Friday, April 16, 2004

MBA in a Box

This is a book by Joel Kurtzman. I haven't read it, but came across an Introduction to the book and it's probably something I should consider once I get some more time. Here are the first few paragraphs. Written in jest no doubt, but isn't this what business schools really do to some extent ?

Oh, and Kwame's gold standard MBA got beat by someone with real-life experience last night :-)

When I was the editor of the Harvard Business Review , I had a recurring fantasy (no, not that kind of fantasy). In my fantasy the dean of the Harvard Business School-my boss-would call me into his dimly lit, book-lined, wood-paneled office. He would sit me down, draw the shades, and lock the door. He would pace. In some version of the fantasy he would wring his hands, shrug, hem and haw. In others he would offer me a glass of port and a fine cigar. (I liked the second version better.)

In that fantasy, the dean-an enormous man with a raspy, conspirator's voice-would say to me that my job at the Harvard Business Review was to make business appear difficult to the readers. "Don't publish any smart-aleck articles about how Andrew Carnegie or Henry Ford never finished grammar school or how Bill Gates dropped out of college. Publish articles that talk about how difficult business is, how complicated it is to read a balance sheet, how many times you have to run a regression analysis to really understand your market, how the problems of strategy are intractable. Make it all seem hard," he would tell me with a scowl.

"Hard? Why?" I would ask rather meekly.

"Why? Why?" he would repeat, eyes narrowed into tiny slits. "Did you really ask me why, you nincompoop?"

"Yes," I would say, clearing my throat. "I did."

"Because it is. And besides, what would happen to our business if your readers thought business wasn't all that difficult? That any imbecile could do it? What do we do then?" the dean would bellow. "We sell business education, business books, business magazines, online business content, business videos, business case studies, lectures, degrees, research, class notes. The whole shebang. If people thought business was easy, we'd be wiped out. Finito. End of story."



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