Jul 16, 2013 in Organisations, Practical Theology

Commonwealth Executive MBA scholarship

Commonwealth Executive MBA scholarship

Personal statement in respect of a scholarship application: Commonwealth Executive MBA


[one_half]With his famous words, Martin Luther certainly encapsulated an aspect of the human spirit… of dreaming (of imagination and vision which are perhaps forms of ‘dreaming out loud’; a vision of social cohesion towards the greater good).

Today is of course Madiba’s birthday, a blessed 94 turning 95 years old. The number ’94’ also being significant as a visual symbol and date for our first democratic election… 1994. Can we as a country move on to ’95’? In a way Mandela’s massive contribution to it, and Martin Luther’s dream stand in service of the longing for a common wealth, wherein ‘wealth’ refers to so much more than monetary value.

As a professional coach I also know that a goal is a dream with a deadline. As much as I appreciate and am passionate about big ideas… something has to be done at some stage.

Part of my goal is to open up possibilities towards the greater good. My intention and what I’m busy with is to establish an MA and PhD degree in practical theology that focuses on organisational practice: The broader field being the public arena and a focus on the difference that various kinds of organisations can have in society.

To no small degree this difference lives in the relationship between various kinds of organisations and the particular government context. In this regard matters of New Economic Thinking and New Era Leadership, as well as the content of the gatherings of the World Economic Forum pertain. However, nothing is really going to change if change does not also take place in our functional business areas as an expression of how organisations do things and what they stand for.

The CEMBA adds momentum to the thrust of the said goal and to many of the courses I am designing towards developing this intersection between organisational practice and practical theology. [/one_half]

[one_half_last]In itself the philosophy of the CEMBA is a good fit to our department’s particular affinities as it relates broadly to critical, contextual, and advocacy theologies. The departmental focus is also notably gearing towards the African continent and sees itself as an intentional role player, a facilitator, between different societal contexts.

To me practical theology is an inclusive, interdisciplinary field. To the organisational theme it adds gravity with ideas such as spirituality (as an evolutionary- and therefore culturally inclusive characteristic), meaning, significance, purpose, and the appreciation of collaboration. The CEMBA programme will invigorate the work community with MBA related concerns and adds a relevant voice to any theological faculty.

Yet what the envisioned MA and PhD degree adds is a focus on actually engaging and interacting with organisations towards making a difference. This engagement takes place through running certification programmes in professional facilitation, coaching, some forms of consulting, and counselling along with a rigorous narrative and postfoundational research programme. It’s an emphasis that asks for action through interaction in the public arena.

This emphasis promotes certain values, which is broadly aligned with the aspiration of commonwealth. Renowned professional facilitator Dale Hunter (Hunter et al. 2007:23) alludes to a few basic assumptions of formal facilitation work; values which I find have resonance with my own story and my understanding of practical theology. These values entail that

  1. all people are intrinsically of equal worth;
  2. difference is to be valued, honoured and celebrated;
  3. it is possible for people to live and work together cooperatively; and
  4. the best decisions are made by those people who are affected by them (Hunter et al. 2007:3).[/one_half_last]


Hunter, D., Thorpe, S., Brown, H. & Bailey., 2007, The art of facilitation. The essentials for leading great meetings and creating group synergy, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.


  1. Jul 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Conroy Fourie


    Regarding the Personal Statement in respect of the CEMBA, my reading of Elmo’s statement is that the intended work points to the exciting possibilities attached to pushing the frontiers in the arena around the interface of practical theology and organisational practise. I feel this work has significant potential to add further insight into how we can leverage the intelligence inherent in organisations (as complex adaptive systems) through an inclusive collaborative approach.

    One potential area of interest that could benefit from this work is that the perspectives broadly outlined in the Personal Statement will to add to the dialogue around the extension of the leadership context from viewing leaders as a position, often resulting in the “hero-leader” syndrome and dysfunctions relating to power abuse and stagnation, towards a view of leadership as an inclusive process with more distributed power or empowerment. Viewing leadership as a process is more amenable to a way of being where the collective intelligence of an organisation is harnessed in a collaborative way with the consequent possibility of making organisations more resilient and able to renew itself more effectively.

  2. Jul 18, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Dr Elmo Pienaar


    Dear colleagues, friends, and visitors: Keeping a civil tone your comments, endorsements, critique, or opinions are always welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *