3 Reasons for the Coming Revolution in Executive Coaching for Academics

The use of executive or leadership coaches has exploded in private corporations, non-profits, and government (here).  Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates (here) say that everyone needs a coach, and in the C-suite, almost everyone has one.  And the reasons for this explosive growth are becoming clearer.   When individuals are coached, they become more effective at work and at home with notable improvements in both their task & relationship orientation; organizations become more productive with coaching returning $5-$7 for every $1 spent.

For some time, the coaching revolution bypassed the academic world, but this, too, is changing.  More and more presidents, provosts, deans, heads, and rank-and-file faculty are hiring coaches to help them become more effective, and this “coming revolution” is well grounded by the current realities of academic life.

Coaching: It’s Not Consulting or Advice Giving

Those unfamiliar with coaching sometimes think that coaching is a form of consulting, mentoring, or advice giving, but at it’s best, coaching is a form of one-on-one inquiry and reflection in which the client is aided by the coaches listening and asking questions in ways that help the client find and overcome obstacles and then identify and realize possibilities.   See a post on 4 Lessons Learned for Coaching from “The Voice” here.

The coach works to support only the client’s agenda, starting wherever he or she is; the coach comes to the engagement without judgment or any ideal sense of what the client should or should not be doing. In this way, the client can safely explore his or her own authentic path, style, and career in a safe, supportive environment.

Compared to other kinds of organizational development interventions such as training and group facilitation, coaching is especially well suited to the highly competitive and individualistic nature of the academy. The confidentiality of the coaching relationship creates a safe haven for sharing hopes and concerns, successes and breakdowns, and possibilities and aspirations.

3 Reasons Coaching is Growing for Academics and Academic Leaders

The revolution in coaching for academics in being propelled by a number of forces:

The academy is under pressure to change. Economic, technological, regulatory change is coming to the academy like a freight train.  It used to be that changes came slowly to colleges and universities, if at all, and faculty and academic leaders alike could expect relative stability.  Today, most bets are off, and leaders and rank-and-file faculty are struggling with the need to change and adapt, but they do so in an environment with almost no formal leadership or organizational development capability in place.  How coaching helps. In this way, coaching serves individuals as a just-in-time, and one-on-one, tailored development plan.

Academic leaders are being asked to play different roles.  A distinction is often made in coaching between administration, management, and leadership as being about the past, present, and future, respectively.  In other words, administrators are asked to capably make yesterday happen tomorrow.  Managers are asked to improve today’s operations.  Leaders are asked to envision and bring about a substantially different tomorrow.  In the good ole days, academic leaders had a portfolio heavily weighted toward administration and management with leadership mainly expected in well understood and trodden areas such as research funding and charitable fundraising.  More and more, however, academic leaders are seeing a shift in their portfolios to require a more fundamental re-envisioning of the mission, operations, structure, and governance of colleges and universities.  How coaching can help.  Coaches can help academic leaders to move out of their comfort zone and into new roles in the quiet of a one-on-one ongoing conversation with a trusted listener and confidant.  Coaches can offer learning resources and sharp soft skill building in the safety of this relationship as the leader struggles to get on top of the rapidly changing demands of the changing role.

Faculty are being challenged to move from “knowing and telling” to “trusting and unleashing.”  As universities charge students more and more, increasing demands are being placed to demonstrate the effectiveness of educational methods and to ensure the employability of graduates.  Moreover, the old reliance of obedience-based education (OBL) is shifting to a kind of courage-based learning (CBL) in which students are unleashed by trusting coaches who help create a new kind of self-efficacious and courageous lifelong learner rather than an individual who has mastered some fixed and known body of knowledge.  More and more, rather than wanting students who shut up and sit down, we want students who will stand up and create amazing things for the benefit of all of us.  As returns to expertise in the classroom and laboratory diminish and faculty are asked to shift from knowing and telling to trusting and unleashing, this may require deep personal changes in many faculty who have not had any preparation for such changes in their graduate education or their current work environment.  How coaching can help.  Good coaches model exactly this kind of trusting and unleashing, and coaches can help build key noticing, listening, question, and story reframing skills (NLQ+S) to help the client be more effective in this new world of higher education.  Coaching is one cost effective way to build these skills in key faculty.

