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#228: Those Who Can, Do, Those Who Can't . . .

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Some of my consulting colleagues also teach as adjunct faculty at community, graduate or online colleges. Does this make sense for consultants? What is the benefit to me or the students?

Teaching in your discipline can be productive for both you and your students, but only if several conditions are met. These have to do with who you are, why you are teaching, your teaching ability and your students’ needs (there are more criteria, but we'll stick with these four). First, is teaching something you want to do? Being a great teacher and having the desire to do so are different characteristics, and you may have one, both or neither. There are fabulous teachers who chose not to teach (and there are those who shouldn't but do anyway). Second, are you teaching to supplement your income (the pay is usually far less than for consulting), because you enjoy the interchange of ideas, to sharpen your skills or because you are compelled to educate people in your discipline? All of these can be legitimate reasons to teach, but be sure you know why you are doing it.

Third, how good a teacher are you? Having passion and content knowledge are insufficient if you cannot convey that passion and knowledge to your students. Each type of student and curriculum focus differs. My teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels was more effective than teaching in K-12 subjects. Others may be better in a seminar setting than lecture setting, or in apprentice training. Fourth, compared to what you have to offer, what do your students really need? The focus of an operations course in business school can vary from mathematical modeling to cultural interactions. Are you up to delivering the focus in a manner the students need? Finally, just as in management consulting, teaching is a profession with its own body of knowledge and practices. It requires a commitment to the profession, a sense of its unique ethics and culture, and a desire to continuously improve your skills. It is not something to dabble in any more than any other profession.

Tip: The benefit to you is that it compels you to do research and keep up with the discipline. You have to continually refine and build your skills to be able to teach at the highest level. "Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach” applies to teachers who don’t bring real world experience to the students. A consultant who is "doing” and "teaching” at the same time benefits both you and your students.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  professional development  teaching/training 

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