Calvin Harris - Feel So Close. Love this song/video.
One of my goals for this semester is to be more active on here, especially regarding my experiences in business school (thanks Shay for the reminder). I’ll be doing a much longer, more detailed blog post on my experience going from entrepreneurship to business school in the next week or two, but here are some quick, half-baked thoughts on one of the fundamental frustrations that I’ve faced so far.
During an in-class discussion on an important takeaway from a case study of a large, extremely successful global corporation, the following interaction took place:
Classmate: “this is great, but how would you recommend applying this when starting a new company or building a brand new business?”…
Professor: (paraphrasing) “hmm, let’s move on and come back to that later if we have time…”
(*which, btw, we never actually did “come back to”)…
To me, this is incredibly disappointing. One of the most prevalent criticisms/skepticisms (not a real word, but let’s roll with it) that b-school gets is how much of the knowledge you gain is actually relevant, practical knowledge that can be taken from the classroom and applied directly to practical, real-world business situations (especially for smaller, “startup-y” companies). In some cases, that’s a fair criticism. There are plenty of profs that do focus more on practical vs. theoretical and their classes are highly insightful and useful. But there are also plenty that frankly appear uncomfortable in even trying to teach or facilitate discussions beyond their research expertise in the field, which creates a reliance on recycled lessons that have a heavy theoretical focus, instead of practical usage. This is further compounded, in my opinion, by the fact that many Econ/Finance/etc. PhD’s that populate business school classrooms tend to have little to no practical business experience prior to teaching. By no means does this make them bad teachers or incompetent at the task, but how can it not influence their teaching methods and the content that they choose to focus on?
There’s no excuse (once again, IMO) to ignore a question like the one today, and at the very least to not use that question as food for thought for the rest of the class to chime in on, encouraging new ideas and ways of thinking outside of simply “well, this is how we would help a Fortune 500 company address this issue, so let’s leave it at that”.
Examples like this one today are not isolated incidents, and they are HUGE missed opportunities to not only improve the perception of b-school academic value, but also to even encourage more entrepreneurship and innovative thinking among the student population. The professors at this school are all highly-regarded, prestigious individuals in the world of business, if they made a concerted effort to relate more of their lessons and teaching to starting a new business, I think we would see tons of innovative, entrepreneurial thinking come out of this school (and probably the same at all top b-schools), no matter what career choice students follow.
As I said, I’ll be doing a much more detailed, thorough post about my MBA experience so far in the days/weeks to come, but in general the experience has been pretty solid thus far and this post isn’t meant to sound overly critical or negative in any way, just a quick reflection.
Feel free to share your thoughts/suggestions below.