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The Henley way

by Jon Foster-Pedley: Dean and director of Henley Business School Africa.
The Henley way is a rich idea about our approach to education, community, engagement with students - and both intellectual and personal growth.

On the one hand it refers to education methods, started in something called a syndicate group and the syndicate method, but actually extending wider into profound action learning, led by Henley professors who wrote seminal books about this. Our approach to action learning is different, more profound, and complex than much of what we see presented as action learning today. The same with the idea of a syndicate group, which is far more than the people getting together in a group and just talking about ideas - but really refers to the quality and depth of conversation.

In another sense it is used to describe the Henley education process, which is often a specific way to approach assignments. This is rather a narrower way of describing it that falls within the methods above.

It also refers to a personal engagement, the empathy, authenticity and quality in which we approach all learners and people at Henley. While this was initially embedded in the British context with their ideas of diversity etc., this has recently become enriched by our engagement with racial, gender, fairness, economic opportunity issues in South Africa with its history of apartheid, colonialism and capture. As well as by our other global activities in Asia and elsewhere.

A great part of this refers to the way in which we build people in our education, the way people grow in their confidence, intellectual capability authenticity, personal insight, sense of agency and capability. This would be all balanced with a better understanding of themselves to tackle their shadows and ego - and harnessing and channelling them to good effect rather than being hijacked by them.

Within these ideas it refers to the ways in which our educators engage with students, and how we use different models to explain education to ourselves and others.

It also relates to the quality, originality and depth of our education design which deliberately works on hard-to-describe intangibles that run through the programmes as a narrative rather than a thing, building a container that supports deeper dialogue and thought and so amplifies and leverages the content-based learning.

The Henley way is a composite of craft, intellect, experience, empathy and implacable dedication to high performance, high-value-generating and useful results, not just for business for society as a whole, and of course the individual.

It's intangible, something that is felt more than spoken of, observed more than described, and whose language is hard to fit into the more mechanical and linear jargon of business. Attempts to describe are either too mechanical or often descend into magical thinking and fuzzy mystique. This is a mistake, and we are working on how to describe it in ways to make it more accessible, using plain English intelligently to articulate it better.

Useful resources:
Henley Business School
At the core of Henley’s philosophy is the belief that we need to develop managers and leaders for the future. We believe the challenge facing future leaders is the need to solve dilemmas through making choices. We work with both individuals and organisations to create the appropriate learning environment to facilitate the critical thinking skills to prepare for the future.
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