These three items are driving the academy to a revolution in coaching in much the same way private and other non-profit sectors have already experienced.

Finding Your Coach

So perhaps coaching might be helpful to you or those you know. How do you find a coach aligned with your needs? Here are some questions to consider in hiring a coach:

  1. What training and qualifications does the person bring to their coaching?
  2. To what extent does the person have academic experience and understand academic culture?
  3. To what extent is the potential coach curious about you, your obstacles, your opportunities & to what extent do they seem to have one right method or the one right answer?
  4. To what extent do you feel comfortable with the potential coach, and to what extent is it easy or hard to share private information with him or her?
  5. To what extent does the coach ask questions that engage your reflection and are both hard and interesting to answer?
  6. To what extent does the coach seem to listen to you and “get you” through that listening?

A good source of information about coaching and coaches is the International Coach Federation, and these days there is much other information online. If you’d like to learn more about coaching with ThreeJoy, write to Dave Goldberg at deg@threejoy.com or schedule a complimentary coaching session with him or other ThreeJoy coaches at www.MeetWithDaveGoldberg.com.

David E. Goldberg is a trained leadership coach (Georgetown University) and president of ThreeJoy Associates, Inc., a coaching, training, and change leadership consulting firm in Douglas, Michigan; he is also a noted computer scientist, civil engineer, and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He resigned his tenure & a distinguished professorship in 2010 to work full time for the transformation of higher education. He can be reached at deg@threejoy.com.  

Goldberg published A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education in October 2014 (with co-author Mark Somerville and writer Catherine Whitney). The book is available in hardcover and all major e-book formats (here). 

 

The university as Apollo + Dionysus: A bureaucracy with stars & status amplification

gods-of-managementThere are many challenges in navigating the transformation of education in the 21st century.  Key among these is the movement from an educational culture of expertise in which disciplinary lecturers impart their knowledge to obedient students who listen, to a more collaborative community of learners in which broadly aware and educated coaches trust and unleash self-motivated learners in service to the learners’ educations and lives. This would be challenging enough, but in making such major shifts in educational culture, the organizational cultural challenges of university life are themselves remarkably daunting.

The Gods of Management

One of my favorite organizational books is Charles Handy’s 1978 text Gods of Management
 (nice summary here). In it he talks about the importance of culture in understanding organizations, and to make his point, he calls out four cultures:

  • Club or Zeus
  • Project (Problem solving) or Athena
  • Bureaucratic or Apollo
  • Existential (Star) or Dionysus

In a club culture, a single figure, the Zeus, often the founder, has great knowledge and knowhow about how to get things done.  VC firms and private equity firms are often organized around Zeus.  Members of the organization have one question to answer in making decisions about their own contact: “What would Zeus do?” Zeus cultures are effective in fast-moving environments where good-enough decisions must be made quickly and well.

The culture of Athena is a project or problem-solving culture.  Teams of experts work together to find and solve problems.  Engineering firms and other consultancies worship at the altar of Athena. They are fairly costly, but they are effective at tackling a discreet challenge.

The culture of Apollo is a culture  that excels at doing routine tasks.  A culture of rules and procedures, it can seem impersonal at times, but it will help yesterday happen today and tomorrow and the next day fairly reliably.

The culture of Dionysus is the star or existential culture.  In Hollywood and hospitals, for example, movie stars and doctors are treated as the central and valuable figure they are.  They aren’t particularly coherent cultures,  and they tend to spend a fair amount of effort assuaging the egos of the stars; they do, however, effectively utilize the stars in the special roles they play. 

What Gods Universities?

When we look at this typology, and think about universities, it’s a fairly interesting exercise to reflect about the Handian culture of universities.  Apollo comes to mind immediately.  Anyone who has worked 15 minutes in a university is struck by the rules and regulations, governance, & concern with process to the point, sometimes, that it is hard to understand how much education or research gets done.  

