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Value-based management: learning to create high performing organizations by putting man before money

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Teaching methodology 1 – lectures and discussion

Lectures and discussions

The course was covered in 24 two-hour classroom sessions – two sessions each week for 12 weeks – followed by a final written examination. The topic of each lecture is shown in Table I. To facilitate learning each lecture was summarised in 3-5 main points, that briefly capture the main principles and ideas covered. These main points were presented at least once during each lecture, and the students were encouraged to review these themes before each lecture and as a preparation for the final examination. Since it is well-known that most of what one takes in during a lecture is lost within a few days, the main points enable one to remember what is important, rather than some meaningless fragment.

Lecture Title
1 Leadership is to create results
2 Self-managing associates
3 Joy-based, not fear-based
4 The best of the best
5 Clock building, not time telling
6 No "Tyranny of the OR"
7 More than profits
8 Preserve the core / stimulate progress
9 Big hairy audacious goals
10 Cult-like cultures
11 Try a lot of stuff and keep what works
12 Home-grown management
13 Good enough never is
14 The end of the beginning
15 Building the vision
16 Individual self-actualization and peak performance
17 Workshop 1: The values of each individual
18 Workshop 2: The consequences of personal choice of values
19 Case 1: G. C. Rieber & Co, Bergen, Norway
20 Case 2: Manpower, Norway and globally
21 Case 3: Tomra Systems ASA, Asker, Norway
22 Case 4: NHO – Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon, Oslo, Norway
23 Conclusion: The whole is more than the sum of the parts
24 Questions and answers

Isolated knowledge from only one discipline has a limited potential, since the ability to see "the big picture" is becoming increasingly important in today’s complex and turbulent society. Therefore, to present a broader framework, a corresponding universal or interdisciplinary principle was presented for each main point (for examples of main points and interdisciplinary points, see Table II). For instance, the practical relevance of self-management and self-organization was illustrated in several complementary ways:

  • The billions of processes continually going on in our body – e.g., to regulate the temperature in every cell and every part of the body according to homeostasis – we have delegated to our autonomous nervous system
  • The enormously complex growth of a fertilised ovum to a newborn baby, and then to an adult human being, is essentially a self-governing process – in comparison, it is relatively modest what the parents and society provides – food, shelter, love, attention, education, and so on
  • In the sheet of paper that you are now looking at, the elementary particles are whirling around at speeds approaching that of light, without the need for any intervention from you.
  • In that part of the universe that can be observed through a telescope, there are around 100 billion galaxies, and in each galaxy there are approximately 100 billion stars. All these "cosmic balls" fly around at enormous velocities without colliding and without creating problems.

This course has had several elements of philosophy, psychology, history, humour, ethical dilemmas, questions concerning intrinsic value as a human, and human rights.

– Christopher Reusch, Student

Some examples
Value-based management Interdisciplinary perspective
1. When one Big Hairy Audacious Goal has been reached, an organization needs a new audacious goal to continue its progress. It is common for visionary companies to set such new goals even after they have become number 1 in the world within their industry. Unfortunately, Ford missed doing this when it had reached its goal to "democratize the automobile", and consequently Ford slipped behind General Motors, and now also Toyota. 1. It is known from developmental or humanistic psychology that self-actualized individuals do not primarily compete against others, they compete against themselves. One advantage of this internal focus – combined with the accelerating proliferation we see today in business and industry into new market niches, products, and services – is that everyone can become a winner. In order to implement more visionary companies, we need more widespread self-actualization.
2. The evolutionary progress we find in the value-based companies is neither planned nor created. Instead the growth in these companies is like biological evolution the way it was described by Charles Darwin: Undirected variation ("random genetic mutation") and natural selection ("survival of the fittest"). In Darwin’s own words: "Multiply, vary, let the strongest live, and the weakest die". 2. Both individuals and organizations performing on a high level are often characterized by frequent luck or fortunate coincidences.
  3. Survival of the fittest suggests how the best companies grow, but also implies that not all can succeed, i.e., a "win-lose" situation. However, the reality is that almost all the processes currently going on amongst the 30 million species in the world are symbiotic (or "win-win"). Furthermore, a new evolutionary theory is currently evolving to replace Darwin’s old theory. This new theory is based on "co-evolution" – at a higher level of development – whereby everything grows simultaneously.

It is well known that one-way lectures lead to a limited learning outcome. Also, values are something intimate to a person or an organization. Attitudes are not so much a question of memory or understanding, but rather of independent reflection and introspection. To address these issues, an important aspect of the classroom activity was extensive dialogue and discussion amongst the students and the undersigned as a teacher. Independent understanding and reflection was also stimulated through a number of exercises and projects, and the final examination tested memory, understanding, and independent reflection.

Workshop on individual values

A workshop was included to stimulate the students in the process of uncovering their own unique, intrinsic values and attitudes. This was done so that each student could get to know himself or herself better – life’s most important, most intimate, and most lasting acquaintance.

First, the students had to ponder over situations where they felt they were performing at their very best, moments when everything seemed right. Next, based partly on this reflection, each student made a list of eight values that she or he considered most important to herself or himself. These values were then mentally put in a rucksack and the exercise was to throw out one at a time, starting with that value which was least important. In this way, each student ended up with a ranking of his or her core values. Finally, each student assessed to what extent he or she actually lived the primary eight values, and what he or she could do to improve living up to his or her own intrinsic nature.

"The workshop on personal values has been very instructive and awakening. It is absolutely something that everybody should think through before they enter working life, where the interests around one become many and conflicting. In particular, in an engineering college there is a need for such a course where one takes a stand regarding the more humane aspects of life, and coexistence and collaboration with others in an organization. For me, this has been a good learning experience to bring with me to a job, and absolutely something I will spend more time reading about, and try to introduce in my working day – wherever I finally end up."

– Geir-Arild Hellesvik, Student