Banging On

Let’s say you had access to dozens, maybe even hundreds, of imaginative, brilliant, cutting-edge thinkers. Let’s say you wanted to call attention to them, and to your own enterprise, because you benefit financially from the world noticing how brilliant and imaginative they are. Let’s say that, as a matter of fact, the public acclaim for these thinkers constituted the primary capital of your enterprise. What would you do?
I know! Cajole them, harass them, and treat them as a problem rather than an asset!
Or, one could do what Chris Anderson at TED has done: bring creative thinkers together with people who want to learn from them, and make a runaway success of it. So successful, in fact, that now an advertising/media company is developing a similar programme of presentations. Imagine that! You can actually benefit from displaying smart people as they make a case for their insights, in public!
Hmmm, wonder which tack most university administrators take — ‘staff as problem’ or ‘staff as the main raison d’être of the university: fascinating, articulate, intelligent lovers of wisdom’?
Honestly, I don’t like the idea of ‘University as business’, but if it’s done thoughtfully, I can live with it. The thing that fires the incandescent fury of my exasperation comes from seeing administrators replicating all the most short-sighted, dysfunctional, demonstrable failures of managerialism — ‘Dumbest Flops of the Management Fads’ — in the name of making the university run like a business. No, you’re making it run like a cumbersome bankrupt cadre of pointy-haired managers. Where’s the Golgafrincham B Ark when you need it?

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