But another few minutes of reflection and we realize that the culture is far from pure.  Universities, are concerned with hiring and assuaging star research professors, and our minds drift to Dionysus and the star culture.  

This is an interesting hybrid (hospitals are also this hybrid), and many of leadership breakdowns of universities can be understood as the culture clash between Dionysus and Apollo.

Stars vs. Rules -> Status Amplification

There are many ways in which this culture class can express itself, but here let’s focus on just one.  The rule following part of the culture is relatively insensitive to status, and goes about its business, enforcing its rules and procedures, but the dynamic thereafter is interesting.  Stars perturbed by some impersonal enforcement of the rules believe they are exceptional and demand special treatment, usually from the department head.  And herein is the interesting part.

A main function of a department head is to determine which of these demands should be accommodated and which can safely be ignored. Nowhere does it say in department head training that this is the case, but much of the limited discretion a department head has is in this domain (and in hiring the stars).  The functional result is that certain faculty members receive special treatment outside what the bureaucracy routinely offers.  The end result is a heightened status hierarchy with a greater sense of privilege and entitlement for those chosen to receive the special treatment, and a greater sense of resentment among those who do not.  And given that the backdrop for those who don’t receive special treatment is impersonal treatment by a callous bureaucracy, the contrast can be stark. 

Implications for Administrators & Change

Simply having a model of the culture class may be helpful to effective administration of the institution.  In what ways can the bureaucracy be better trained to understand the importance of all the stars? In what ways can rules be modified to promote smoother operation and respect for the stars?  In what ways can the bureaucracy undergo continual improvement to be more efficient and effective in support of the larger culture?  In what ways can the worst effects of the status gradient be ameliorated.

Moreover, the post started by talking about change, and in trying to mount an educational initiative, a third god pops into the picture: Athena.  All initiatives are projects and to move from Apollo+Dionysus to Athena requires special care.  This issue will be taken up in a subsequent post. 

Revisiting “Up the Organization”

up-the-organizationFor the writing of  the forthcoming book (2014) “A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey” I was reflecting on the management and leadership influences in my life, and I had almost forgotten about Robert Townsend’s little book, Up the Organization.  I went onto Kindle and ordered it (here), reread it, and renewed my acquaintance with an old friend.  

In its day, the book was almost singlehandedly responsible for popularizing Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y (here).  Here’s part of what he says in the section on People:

Get to know your people. What they do well, what they enjoy doing, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and what they want and need to get from their job. And then try to create an organization around your people, not jam your people into those organization-chart rectangles. The only excuse for organization is to maximize the chance that each one, working with others, will get for growth in his job.You can’t motivate people. That door is locked from the inside. You can create a climate in which most of your people will motivate themselves to help the company reach its objectives. Like it or not, the only practical act is to adoptTheory Y assumptions and get going. It isn’t easy,

Townsend, Robert C.; Bennis, Warren (2011-01-06). Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits (J-B Warren Bennis Series) (Kindle Locations 1425-1430). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Yes, in places it is dated, but there is an authenticity and an energy the book emits that makes it worth a read today (here).   

4 Reasons Universities Don’t Invest in Organizational Development & Why They Now Should

An Engineer in OD/HR Wonderland

When I took training as a leadership coach at Georgetown University, many of my colleagues in cohort 30 were in human resources (HR) or organizational development (OD).  As I had just resigned my tenure as an engineering professor at the University of Illinois, learning amidst these people was disorienting on at least two fronts.  First, engineering is more technology and thing oriented and HR/OD is more people and organization oriented, and routine discussion of social, emotional, and personal matters in a classroom setting seemed a bit weird.  Second, my colleagues all belonged to organizations that believed in the importance of investment, staff, and concerted effort to improve their organizations & I had belonged to an organization that invested almost nothing in its improvement as an organization.  I had expected the first of these going in, but the starkness of the significant investment that many if not most organizations make in themselves as organizations was bracing when compared to the almost non-existent expenditure of universities in this area.

