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Continuous changes in both the economy and technology, as well as changes in the
speed of change, suggest that m^anagers who lead modern organizations need to be
engaged in a constant learning process. Although much executive education focuses
on technical and financial issues, we believe that the big mistakes in careers and
organizations result from a lack of knowledge of a different kind—from gaps in selfawareness.
We review executive education with three goals in mind. First, to define
some key terms associated with learning and education thai are often left unspecified.
Second, to propose a taxonomy of learning outcomes associated with self-knowledge: the
taxonomy is exhaustive in that it can account for all existing competency models. And
third, to suggest that executive education will proceed most efficiently and productively
when ii is preceded by an assessment of the executives' capabiliiies, relaiive to their role
responsibiUiies (present and future) and ihe organizational culture in which they work.
"It isn't whai you don't know that will hurt
you, it's what you do knovir that isn't true."
It is axiomatic in today's world of business that
change is the only constant. Successful managers
walk a learning treadmill to keep up, and run that
treadmill to succeed. A bewildering array of management
training practices are now available, but
no one agrees on terminology, methods, or desired
outcomes (Peterson & Hicks, 1999). This essay is
mostly about defining terms and specifying the
assumptions and conditions that should be considered
before any kind of executive training will be
effective. We have organized it into six major sections:
First, we argue that the most important thing
about which managers need to be educated is human
nature in general and their own personal
nature in particular. Second, we take up the two
major traditions in learning theory—the Gestalt
and behaviorist models—and review how they
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