introduction to Kathy Jarvis, who took up position as Programme Manager for the Flexible MBA (I’m getting used to this) in July. Kathy was previously the manager of the admissions office at Henley, which has helped tremendously as she is already familiar with many aspects of the MBA.  Kathy was replaced in that post by Catherine Boyle.
    You will probably all have heard by now that in September Chris Bones announced that he would be standing down as Dean of Henley Business School at the end of the academic year, next July. The University has already begun the dean search, and I’ll keep you informed as and when I hear anything officially.
    Congratulations to all those reading this who are about to graduate this month, and fingers crossed to all of you waiting to hear about your exam results after the Programme Examiners meeting at the end of October.

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    "The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

    "The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

    Back from Dublin at the weekend, where I ran a workshop for one of the MBA intakes to focus them on writing their big Stage Two assignment, the Integrated Management Project. It was a pleasure to be there and see our Irish partner, the Irish Management Institute (IMI), which is housed in a concrete and glass building that one suspects was recognisably of its time when built and which may well be considered a great example of that school of architecture in the future, but which hasn’t quite weathered its environment yet. Like Henley in the UK, the IMI is a free-standing and independent venture in talks with a university (Cork) for merger.

    On the way back to the UK I had some time on a lovely September afternoon to walk around the city centre. With the second vote on the Lisbon Treaty coming up in a couple of weeks, there was hardly a lamppost in the town that did not have at least one or two posters campaigning “No” or “Yes”. It appeared to me that the yes vote was slightly more dominant, and this appears to be the opinion of those I spoke to as well. The initial no was delivered on the back of some slick and impassioned campaigning by Libertas (now more or less absent from the debate) and a coalition of “fundamentalist Catholic” (a term to send shivers down the spine) groups.  The latter are still vocal but the argument seems to have swung another way following the economic collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The other thing that everyone there is talking about is NAMA (National Asset Management Agency), which is the Irish Government’s plan to deal with the credit crunch in property by buying up the portfolios of the major Irish Banks. The controversy revolves, of course, around the price of this since no-one wants to compensate the banks and developers for the speculative property boom that Ireland went through.

    On the way through the city centre I picked up a copy of Meda Ryans’ book “the day Michael Collins was shot”, which details the week or so around the ambush and which has quite a lot of testimony from Emmet Dalton. Then, as I was crossing the Liffey on O’Connell bridge I was in time to see the  200 or so swimmers in the 90th annual Liffey swim make their way against the tide to the finish line. Quite a crowd of onlookers formed to see them go by and a couple of German tourists asked me “how long is the swim?” Since one of  our MBA programme members that I had done the workshop with that morning works in the Dublin Fire Brigade, and was one of the organisers of the day (providing the decontamination showers at the end) I was able to tell them that is was over 2km. “Ah, not so long” was the reply, at which I felt the ancestral need to defend the grandness of the task. “It is against the tide,” I added, staring him down until and forcing a grudging semblance of being impressed onto his face.

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    It grows on you

    With such a long winter break at Henley there has been, among some of the male members of faculty and staff, an inevitable giving in to the temptation to continue the process of ‘letting one’s hair down’ when on holiday into the new working year. The appearance of several new beards (though, in the case of Emilio Herbolzheimer, the disappearance one) has caused some amusement – as you can you see.

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    The other day, while out walking the dog, I found myself composing a temporary foreword to my PhD in my head. I’m not sure why, except that it felt useful to try and set some boundaries for what might otherwise stray off into endless meandering.

    It’s amazing how words can be put together so easily and sound so well composed in the confines of one’s own head, and yet how difficult it is to bring them out on paper (or screen), where they appear tangled, jumbled and inarticulate.

    Although there are surely many others, once complete I see this work serving three purposes:

    • Mark of ritual and formal entry to membership in a community – the agreement of two or three other human beings, at least, that it ticks enough boxes for its author to be awarded a title
    • A small and real and soundly argued (even if, in docent old-age, what turns out to be a naive way), contribution to that body of work which seeks to a meta-theory and a unifying understanding of the world
    • Quite specifically, a novel way (remaining true to that holistic paradigm) of helping managers understand themselves and giving them freedom to make choices where before there appeared to be none

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