And as I have continued to reflect on this contrast, I remain more than a bit puzzled.  Organizations in the private sector understandably grasp the importance of organizational excellence and think of it as an investment that delivers a reasonable return, and expenditures are calibrated accordingly on such things as leadership development, teamwork training and facilitation, executive coaching, and so forth.  Many of my Georgetown colleagues were attached to or consultants to organizations in the Federal government, and even there, substantial sums were expended to improve organizational effectiveness in the alphabet soup of Washington, DC.  Why was it that my university–for that matter, almost all universities–spend so little on developing their organizations qua organizations? 

4 Reasons Universities Don’t Invest in OD

As I thought about this point, I was puzzled, but in thinking about it, there are a number of reasons why universities have not invested in organizational development to this point:

University life has been stable for a long time. Universities go back to the University of Bologna founded in 1088.  Although universities have changed over the years, they have been quite stable, and traditional governance and structure have appeared to serve the institutions for a quite a long time.

The university has been viewed as an assembly of experts. Over that period of time, the university has been viewed largely as a loose assembly of  quasi-independent experts.  Yes, departmental specialization was a relatively recent invention of the 19th century, and specialization intensified around the time of World War 2, but professors have been hired for their academic excellence and expertise for nearly 10 centuries.  The primary tool of “development” of the university is sabbatical, and each of the experts is supposed to renew him or herself professional several times over the course of their academic career, but no team or institutional development takes place among faculty, by and large.

Faculty members would resist OD methods if they were introduced.  Elsewhere (here), I have written about how universities may actually retard faculty development, and if this is so, fairly early stage faculty would tend to resist OD methods if they were introduced.  In engineering, for example, hard-core “rigorous” engineering professors would reject methods coming from less technical fields as being too soft or “not rigorous” regardless how much they were needed or useful.  It is reasonable to imagine that other disciplinary experts would reject out-of-discipline expertise out of hand (except for HR/OD faculty members perhaps).  

Universities are not led and managed, they are administered and governed.  And the language that we use surrounding the university is interesting. Professors and the university require governance and administration, not management and leadership.  In coaching, we distinguish between administration, management, and leadership as a distinction between past, present, and future.  Those selected to take a place in the university hierarchy are called “administrators” and their job is to bring forth a somewhat smoother version of the past going forward. Faculty members expect to be involved in “governing” the university through committee work and quasi-democratic process.  To accept OD methods in the university is tacit admission that the university needs leadership and management and to risk diminishing faculty voice in governance. 

This helps us understand why organizational development is not being used in universities, and interestingly, the list also helps us understand why OD is needed, badly and now.

The Times They Are a Changin’

bob_dylan_by_daniel_kramer1Although universities have not used organizational development methods because of their stability, their nature as an assembly of experts, resistance from faculty members in early stages of adult development, and because of their leadership structure and culture, universities now face exogenous forces that flips the logic of previous times.  This blog has written about each of the matters, and so we simply summarize the counterpoint to each of the 4 points of the previous section:

  1. MOOCs & the democratization of research are destabilizing a 10-century consensus of the nature of the university.
  2. The notion of expertise is under attack in the classroom and the laboratory. Returns to expertise are diminishing rapidly.
  3. Faculty members need exactly the kinds of deep development and coaching that OD methods can bring to the organization and to individuals within it.
  4. If the notion of a residential university is to survive, it needs more leadership and management, less administration, and reforms to permit innovation and maintain faculty governance, both.

As such, I predict that organizational development methods and coaching will increase in usage as these forces are faced.  Bringing OD to the university without provoking a faculty reaction requires sensitivity to the culture of the university, an understanding of the importance of faculty governance, and a respect for the traditions of the faculty and the university.  ThreeJoy Associates brings those things to its work.  Write me at deg@threejoy.com to understand ways in which these methods may be helpful in promoting innovation and effective change in your organization.  

4 Steps to Improving Your Leadership Presence

I was working with a client on confidence in public speaking and other stressful public situations, and the conversation turned to leaders with great presence.  Presence is an interesting quality in that it is difficult to articulate in words, yet we know it when we see it.

Oftentimes coaching deals in words, but some of the most beneficial coaching is somatic coaching or coaching for physical presence in body, and one of the most beneficial resources for leadership presence is Halpern and Lubar’s book Leadership Presence based on work at the Ariel Group that uses experience from acting and theatre training to help leaders show up authentically and well.

