November 7; Can A Child Learn To Ride A Bicycle In A Seminar?
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Eleven: Failure; 7 November

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;

tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home

and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Can A Child Learn To Ride A Bicycle In A Seminar?

Continuous Learning

“Welcome to the Officer Corps,” said the Colonel to the newly promoted Captain. “Now you might be able to get something done.”

This was a bad joke: the officer had been on the job for some four years.

Back in the day it would take years to move from the Army’s entry-level Second Lieutenant to First LT to Captain.

The military had learned that it would take years to season a small unit manager to lead men where leadership was a matter of life and death.

“Every soldier has a right to competent command,” said Julius Caesar.  (Management 3ed, Bateman, Snell, McGrawHill, page 230.) So how do we train managers?

The civilian management-training establishment still has yet to learn.

***

“We should be teaching an un-measureable skill,” said Your Business Professor. “We need to push to failure.” My fellow academics at the local community college were dismissive, as would anyone who lives in the perfectionist world of the individual contributor.

I was speaking outside of their experience. They had never managed anything. This was not going to go well.

We had two challenges.

1) Our debate was how to satisfy the market place demand for managers who could execute; who could get things done through others. (And this would create a customer for our product: graduates. A competent, thinking, ideal employee destined for management.) And,

2) We would also solve the challenge of separating our degree granting institution from other schools. Our value proposition could be significantly different from other competitive offerings.

***

The best template for management training is used by the Armed Forces. Close behind is medicine with clinical training: See one, do one, teach one. And law schools using moot courts.

What do they have in common? Hands on training. On the job training; OJT.

Military officers are trained primarily through two avenues: the service academies such as West Point or the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).   The military model of management training is conducted in two parts: the art and science. The science is taught in a classroom like any manual skill. The art is the practice of management and is done in the doing.

Professor Henry Mintzberg, Ph.D. expands this definition in his landmark book, Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development,

Management is a practice that has to blend a good deal of craft (experience) with a certain amount of art (insight) and some science (analysis). Mintzberg, Henry (2005-07-15). Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development (Kindle Locations 108-109). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Managers can only be groomed standing in a leadership position, not sitting in a classroom because management has countless variables. For example,

There are few things that distinguish competent from incompetent management quite as sharply as the performance in balancing objectives. Yet, there is no formula for doing the job. Each business requires its own balance—and it may require a different balance at different times. (Drucker 1954) p 86

Management cannot (really) be taught. Professor Mintzberg explains,

It is this dynamic balance that renders futile the teaching of management in a classroom, especially one role or competency at a time.

Even mastering all the competencies do not a competent manager make, because the key to this work is the blending of all of its aspects into this dynamic balance.

And that can only happen on the job, because no simulation I have ever seen in a classroom—case, game, in-basket exercise—comes remotely close to replicating the job itself. (Managing, Mintzberg 96)

***

Managers are trained, I suggested to my fellow academics, only through a hands-on experience under the constant guidance of a wise teacher.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19

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