October 17, 2010

The start of a new academic year

A new academic year has started and there are 45 students on the Management for Business Excellence (MBE) masters programme. There were 47 originally, but two left, one after the first 90 minutes of MBE induction and the second after a couple of days. Although I was sorry to see them go, they decided that the style of learning on MBE was not for them and they chose to move to another course. I wish them well in their studies this year.

21 nationalities are represented on MBE - wonderful - so many opportunities to learn from others who have different experiences and perceptions. However, this is not without its problems. Given the learning style in CBE which is largely team-based problem solving, one student wondered how they were ever going to come to an agreement on anything because of the diversity of views.

I think that the answer at least in part, will come from consideration of one of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people: Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. In a group with diverse views there is the temptation to makes one's own views heard and be accepted by the group. What Covey proposes is to spend time listening empathetically to truly understand the views of others. If each team member does this there is a far greater chance that they will be able to understand their common ground. And it is on this common ground that they can build their responses to the projects that they are working on, always working towards win-win outcomes. This process of sharing views, analysing and discussing them will inevitably lead to better understanding of others, help everyone to express themselves more clearly and bond the team in the process of working on the mini-projects, learning through practice the true meaning of collaborative working.

I am sure that Vineet Nayar would be happy to employ every graduate of MBE next year:-)

- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Paul first of all great entry…...You are in mind and you give the occasion to ask. You write “working towards win-win outcomes”. I will totally agree…... Everyone that hears that probably would say that he agrees. My question arises here…....

    All this theories of collaboration and contribution to the system are great…... But in practice when people have the chance to collaborate they prefer to compete and they care only about money and glory…..Why?????

    I am afraid that I will become like them, I do not want to, I am afraid that I will be compromised…........

    Thank you for giving me this opportunity

    22 Oct 2010, 00:00

  2. Paul Roberts

    Vagelis, you raise a very important question – why do so many people care only about money or glory? I am sure that we could have long discussions about this, but as a starting point perhaps I offer this for consideration.

    What drives us? What makes us work hard, get up in the morning instead of staying in the comfort of our bed? If this drive is particularly strong, we will go to great lengths to satisfy it. That is, we will do anything, well for most people, almost anything, to achieve more money or greater promotion. Indeed, this motivation can become so strong that it becomes like an obsession, the accumulation of wealth or power. The problem with this is, as I see it, that satisfaction or happiness if you like, only comes when something that is outside of us is satisfied. If we do not acquire ever more money, we are unhappy. If someone else gets promoted instead of us, we become unhappy. In other words our centre is outside us and our happiness is dependent on things that are not totally within our control.

    When these external things are going well we are happy and when things go wrong…An alternative approach, and one that I have used all my life, mostly unconsciously, is living and working according to internal principles and values such as integrity, fairness, respect for others, achieving a win-win etc. These principles are unwavering and are completely within my own power to operate by in any and every situation. Decisions, particularly those that impact people – very few don’t – become easy in the sense that I live by a set of guiding principles and values that are fundamental to my being. I don’t have this constant worry over whether this decision will give me the most money or the best chances of promotion or the least risk to imminent promotion. Do you see what I mean? By operating to your personal values which are timeless you can largely eliminate many of the stresses of modern life which for many has a focus of money, power etc.

    Money, promotion or any form of external recognition is the RESULT of the way that we operate and, similar in concept to the European Excellence Model, results are the outcomes from the application of the enablers. Sure, if you focus on acquiring money or power you will probably acquire more than someone whose focus is not the acquisition of wealth or power. The question is, would that make you more happy than someone who is living according to their principles and values?

    I have made my choice and do not regret for one moment making it.

    I hope that this triggers a discussion.

