Business Brains

Things they don't teach in business school: shipping, engaging, doing

Posting in Education

The hardest part of business learning: Picking up the phone. Making the plan. Signing the deal. Pushing ‘publish.’ Announcing. Shipping.

It amazes me that MBA students around the world aren’t up in arms. How can schools justify taking $100,000 in cash and teaching exactly the wrong stuff?" -Seth Godin

Seth Godin just reported the results of his alternative MBA program, of which he was teacher, facilitator, and head cheerleader, introduced last fall and launched in January. From 350 applicants, Godin selected nine finalists to pursue his program.

Godin relates that the book knowledge from traditional MBA programs is not hard to pick up. What is hardest, he says, is actually "doing it." This includes "picking up the phone, making the plan, signing the deal. Pushing ‘publish.’ Announcing. Shipping."

Students ended up launching a bunch of interesting ventures, from tribe-building consulting to top-performing sales clubs. Each participant in Godin's MBA program were encouraged, on a daily basis, to "push someone in the group to overcome the next hurdle. This is what growth looks like, and it was energizing to be part of."

This is in contrast to Godin's own MBA experience at Stanford, in which he says he "spent a lot of time reading irrelevant case studies and even more time building complex financial models." The thing is, he notes ironically, "you can now hire someone to build a complex financial model for you for $60 an hour. And a week’s worth of that is just about all the typical entrepreneur is going to need."

"The rest of the time, it’s about shipping, motivating, leading, connecting, envisioning and engaging. So that’s what we worked on."

Some final takeaways:

  1. "If you have the resources and wherewithal to run a program like this, you should."
  2. "If you're stuck, getting unstuck is not only possible, it's an obligation."
  3. "Find some peers and push each other."
  4. "Making friends for life is difficult to overrate. Every one of these people is an all-star and I'm glad that I got to know them."

Godin and his proteges continue to document their insights and experiences on the program's SAMBA blog. Unfortunately, Godin doesn't plan to continue the program, at least not in the next semester. (He's a very busy guy.)

Another smart alternative to MBA, proposed in these pages by my colleague Heather Clancy: a master's degree in conservation.

Expanding the horizons of business education and training is smart because a highly competitive global economy requires leaders and managers who can hit the ground running.

Share this

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure