Malcolm Birkin

The reason why there is so much misunderstanding, so many viewpoints, so many crossed wires, regarding the return on investment from training is very simple.
We have failed to differentiate between the transactional and the developmental, writes Dr Malcolm Birkin.

Dr Malcom Birkin writes, "It is not surprising that measuring the return on training investment has become popular, but is it effective, is it well understood, or are we simply throwing good money after bad in trying to measure a myth?"

The problem I have with the many analyses of 'What makes a great leader'' says Malcolm Birkin, "is that there are so many view points and few if any arrive at a useful consensus".

Should we be investing more in training?

Of course we should, but we continue to ignore what has happened around us.

Every tenet of how to manage a company and how to manage people has changed through 180 degrees over the past five to ten years.

This had had three effects.

Unbridled 'transformation' in the public sector, where race and not experience was the criteria, has resulted in a dramatic (and irreversible) decline in every aspect of our lives from crime to corruption, to lack of responsibility, to "vanity spending? on ill-conceived projects e.g the arms deal, 2010 etc., to education, health, the crumbling transport system, appalling levels of municipal delivery, the declining quality of the water supply, the state of the unusable, dirty and scruffy city centres, the failing sewage systems and of course Eskom, ad nausea.

"Big conferences are back in fashion. Many are presented by organisations that are in the conference business rather than in the business of education and training, and so have the profit motive as their driver," comments Malcolm Birkin. "Shouldn't they be trying to find the best route for the dissemination of information - rather than profit, as their primary objective?" he asks.

Your leader on the "new' systems show that they do not differ markedly from the old. I have not read the new HSRC report partly because it costs R380 and many of its 25 Chapters are peripheral and thus not germane to the issues, and also because.

"The latest thinking on the future of the Setas, by reducing the number to five, appears to be another mistake, smaller than before, but no nearer to providing what we so obviously need," writes Dr Malcolm Birkin. "We have to consider business education and skills training together, because they are inextricably linked in those areas where the Setas have moved beyond vocational training, and into the management arena".

We need an organisation capable of dramatically updating the content of our business education and training programmes. Given the failure not only of our business schools but of our regulators as well, we cannot use them in this part of the process. Their failure to embrace the best of international practice has disqualified them

Dr Malcom Birkin continues in his unending quest to try and change perceptions about South Africa's outdated people management practices. Here he responds to a recent article by Marietta van Rooyen on the Skills Portal.

What is the purpose of skills training? Some would argue that it is to uplift people - but Malcolm Birkin would disagree. "Our objective has to be to achieve higher rates of economic growth linked to dramatically improved levels of job creation. If we do not create jobs we will fail to uplift people, and no matter how good our training programmes may be, we will have succeeded only in creating better trained unemployed".

"Both the activity of "change management? and the title of "change manager? that we see so frequently in the situations vacant advertisements, imply that change is an event, and is an event requiring a manger with specific "change? expertise. It fails to accept the obvious, that change is not an event it is a process, as inevitable as death and taxes". Dr Malcolm Birkin explores this topic in detail.

"Holding the World Cup has been hailed as somehow being a part of the plan to achieve higher economic growth. The world cup is an event, achieving higher growth is a process. This misconception is yet another graphic indication that the government has absolutely no focus whatsoever upon growth, despite its widely stated objectives. It underscores the comments of many writers that Asgisa is nothing more than a bad PR job", write Dr Malcolm Birkin.

Dr Malcolm Birkin has a tough questions for us: "How we can be possibly become internationally competitive if we continue to fail to adopt ANYTHING from international management in general, or from South East Asia in particular?"

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