A Pair Of Ruby Slippers

January 8, 2008

Under The Spotlight

Filed under: MACMP — author @ 5:47 pm

fresnell.jpgI was dreading this unit and so of course it was the one I enjoyed the most. I knew I would find it tough; talking formally about myself is not something I am fond of. The brief was, basically, to critically reflect on yourself and your experience. You can see my assignment in these blog entries if you wish – https://apairofrubyslippers.wordpress.com/2007/02/

I had two epiphanies during this assignment, which is probably more than in the last 5 years, the first was that I was starting to see the value of a decent theory and how it could impact my work (I would like to add this into my action plan as I think it can have an impact on our future work). I had fought this idea through unit 1 as I saw it as so distinct from the world of work. I had visions of myself having pop cans chucked at me as I delivered a presentation littered with highbrow theoretical references. On reflection perhaps that was a bit optimistic anyway. What I managed to misunderstand was the value that could be delivered to the workplace by using the framework of a decent theory to help explain, understand and change the current situation. It felt to me that theory became like a nice pair of wellies you could put on and splash about in for a bit to see if they made you feel differently about your landscape from the stilettos you were previously wearing. Sorry shoes are creeping in again. For me, theory is about working smarter not harder as the old BT ad used to preach.

The second epiphany was that I could stop apologising for not finding formal disclosure easy and find my own way through it, using theory and being brave (that word again) enough to stand a middle ground that satisfied both the assignment criteria and my own sensibilities. This was something that went on to inform much of the rest of my work for these assignments and began to filter into my professional practice. I am no longer prepared to apologise for being part-time (in fact I think we part timers, who make up a massive 3.7% at Munchkin Land have got several advantages over both full timers and non workers) or female, a mother, an ex-dancer or slightly leftfield. I don’t fit the mould, but it doesn’t matter. It gives me a different perspective, it is why I did this course and not an MBA (yawn) and I can do the splits.

The reflection during this unit also made me realise that unlike most of the others on the MA I was not in love with my media. I could happily work on something else if it was creative, progressive, a little different from the norm and with likeminded people.

This unit also re-acquainted me with a couple of old chums, Mr. Farmer an ex-colleague who used to deliver advice and be a fellow misfit and Mr Goffman (who I had first briefly encountered some years ago). Mr Farmer got involved in my next assignments for which I am grateful and now feel like I could ask him for advice on work matters at any time (I have him captive on Face Book). Mr Goffman provided me with an illumination on what happens in the workplace that made sense for me and continues to inform what I interpret in my working life. His view that we play roles as opposed to have fixed traits was delightfully sensible, well most of the time (see blog posts from this unit as detailed above)

Finally this unit required that we write ourselves an action plan. This required me to ask myself disturbing questions about what I wanted to do with my career. I had neatly avoided these for a few years. I realised that I didn’t really own my own career any more, certainly not for the time being. What I would have wanted to do in career terms if I was not all the things I wrote above (mother mainly) would be very different to how I felt about it when considered as a whole with the other roles I needed to fulfil. That said, I also felt that this may not always be the case so I decided on a course of action to upskill myself rather than setting out career roles as my target. The idea being that when I decided the time was right to push ahead with my career, I wasn’t too far behind.

The plan was the least successful part of my assignment and on reflection this was probably because it is very hard to commit to a course of action career-wise with two small children. Yes I know people do it, actually I do it to a certain extent but (crikey this just sounds like excuses) it really is hard to figure out the logistics of child care alongside the emotional needs of the parent/child relationship and balancing that with work/money/sanity. Good job there are loads of helpful people to point out how you are doing it wrong eh?

This was a tough assignment and required me to purchase three new pairs of shoes.



  1. Interesting. As a dog who is paid to perform in front of people I find your two allergies, theories and disclosure, to be pretty widespread. My observation is that breaking through this brace of barriers can be quite useful. Both are used in part as excuses to avoid having a good hard look at the 2 fundamental causes of stasis, organisational inertia and personal comfort zones.

    Pronouncing all “theory” as academic clap-trap that does not reflect what things are “really like” is evidently banal. Even the most staunch anti-academic follows a number of deeply held theories to achieve, or sometimes help under achieve their ambitions. Most theories come about following a period of observing “real life” people and situations don’t they? A good theory, as per your welly analogy, at least promotes a good-natured fight which I think we are woefully short of in many businesses which seem to prefer the somewhat dated notion of a rule-bound way forward “stradegy” ,(yes the worst exponents really do pronounce it with a “d” in the middle), executed via compliance. (follow the yellow-brick road?)

    And whilst we’re on dated notions, I suspect the personal disclosure is hard because our generation was still subject to a good dose of pre-Maria Vonn-Trappist “seen and not heard” upbringing. At home and at school many of us were given little doubt as to the value of outward expression and opening up. In fact parents and teachers alike had an impressive assortment of weapons to keep such unnecessary displays to a tolerable minimum.

    So when a room full of “hard-nosed” business folk are asked to consider a theory (not a real thing) that will help them disclose (something people like us just don’t do) well it’s barely surprising that whoever instigates such an affront is often the subject of some “push back”.

    In my view, the greater the resistance the greater the need, and investigation of theory, alongside practicing disclosure is like any other difficult thing. Anticipating it raises anxiety, doing it involves, well, doing it, and after the deed is done, reflecting back on it provides more positives than negatives.

    just a theory mind..

    Toto MBA

    Comment by toto — January 12, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  2. The problem I have with my degree students is that they have learned to be ‘independent’; which means buying the things that they want. But they haven’t been brought up in a culture of independent thinking – all those years of centrist politics and the national curriculum. I’m having to teach them how to ‘rebel’ against the accepted systems. My degree level media students, in the desktop studio age, are still tied into the ‘proposal – treatment – script – storyboard – shoot – edit’ mentality. One of my guys actually did storyboards for an audio piece. Well – it helped him visualise the incident he was depicting so ok… We have to put new shoes on ourselves all the time, and put them on other people too. A theory os just a pair of shoes – try them on and see how they feel.
    BTW doing MACMP unit 2 as we speak.
    🙂 Karl

    Comment by karl rawstrone — February 19, 2010 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

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