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New Models for Development Part 1: How Happy are You Really About Your Development Outcomes?

 If you have been involved in management/leadership development for any length of time I am sure this thought has crossed your mind…

   “There must be a more effective way to do this!”

I’d also be willing to bet that you’ve wrestled with this question…

           “How can we get senior management to see that budgets for management development need to be related to as essential not discretionary?”

You may have also wondered this…

           “Why is it that managers wait to be sent to our programs rather than ask to get in?”

If any of these thoughts/questions seem familiar to you let me then ask you this; do these common elements of a corporate developmental approach seem at all familiar?

Development is done…

If you noticed yourself identifying with any of these elements chances are good that in your version of a “corporate university” participating managers are exposed to the traditional transmission model of adult education. The transmission model is a carryover from the way in which we have taught children for many years. This format rests on the premise that a subject matter expert can transfer crucial knowledge to us by some means, lecture, videos, role playing, simulation etc.  The expectation is that the learner has an insufficient store of information, the expert will “add” some of what is missing and voila! Performance improves.

In this model there is no presumption that the learner may already know what to do and by virtue of other factors cannot execute on that knowledge. The transmission model assumes perfect ability to apply what is being learned and if not then there is some defect of character or attitude involved. These defects of course become diagnosed as opportunities for individual coaching!

So getting back to those opening thoughts and questions… “Why are managers waiting to be sent to our programs…?” Given the way we go about development it is highly likely that they don’t see our offerings as having a critical relationship with what they are accountable for getting done. This can be corrected but it will take be willing to think differently about development.

As for the question, “How can we get senior management to see that budgets for management development need to be held as essential not discretionary?” What if they came back to us and asked, “If we don’t cut your budget what do you really think the odds are of us getting the performance we are counting on from our managers based on what you are proposing?” Would you be willing to put your job on the line?

If we answer honestly we all know there is plenty of research to suggest that betting the mortgage payment on the current and most common approaches to management development would not be wise. Might this not then drive us right back to our lamenting declaration… “There must be a better way to do this!” and encourage us to transform to a more  responsible and engaging statement like “I am going to find a more effective way to do this!”

So where would we start to redesign management development from?

Where would you start if it was your project? **

Consider these questions as part of your process? What if…

  • You could link manager’s problem solving ability together like computers can be linked for greater efficiency and processing power?
  • Management development could become process driven rather than event bound?
  • Development and the application of learning took place in a near real time experiential environment using actual situations faced?
  • Managers derived most of their developmental benefit from conversations with other managers facing similar issues working collaboratively on real problems?
  • Managers engaged collaborative development on a long term basis could dramatically improve their aggregate efficiency and reduce the time it took for results to be produced across all functional lines?

Here is a bigger and tougher question…if all these "what ifs" were possible would you be willing to scrap your existing approach to management/leadership development for outcomes such as these? 

** In coming installments I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts on how to revolutionize management/leadership development where it may matter most, in the middle of your organization.

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