I have several reasons, the chief of this is that many b-schools are, like the army, fighting yesterday’s battles.
I saw someone arguing recently that the knowledge economy has been replaced by the creative economy. (Come to think of it, it was BusinessWeek. They were offering this as one of their take-aways for 2005.)
The Knowledge Economy is giving way to the Creative Economy. Information has become a commodity like coal or corn. People once thought that superiority in technology and information would ease the economic pain of outsourcing manufacturing to Asia. But it turns out that a good deal of knowhow–software writing, accounting, legal work, engineering–can be outsourced to places like India, China, and Eastern Europe, too. […]
The solution: Focus on innovation and design as the new corporate core competencies. To prosper, companies have to constantly change the game in their industries by creating products and services that satisfy needs consumers don’t even know they have yet. [BusinessWeek, below]
And I thought to myself, "oh, fine, b-schools are only now coming to come to terms with the knowledge economy. God help them when it comes to the creative economy."
In point of fact, b-schools are bad at preparing people for dynamism inside the corporation and outside in the marketplace. They are completely hopeless when it comes to teaching students about cultural literacy. And without this knowledge, MBAs cannot hope to manage or respond to sudden changes in consumer taste aned preference. Everything comes as a blind side hit.
Sometimes I amuse myself by assembling a "dream team" faculty for the "Dynamism department" at a business school. Several of the readers of this blog have a cherished place there, not to mention a named chair. (Hey, as long as I am just making it up I can afford to be extravagant.)
But then I snap out of it and it occurs to me that the bricks and mortar model here is probably done for. We must begin from the ground up.
Then I fell to thinking about a business school founded in blogging.
Here then are some rules for the blogger business school:
1. you must blog to be admitted
2. how well you blog will be used to determine whether you are admitted
3. most instruction will happen on line
3.1 there may be 1 week get-togethers in the summer, and the occasional weekend
4. everyone will keep their "day job"
5. instruction will consist in problem solving
6. using real time, real world problem sets
7. these problem sets will be created by shadowing real world problems.
[We know for instance that over the last week or so Mitch Hurwitz is struggling to decide what to do now that Arrested Development has been cancelled by Fox. (see my post on the topic). Today, we learn that Hurwitz may do a deal with Showtime. Because they are suberbly well informed, the class will have picked up Hurwitz’s problem early, come up with its own recommendations…and then rethought the whole thing as additional data about the Showtime deal becomes evident.]
8. classroom activities will take place for an hour at one’s desk, perhaps once a week per course.
9. students will do their own prep, drawing and posting useful information as they go.
10. post hoc, there will be links for follow up. For example:
10.1. each "problem post mortem" will be tagged: "this is an HR issue, with 3 options." Each options will be laid out with key passages from the managerial literature with further links to the paradigms of key thinkers. Collaborators may take issue with these assertions and correct them in the manner of a Wikipedia. This may be the only body of work that is not disclosed to a general public. This is the body of knowledge that belongs to each class.
11. problem solving will be collaborative, organized into teams, one team set against the other, teams will emerge spontaneously in the course of the debate, teams will not remain fixed in membership
12. all of this will happen under glass. The b-school will be posted! The difference between students and observers will be rights of participation as determined by program admission.
13. I haven’t quite figured out how grades are given, though this too may be an antique concept. The question is whether you get the degree, and this decide when the faculty meet to look at a student’s contribution to a problem solving session of the student’s choice, of their choice, and one chosen at random.
14. No one fails. They just don’t graduate.
Anonymous. 2005. Best of 2005: Ideas: The Way to Succeed in The Creative Economy: Innovate. BusinessWeek. here.
McCracken, Grant. 2005. The Arrested Development case study: Say you’re Mitchell Hurwitz, what would you do? This Blog Sits At the… November 25, 2005. here.