In three posts for Work Out Loud week, I talked about some of the failings of traditional business education systems and proposed that it was possible for anyone who wanted to get access to a quality, alternative business education. Stowe Boyd calls on us to “dig your own hole, sharpen your own shovel.” This post offers one way to do this.
Conversations and diverse contexts
I said that a business education is about investing in future-focused skills and that the alternative approach is playful and experimental. It is initiated and maintained through curiosity, discovery, seeking meaning, doing something, reflecting on what you think happened – then trying something different. All that is done together with other people.
What I didn’t say, slap wrist, was that the alternative approach is fundamentally about business education as conversation and shared experience across diverse contexts. The self-determined, just-in-time curriculum that I described, while innovative enough in itself, is secondary in the social and experimental alternative approach.
Building trusted relationships among diverse groups of people who grow to care deeply about each other is core to the alternative approach. So having clarified all that, what do I now think – and what am I going to do about it?
I’ve come to the conclusion that a quality, alternative business education is open to everyone but that it’s only those who are dissatisfied with the status quo and on a mission to challenge it – beginning with challenging their own mind-sets – are going to commit the necessary time and effort.
I suspect that those people are unusual. How to find them? That’s the big question. They do exist, though. I know because it was my privilege to work on an innovative, work-based executive programme some years ago with the most up-for-anything, questioning people I’ve ever met. Strong bonds developed as these amazing people socialised and shared insights from each other’s contexts.
Why should I care about democratised access to business education? Because over the years I’ve watched people at operational levels in organisations do amazing things that they are unprepared for. They do it with no help and by fly by the seat of their pants.
Operations are becoming more socially and technologically complex. I think these people deserve all the help they can get. I’d like as many people as possible to experience the sort of shared learning and support that I’ve witnessed in action.
I’d like to test a pilot for the alternative approach that I’ve been trying to describe. I want to find between ten and fifteen very special people. They work in an organisation and there’s something about their work they really want to change, or something new to try out. They need to influence and work with others to make it happen, which might well be in the face of entrenched attitudes and rigid systems. The project is not going to be a walk in the park.
Learning at this level is equivalent to post-graduate level learning in UK universities. The project will be used as a learning experience, and will be about connecting with others doing their own projects to develop thinking and collaboration skills for complex contexts.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re thinking about this for yourself and you’d like to chat about what you’d like to do. And I’d be grateful for ever if you were kind enough share this post with your networks. Thank you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a DM on Twitter if you follow me – I’m @smartco.