MBA in the mirror

Recently, I was discussing with my friends the famous talk of Ken Robinson on the TED talks regarding revolution in education and what we take as granted. I suddenly recalled that I had a whole inner fight with myself when I was studying my MBA back in 2000. Nearly all of the frameworks that I was learning was somehow one sided and linear for me. I even thought that many messages would be close to my common senses if I could turn them upside down. Am I the only one who thinks so? I decided to write about these “mirrored” frameworks, which are so much more straightforward for me, and ask you to express your standpoint.

Let’s take some basic frameworks from different fields of management, Finance, Marketing, Operations Management, and HR and try to look them as if we haven’t heard anything about management theory.

FINANCE:

NPV: Probably the most shocking idea for me 🙂 Basically it means that money today is not the same as money tomorrow. So, time has a value, and if you invest your money in a business (let’s say bank deposit) you’d gain some interest. Every other investment opportunity you’d consider comparing that bank deposit, and thus assess project profitability.

Of course the statement above it trivial, mathematically correct and naively perfect. In fact time is not only a value, but it becomes a constraint if you assess everything around using NPV. You are indirectly pressed to invest, and invest in a short term deals and not in long term great deeds. I believe that NPV philosophy indirectly makes people a bit shorter minded (have seen such “educated” managers, hypnotized with NPV).

You may say, “but it’s because the people are short minded, nothing wrong with NPV itself”. Of course it is right. NPV is a formula which is mathematically correct. All I am saying is that NPV is measurable and people use it with show off face and while all the unmeasurable things remains out of any formula – NPV turns into hypnosis.

Here is a mirrored statement of this, which I believe is in fact, how all the great leaders and companies think: “Time makes things mature. You won’t be able to run far if you always run fast. Slow down; concentrate on process, quality, long term vision rather than the results, economy of scale or short term benefits”. You risk loosing the very basic strategic value by being tempted with quick and easy money. NPV is a trap for lames. It includes no strategy, no risk factors and hypnotizes you to be short term oriented”.

I had an interesting case with one of my student who declared one day to me that he wants to quit the MBA. I said why? You are doing great! And he replied – no, it’s not because of the scores or disability, it’s because I am changing, and changing in bad direction. So I asked more in details, what exactly was unacceptable for him, and he said: “even the idea of NPV, I can learn and pass the exam, but if I really accept it, I need to reject all my values that I am carrying from childhood”.

MARKETING:

Marketing and black magic are the same things as per their definition and this definition is: “make others to want, what you want them to want”.

In today’s World sales only, is not a big issue. You need sustainable sales! You need customer relationship management. You need your clients to be your followers and you to stay as Guru. Very few thinks that for this, you have to put a value. Marketing has no understanding what is a value or quality. And it starts from business schools. Students choose marketing when they understand that they can not learn operation’s management, statistics, finance, quality and anything scientific, which simply requires skills a bit more than to hold a calculator. In other words their personal belief is “High Price for Low Value”.

So, what it is – selling more without providing more values? Here is my favorite example of modern marketing. In France, back in 2000, we used to go to McDonald’s for a break. It was a good solution for us, students, cheap and energy sufficient enough. And the deal for students was just paradise: additional big Mac, and you could return the check next time, then you could get extra ice cream. So, I spoke out and said – It’s like a paradise. And my German friend said, “Andrew, you are really from Georgia, you can not understand that marketing trick here”. I said, hmmmmm… which trick? Actually, yea, what does McDonalds’ gain from that free big Mac they give me? And the answer was so eye opening for me, that I said, Yea, I am really from Georgia 🙂 So, the answer was that McDonalds wanted my stomach to get used to two big Macs. You know one is kind of always slightly less than your appetite. And they give it for free for some time, and after that you will demand double Big Mac may be for all of your life. What they did, is to communicate directly to your stomach, and to your brain, cause the stomach was the decision maker there.

…and do not tell me that the same is not applied to the soap opera movies, music, and even politics.

So, here is my mirrored MBA Marketing message for you: Modern social media will destroy such trick, and if you want to survive, follow the trend and be social, never lie, be completely transparent, never scale your service, treat customers as humans, as friends. Understand them inside out. Today every good and service became commodity. You can copy almost anything except experiencing a human factor. And that is the greatest attractor and can become a great strategic weapon through positioning yourself in niche markets. Re-write every standard business process and make it human centric and you will be overwhelmed by attention and then just monetize that. For more of this point please listen this presentation of Garry Vaynerchuk.

OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT:

I want to focus on two statements here. One is economy of scale and another is measure to control.