    22 Oct 2010, 08:03

  3. Paul I absolutely understand what you mean and agree with all my heart.
    Deming was right when he was saying that “when the mother says to her child that she will buy him a toy if he achieve a goal, makes him addicted to external motivation”. You described the effect of that. I will add that many people see only the destination (money, glory, etc…..) and pay a little attention to the Journey which is the most important. I believe that the destination is one for all……. Everyone will die some day. Ghoulish but it is a reality (and probably a fact)…. So what makes us different is the Journey. During that we take decisions, we meet people, seek for knowledge, etc….. If we focus to our Journey and if we understand that during it we have the opportunity to be internal motivated and become happy, we will solve a lot of problems…….
    So to answer to your question no I do not believe that money and glory make us more happy. I believe that the Journey and especially people that we meet makes us happy…… Living with principles will have as a result an internal revolution. Also, one friend told me that “the glory can be achieved through simplicity”. So be simple and so respect to others.
    The problem that arise now is how we can transmit and persuade the others that this is the way to happiness?
    (The only answer that I have find to that is the transformation of the individual.)
    Have we got the right to persuade them or we become oppressive?
    PS: “ When you begin traveling to Ithaca you should wish to have a long Journey” translation of a Greek Poem…………
    So let our journey to excellence be long…….

    22 Oct 2010, 11:18

  4. It took me some time to discover this blog and it really is a pity due to the worthwhile discussion. It is a lot about values and motivation, always good topics to discuss.

    I agree with all your points Paul and Vagelis. Especially Vagelis’s explanation regarding the journey, which makes us happy. I have never seen that from this perspective. You are right saying that it is a fact that we will die one day, so at the end we are all the same, dead. Question now is how we want people remember us. And there the journey comes into play. It makes the difference, but I see a problem by steering the journey with internal values and principles. Basically I totally agree, money and glory does not make you happy, it may, in the right dosage, ease your life but that is it. Saying basically, because, to be honest, just speaking for myself, the money and the glory also push me forward. I do not know if that has something to do with my background, but of course I would like to show my family and my friends what I have achieved, from a car mechanic to a manager/leader, and that their belief in me and the effort they invested in me was always right and I would like to share my success with all, what mostly includes money. That is still one of my motivations, but since I started in Warwick another motivation appeared which was not that present before. The inner motivation this motivation which gets me out of the bed every morning and this is better than all the money and glory together. It is the fun you have with your work. Every morning I am looking forward to go to the Common room in the IMC, having a cup of coffee and reading blogs, like this one. I really enjoy that and then starting working in the library on things which really makes me happy, because I am learning what I am interested in. I want to keep that all my life to have a “funny” journey. But I think the risk that you change, just aiming for money, becoming jealous and do not stick to your principles is quite high in the working life. Especially envy is something really hard to control. If you could do so Paul it is great and I wish everyone to be successful by controlling envy, but as I said it is very hard to control and just being fully satisfied with your life makes you totally resistant, but when are you totally satisfied? Can we reach total satisfaction? Can we train to be not jealous? Because envy can destroy a lot, companies, friendships, families nearly everything…

    Regarding your last question Vagelis, I think that is a very difficult one. I think everyone needs to know for himself, what his way to happiness is. If he is open minded and ask your for your way of happiness of course you can teach him. Within a normal discussion I can do so as well. I think you cannot just persuade the people you can just support them if they want to know it

    04 Nov 2010, 10:03

  5. I will agree with you my friend. Great post.
    When I say persuade I do not mean impose. Of course the other should want the change. Of course we must be willing to change our selves too. It is a mutual endless game. But how can we tell them that money is not everything in that world. Money is only a result. Do not focus on the results. The processes are that which will make you better.
    To make the things worse all the system is our opponent in that effort. The system has transformed simple papers like money into a God that leads everything. We do not invest enough in to health sector because is unproductive. Do you believe that in pharmaceutical companies have in their vocabulary the phrase “acceptable losses”? When I heard that I became very furious. How we can accept a phrase like that. Invest more money for better results and do not get 20 Ferraris and 20 big houses.
    Ps hope to have a dialogue face to face about that……..

    04 Nov 2010, 10:34

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