Management and Organisation Development


This was the first of the CSML Network seminars. It took place on the 29th March, hosted by Coulter Electronics (though, in the end, ‘Our Man at Coulter’, Robin How was unable to attend!). The impetus for it was my sense of lacking a historical perspective on management development. My interests have tended toward the more innovative approaches (despite its venerable age, SML compared to most management development practice is still considered startlingly new by many) and I wanted to situate them more fully among the other activities and theories that have had their place within the field.

Essentially, this was a mapping event, and a very stimulating one too. Ian began with a radial graphic in which the field was surrounded by the different influences which bear upon it. These were things such as – theories of managing, literature, metaphors used, research, professional institutions, ideologies, country differences, heroic figures. Ian let fly with the conceptual fireworks and provoking ideas we have come to expect from him. The hidden history of institutions was particularly memorable!

As well as the ancestry of management development approaches the mapping also illustrated the way in which the same themes arise again and again in different guises. One of the interesting questions this posed for us is whether it matters where a method comes from.

Methods are often undertaken without consideration for the philosophical values from which they derive. Indeed, most management trainers pick up on methods with little if any knowledge of where they came from. Using any method will lead to certain kinds of experiences; might these experiences indoctrinate us, as it were, into an acceptance of the ideas behind them?

For those who attended, it was a rewarding day. Unfortunately, there weren’t that many of us. We are looking at the possibility of Ian doing a repeat at some point in the future. If you are interested, then registering your interest should make this more likely!

Graham Dawes