Entries in education (3)


Andala Learning model

Young Nigerians face challenges such as high unemployment and relatively few options advanced education and career-oriented training -- daunting obstacles for the individuals, and an impediment to the country's future economic development. Yet two entrepreneurs examining the situation found an opportunity here to raise the bar in education and employment for Nigeria's youth, according to a recent CNN report.

The pair, Nigerian Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and his American mentor Jeremy Johnson, noted that U.S. companies are having difficulties finding professionals to fill technology positions, even at the upper end of the pay scale. They decided to create Andala, a startup talent accelerator that finds smart and ambitious young Nigerians and puts them through a rigorous education program.

The selection process is extremely tough -- with an acceptance rate of just 1% -- and the training is thorough. Trainees are paid an upper-middle class wage, and graduates are placed with large corporations and promising startups, all while allowing them to remain based in Nigeria.

A solution that reaches across the developed and developing worlds to provide a mutual and economically sustainable benefit is a concept we like.

Image source: CNN

-- Clara Shen




John Van Maanen, Catalyst fellow, on teaching leadership

Writing in the New York Times Education Life column on Tuesday, author Duff McDonald examines the issue of what, exactly, business schools are teaching. Noting the overwhelming shift in these schools' marketing and communications materials away from from a focus on "management" and towards "leadership," the piece raised the question of whether leadership can, in fact, be taught.

Specifically, the Times turned to John Van Maanen, a Catalyst Culture Lab fellow.

"John Van Maanen, a professor of management at M.I.T. Sloan who teaches a course named “Leading Organizations,” isn’t so sure it can. “Even today, three-plus decades in, there’s no real definition of it,” he says. “We can make people more conscious of ethical dilemmas in business, of the difficulty of directing people in times of adversity, and the confidence and communication skills necessary to do so. But the idea that such skills can be transmitted so that you can lead anybody at any time, that’s ideologically vacuous.”

“It’s difficult not to be frustrated by the excessive focus on it,” he says, “but it’s become so popular that we apparently can’t teach enough of it.”

McDonald concludes by noting that Dr. Van Maanen is not alone in his skepticism. What do you think?

Image source: New York Times

-- Clara Shen


Mutuality: Define, study, teach

In June of this year, Mars Catalyst and Oxford University's Said Business School entered into a multi-year partnership to explore the concept of mutuality in business and how to enact it.  The collaborative research program will build on the long experience of Mars, Incorporated, which has Mutuality as a core principle alongside Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency and Freedom.  It will also build on the breakthrough work of the company’s corporate think tank — Catalyst — in designing and testing new non-monetized metrics to help the business move from a profit maximization model to a holistic value optimization approach across People / Planet / Performance that could one day help Mars become the most mutual company in terms of fairness and shared benefits.  

Mutuality as a business concept is rapidly gaining support since the global economic crisis of 2008 and as consumers demand more demonstrated ‘values’  behind the value that they seek with their buying habits.  It is not enough, therefore, for one company to become more mutual in its business practices, as one cannot be mutual in a vacuum.  The Mars/Catalyst-Oxford/Said partnership, therefore, is about spreading the word to the next generation of MBAs and to rising business managers through executive education.

Specifically, the partnership will:

  1. Help define mutuality generically and develop a broad understanding of the values and principles of mutuality and their application in different business and economic contexts;
  2. Identify the management practices that can enact mutuality in different ways;
  3. Develop a business management theory based on mutuality; and
  4. Co-create MBA and executive management training curricula that will position ‘mutuality’ as a viable business model alternative to the current dominant Chicago School of Business Financial Capitalism approach.

Former Oxford Said Dean Colin Mayer is leading the Oxford side of the partnership with Mars/Catalyst along with former Harvard Business School Professor and current Said Dean Peter Tufano.  Prof. Mayer's essay on Mutuality and Morality in Business appeared in the January edition of The Brewery, a trade publication that featured writings on mutuality from Mars Chairman Stephen Badger, CEO Paul Michaels, Bruno Roche and myself from Catalyst, and other leaders from global businesses and government.

This partnership is the start of an exciting journey, whereby the world can become a better place through more mutual business practices.  Stay tuned!

--Jay Jakub