WHERE THE MINDFUL MANAGER CAME FROM
In 2001 I arrived in Lancaster University to begin a PhD. I had spent more than 20 years in industry, mostly in the industrial coatings industry, and had risen through the ranks of research, technical management and marketing to become the worldwide business director of a large division of a multinational corporation.
Over the years I had become fascinated by the disparity between what was said in the management textbooks, and my 12 weeks of executive MBA training at INSEAD, and what the real world of business/management was like. I decided to do my PhD on the realities of managerial work in the marketing field – the area where I had the most functional experience. I spent some six years on this study – three years in the field watching and listening to managers, and three years writing and reflecting on my more than 20 years in practice.
This extended period of research and reflection led me to understand that, in my executive past, I had been remarkably well trained in very many technical and practical aspects of managing and leading, but in a strange way, had been seriously under educated in many areas that now revealed themselves as seriously important.
My teachings on the Lancaster MBA and the International Masters in Practicing Management are founded on this reflection, and the course modules based upon it first ran back in 2007. It has changed a lot over time – but the essence of the targeted learnings remains the same – the pursuit of practical wisdom.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Peter W. Lenney
I am a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University, where I teach directly from my research, and I conceived and deliver the signature program of the Lancaster MBA – The Mindful Manager.
Before I became an academic I had spent more than 20 years in industry. Mostly with the industrial coatings/paints division of Courtaulds, the British multinational [now part of Akzo-Nobel]. I graduated as a chemist. My business career took me from the laboratory bench of product development, via various R&D management appointments, through global marketing, to eventually become the Worldwide Business Director of International Paint Marine Coatings – a global supplier of coating systems & services to ship operators and shipbuilders worldwide; at that time a $500m turnover business. Long before the word ‘global’ was fashionable the marine coatings business was truly global. Global customers with globally mobile assets made that inevitable. As a result I have had extensive experience of international markets and marketing. Additionally, industrial coating operations are very often so integrated into customer processes that in many senses you have to know the customers’ businesses better than they do themselves. In my technical roles this facet of the coatings industry led me to get involved in the detail of a very wide range of industries… everything from ship-building to beverage cans, yacht construction, petrochemical production and aerospace, to name just a few. There’s no business, like paint business!
My primary research interests are the nature and processes of managerial work, management education and particularly managerial judgment. This latter research has led me to become engaged with the conceptions of mindfulness & metis and how the Aristotelian conception of practical wisdom – Phronesis – together with Heidegger’s, Arendt’s, Beiner’s, Heidlebaugh’s, Martin’s & Weidenfeld’s perspectives on judgment, can be mobilized in the education of managers.