Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Education for life

I had a funeral to take this afternoon, for a former Chancellor of the Order of St John in Wales, Donald McDougall. I was asked to do this as one of the Headquarters Chaplains. The former Prior, Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards gave the tribute for one of his old colleagues, and it certainly gave me pause to ponder. Donald had left school at sixteen and joined the Post Office, rising through his career to a very senior national position within the organisation - trained on the job at every level, and then by developing the job itself in a position of leadership and responsibility in the sixties and seventies. Could that happen today? I wondered.

We have so many highly qualified and well trained people running the organisation today, but it seems to teeter in the direction of ruin. The staff aren't happy, although most are as devoted and loyal as ever. The finances aren't good, and the bosses seem to be at odds with the organisation they run. Perhaps because all they know is what they've imbibed thoeretically in management school and experimented with in a succession of businesses. There's a lot to be said for the old style of professional formation by apprenticeship and mentoring for leadership, coupled with loyalty to the same organisation and its people. Education for life by life itself where there's a relationship between work and community - something that sadly being lost in this era of high mobility. and excessive ambition. More's the pity.

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