I feel conflicted about MBAs. On one hand, I get that the conceptual
and analytical tools that form the bulk of most MBA programs are very
useful to someone who wants to operate a business. On the other hand, I
know way too many MBAs who can’t manage or lead their way out of a
paper bag – and still think they’re the bomb because…well, because they
have an MBA.
I just read an article on MBAs and their merits
by a guy named Todd Tauber. Todd is fan of MBAs, and basically argues
that the current vogue for dissing MBAs among young entrepreneurs is
misguided. Interestingly, although he acknowledges that MBAs may be
outdated and less useful for the 21st century than they need to be, he
also proposes that they’re being fixed even as we speak, that the
B-Schools “get it,” and are in the process of making MBAs relevant.
Uh-huh. I’ve been hearing that for a long time, and I don’t have much confidence that it’s true. ...
[M]y experience of observing and working with people who have MBAs over
the past 40 years leads me to believe that whether or not people have
that degree doesn’t seem to have much to do with whether or not they’ll
be able to create happy, successful lives for themselves. Having an MBA
really just means that you paid your money, and you went to class and
studied sufficiently to pass enough of your courses to graduate. It
doesn’t predict whether you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to
the real world, and – most important – it seems to have very little
bearing on whether or not you’ll be able to continue to learn, to keep
acquiring the skills and knowledge you’ll need along the way.
I’m convinced that being a world-class learner is much more
important to your success in business (and in life) than having any
kind of advanced degree. In fact, I become more sure every day that the
ability to learn quickly and deeply is the single most important skill
for the 21st century. Someone who’s a great learner will take best and
fullest advantage of time spent in business school – but he or she will
also take best and fullest advantage of all the circumstances and
resources available to him or her every day. The key is that ability to
learn – it’s like a continuously revving engine of growth. I actually
wish there was another word for it – ‘learning’ has such boring,
schoolroom-ish connotations as a word. How about mastery? Maybe we
should call such people masters of mastery.