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Paul Arthur Bodine

Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Paul Arthur Bodine
March 15, 2011

I am a clinical professor who works in the high-speed, high-stakes, high-complexity e-business industry, where management theory is being rewritten on a weekly basis. In my world, we have to learn quickly and adjust constantly to stay competitive. It is an exciting and fulfilling world where success and egopolitics cannot coexist. This is the world our digitally fluent students enter upon graduation.

The name of my course, “Business Architecture,” represents a very new concept to the business world and a very old tried-and-true methodology in the building world. The course was originally created as a conduit to bring the business management techniques being developed during the dot.com era to graduate business students. It has since contributed to the creation of a new profession.

Business Architecture is about:

• Establishing and communicating a common platform of understanding and language that employees from every part of an organization can use to participate in and lead cross-organizational initiatives.

• Aligning organizations, and converting business strategy into workflow.

• Incorporating business rules and measurements into project and organizational designs to create self-informing systems.

• Deriving important decision-making support data from intangibles using methodologies like the Balanced Scorecard.

• Having conviction. Not shying away from the difficult, abstract, politically-charged decisions that must be made in a timely fashion when little or incomplete supporting empirical data is available.

My teaching energies are focused in two areas: instilling a genuine enthusiasm for rigorous analysis and forthright management leadership in my students, and providing them with approaches, tools, ethics, communication skills and a support network they can employ to excel in today’s highly competitive business environment, both immediately upon graduation and throughout their business careers.

I believe that, at its core, business management is a process of inquiry, analysis, interest-balancing, decision-making and communicating. Our job, as business educators, is to present information and exercises that help improve the quality of our students’ abilities in these areas.

My attention is focused on helping students to discover the nature and mechanics of their own ”decision maps,” the underpinnings of the instincts they rely upon when making the in-situ business choices most often called for in high-speed business environments.

I teach them to recognize good and bad decisions being made around them, create constructs for systematically dissecting and analyzing these decisions, and incorporate these constructs into their own decision maps—effectively “rewiring their own brains.” When they encounter similar situations in the future, they will be operating from a better informed set of instincts. Similarly, I also teach them techniques for realigning the brainflows of those around them.

Teaching effectiveness is important to me. Just presenting information or giving advice is not enough; students can get that for free from the Internet without leaving their desk. As in corporate training, I feel our value lies in:

• Generating and filtering relevant information.

• Causing students to assimilate, retain and act upon this information.

• Teaching students how to find and validate information.

• Expanding their intellectual horizons, broadening their scope of concern to include a wider array of potential threats and challenges.

• Building a sense of urgency and reward for tenacity; motivating students to dig deeper.

Else, the investment of time or money is wasted.

Challenges

ATTENTION SPAN: A large part of being a successful educator today is in capturing and holding students’ attention. “They can’t learn if they aren’t paying attention. And, if they’re not learning, you’re not teaching.” This sets a very high bar for success, given all of the distractions and competition for student’s attention and time, and the multi-tasking they are doing to keep up. Attention-based education must be approached very differently using new media resources that meet the students where they live.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD: The volume of information students must deal with today is not only unbelievable but also growing rapidly. New norms are forming. Students are concentrating on learning techniques for finding and validating information rather than learning and retaining. Christina Aguilera forgetting the words to the US national anthem at the 2011 Super Bowl doesn’t seem unusual to this generation – “We all know the tune, what it means and can look the words up on Google if we want to know them.” I find I am recutting and repackaging course content to put as much emphasis on the metadata – source, validation, use, value and meaning, as the text and images.

PERSISTENT BELIEFS: Overcoming the persistence of what is “tried and true,” “the way we do it,” “my first thought,” etc. is one of the greatest challenges. I address this by placing students in moral dilemmas between ”what they know/believe” and the results of their own compelling experiential or statistical investigation that proves the contrary is true. By working through these dilemmas, students are forced to abandon old ways in favor of actively and enthusiastically seeking new solutions, overcoming their own preconceived notions.

THE NEED TO ACT WHEN CONCLUSIVE DATA IS UNAVAILABLE: We are preparing students to become senior managers. Senior managers today rarely encounter situations for which there are simple, well-documented answers. I work hard to help students develop an approach to dealing confidently with new “sky blue” situations filled with ambiguity for which there is no precedent and little supporting data. I present students with new cases whose actual outcome has not yet been implemented by the company, providing students with the feeling of being “on-the-line” in real-time. There is no safety net for their analysis, no right answer to check their answers against, forcing students to feel the weight of responsibility borne by leaders. Many of these cases involve working with live clients on real challenges they are currently facing.

COLLABORATION: When I ask MBAs who have been out of school for several years about the most valuable thing they came away with from their school experience, they invariably cite, “the relationships they‘ve made, students and professors, those with whom they’ve worked in groups.” In my own experience, my ability to excel in new challenges comes down to the strength and diversity of my Rolodex—who can I call who will take my call immediately and treat my immediate needs as a priority? To facilitate the students’ development of strong, diverse, helping relationships, I:

• Encourage students from every business discipline to take my course.

• Provide time in class during which students can meet and get to know each other better. I encourage them to seek our persons with very different backgrounds and goals from their own.

• Invite students to join my Facebook and LinkedIn groups to access others who have taken my course, and those of professional organizations in the Business Architecture community, which provides them with access to the broader professional community.

• Established the Business Architects Association®, an international nonprofit organization supporting the Business Architecture profession, with 18 of my past students. None of the members of the original Board of Directors had ever served in a management position and very few had volunteered with a nonprofit. They built leadership skills while helping their fellow Business Architects through events, job leads, business introductions, tool development, etc. The BAA™ has grown to include over 600 participants, over half residing outside of the United States.

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I hope this peek into my world, content and motivations for teaching has given you an understanding of my teaching philosophy toward focus, style, format and content.

Sincerely,

Paul Arthur Bodine
Adjunct Professor
DePaul University MBA Program