When humanity understood the idea of the economy of scale – the Earth started circulating faster. Humanity achieved magnificent goals by boosting economies, and it was not a smooth transition. It pressed everybody to change the inner values and to adopt this idea.

Yes, you need to change your inner values to adopt to the economy of scale, in as much as market economy. If your values were humanism, openness, depth, spirituality, sensitivity, tolerance and etc – big chance that your new label would be – Looser! I am from Georgia and I’ve seen enough “hungry intellectuals”, who still struggle with their inner beliefs, and more than enough gangsters, who later became successful businessmen, and who did that transition just in one day, cause they were facing no believe transition, it was just a common sense for them.

So, my point is that economy of scale mentality, naturally leads to producing more, less quality, short term orientation, less human and/or deep understanding of the essence of the problems. No need to understand things from inside. If you have problem – just change the source. No matter if that’s an equipment or an employee. No need to grow people around. Just only get them, buy them, recruit them. Company is not a please for learning. One must be already educated, and so on…

And now, ask yourself how productive you are in the company you work? How much do you love the job you do on a scale from 0 to 100. I found that many people carry inside different values and believes then the company, which they are in, carries. We may spend more time in our companies then at home, and such work may become like being in a marriage with somebody you hate.

I use to ask my friends, what would be the ideal condition to work for you, and how much would you work in such “ideal” conditions. Nearly always the answer is: ideal condition is when I do what I love, when I see the results and it is appreciated, and when I feel that I do a part of the great thing. As of how much they would work – can be 24 hours, because, as they said “when you rest you still think of something you love”.

Now, another issue: if you can not measure, you can not manage. Ones, Edward Deming answered, if you can measure – it’s too late!

Most of the managerial issues are nearly immeasurable. Like the happiness and passion of employees, desire to create new things, out-compete competitors. Even education is not measured. Mistakes learned are not measured. And even if you measure standard deviation of the errors and its threshold, it’s irrelevant to problem solving, because you measure results, but still the real cause is not identified and not measured.

The principle of quality management is to control in the beginning of the system, not in the end. And the system starts from people. And if you are clever enough you would understand that even people are results of their beliefs, and that is where you have to get in order to hold guarantees for your quality. You need to enter in the souls of your customers, employees, stakeholders and bring the medicine and the Sun light there. Ones you do that, then you’d make the leaning of the processes and you’d feel so much feedback from your employees that there will be no need to measure your revenues – it will be just countless.

HR:

Another thing that drove me crazy was idea of “corporate culture”. It was kind of fashion to mention it frequently. I asked my teachers: what is the rationale behind, and the answer was – “it is easier to adjust everybody’s culture to an artificial, third party culture, rather to make people to understand each other from inside”. And I said – I am not that stupid! I was born to understand any culture in the World. It makes me rich, open minded, more human, tolerant and a World citizen. Why should I worship the plastic, artificial values, invented by my boss?

Do you think that any conflict in this universe was ever resolved with that strategy? May be postponed, but never solved. And if a model is not good enough for me, how can it be good for my family, or country? Do you really believe that conflicts in family can be solved by artificially accepting standpoint which neither side feels natural with it? Do you think countries can live together only due to whatever ideology? For how long?

STRATEGY:

And the biggest lie of MBA frameworks is in Strategy. The framework simply says: “if you failed to plan, you plan to fail”. My answer would be closer to the Georgian proverb – “Man was planning and God was laughing”.

Good example about how the great leaders really think about is Steve Jobs speech at Stanford Graduation. For long run strategy – do not plan, just create the dots, put yourself in details, learn, try, do. Idea is in “Connecting dots”, and one day you will connect all dots, no matter how diverse or useless they seemed before.

My mirrored statement would sound as follows: whatever you do in your life, should be a vehicle to reach the perfection, Truth, God, whatever you name. You need create your “element“, your small World which you will make every day better and better, where you grow along with your creation. If your goal does not include your inner development it will be ruined sooner or later. Your corporate goal should be a part of your personal Goal. Not the goals of your Ego, but your Higher, True Self, which lies inside you and sleeps until you re-discover it and allow it to express itself, which will become as true Myself.

Finding “God inside me”, and becoming that perfection is the ultimate goal of existence. No matter how you call it, no matter what your beliefs are – we all want to be better, not only to have more, but also to be better, and instead of “maximization of shareholders Equity, or profit”, declare one day that your goal is to become truly better – and you will out compete all the copy/paste business models around. The only managerial problem remains is to change the DNA of others around you.

But here is the trick with that: In Heaven, even though the angels are most sensitive that no lower being can enter in Heaven, has no doors. Spiritually blind beings can see no thing around and thus can not steal anything. Same applies to business. If your business is your yoga, your self-improvement vehicle, your mantra, your pray, your inner World with its ups and downs – just be open and sleep well, cause even if they your products, nobody can copy the business model. The blinds will look, but see no thing in it.

