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April 05, 2008


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Ron Baker

Great post! Mentoring programs are just another "fad" dreamed up by consultants and firms with lousy leadership.

How can a knowledge worker make it through (at least) four years of college, and not have a mentor? Most have one in high school. It cannot be assigned, it is chosen.

And you are so right: it cannot be measured, it must be judged. A lot of my mentors are long dead, writers whose lessons live on in books. Some are people I've never met, and others I have.

To think that any firm is responsible for a knowledge worker's personal development is to believe in a form of serfdom, or communism. It's not a firm's place to mentor people. They have a hard enough time inspiring them with work more meaningful than billing hours or getting paid.

Congratulations for driving a nail into another management consultant fad. RIP.


Another excellent post, Michelle -- and well said, Ron. Mentors just happen--you can't force it. (And not every mentoring relationship is the same; I didn't even know I HAD one until years later. I didn't even think I liked the guy that much, but I learned a ton from his viewpoints.)

Also, we in professional services tend to think of ourselves as citizens of our industries, gracing a particular company with our brilliance at the moment. I don't think that is disloyal; the company is usually better for the connections and outside perspective it brings. An outside mentor reinforces that feeling.


It's true. Mentors and coaches help you get where you need or desire to be faster and better. I've been both a Mntor and a Mentee and believe as one grows he/she should be both to someone at all times.



I am behind on my reading, but I wanted to chirp in. This is a great post! I could not agree more.

PS - You are debating semantics, but don't make an excuse for it. WORDS are important!

Bruce Lewin

Hi there Michelle,

This post really helped me in researching and writing a piece on collaboration – thank you very much! I’ve tried to ping this post from my own blog, but I’m not sure how reliable pingback/trackback is, so I thought I’d say hello the old fashioned way!

btw, my piece is called 'The Tension in Collaboration’ and is online at;


Best wishes,


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