Keep Walking - Leadership Learning in Action - A thrilling story of a polar adventure with powerful lessons in leadership and personal development by Dr Richard Hale and Alan Chambers MBE
|Keep Walking - Leadership Learning in Action - A thrilling story of a polar adventure with powerful lessons in leadership and personal development by Dr Richard Hale and Alan Chambers MBE|
|Category: Business and Finance|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: From the example of Arctic explorers' ordeals, we learn how business leaders might - and should - engage in learning plans of their own at the workplace.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 214||Date: November 2009|
|Publisher: MX Publishing|
One side of this book is completely alien to me. I have had no reason to believe in any of the action learning, self-actualisation etc, that people in business sometimes deem necessary. If pressed, I'd guess that if people needed so much in-work training they might just be the wrong person for the job. There's an anecdote here about a bright young thing fresh from business school, and faced with her first task at work, who panicked as she did not know which theory to apply. The theory of common sense, I'd have suggested.
There's a second side of this book that is completely alien to me, too. I cannot think what it's like to walk across Arctic wastes, in the face of such windchill that the tears the weather brings to your eyes can freeze them shut. I cannot expect to plan to eat 6,000 calories a day, and end using 10,000 while only eating 250.
Yes, it's a book that appears to be a real Frankenstein's monster, of Arctic exploration and business manual, but it works.
I don't think many people will hold this out as an acme in travel writing, but one co-author, Alan Chambers, details his experiences in walking to the North Pole. His first trip, with a nameless colleague, suffered from a lack of decision sharing and teamwork. But with fresh companions, and a lot of further experience, learning, training and more, he got there - with someone who started the endurance test having never skied, and who started with the wrong physiology for such an ordeal.
We get a recounting of his successful failure and his, er, successful success. What follows is just as interesting, if dry and deliberately serious. We see the report back to his bosses in the Marines, which shows exactly how much forethought was needed, what and who figuratively ran alongside the walking team, and how many results and recommendations could be gained from the exercise. And we learn that the feedback on the special MoD pencils they took for their logs was brilliant.
Since then Chambers has taken several businessmen and women, and other leading types, on the final stage of his trek, taking them to their own personal Pole, showing them just how much determination, patience, trial through adversity and teamwork is needed, and seeing if they can teach themselves how well they might use some of this in their place of business. It stands as the ultimate in those bonding, use-a-zipline-while-very-very-hungover weekends.
And the testimony from the survivors leads us into the business mind, where the other author, Dr Hale, provides us with his many lucid thoughts on action learning, and the experiences he could share from his years of teaching the teachers - and from learning from the learners. He hit my scoff-o-meter once, when he suggested results should be seen after three months, but his writing seems purely logical.
This then is definitely not a book to buy for the exploration side; rather, that extreme example offers a way in to intelligent business acumen. I can't say from my remove whether this would help any great deal, but there's many instances here of work-based learning attempts, and the feedback from the same, being actually detrimental. I cannot see anything detrimental about the contents here, and for the limited market of HR managers, business leaders (as opposed to bosses - I now think I know the difference), and their ilk, this could just be a drop in the ocean that makes a big wave in their learning schemes.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
We can only recommend Managing by Henry Mintzberg for those in the market for such books - although now Keep Walking pours minor scorn on the MBA factory of business book readers, we see some minor conflict. Still, we're sure everyone can learn from each other.
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