Monday, 21 March 2011

How to Radically Change Business Teaching and Learning

Public education is failing to produce people skilled at collaborating in enterprise; at bringing their particular strengths and passions together to collaboratively, dramatically exceed the possibilities of their individual strengths and limitations. Conventional organisation, management and research have failed to produce new practice.

To get a feel for the problem, go to Fernando Reimers on HBR  and the  TED LinkedIn discussion, Our Education System is Failing . . . .  (more popular than WikiLeaks).

There is no shortage of ideas, research and recommendation on what should be done about it. There’re even maverick teachers creating and delivering programmes that can and do produce people who know their passions and strengths and naturally, actively collaborate instead of merely  (dysfunctionally) co-operate.

The barrier these mavericks face is to sustain and grow their innovations in organisations and  markets that have little concept of education other than as experienced: typically industrial age, conveyor belt, control focused, uniformity and standardisation by process and qualification.

The good news is that sooner or later opportunities pop up to achieve deep, widespread change. One such opportunity may be in New Zealand high school Business education. There is an acknowledged need to produce graduates with the skills and behaviours to radically improve the effectiveness of New Zealand business enterprise. In response, the high school Business curriculum is in process of radical revision with radically different teaching an learning processes in mind.

The challenge is to spread the experience of the radically different ways of managing learning that bring this new curriculum to life. That’s not only about making room for teachers to experience new ways, then enact them. It’s also a matter of addressing  the typically conventional assessment models and other education management systems and processes designed to control teachers in much the same way as they are expected to control their students.
A collaboration of organisations and people passionate to achieve such a transformation was recently formed to tackle this set of problems in a radically different way.  It came together from concept to action over the first three months of 2011, with initial financial support and international research interest confirmed in mid March. It doesn’t even have public website yet and intentionally probably won’t for a while yet.

It's  a collaboration of Omnicom OCC Ltd with the Faculty of Creative Industries and Business of Unitec Institute of Technology, and Unitec Falkenstein Trust,  a Business education trust associated with Unitec but established by successful business entrepreneur Tony Falkenstein.

The collaboration’s first project, a pilot weekend-intensive workshop with follow-through coaching for a diverse range of invited participants, is booked for early May. Although the focus is initially local, the hope and plan, if the pilot is successful is to go national, and eventually international.

The intention is to generate transformative change by exposing seasoned (in this case, high school Business) teachers to the new experience and possibilities of a radically different way of managing learning; then to coach them in their efforts to collaboratively enact their new experience within their respective institutions.

The way that the process is organised and operated is crucial because the purpose is  to interrupt conventional behavioural loops: to achieve a transformation, not an intellectualised,  incremental modification in teacher and learner behaviour. One way of seeing the transformation is from control-centred management and experience of learning to learning managed and experienced collaboratively.

The teaching and learning model that initially influences the thinking and action in this teaching and learning transformation process was conceived and developed by Roger Putzel, St Michaels College, Vermont and subsequently further developed and operated in multiple  sites around the world including in New Zealand.

Putzel’s approach, called XB, was developed for transformative teaching and learning in Business related subject areas. So it seems an ideal platform to transform Business teachers,  Business teaching, Business students and the business of education for business.

But that’s not all. The same basic model can be applied to teaching and learning anything, anywhere: even in a commercially focused learning organisation. In fact it can be  easier to implement there than in institutional education . . . . . . .  

Monday, 14 March 2011

Measuring a “pound of flesh”

TEU’s Nigel Haworth is probably right to pejoratively call University of Auckland VC, Stuart McCutcheon a Managerialist.

In this latest stoush with the Tertiary Education union McCutcheon claims the rational high ground (NZ Herald). But to Haworth and many others he’s behaving like an industrial Shylock demanding his pound of flesh; his stance smacking of conventional managerial thinking and arrogance: underpinned by a particular set of unquestioned assumptions about how to measure and get better performance.

Of course in his mind McCutcheon is simply being rational; more rational than fellow academic Haworth, and denies wanting a “pound of flesh”. But to Harworth and the significant proportion of university employed academics in the union it clearly feels like that.

The thing is, there are far more productive measures of performance and satisfaction than those that demand or seem like they demand “pounds of flesh”.

Steve Denning commented in a recent communication:

“As I look back on my many years as a manager, I can see that one of the things that kept management grinding along on its death march was the measurement system. So long as the managers used a measurement system that kept tracking "things", it meant that "people" and "teams and "storytelling" inevitably got the short end of stick. 
So managers often talked a good game about people and teams, but at the end of the day, what really mattered was whether you made your numbers.”

Traditional management will keep grinding onwards unless and until we change the things we measure and crucially, the way that we measure them. 

We must pay attention to the people elements, not just the "things" or "outputs" that an organization produces. 

Steve’s doing a 5 part series in his Forbes blog on measuring what really matters. Part 4 on measuring time has links to the previous 3 parts. Part 5 is in the pipeline.