Managers are not taught but learn
30 July 2015
Henley Business School has a long history of innovative learning techniques, developing new and exciting ways to train the business leaders of the future. Arguably the most famous of these techniques is the Syndicate Method.
Henley Business School has a long history of innovative learning techniques, developing new and exciting ways to train the business leaders of the future. Arguably the most famous of these techniques and one that continues to inform many of the courses that the school offers today is the Henley Syndicate Method.
Developed in the early 1950’s for what was then the Administrative Staff College, the principles of the method continued to inform teaching throughout the organisations time as the Henley Management College and later as the Henley Business School.
The syndicate method, for which Henley became renowned, was a distinctive form of group learning. It differed from the academic seminars delivered at contemporaries such as Harvard Business School, which relied on the case method to teach broadly prescribed solutions through lectures and wrote learning from journals and papers. The syndicate method instead focussed on the gains that could be made from students drawing on each other’s knowledge in a reflective way. It brought together teams of typically 8-10 programme members of mixed backgrounds and experiences to work together to develop solutions to the complex problems of business as opposed to learning the ‘right’ way of tackling specific issues. The commitment was to develop the individual to solve the problems they faced over teaching prescribed solutions.
As an American journalist visiting Henley in the 1950’s concluded:
“It’s hard to get any Henley staff member to admit that anything at all is taught here, let alone a science of management… it is (instead) their purpose to bring together members to share their accumulated experience”
Of course the quote uses a healthy dose of journalistic licence to emphasise the point, but it does strike upon one of the core beliefs of both the method and a founding principle of Henley; that business leaders must be prepared to move beyond their specialism and work together collaboratively with colleagues from all areas to develop their own complex solutions to the complex problems faced by businesses.
Henley Business School has grown and developed hugely since those first programme members were placed into their syndicates at our Greenlands Campus. As a triple accredited business school we deliver the latest cutting edge research in a variety of methods to students and programme members on a range of courses and with a range of experiences. What remains true however, in our 70th year, is a commitment to develop individuals capable of crafting their own solutions to the world’s complex challenges.