Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

We must really learn to share & we must share to really learn

Written by: on April 29, 2015

Hope to do well yourself at your work? Hope to assist others in doing well at their work as you are able? Hope that your organization does well overall?

Caroline Ramsey has offered two excellent articles on thoughtful managerial interaction. In both “Provocative Theory and a Scholarship of Practice” and in “Management Learning:
A Scholarship of Practice Centred on Attention?” Ramsey articulates the importance of Being-With, that is, of mindful, empathetic relationality.[1]

What I deeply appreciate about Ramsey’s approach is that while obviously deeply knowledgeable about the subject matter, the author doesn’t allow knowledge to unduly obscure or trump healthy, thoughtful connected practice. Ramsey discusses “privileging practice-as-learning” as over-against privileging knowledge.[2] In theological language this could be referred to as privileging orthopraxy over orthodoxy – right practice before right belief. It is not just knowledge, but knowledge engaged/applied in the day-to-day contextual ambiguities of organizational life that really showcase managerial/leadership efficiency or deficiency. We need to always query, “has our person been field tested; are they road worthy?”

The importance of Ramsey’s approach is that it is a move toward more fully embodied (literally), integrated practice. There is less of the heard-but-not-seen manager. There is a sharing-of-life that allows for camaraderie and community to develop both interpersonally and intrapersonally – a reflexive, dialogical process that grounds possibility in lived-reality – that manifests in significant savings to the organization and apparent increase in worker satisfaction.[3]

Importantly, Ramsey concludes her article on “A Scholarship of Practice Centered Attention?” with what should be an all-too-obvious point, but apparently has yet to be so understood; Ramsey writes, “perhaps most radically, a scholarship of practice recognises the constitutive importance of ongoing relations within management practice.”[4] Being relationally connected with employees is radical? Unfortunately, in a lot of organizations (including various churches!) it probably is.

All of this is a good reminder that from a theological (and management) perspective there is no healthy evangelism without relationship, without friendship, without discipleship. Whenever possible, relationship should precede proclamation. The good news is that philosophically, in the barest of senses, however minimal, relational connectedness must literally always precede — or at the very least occur simultaneous to – proclamation. The goal however is not toward meeting the minimum, but toward maximizing possibility. This is where Ramsey’s work with mindfulness, with intentionality is particularly promising.

Ramsey, instead of focusing on how to shore-up power through conquering and dividing or through limiting access to presence and/or to information, focuses on relational engagement where one offers voices amidst a multiplicity of voices to enhance community.[5] Ramsey mentions Bakhtin’s idea of polyphony and carnivale to suggest something I might refer to as multilogical or multilogue. As Kenneth Burke has noted, we always enter a conversation that has already began before we arrive and will always continue after we have departed.

We must really learn to share and we must share to really learn.


[1] Caroline Ramsey, “Provocative theory and a scholarship of practice.” Management Learning 42, no. 5 (2011): pp. 469–483; Caroline Ramsey, “Management Learning: A Scholarship of Practice Centered on Attention?” Management Learning 45, no.1 (2014): 6-20.

[2] “Management Learning,” 7.

[3] Ibid., 12-17.

[4] Ibid., 18.

[5] “Provocative Theory,” 469.

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Clint Baldwin

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