Invest in your higher self and make it as a part of the business model. That is my mirrored Strategy which I strongly encourage you to follow.

As of the MBA frameworks – know it, examine it, test it, feel to which direction it changes you and the whole society, how it sculpts the “tyranny of common sense”, and then consciously decide to use it or not! MBA is good for those who is in love with their Ego, but for Heaven – it’s just outdated!

Advertisements

About Andro Dgebuadze

Thinker, Software Developer, Musician
This entry was posted in Business, Philosophy & Spirituality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to MBA in the mirror

  1. linguistuss says:

    Very impressive. I would like to read Georgian version of this article. Something will be lost in translation, something will be recooked, something will be changed… I would like to touch and feel the essence of above told mirrored strategy by comparing English and Georgian versions, what I did actually reading “Lolita” in English and in Russian by the same author. Comparativeness matters…

  2. Achiko says:

    Dear Andro,

    Your article left me with no choice but to tell you about my thoughts, nevertheless it’s already 4 AM and I have to get up on 8 AM in the morning.

    I have to admit that I have been thinking for a longtime on a something like that. However, my thoughts never reached goal to make me understand what I wanted to do in future and why. Honestly, I experienced something like “If I will get in the best MBA program then everything what I desire will come by itself”. I think I am not the only who thought that MBA will bring all the best of the life by itself, and, even more I think that everybody planning to do MBA at some level has to go through it.

    The case is that for many of us MBA is like a salvation from our rudimentary life and the door to the bright future of the celebrity with no problems and lots of money (yes! money and name and not any other things like intelligence, honor, spirituality and even physical healthiness). So it must not be surprise if we fail to understand why do we need MBA indeed.

    Afterwards happens what must be. A person completes MBA, has Diploma and education, however he misses something, without which he will never become architect and always will remain worker. And that something is called Personality.

    I agree with you that NPV is not everything and you have to think about much more things, than just economies of scale and plans of generating bigger profits in less time for your shareholders. But problem is not in the wrong idea or wrong way of thinking, the problem is that we have no ideological understanding of who we are and where are we trying to get, what goals do we have and what do we want to leave after us.

    My belief is that MBA gives you lot’s of very powerful tools for decision making and it is up to you if you understand how to use it.

    If you are able to keep your personality and do not become a computing machine with lots of functions and functionals then I believe that MBA will give you lots of benefits and techniques. Otherwise, nothing changes you were and will remain just another brick in the wall.

    • Achiko,

      Sorry for taking nearly 1 year to answer you 🙂
      I think we are on the same page. What you call “ideological understanding of what we are” – I call it simply beliefs or belief system. Basically all I tried to say is that MBA (as well as all western business education, regardless degree) changes the beliefs. And changes in the age where people are not ready to oppose with counter arguments.

      I am not saying if that is good or wrong. If I say so – it’s very subjective, very “mine”. What I say is encouragement to Students to reinvent the wheel for the sake of being open mined, creative, conscious and simply healthy.

      Andro

  3. an MBA says:

    My take on this – Business education is a no-brainer! Definitely NOT worth the time and the investment. Overrated and overpriced. If you need a network, just get to know the people.

    • probnoblem says:

      With overpricing – I fully agree! Though I need to say that it worth a lot still. It gives you feeling about how all business directions co-exist. After all, I have and I teach MBA.

      • an MBA says:

        I have an MBA too :). Still – when it comes to the [practicalities] of the business – Experience “overweights” education. People with 7+ Industry experience need no MBA.

        There are better and more practical/useful ways of learning of how “all business directions” can “co-exist”.

      • probnoblem says:

        I think the best is “one step in theory, one step in practice and again”. What we are talking here is a second round of MBA, when you see what is wrong there and you search for more alive solutions. It should be followed by alive practices.

        So if you ask me if the first round MBA is a must – I’d say, understanding of basic principles is a must, not actual diploma.

  4. Dear Andro,

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. You know, I’m thinking about this angel thing all the time and everything has become so much clearer to me.

    Re-write every standard business process and make it human centric and you will be overwhelmed by attention and then just monetize that. For more of this point please listen this presentation of Garry Vaynerchuk.

    And even for more you can read Gary’s “Crush IT! “

  5. Tamar Gorgoshidze says:

    hi Andro,

    Good to see you again, oh I am sorry, to read you :))))))))

    Well, I am impressed, could not imagine you had such a broad view on things. GOOD ideas, GOOD English, GOOD communication……….. The only thing I am not happy about is that it really lacks real life examples!!!