The basic model of the book goes by the acronym PRES or

  • P – Being Present
  • R – Reaching Out
  • E – Expressiveness
  • S – Self-knowing
The text is filled with a variety of exercises and experiences that get readers to feel presence in action. If you are interested in your leadership presence or in working with others, you can do worse than to dip into this useful book.

The Three Joys of Honda

Heath Harding at the Illinois Leadership Center (here) sent me a link to a post in the Positive Psychology News Daily called Honda and the Joy of Engineering in which the three joys of Honda are discussed.  The title and the post stuck in Heath’s mind and mine, because of the name of this blog and company and because in the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry) we talked to the freshmen about three joys from the very first day: the joy of engineering, the joy of learning, and the joy of community.

in 1951 Honda’s founder, Mr Soichiro Honda, wrote a Management Policy document which spoke of 3 joys:

  1. The joy of making
  2. The joy of selling
  3. The joy of buying

Of course, these joys are different from iFoundry’s three, but the post author, Bridget Grenville-Cleave, suggests that we all take a page out of Honda’s play book and articulate particular joys for our organizations:

Don’t shy away from positive emotions at work. They have a place in every successful company. If this seems a bit scary, you could start by looking at how to create a more healthy balance of right brain and left brain, feeling and thinking, intuition and analysis. Alternatively, if you had to suggest Three Joys for your company, what would they be and why?

Great question.  What are your three joys at work and why?

Shield and Shackle: The Paradox of Human Development Within Universities

In “Do Universities Retard the Development of Their Faculty?” (October 21, 2012), David Goldberg highlights a seldom-observed consequence of the modern academic organism.  Drawing on his review of literature in the field of adult psychological development, also known as constructive-developmental psychology, Goldberg concludes (in my own words) that universities’ focus on securing and strengthening knowledge comes at the expense of their own faculty members’ acquisition of greater wisdom.  Goldberg laments this limitation on an individual faculty member’s “yearnings to develop and move beyond the bounds of [Expert stage of development, as described by Jane Loevinger et al.].”

Inspired by such authors as Bill Plotkin and Margaret Wheatley, and roused to action by the current era’s well-documented, unprecedented complexity, I join Goldberg’s lamentation while suggesting a subtly different view of universities, a perspective informed by abundant appreciation for their gifts to humankind as well as their limitations:

Humankind is experiencing need for capacities greater than those cultivated by universities up until now.  Like a skeleton or a particular genetic sequence, today’s universities support certain forms of development and prevent others.  Their strengths are, paradoxically, also their weakness.  We ought to consider generating wholly new organizational structures, as well variations within universities, to support individual development beyond Expert stage.

Hooray for Universities and Education!

Let’s truly celebrate the contribution of universities to our species’ development of the capacity for self-authorship.  Once upon a time – and even today in some places on Earth – education has sought to generate sufficient knowledge and wisdom for a child only to conform to social expectations and not to exceed them.  Many girls and women today feel the press of this expectation more tightly than do boys and men.

Yet today, we largely take for granted the pursuit of intellectual independence, whether by man or by woman, if undertaken for the sake of discovering scientific truths that happen to contradict the prevailing mindset.  To an extent greater than before the advent of universities, parents today encourage their children to leave home, learn about the world, and strike out on their own independent paths.

Our educational systems and their flagships, universities, serve as defenders of both expertise and Expert-ism.  They form bulwarks against a society’s Diplomat-ist tendency to hold students and faculty alike within the constraints of deference, politeness, or social station.  We ought to appreciate the great evolutionary gift universities have given to our species: Universities have secured an individual’s right to develop an independent sense of self amid a world of tangled human commitments, statuses, and proprieties.

A Design Feature, not a Flaw

Seen in this light, we can return to the question of “retarded development” for university faculty with a fresh perspective.  Universities do not fail at the task of developing their faculty members (or students, or communities) to later stages of development so much as they excel at promoting development up to Expert stage.

