We’d better give our heads a shake

Oil Sands

The Globe and Mail special on the Alberta Oils Sands is fascinating.  How we, as a species, can think that we can modify/extract/rape the earth like they are currently doing up by Fort McMurray and still remain sustainable is a question that needs to be dealt with.  Whether you believe in global warming/climate change or not, why should we be allowed to leave such a large, significant, dramatic footprint on the earth?  Sure there is lots of demand for oil, and sure, Alberta has a lot of it – basic economics aside, that doesn’t mean that we need to meet that demand.  Small children have an almost limitless demand for candy and TV.  I’m fairly sure that most parents don’t just cave-in and supply those “needs”.  So why do we have to do it with oil? Why can’t we just say – enough is enough and maybe we need to change our lifestyle to fit our environment rather than forcing change on our environment in order to meet our lifestyle?  I believe in small steps making a difference, in personal responsibility, and that it’s not too late.  So I ask you – what steps have you already made or what small steps are you willing to make?  We don’t need to learn from Ralph Klein or Ed Stelmach, I suggest that their way of thinking is: (a) greedy, (b) old fashioned, (c) corporate whore-mongering, or (d) all the above.  Comments are more than welcome!

Curriculum design – the easy way?

I was listening to an operations management seminar today, and the gist of it was (well the part I understood) that there are three things a service business should consider: defining the target market, deciding on the product, and figuring out the delivery model.  Where should a post-secondary program start?  Some people may think that the target market is easy, all high school grads.  Luckily there is a wide diversity of high school grads and some are more suited to a business program than others.  If we attract students that will not thrive in our program, the program will fail.  The delivery model is also up for grabs.  Although post-secondary education has (and unfortunately still does) focused on the lecture method of delivery, psychology research clearly shows that its fairly ineffective.  Western has been very successful using the case-method, then we have the alphabet-soup of PBL, TBL and others.  Last, the product.  What is the product we are trying to deliver?  Great education of course, but are we specializing in certain industries?  certain functional areas?  certain thematic areas? Continue reading “Curriculum design – the easy way?”

Leadership – a rare jewel?

In my relatively short professional and academic career I have seen first hand the importance of good leadership.  Like most of us, I’ve experienced working for/with fantastic leaders and I’ve also experienced the drudgery of working for (not with) poor leaders.  There are lots of good books on leadership – interestingly, I suspect that the good leaders read none of them, they are, as you say, natural born leaders.  What is good leadership:

  •  not following – obviously being a leader means that you can’t be a follower.  What are you doing that is innovative, pushing the boundaries, and making tomorrow’s new product/service?
  • you have disciples – not drones, but disciples.  People that understand your vision, believe in your vision, and trust you.
  • you have vision – this goes with the first point.  As a leader you must have an idea of where you are headed.  Endless committees, delaying decisions, waiting to see what the market place looks like are not leadership skills.
  • you have courage – leading is risky.  If you don’t like risk or can’t handle the potential outcome, don’t take the position.  Warming a leaders chair does not make you a leader – at best you’re a caretaker, at worst you’ve tied up a chair that is critical to the institution.

I have not always agreed with a great leader (and in a few cases there have been some heated debates), but when all is said and done, I would still follow them into battle.  To the great leaders that have shown me the light, thank you.  To the weak leaders that are still warming seats, move on.