Learning frameworks, as I use them in this book, will help you understand the way things are or could be. They can be used in just the same way an engineer uses a physical framework when building an automobile. The physical shape of a car is ixed, and a variety of elements or things or systems are then hung on that framework to create or describe the car. In the same way, I will be describing leading and leadership concepts or ideas or systems by presenting learning frameworks that describe certain features and relationships. These are often visual, geometric representations of realities, which are useful when explaining the complexities of leading and leadership.
Engineers and scientists use learning frameworks all the time. Many scientiic theories and empirical relationships are described with graphs, or as functions, or in other visual ways – in the same way, for example, that a civil engineer uses stress / strain curves to explain the behaviour of concrete.
The triad is a powerful and lexible learning framework that can represent any number of things and that lends itself easily to the questions that are used frequently throughout this book; indeed, this book's structure relects the Why? How? What? rubric:
Part One: Why are we motivated to learn and prepare ourselves to lead?
Part Two: How do we prepare ourselves to lead?
Part Three: What is the work of leading and leadership of the business organization?
The four-term framework is perhaps the most used and most useful of the learning frameworks. Its generic form, referred to as a “tetrad,” is illustrated in Figure 2.1. In this book you will be encountering this framework repeatedly. What this tool helps us learn is that any leadership activity – any activity at all – can be understood as an interaction of four elements of mental activity or thought. For this reason, the tetrad is sometimes referred to as the “doing” or “understanding” learning framework.
In the following sections of this chapter and the rest of this book, the triad and tetrad learning framework tools will be used to help you grasp
Figure 2.1 The Tetrad
the complexities of leading and leadership. These more simple learning frameworks are used as important components to construct more complex mental models. The developmental leadership model and the derived leadership competency model are examples. These mental models help the reader understand the complex nature of the meaning of leading and leadership.
And, further, the important thinking effectively model to be introduced in part two and extended to the change process model in part three is another example of simple learning frameworks' utility. The developmental leadership model and the derived leadership competency model are valuable and represent (a) the elements, concepts, and systems you need to learn in order to prepare yourself to lead, and (b) subsequently, the work that competent leaders must do to develop high-performance business organizations.
The Nature of Leadership Activity
A number of years ago, a member of DuPont Canada's board of directors introduced me and others to an extraordinary person named Bonnie Schmidt. Bonnie had recently graduated with a PhD in physiology and had just started a business organization called Let's Talk Science. She had recognized after graduating that she wanted to change the world. Her idea, her passion, was to increase awareness of science and engineering in the minds
of all people. She, like us, believed that the world would beneit from this; she believed that the best way to accomplish this would be to engage young people in learning the power and beneits of science and engineering.
DuPont Canada became a founding sponsor for Bonnie's Let's Talk Science business organization. The company believed that her vision, her commitment, and her talent could be a powerful force in society.
Bonnie and her extremely talented associates have developed innovative course materials for young people from preschool to high school age and convinced teachers to use these materials. She has also assembled a large group of volunteers, most of whom are science and engineering graduate students. These volunteers take their highly developed skills into schools, where they deliver classes under the guidance of the regular teachers.
It is a wonderful thing to watch PhD students in nuclear physics or mechanical engineering describe to public school students what they are learning about science. Most regular teachers do not have that kind of highly specialized knowledge, so they value the materials these volunteers provide and work to integrate them into their classes. The students in these classrooms relate easily to messages delivered by twenty-year-old scientists. What we have here is a conluence of talents directed at young minds that are open to inluence.
Bonnie's organization has become very successful. Its developmental learning work is based on and driven by a desire to change the world by enhancing young people's awareness of science and engineering. Bonnie is changing their perceptions and creating more scientists and engineers, which demonstrates the nature of leadership. She is an active catalyst for changing the perceptions and actions of young people relative to science and engineering. She inluences them to believe that their future will be more interesting, indeed, more fun, if they embrace science. She leverages outcomes by inluencing teachers to understand as well. She and her organization teach the teachers and the young people why science is important in improving our world; how science can be a positive force in their lives; and what to do to learn more about science and engineering. Her future state vision of a better world is one in which all people have an awareness and appreciation of how science, engineering, and technology improve their lives.