    It is that you speak in general terms and not arrive to bring some specific instances from your life to back up your ideas (exceptions McDonalds, student concerned with values). For instance, I would love to know what kind of corporate culture challenges you encountered throughout your life or something you heard from your friends.

    Keep on writing you thought and ideas!

    • probnoblem says:

      Tamar.
      Thanks for reply and more thanks for such nice words.
      I’m glad that it was hard to imagine that I could have a broad view on things :-)))

      Regarding examples. I agree. Did not expand in that direction, but just because to avoid too much text (I’ve been told that nobody reads blogs which are more than 500 words).

      Regarding corporate culture I do have countless examples. Do not want to name the companies and their cases here, but I guess if I say generally, but clearly, you would see my point.

      In fact Any compromise strategy in its essence is an attempt to avoid deeper understanding. Compromise means short term agreement. Even win-win situation is not a big deal for me. Cause it does not include willingness to find objective truth, it is just mutual beneficial agreement between two subjective sides.

      Now, think about how multinational companies solve inner conflicts between employees. How does cross cultural issues are solved? Do thet encourage different cultures to understand each other from inside out, or do they just try to resolve the conflicts at the surface, by referring to the artificial Corporate Culture. Corportae Culture is used as an Esperanto between cultures, and it’s dea in its embrionic state. Management wants only short term problem resolution. Understanding is not a part of the majority of managers goal. That’s what I am stressing.

      My persoanl experience is closed to the IT systems implementations. Mostly, there are great problems related to changes, planning, request formalization, testing and training of the stuff regarding new software. In a short run top Managers want cheep and fast solutions, good analitical tools, mid managers – greater control, first level workers – user friendlyness. In fact these requirements are fundamentally different. Differrent cultures and mindsets stand behind each of these teams.

      Now, how to solve it? Itis an art If you ask me and the solution is in “Gen Shi Gen Butso” – Japanese word for “go and see” (please read great book “The toyota way”. I can give you an audio book if you want). Cause if you brimg these cultures face to face, you will undertand all of them and they each other. But it is a way of harmonizing of personal cultures. Corporate Culture solution is escape of understanding and creating third entities, like committee, project manager, controller, audit, in word business enablers, who create zero value. So, instead of getting in details and feeling each others pain in real time, a corporate culture alignes these people to the artificial culture, as if declaring – my people are so stupid that they are not capable to understand each other. It finally alignes employees to teh same artificial values, and you are getti g at the end a classic secta, rather than healthy society with sense of freedom, inspiration, self motivation, responsibily, happyness of being better and grow and etc.

  6. Tamar Gorgoshidze says:

    Yea, it was definitely hard :))))))))))))

    Well, thanks that was enriching. Looking forward to reading your next post, wonder what the subject is going to be …….

  7. Natia_V says:

    Great Post 🙂 inspiring, as most of your talks.
    btw, you can check out my “homework”: http://natiav.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/belief/

  8. CK says:

    Andro,

    As always, you bring to light some very good points. I continue to study because I have found a field that I am interested in, but to stay in this field I must get those “magical letters”. I worked at one place where we had to move to a new office and I heard a person say, “I did not get a doctorate to move boxes”. The boxes in question were full of that person’s stuff. Too many people let a bit of higher education go to their heads.:-)

    I would honestly like to see some of the prestige, elitism, and mystique removed from higher education. For too long people with a graduate degree have been able to dazzle others into thinking that they are sharp regardless of their true intent or ability to be creative or solve problems. I am displeased with the endless tuition hikes in higher education in the US. The uni that I work at and attend has made professors take pay cuts, yet it continues to build new and ever more shiny buildings. I really wish that every class could be offered online as this would give a broader audience the opportunity to gain “formal” education.

    I completely understand you thoughts on HR. HR is a monster that constantly spawns more junk to keep itself employed. The jobs that I have enjoyed the most in my live (to include one where I worked with my wife everyday) have been jobs that did not have an HR overlord.

    I am not happy where I am at the moment, but like many things in life this is temporary. I have a plan to be in a better place. Let us hope that God is not laughing at me…..

    Best,

    CK

  9. Nika K. says:

    Andro,
    It is all about how we approach the MBA stuff, if we take all that as a bible – yes, true, it may change some kids’ beliefs, however it is just food for some “clever” thoughts and it opens up the mind in many interesting directions, out of which academic ones being the least important… My class was of 60 ppl, 45 nationalities, age range 21 to 37, from a guy owning a rose plantation in Ecuador till an Italian investment banker….
    Long story short: MBA is a good thing, but agree, each concept should be challenged and not taken as granted, and moreover it gives much more than just some theory.
    Best,
    N

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s