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Working Through the Wall

Professor Mike Miles Aims to Help Individuals Discover Equifinality

Professor Mike Miles

Professor Mike Miles has been teaching in the Telfer Executive MBA Program since 1995. For many alumni, candidates and staff, Professor Miles is known best for his lively classes in Organizational Behaviour.

What is this Thing Called Organizational Behaviour

Professor Miles believes that in order to understand why Organizational Behaviour (OB) is a valuable course for training executives, the definition of OB must be understood. His favorite definition is the one he uses to explain OB to his mother: it is the appreciation of why people do the crazy things that they do in organizations. There are many theories of why people identify different approaches to the same situation and by understanding the best of these theories it helps executives to predict how and why individuals behave the way that they do. Knowing why behaviors occur can help tremendously in building resilience and effective leader response in an organization.

Why is Team Work Necessary in the Telfer Executive MBA Program

The teams in the Executive MBA program are formed like executive teams – there is not an appointed boss, only a group of smart and equally driven individuals with diverse experiences and perspectives. Executive MBA candidates will work with precisely this type of group in the real world of business. They need to understand how to make such a team work effectively and productively. The design of the Telfer Executive MBA learning experience guides them through identifying how to thrive and manage conflict in a group of equals.

Why is Team Work an Important Part of the Executive MBA Learning Experience

A similar pattern emerges from the groups each year. Individuals within the teams critically discuss everything put forward by their peers in the first few months with the goal of making team submissions “perfect”. By the end of the first year, the teams that are thriving have learned that there are multiple approaches to crafting a “good response”. They are learning first-hand about a term they were taught in Management Skills 1 - the principle of equifinality. This term broadly translates that there is always more than one right way to do something.

In Professor Miles’ mind, teamwork is like a wall – something that all of the candidates need to breakthrough in order to enter the world of true executive competence. The business environment, in real-time, requires leaders to work effectively in team environments – the new world is simply too complex for individual players to hold all of the requisite skills to think on his/her own. Making it through to the other side of the “team wall” gives the Telfer Executive MBA graduate the skills to maximize the human assets in their organizations. They have learned to surround themselves with peers whose skills compliment their own and they are working together toward a common goal – and that is one of the key elements that pursuing an Executive MBA is all about.


Posted: June 24, 2015

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