There’s a theme developing here – and it’s interesting (to me) that deans of the biggest management/business schools are concerned with this stuff. Interesting in a good way.

The Dean of the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, Richard Lyons, described how they have changed their recruitment criteria at the school in recent years. They have gone from looking for the best and brightest and edgiest etc., to looking for people who:

  • question in a positive way – there has to be a better way to do it/this… and then go about suggesting/trying
  • have confidence without attitude- the quietly and competently confident – a big move from the high energy, edgy, more showy people sought in the past
  • people are always learning… people who may finish school but who never finish learning…. this is something I have long subscribed to
  • believe and act in ways that support the belief that they have a responsibility beyond the immediate, people who can forgo immediate for the longer term good.

He described these people as ‘Path Benders’. They don’t break things but they push. They don’t get thrown out because of poor cultural fit, but they use the edges. In my mind I see these people are being at the edge of a river. A river changes by degree and it’s the water at the edge that makes the change.

Effective project managers are like that as well. We can work with the culture, but don’t become part of the centre of the river.

There is a lot of food for thought here.