Am I lying or just overselling? Am I bigging it up? Making more of it than is justified? Am I making something routine and commonplace sound different and innovative? How else do I explain the manager who previously worked for the organisation who claims never to have heard of it or the manager still working for the organisation who states they have never experienced executive coaching, never been part of a learning set, never been offered a mentor, never attended a management surgery and never heard of a management guru site?
The explanation is that the management/leadership development programme is being delivered in a large complex organisation. It's a characteristic of such organisations that they often have islands of excellence. On more than one occasion I have heard colleagues from other organisations confess they their innovative work is more widely recognised outside their own organisation. The explanation is the silo mentality that exists in many public sector organisations. Such a culture reinforces the professional rather than the managerial perspective. So managers responsible for libraries get together nationally and exchange good practice as do managers in housing or social services but they do not share much across departmental boundaries in their own organisations.
This situation is not going to change over night but the harsh financial climate is forcing a centralisation of services in the name of efficiency. This in turn makes it increasingly harder for departments to do their own thing. An example of this is management development. Gradually it is being accepted that a manager requires the same set of core competence whatever department they work. The core competence are around managing people, managing budgets, being able to analysis complex information, being able to see the bigger picture and being able to develop effective working relationships across service and traditional organisational boundaries. In addition managers are expected to show leadership that is to be able to inspire their staff, to take responsibility and at a senior level to influence and influence strategies and develop effective partnerships.
A corporate management development programme makes sense. But departments will still approach this differently depending on the size of their management group, their historic investment in management development and the extent to which they have a managerial as opposed to professional culture. All the ships in the convoy may be heading in the same direction but some will be further ahead than others. Those that see the value in investing more time and energy into management development or simply feel that they have to make up ground can use management learning set and mentoring to build on the corporate programme or supplement it.