Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 23 - May 2007 - by Phil Chambers

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Welcome to the May 2007 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter, Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month, as well as our regular quote of the month and Mind Mapping Tip, the main article is based on a presentation that I gave recently to a group of students at a leading art college in London on the question "Should creatives who resist being team players be seen as candidates for promotion?".

April's Quote of the Month

"The only risk of failure is promotion."

- Scott Adams

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Work according to your preferred processing style: If you are a holistic learner and like to see the big picture first, filling in the details later, begin by drawing all the main branches. If, on the other hand, you are a more sequential learner, draw the first branch and develop its sub-branches before moving onto the second. Remember you can always go back and add to a branch if you think of something that relates to it.

For more tips on Mind Mapping see "101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps" available from our online shop, click here.


There are four main stands to this question: Creativity, Management, Promotion and Rewarding performance.


I would define creativity as the ability to go beyond the obvious to new, innovative ideas and novel solutions to problems. This is a teachable skill that can be facilitated by various techniques. These include Brainstorming, Tony Buzan's Mind Mapping and Edward deBono's Provocation and movement (See my previous newsletter on this subject http://www.learning-tech.co.uk/Newsletter_July_05.htm ).


Management and Leadership are also teachable skills. Rikki Hunt, former Chief executive of Burmah Petroleum Fuels, describes four 'powerbases of leadership': Position, Charisma, Communication and Knowledge. If any one of these is missing the consequences can be very damaging to an organisation.

Someone without authority but with good knowledge, the ability to communicate their ideas and the charisma to inspire those around them can undermine those in power and sabotage company aims defined by senior management.

Knowledge, position and communication without charisma and the passion to inspire leads to a lack of 'buy-in' from followers and hence a lack of effective action.

Without the ability to communicate you get frustration, confusion, misunderstanding and fragmented implementation because of different interpretations of what is needed.

Finally, a lack of knowledge creates the most dangerous situation: excitement, commitment and strong leadership in the WRONG DIRECTION.

However, once you understand the four powerbases and have the ability to identify a problem and its implications you can formulate a plan of action to plug the gaps. This relies strongly on willingness to learn.


In 1968 Dr Laurence J. Peter, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Southern California, proposed 'The Peter Principle'. This states that in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.

Assessment for promotion is based on an employee's performance in their current job, not suitability for their new position. As a result they are continually promoted out of positions where they excel until they reach a level where they are no longer competent.

Based on the idea that management and leadership can be learned, the solution to the problem is to provide appropriate training for employees that want to be promoted and are willing to learn.

The Dilbert Principle, proposed by American cartoonist Scott Adams, states that Incompetent people are deliberately promoted into middle management positions where they can do less damage to the organisation. Rikki Hunt again has a different perspective, "If you are running towards the vision and someone running with you falls over, pick them up and help them. If you come across someone running away from the vision, mission or values move them on."

So The real solution to incompetent people who are not willing to learn is to fire them from the company - or to fire them into outer space as Douglas Adams proposes in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! "The planet Golgafrincham creatively solved the problem of middle managers: it blasted them in to space.

Golgafrinchan Telephone Sanitisers, Management Consultants and Marketing executives were persuaded that the planet was under threat from an enormous mutant star goat. The useless third of their population was then packed in Ark spaceships and sent to an insignificant planet." http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/golgafrincham.shtml (note you will need "real player" to view the clip)


An alternative to promotion is to reward employees who are good that their job and do not want to be promoted out of it. This may include recognition, awards, or pay increases.

So, to answer the initial question: It depends on whether they want promotion, are willing to learn and if the company is willing to train them or offer alternative career paths to promotion.

Created using iMindMap © Phil Chambers 2007

That's all for this month. If you have any comments, suggestions or would like more information about our courses please feel free to contact me.