Space to Think

So thinking can develop

Purpose, profit and ownership

Some of the more challenging thinking by Charles Handy (see previous post) is on the nature, purpose and ownership of business. As one who has worked for many years with the so-called non-profit sector, I particularly appreciated both Handy’s use of the far preferable term, social enterprises, and his suggestion that “conventional businesses” might learn from that sector.

Social enterprises put their purpose before their profit while recognising that profit is essential to their survival and growth; it is, as they see it, a tax on the present to pay for their future. More conventional businesses may one day begin to see things the same way.

It is surprisingly rare, in my experience, for business and management leaders to look to the not-for-profit sector for insight and best practice. I recall telling some learning and development colleagues once that I was on a course on aspects of “not-for-profit” management; they retorted with amusement and the question, how hard can it be to not make a profit?

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January 16, 2008 Posted by | Charles Handy | , , , , | 2 Comments

Charles Handy’s Learnings in Life

Handy’s memoir has so many pithy insights from a life lived reflectively (see last posting). He is also a very good writer. He dislikes the term “management guru” and styles himself either as a “word-smith” or as a “social philosopher”.
On learning, Handy offers:

Warehoused learning does not stick.

In other words, learning that is simply tucked away for future use is rather unreliable. We need to connect learning with experience.

But Handy adds that experience without reflection is also inadequate. He uses the example from the world of counseling of reviewing casework with colleagues. Handy’s book is a fine example of the fruit of a life lived with disciplined reflection on experience. This is close to the insights of Donald Schon on education for professions. His work in Reflective Practitioner and Educating the Reflective Practitioner are still worth grappling with.

Significantly, Handy was honest and reflective enough to build these insights into the management programmes he taught. He recognised that the programme itself was of very limited value as a learning opportunity unless it helped students understand experiences they had had in the past.

I will add some further thoughts from Handy here, but recommend the postings of Terry Seamon on Charles Handy.

Terry also links to a forthcoming America Management Association webcast of an interview with Handy.

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January 9, 2008 Posted by | Charles Handy, Education, Handy, learning, management | 1 Comment