Coffee With a Co-worker: Reg Litz
Reg Litz, business administration, Asper School of Business.
Where creativity, ethics and entrepreneurship meet continual learning. Reg Litz likes to use analogies in his business courses. In fact, his office is fully stocked from floor to ceiling with odd demonstration objects and games he uses to engage his students in thinking through business problems. His courses, including ones on family business, executive responsibility and creativity and entrepreneurship, all emphasize what he sees as a necessary balance between creativity and ethics. The ethical dimension of his approach both to teaching and business is strongly shaped by his Christian faith.
The professor in the I.H. Asper School of Business has been teaching here since 1995, after several years as a sessional. Having done undergraduate work at the U of M, Litz returned to Winnipeg after completing his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
A love of innovative pedagogy and the possibilities of the classroom is obvious from his conversation, and everything he touches on reveals his sense of fun and a desire to stir students to unique and thoughtful connections; he cites one course exercise in which students are asked to view a film and synthesize its relation to the readings — an unusual task for a business course, perhaps.
The joy of learning seems to have transferred to his students as well. He’s won several awards for his teaching, including Merit Awards for Outstanding Teaching and a Student-Teaching Recognition Award. Over the years, Litz has published articles on analogies and strategies for teaching, conceptualizing and conducting business, about analogies as various as the Mobius Strip’s relevance for family businesses and “Kitty Hawk in the classroom,” and strategies that draw on jazz or Wayne Gretzky’s dexterity and discreet puck-handling.
It’s about “setting up the play from behind the net,” he says, which he explains as facilitating the discussion in a way that allows others to learn and to excel.
Q & A
What’s important to him in his work: Making creative connections; the possibility for deep focus. While no Luddite, he eschews the constant connectedness of the internet in favour of quiet — his office is without either computer or a desk; instead, there’s a big armchair in the room!
What he sees as most important for management: The ability and vividness to stay connected to flesh and blood, the “blood flow” of the business, the hands-on people — and the lived effects of managerial decisions on them.
Concerning the relationship between money and the meaning of life: A strong inspiration has been Jacob Needleman’s book of the same title (i.e., 1992’s Money and the Meaning of Life). “I’m not against profitability” Litz asserts, “but I think it’s important that students contemplate the nature and degree of influence of money on their business and life decisions.”
Everyday essential: Unplugging for at least part of the day.
What he enjoys about teaching: That he still enjoys it as much after doing it for all this time.
What makes him smile: Finding an object with potential for analogy in one of his courses.
Dinner with friends: The Yaleburger at Kelekis, Shwarma at Falafel Place, Filet mignon and a Caesar salad at Hy’s, anything at Resto Garre, St. Boniface.
Underrated: “Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”
In his spare time: He plays the piano and occasionally composes music.
To do: Mountain hiking in the Alps.
Childhood hero: Don Jonas, Blue Bomber.
Favourite authors (he’s a book lover): Scott Peck, John White, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, Henry Mintzberg, random used books he finds.
TV he likes: “Get Smart,” “Seinfeld,” “60 Minutes.”
Music he loves: Bach’s Goldberg Variations played by Glenn Gould, most anything played by Bill Evans, the Marsalis family (jazz), Brahms’ Requiem, and the Mozart piano concertos.
This article first appeared in the September 27, 2012 edition of The Bulletin.