The more I read his column "On Management" in the Financial Times, the more I appreciate Andrew Hill and his lucid prose. His March 13, 2012 column treats the issue of strategy, and whether its tentative development as a formal discipline within business schools will carry any real gravitas.
The argument is a familiar one. On the one hand, there are groups looking to bring strategy to the level of a stand-alone academic discipline (for example, the Strategic Planning Society). On the other hand, managers continue to rank experience in the field above academic qualifications.
As Hill points out, the greatest benefit to practioners and professionals (degreed professionals, that is) most likely comes from a fruitful intersection of the two:
"Some of reasons underpinning the [...] initiative look good. In the fat years, many companies lost sight of their strategies, or even their business models. They tailored both to short-term goals and used financial and accounting tools to achieve them, becoming obsessed with their relative profitability rather than their long-term cash flow. Failure to think strategically and inability to disentangle strategy from mere 'vision' left many ill-prepared for the inevitable crisis. At the same time, as Gary Hamel [...] pointed out to me, many universities have allowed their own management research to drift off into financial exotica or business esoterica. [...] The new profession could offer clearer guidelines about how to set and measure a successful strategy" (10).
Hill remains doubtful, however, regarding the formation of strategy as a discipline. "One strong objection [is...] that the role of manager, unlike that of a doctor or a lawyer, is general, hard to define and of variable focus--one day analyzing sales, the next straightening out a supply chain, the third plotting acquisitions" (10). His point is that the job is necessarily complex, and that strategy formation and execution ought to be rooted firmly in experience, rather than in a degreed title.
Where do readers see parallel issues in schools? Is it to be found in the argument between "college preparatory" and "life preparatory" as accurate monikers of the school experience, for example? Or is it perhaps found in the debate between the traditional, siloed academic approach to school and project-based learning approach? I would welcome readers' thoughts on this topic.