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New Directions in Management Development – review


Title: New Directions in Management Development
Author: W. Hirsh, A. Carter
Publisher: Institute for Employment Studies, 2002
ISBN: 1 85184 3167

This excellent publication in 54 pages captures the essence of management development as it is today and considers the key issues we should be aware of for the future. It stimulates thinking, confirms and challenges views and should be an essential pocketbook for line managers just as much as management development specialists.

It is based on a combination of literature review and views from management development managers from 30 organisations gathered from workshops held in 2001. So you might say it is not scientific research, but neither management development, nor management for that matter is a science. Indeed one of the issues discussed is the difficulty in defining management which is described as ‘a bundle of skills’ rather than a profession. It would be interesting to gather views from line, general and top managers to see how they compare to those of the ‘specialists’.

Here are just some of the key themes and issues which had resonance for me:

- Smaller organisations and self-employment are becoming attractive options and no longer can the big organisations assume they will be attractive because of their size
- Leadership is being redefined and old models are being replaced by concepts of ‘transformational leadership’
- There is a need to shift the focus from teaching towards outcomes and action learning has come of age
- Much hyped e-learning is taking its rightful place as just one of a number of delivery tools
- There is a need to link management education with the business agenda
- There is a need for a new architecture in management development, with a shift from the off-job suite of courses as the platform towards delivery of ‘just in time’ delivery and using real work issues as the focus for learning
- Accreditation can become the portable proof of the quality of management education, but there is a need to reduce the barriers between organisational training and education
- One-to-one methods such as coaching and mentoring have become widespread but there are challenges relating to maintaining quality standards and ownership for such processes.
- The bureaucracy associated with Personal Development Plans, competency profiles and accreditation does not address the real issues
- Business planning is remote from HR planning
- Career development and management of ‘talent’ is becoming increasingly important
- There is a need for a reformulation of the concept of evaluation.

I found the issues so thought-provoking that I could not help joining in the debate, albeit via this review so here are some of my views on the future of management development.

We need to move from the protectionist model of HR development where the central ‘professionals’ in this field create barriers via mystification, jargon, bureaucracy and pseudo-scientific tools. Management development is common sense and must be integrated with the business issues and challenges which are plain to see.

We need to stop dodging the issue of evaluation, or indeed feeling it is the responsibility of the management development or training specialist. Our added value role is to help the participants in management development to evaluate the impact on themselves, the job and the organisation.

Review by Dr Richard Hale, Vice-President, IMCA/CPD Business School
[email protected]

Related material:

Accreditation: On how to get your training accredited via the CPD Business School/ International Management Centres Association, Click here


Action Learning: Action Learning meets E-Learning: A case study of a Value Improvement Project

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