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Schools, churches, businesses, non-profit organizations, social movements, and governments depend on vibrant and competent leadership to thrive. Organizations of all types throughout our society are in desperate and constant need of effective leaders—individuals who can make extraordinary things happen through and with other people.

As social entities, organizations are made up of people and the things that they do are accomplished by, through, and with people. For an organization to be effective, the work of its people must be coordinated by someone or something. The coordination of the work of people and its study, fall within the domain of management. The principles, concepts, and skills of management apply to all types of organizations.

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After 18 years of playing racquetball, I decided to earn an instructor's certification.  In those 18 years of playing, I'd never had any formal instruction or introduction to the principles and philosophy of the game--I had learned everything that I knew of the game through personal experience on the court.

During my instructor's certification clinic, the head clinician started the program in the classroom (not on the court) with a review of the fundamentals of the game--including a review and test of the rules.  Over the weekend-long clinic, we discussed the basic strategies and principles of the game, analyzed proper stroke mechanics, and learned drills to help us perfect our games and to use when teaching others.

I learned in one weekend what took me years to figure out by myself through my own personal experience.  The clinic also made me consiously aware of things that I already knew unconsiously about the game, my abilities, and my style of play.  At the end of the weekend, I felt re-energized about the game and my playing abilities--however, I also regretted that I'd not had such a learning experience years earlier.  

Just as budding athletes, artists, and musicians develop and improve their skills more fully and efficiently through lessons and study, rather than learning only through personal trial and error, so too can students of leadership, management, and organization develop understanding and skills more efficiently through study and practice than those who only learn independently through personal experience.

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The manager's job is primarily one of a problem solver.  Managers, when confronted with problems brought about by novel situations, exceptions, or unexpected events and circumstances, must analyze the problem, diagnose causes, and derive remedies to best solve the problem with the interests of the organization in mind.

As individuals, our past experiences and the things that we know and understand determine how we define and develop solutions to problems.  In other words, those things that we know shape how we address and solve problems--our experiences make up the tools we use to solve problems.

Exposure to management theories and ideas gives managers and organizational decision-makers a more complete set of tools to solve organizational problems than with tools derived only from personal experience.

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Athletes, artists, and musicians require formal study of the rules, principles, and philosophies in their fields of interest.  However, their skills can only be fully developed when they practice, reflect upon, and improve those skills through ongoing, continuous, and purposeful practice.  Likewise, the applied and hands-on nature of management requires students of management to practice what they learn.

These training sessions emphasize practice and theory.  Interactive examples, exercises, and experiences allow participants to see the concepts in action.  Participants are also challenged to perform critical reflection on their own strengths, weaknesses, and "styles of play."  They are encouraged to develop strategies on ways to improve their own games.   



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2006, 2007  Coleman Patterson, All Rights Reserved