Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mediocre But Arrogant?

This is the Dutch view of MBAs, according to Dr Fons Trompenaars.

Henry Mintzberg is scathing about conventional full time MBA programmes based on case studies:

'“The MBA trains the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences” Mintzberg writes. “Using the classroom to help develop people already practicing management is a fine idea, but pretending to create managers out of people who have never managed is a sham.”

Because conventional MBA programs are designed for people without managerial experience, they overemphasize analysis and denigrate experience. That leaves a distorted impression of management, which has had a corrupting influence on its practice.

Leaders cannot be created in a classroom. They arise in context. But people who already practice management can significantly improve their effectiveness given the opportunity to learn thoughtfully from their own experience.'

He recommends that young people get jobs, work their way up to management positions and then study for an MBA that draws on their own practical experience. Case studies, such as Semco, are fine, but only as an adjunct to students' own practice. In this video Ricardo Semler discusses his experience with Mintzberg of being wheeled out like a zoo animal in front of MBA students (with an invisible sign: Do not feed the businessman.)

Guy Claxton studies thinking and how we develop intelligence. He has focussed on schools and the idea of building learning power for use in any context. That, rather than remembering a load of facts, is the aim of education. Learning to learn and use this as a flexible tool for life is the fundamental purpose of both schools and well crafted MBA programmes:

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