Saturday, 22 May 2010

Z marks the spot

I am mindful that I have not posted a blog for a few days. Perhaps I am hoping that absence might make the heart grow fonder. Or maybe I am anxious that my readers do not get too used to me -novelty wearing off and all that. The truth is that I have had some rather interesting thoughts this week, but I needed a little time and space to sort them out. The ideas pertain to setting up a school or a college. Mmm.

Not just any old school though. Mine would be a special school where one could learn all the things that heretofore only life and work and the slings and arrows thereof could teach about leadership and innovation.The genesis of the idea came from Simon Sinek's Why University. The part of me that loves the fact he has taken something obvious and simple and made it his own with a few playful concepts and a natty little website wants to jump on the bandwagon. Thus I am dreaming of founding the College of Z. I did a quick check and there doesn't seem to be one anywhere. Mind you, the search engines will be rather confused since all the universities seem to have an A-Z.

But perhaps that will not prove to be too much of an issue.You see the "Z" is not really used enough. X is overdone these days and A, B and C get loads of attention. But Z is sort of down there at the back on its own. People cannot even agree on what to call it. I like Z because my non-blogging/non-web identity is Z. Indeed, I was known to many for some time as "Zed". I have always liked the fact that not too many of us have a Z in our name. My initials never seem to be confused with anyone else's and somehow growing up as the only person whose name began with a Z in the school was quite fun and special.

So that is the spirit that the College of Z will be imbued with; a sense of the fun and special.

I have not progressed very far with the curriculum or details as to location, courses, faculty and such. I have focussed on the golden circle though - the Why, What and How.

The Why - Today's leaders are intrinsically motivated blue sky thinkers and innovators with incredibly rich life experiences, huge right brains, loads of EQ and bearing all the Habits of successful people. The College of Z is  founded to teach the followers and masses to be more like the leaders and innovators.

What - The College of Z will offer students the chance to experiment with their own and others' minds so as to develop their creative and leadership potential in a safe and unfettered environment. Nothing will be wrong, no idea will be stupid and no one will fail.

How - The College of Z will teach and guide its students in the whys and wherefores of day to day life in the world of big thinking. Blue sky concepts, brainstorming, integrated and holistic approaches will be the order of the day. Spread sheets, details, term papers? No way. The College of Z will test your mental agility, intellectual acuity, perseverance, capacity to influence and ability to get along with your peers.

So that is the cornerstone, the ethos if you like - the foundation plinth of what may become a truly amazing institution. Now I am not going to labour all the minor details like set texts or field trips or assessment procedure. No such details have yet been determined.

Rather, I will just give you a sample list of some of the amazing courses that will be offered. Remember that as an integrated, holistic college for the real world of the 21st century and beyond, The College of Z will offer subjects that will provide a solid and comprehensive grounding in all the knowledge and skills needed to lead and innovate, be seen to be leading and innovative and being paid to be seen to be leading and innovative. At the end of the day we will not just unearth and develop our students' natural capabilities, we will do all we can to see that they secure the status, experience, mentoring, networks and credibility necessary to make their way in the world as leaders and innovators. Whether that involves paid work or parenting, politics or crime, we commit to prepare you to lead in the real world of your making.

The College of Z will have five main faculties or departments as follows:
The Department of Applied Innovation
The Department of Persausion and Panache
The School of Natural Leadership
The Department of Personality (including media, lack-of and cults of)
The School of Integration, Responsibility and Cohesion

A sample of courses that will be offered will include:

BS101 - Brain-hurricaning - the art of blowing air and destroying all in your wake.
INOV8 - Innovation - a moveable feast.
POO106 - An Introduction to writing popular business books.
PER201 - Getting away with it with style.
INT304 - Making The Big Picture Bigger.
INT307 - Clairvoyance and annoyance.

The College of Z will also run highly interactive summer schools where students keen on fast-tracking their studies or just complementing a more traditional education will be able to sample and taste the delights of the Personality faculty. Courses will include an intensive in passive aggressive leadership styles, a refresher in subtle bullying for maximum effect, intro to applied mysogynism at work or why "diversity" needs a new definition and a very hands on programme exploring manipulation and guile and the myriad pitfalls they can involve. Finally, a rigorous short course in new media skills will also be offered through which students can learn how to self-promote, harass others and waste time with style and the semblance of substance.

As an adjunct to the more formal learning programme we will also offer an intensive cross-disciplinary programme for extra credit in which participants will carry on a "mock leadership life". Law schools use the Mock or Moot Court, Business Schools, the "case study", teacher training colleges the "prac". At the College of Z we will encourage the best and brightest to embark on the practical and demanding programme of "I lead therefore I am".

Extra-mural one-off courses will complement these fantastic offerings - Eye Contact and its Uses or How to Look Like you Care, CSR for Non-believers, Global Warming Catchup, Dressing for Long-Haul Upgrades, Time Management - the Art and Science of Busy and a Name Dropping Masterclass. Finally, for the prescient among the students, those eager to to pre-empt the potential pitfalls of a life too glamourous or too debauched (could there be such a thing?!) - "How to Have it All and Not Hate It".

As you can imagine, the fees will be steep. But the benefits!

Imagine the appeal of a one-stop shop for all of this learning. A veritable Eden Project for the leaders of tomorrow - a hothouse for hot innovators.

I am truly committed to making this a reality. I know for myself that many of the courses will be hugely informative. And yes, before you ask I will be lecturing in some. Which ones?

Integration, ideas and influence are my pet area, though I do have quite a lot of experience with silence. I am toying with the idea of a course focussing just on awareness raising around silence. I could discuss its use as a weapon of mass humiliation, a form of denial, a blissful respite from a busy life, a means of achieving greater harmony and assent, a tool for rest and recuperation (something true leaders know is how to use rest, holidays and absence to their advantage), or a frightening and still thing that we control not in those hours before dawn.

So - that is where I am. I am conscious that the "Z" might not speak clearly enough of my dream for this college - or tell the story of the Y. A pragmatic part of me is also aware that many students would rather live their life than pay dearly to learn what the College of Z would purport to teach.

Perhaps the college is too ambitious or even misconceived. Perhaps jumping on other people's bandwagons is over-rated. I daresay that I seek not so much a school but a place at the table for "z". As in Doctor Seuss' classic tale of the Cat who came back, it was "z" who brought the voom and saved the day.

And that is really what this is all about - the voom.

I want to capture the VOOM!

I want to know where to buy green eggs and ham, ready cooked and delicious. To be born in Octember instead of September. And ultimately, to be like Horton and hear the Who, as well as the What, How and Why.


  1. Brilliant! Can I be an adjunct professor?

  2. yes - we need poets to teach them to walk to the beat! thanks for following.