How to Build a Do-It-Yourself non-MBA, MBA


Certificate of who's got time_

Who’s got time to do an MBA. Not me… that’s for sure.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great people out there with great skills. Some of these people even have MBAs.

I can see the need to reskill and upskill. Especially in this weird economy. However, I haven’t got time for another qualification. And I don’t want a divorce.

Google it. MBA often correlates with divorce. It’s a real thing.

What I really need though is some new ideas. And some new tools that allow me to move forward in uncertain times.

And not everyone cares as much about degrees and qualifications as they used to. 

I decided all of this at Christmas time this year. Christmas is always a great time for introspection.

And by introspection I mean the general disillusionment and existential distress that follows too much eating, drinking and time with relatives.

But what I realised is that the best way forward for me was to look at building myself my own MBA.

And not really an MBA at all. A kind of DIY non-MBA, MBA. So I put a very fuzzy plan in place earlier this year.

What I needed, I decided, was some new inputs… a combination of things that made sense to me.

I’m sure research would suggest that eclectic approaches lead to incoherence. However, while this might be true for groups, eclecticism works on an individual level.

In other words, my choices for my DIY non-MBA, MBA don’t need to make sense to anyone except me. And I can choose them intuitively if I want to or let one thing lead to another.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Everything around me seems to be changing anyway. And rapidly. If I know one thing is true, it’s that I need to adapt to this pace of change and change too.

I also know that the toolset that I’ve been using for the last 10 years is no longer enough. At least that’s my perception.

I mean… I’m sure that I can get by on my existing toolset. But I’m no longer sure that I want to. I’m looking forward to the change and disruption that lies ahead.

Well, kinda.

What I’ve seen though, when I gaze into my crystal ball, is a mixture of opportunities and problems that I want to understand better. But I feel like I don’t have the tools to analyse them or manage them.

So here’s what I did. I had a look at what I’m interested in personally and professionally. And then I booked myself into a series of short courses over the last six months.

Three were with the Executive Education programme at the University of Auckland’s Business School. I already had a relationship with Auckland because I’ve studied and worked there.

The three courses I’ve undertaken so far have been excellent and I’ve blogged about two of them.

One I wrote about extensively. This was Service Design Thinking.

Then a few months later I picked another one. This time it was about Critical Thinking.

The one I haven’t blogged about yet was Project Management which I’ve just completed. I’ve got a lot to say about this in future posts.

One nice thing about these two-day workshops is that they keep the disruption of my life to a minimum. Each of these has been a two-day intensive in Auckland.

This timeframe is about right for me. I love Auckland, but too long and the traffic gets to me.

I’m going to write more about this soon, but the short version, for now, is that I got a lot out of the Project Management course.

It was just an introduction. And I don’t have any real desire to become a project manager.

However, I think the future of work – for myself, anyway – is projects. I know this is true for me for the last 12 months. And it certainly looks that way for the immediate future.

And managing projects is really hard.

I struggle to manage my own time and projects, let alone projects involving others. But I feel that I’ve got a basic toolset now to make sense of my own and others’ projects.

So… watch this space for more on projects and project management.

And if you’re good at maths, you’ll realise that I’ve only accounted for three of the four short courses so far in my DIY non-MBA, MBA.

The other one feels a bit weird to write about here.  But in the interests of full disclosure, I did a weekend course on sandal making at Shoe School in Wellington.

Before you judge me, there is a connection to all the other stuff I’m interested in. But I’ll have to leave that to another day.

In the mean time, check out the sandal workshop gallery here. If you see some black ostrich leather men’s scuffs. They’re mine. I designed them, cut them out by hand, then stitched and glued them together.

So much fun.

5 Reasons Why You Need to Punch Literacy and Numeracy in the Face


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 01: Ronda Rousey of the United States punches Bethe Correia of Brazil in their bantamweight title fight during the UFC 190 Rousey v Correia at HSBC Arena on August 1, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Ronda Rousey is my new hero and celebrity crush.

In case you don’t know, she’s a mixed martial artist, actress, and Olympic judoka who is currently undefeated in her field and the current consensus is that she’s the world’s most dominant athlete.

She’s strong, beautiful, and doesn’t take $!@# from anyone. She’s also a great role model for the women in my house (there are three of them).

Her story is inspiring and she’s just been pegged to star as herself in the movie of her excellent autobiography which I’ve just read (see: not biased in the slightest).

She’s totally crushing it in every field she’s in.

I’s a bit of jump, but that got me thinking: What would she do if she was in my field? I think the answer is that she’d probably punch literacy and numeracy right in the face.

It would be a KO in under 34 seconds. And she’d totally dominate the field. Forever.

But where are the Ronda Rouseys of education? Where is the next generation of olympic level, black belt literacy and numeracy judokas who are ready to get in the ring?

I don’t see them.

I mean… don’t get me wrong. We have a few champions and I meet people every week with plenty of potential and promise.

But really… where is the next generation of fighters in this field? Which brings me to the next point.

This could be you… You could be the next Ronda Rousey of education… or Bruce Lee of literacy and numeracy…!

Here’s five reasons why you need to get off the couch and punch literacy and numeracy right in the face:

  1. The literacy and numeracy sector is fragile. We could be wiped out if politicians and policy wonks eliminated our current funding streams. As a sector, what I see is fragmentation, politics and ego. Because of this there is no clear or strong leadership.
    • Implication: You could be the one to bring balance to the force. Do you have strong literacy and numeracy kung fu? You need to get in the ring.
  2. Experts and practitioners fail to agree on things that are basic to this work. For example, there is still massive confusion around what is meant by “embedding” literacy and numeracy.
    • Implication: Get out there and figure out what works. Then tell everyone about it.
  3. There is still a lack of engagement around the infrastructure that the TEC put in place several years ago including the Learning Progressions, the Assessment Tool, Pathways Awarua, and the entry level NCALNE (Voc) qualification.
    • Implication: Train hard. Use the tools. Become an expert. Teach others. Give away your expertise.
  4. The financial penalties for disregarding the TEC infrastructure are now apparent. We see these in clawbacks for failing to deliver LN related outcomes including in relation to the Assessment Tool, staff professional development, or inappropriate use of funding. Training organisations will be forced to close because of these penalties.
    • Implication: Find out what the compliance is in your area. Work out how to deliver the results that your organisation needs. This is hard. But figure it out and then do it…!
  5. As a sector, we can no longer pay lip service to compliance and funding requirements. If we care about our learners we must work together to create win-win solutions that allow us to teach, train and show measurable results, and comply with the bureaucracy, while retaining our values and special character (and funding streams).
    • Implication: Don’t sacrifice your special character. The “experts” have no idea why some things work and some things don’t in this field. It doesn’t matter that no one knows who you are at the moment. Get on with the job and find the solution that no one else can. Don’t forget to document what you do so you can repeat it.