Category Archives: education watch

b-school + d-school = c-school?

Berlin_school_i The business school is broken.  If the first business of business is innovation, the first task of management reinventing the corporation continually, the first order of problem solving broad and powerful pattern recognition, the "b-school" will not serve us. We know at a minimum that b-schools do not confer the cultural literacy, the intellectual foundations, or the conceptual tools that capitalism now prizes and requires. 

There is evidence of experiment, the design school at Stanford, the integrative program at the Rotman school, the Wieden + Kennedy 12 school, the Miami Ad School, associated with Crispin Porter + Bogusky), and the VCU adcenter.  Somewhat more whimsically, Russell Davies and I have proposed innovations, with Russell founding the Account Planning School of the Web and me contemplating a Blogger’s Business School (XBS).  (We are still waiting for the $240 million we need to get these started.)

So it was with real interest that I discovered an education enterprise: the Berlin School of Creative Leadership. 

By bringing together top creative executives and international leadership experts, the Berlin School will pave the way for new standards in communication and leadership, fostering global discourse on creative leadership in entertainment, journalism, media, advertising and marketing.

At its heart is the Executive MBA in Creative Leadership, an 80-day part-time program comfortably spread over 18 months, taking place in Berlin with study trips to Chicago, New York and Tokyo.

Berlin_school_ii_2 I don’t know if it’s any good, but it is an interesting experiment.  But they have some heavy hitters including Sir John Hegarty, Nina DiSesa, David Droga, Stefan Sagmeister, and creative participants  from India, Brazil and Japan.   

The danger is that this will be another jolly club, where pals appoint pals, and the odor of self congratulation extinguishes the possibility of fresh thinking. Creatives may have the Canadian problem I was talking about this week: people who are brilliant as individuals and small groups working in agency circumstances find themselves diminished by still larger groups and the scale, to say nothing of the pretensions, of university life. 

I guess the real challenge is how you get the academics and the creatives to play together  This is not a famously productive relationship and it will take some  tremendously good mediation to make these two parties mutually useful, let alone mutually inspirational.  No one has a Rosetta Stone for these two communities, and it is hard for me to imagine an ExEd program that manages to install a linga franca even over 18 months. 

The other challenge is building cultural literacy into this program.  Executive Education programs are great place to do this.  Building in study trips to Chicago, New York, and Tokyo, this is a very good idea.   But the bschool is resistant to taking popular culture seriously, and unless the creatives come well armed with this cultural intelligence , it can’t see how it can be made a part of the program.  And in my experience, creatives are better at figuring and refiguring contemporary culture than they are at thinking about in a systematic way.  I could be wrong.   

Still every new model is useful, an inspiration or an object lesson, valuable learning while Russell and I await our $240 million. 


McCracken, Grant.  2005.  The Bloggers’ Business School (XBS 1).  This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. here

McCracken, Grant.  2008.  Canada, The Martin paradox, and the Opposable Mind. This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  here