Business students—modern day, Internet savvy, native users of the information superhighway we’ve all built for the last twenty or so years—can save the corporate world.
The unfortunate thing is that somewhere along the way to cashing out in a cushy consulting position, or advancing in organizations by whose culture they are troubled, someone forgot to tell them.
This is not unusual. Partially it’s due to the echo chamber of higher education—the faculty who teach from a worldview and frame set on preserving the world they teach in—and partially it’s due to a corporate world still focused (in spite of all the evidence of disruption to the contrary) on achieving cookie-cutter, command-and-control outcomes on a quarterly basis.
There are, of course, a range of types and varieties of business students, from undergraduate business majors, dutifully studying their work at second, third, and fourth tier institutions, all the way to community and junior college students “older-than-average” who return to business programs to either run a small business better, or to provide for their families.
Finally, there are the top tier, classic business school students from elite institutions who are studying to become the next masters of the universe. These are the ones that we traditionally think of as dominating the salaries and cultures of corporations and organizations where MBAs are hired.
Except, at all levels, the work that matters is shifting away from what a human used to do well toward what a computer can do better. Accounting, spreadsheet analysis, financial reporting, supply chain management, and on and on, really matter less and less as topical areas of focus and interest in a world where information is changing hands faster than the left to right swiping motion on a smartphone screen.
The work that does matter, in organizations, to individuals, and the work that is going to reshape the global paradigm of the next fifty years, doesn’t show up on spreadsheet, and can’t be open to analysis. And it never did; but, industrialists of the past century who built the old paradigm want MBAs and anyone in a business program of any kind to continue to believe otherwise.
Philosophically, there must be a change in how we teach bright, young, ambitious, people at all levels (from community college programs to the Ivy League) in order to succeed with outcomes that will be measurable, not in terms of dollars and cents (though that will come) but in terms of people, connection, and the continuing malleability of human nature.
But what would a two-year immersive, MBA experience look like?
Here’s a rough idea of how practically, an MBA program would look, one focused on getting bright, ambitious, Internet native, students to develop and nurture the kind of work that will grow organizations in the 21st century:
- Year One:
- Semester One:
- Conflict/Dispute Resolution Skills
- Failure, Success, and Resilience
- Semester Two:
- People Management
- Psychology of Supervision
- Capstone Project: Peer Reviewed and Focused on Building a Functioning Business in the Real World
- Year Two:
- Semester One:
- Supply Chain Management
- Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
- Semester Two:
- Persuasive Writing
- Digital/Virtual Leadership
- Organizational Culture
- Restorative Justice
- Capstone Project: Go and Turn Your Peer-Reviewed Project from the 1st Semester into a Business
And after all of this, there must be follow-up. But not in the traditional sense of “Did you get a job?” and “How much does it pay?” which are questions that really only interest the federal student loan originators. Instead, follow-up with these students would be focused on the only metrics that matter: failure, success, long-term growth, and connection:
- Did you fail in 5 to 7 years after the program?
- Did you succeed in 5 to 7 years after the program?
- What “dent” if any, did you make in the universe?
And that’s it.
With such a program, the MBAs we are turning out from all institutions would be prepared to save the world from the current troubles and hypocrisies, that have caused many corporations to collapse under the inability to change for the future that is here.