Indeed, setting aside some approaches to continuing education, universities have accepted no developmental task beyond consolidating their learners at Expert stage.  The learning contract involves students absorbing data, acquiring a technique, or otherwise expanding their knowledge without having to change the fundamental ways in which they make sense out of the world.

Further, universities largely presume that their faculty members already possess Expert meaning-making capacities, and universities generally accept no claim to existence for the purpose of transforming the mindsets of their faculty-as-faculty (versus faculty-as-learners).  The faculty contract involves professors researching external and immutable truths, publishing communications about those truths, and imparting those insights to learners enrolled in their courses – all of which, I hasten to add, is noble, honorable, necessary, and transformative work in its own way.  Yet today’s complexity also demands inter-systemic capacities that conventional psychological frameworks cannot hold.

Ignore, Grow, or Evolve: Three Structural Options for Humanity’s Developmental Future

If we can agree that universities meet a crucial developmental need for our species, and if we can agree that they have not, up until now, met other vital needs, what options exist? I see three options for a way forward:

  • Universities can continue to ignore, actively discourage, or forcibly remove individuals who seek to develop maturity or wisdom beyond the Expert stage.  Such people, after all, just don’t fit fully within the organizations’ mission.  This is the current reality Goldberg describes, a future in which universities neither acknowledge nor adopt a mission of post-conventional psychological development.

Perhaps universities will assert that their way of approaching development is the only right way forward, that Expert mindsets crown the pinnacle of human sense-making.  Eventually, experience and universities’ own scientific Expert-driven data will require the abandonment of these beliefs, and the other stages of grief will follow.

  • Universities can choose to grow programs or approaches that address later-stage developmental needs for their adult members.  To some extent, Goldberg recommends this option, which I see resembling a genetic variation, the sprouting of a new appendage to meet an emerging need.

Some universities may choose to distinguish themselves by opening centers devoted to adult development within their communities.  This would be welcome news.  Most, however, are unlikely to experiment in that direction anytime soon; it just wouldn’t fit within today’s existing missions, funding conditions, or social support.

  • Communities of learning can evolve by creating new organizations outside the university structure. Communities could leave to universities the developmental task of supporting Expert-stage consolidation and raise up new structures, new “skeletons,” to address a new environmental demand of challenging and supporting individuals who seek to cultivate greater capacities.

The immediate barriers to this option are its novelty and consequent confusion about its meaning; resistance from people invested in the established way who might perceive a new species of organism as a threat; and paucity of available models to aid in initiating, crafting, explaining, or understanding a viable structure.

Whether through growth of experimental variants or through generation of wholly new structures, I expect our species to meet evolutionary demands by transcending the limited capacities of today’s universities.  The forms of that transformation will emerge only through our shared efforts.

Graham Segroves is an organizational change consultant and leadership development coach whose DevelopmentLens blog seeks to cultivate post-conventional perspectives on the human experience.  Cross-posted on DevelopmentLens.com

Unicorns, the Cult of the Average, and the Happiness Advantage

90% of your happiness is due to internal, not external matters.  Watch this video to put a smile on your face for a week.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLJsdqxnZb0

Shawn Achor’s message of positive psych, gratitude, and positive action turns normal ideas of success on their head.  Normally, we think that if we are successful then we will be happy, but for a variety of reasons this doesn’t work.  If we are happy, through gratitude, acts of kindness, and generous thoughts, we can first be happy, then successful.

Thanks to Lesley Millar for sharing this link.

Do Universities Retard the Development of Their Faculty?

As I’ve read more on predictable patterns of adult development by such authors as Jane LoevingerWilliam TorbertRobert Kegan, Susanne Cook-Greuter, and others, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which universities encourage and inhibit the development of their faculty. For example, in a framework presented by Cook-Greuter (here), there are three conventional stages of adult human development in which  77% of adults typically find themselves:  diplomat, expert, and achiever.

  • In diplomat, an individual makes meaning by conforming with group norms, and a leader in diplomat will often use words, like “family” and “loyalty” to describe what is important to them at work.
  • In expert, an individual makes meaning through exercising and advocating the expertise of his or her discipline.  Other disciplines are typically less enlightened than the expert’s, and sarcasm and phases such as “yes, but…” rule the expert’s speech.
  • In achiever, an individual makes meaning through making goals and getting results with others, and disciplinary expertise gives way to working with others to get the job done.  Deadline and metric talk rule the speech of the achiever.

The stages following the three conventional stages (individualist, strategist, alchemist & above) involve higher degrees of system complexity, tolerance of ambiguity and diversity, and an ability to integrate across different systemic levels.

With these distinctions as background, we notice something almost immediately.  Because universities are organized strictly by discipline, and because universities value expertise within a discipline above almost everything else, it would be reasonable to assume that many faculty members are in expert from a developmental perspective.  The kinds of battles that break out within departments for the hiring of this or that subdiscipline, for example, support this inference, and the quotation (attributed to Kissinger and others), “Academic politics are so bitter because there is so little at stake,” may be interpreted as exactly the pitched battle among those locked in expert one would expect from a developmental stage that does not respect the knowledge and knowhow of those in a different discipline (or subdiscipline) than yours.

To those inside the university, none of this is particularly noteworthy, except to say that expert is a very early stage of adult development.  And here’s the rub. To the extent that universities are organized to keep their faculty in expert, they retard their development as adults, and keep them in a relatively immature stage.  In business, the move to achiever occurs relatively early for someone rising through the leadership ranks.  In universities, it is fairly common to enter as an Assistant Professor and exit as a Professor Emeritus and be in expert the whole time.

This is not good or bad news in and of itself, and developmental theorists are careful to say that later stages are not better or worse than earlier stages.  And clearly from the standpoint of research expertise, having a large cadre of experts is in the university’s interest; however, from the perspective of the individual faculty member, many faculty members may have yearnings to develop and move beyond the bounds of expert.  While only 3% of the population has a PhD, 48% of the population is in a developmental stage above expert. The faculty member who desires to grow and develop finds few organizational mechanisms for doing so.

Academic leaders concerned with the development of their people would do well to first understand the problem through an adult development lens.  Programmatically, a number of interventions are possible once the difficulty is seen this way, but as long as the university is viewed as a collection of experts, little can be done to address the further development of its faculty.

Learning from Student Leaders and Junior Enterprise in Brazil

I was an academic for 27.5 years before I left to start ThreeJoy and the Big Beacon, and I’ve been to scores of conferences in a score of countries, but perhaps the coolest conference I ever attended was run by students last week (6-10 August 2012) for students, students who are immersed in giving themselves the educations their formal schooling refuses to provide.

Called JEWC or the Junior Enterprise World Congress (here), 2100 students from around the globe gathered at Paraty, Brazil in the State of Rio De Janeiro south of the city of the same name to celebrate their movement of students creating enterprises or consultorias to provide business services in their disciplines to local business as the royal road to giving themselves the practical education today’s theoretically dominated educational system refuses to provide.

I previously wrote about my interaction with Junior Enterprise at UFMG or Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (post here), and I was prepared to see very cool kids in action, but I wasn’t prepared for the size or scope of the event, the sheer organizational skill required to put on the event, or the professionalism of the student chapters that had gathered from around the world to learn, to be inspired, and to bathe in the collective enthusiasm of their movement.

Two  highlight of the visit for me were the opportunity to meet with student leaders of the movement (picture above) and share the Big Beacon with the students and point out how the Big Beacon is aligned with Junior Enterprise.  The presentation below suggests how Junior Enterprise has its campuses surrounded and now the time has come to move (a) around, (b) inward, and (c) inside to help transform higher education to be aligned with an era that values initiative and courageous action, not passivity and timid acquiescence to the status quo.

[slideshare id=13957903&doc=three-steps-8-2012-pptx-120813084339-phpapp02]

Junior Enterprise started in France in 1967 (see here) and it still has a big footprint in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, but Brasil Junior (here) is the largest Junior Enterprise presence on the planet, and I hope to go back and learn more about this important movement.  Those interested in a model for student-centered and student-run education could do worse than to go to Europe or Brazil and check out Junior Enterprise, today.