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Re: Re: Re: [newtech-1] MBA - is it worth the effort for entrepreneurship?

From: BB
Sent on: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 7:48 AM
Great question about Bschool

Micro econ is good in bschool. It really teaches the dynamics of competition and the forces at work in the market place for a start up firm, as well as the forces that fill finish it off. That one I apply all the time to evaluate new business ideas and also understand what is happening with a business at different stages of market development, and what it takes to get things to the next stage.

Competitive strat and game theory is useful too, because you kind of learn about zero sum games and either creating real value, or just snagging value out of someone else's pockets (most of the 'innovation' in the US in the last 30 yrs according to McKinsey) -- wealth concentration, rather than wealth creation which really moves the supply curve to the right and makes more people better off.

Michael Porter 'structural analysis of industries' or 'five forces' very useful for a lot of the same reasons of being able to spot a real quantitative business opportunity in the market place. This is in most curricula.

Clayton Christiansen's stuff at Harvard on forces for innovation (or against it) are really hot now and really useful for entrepreneurs. This might not be out there too much yet because it is pretty new and controversial cause it goes after large corporate structures and US management culture, but these cases in class are essential now.

The one danger about MBA school for entrepreneurs is that the skills are really mostly left brained, and entrepreneurship takes a lot of right brain. People who come out and apply this stuff blindly can destroy a lot of value, and do routinely (watch the private equity business next few years, their karma is coming back to them now and they are going to be holding a lot of bags paralysed and in need of real 'operating' 'people' people). Empathy skills. Being able to cajole, tease out unconscious knowledge to discover new biz ideas, persuade, convince, move people are the real stuff of entrepreneurs. This is not too well covered in MBA curricula at all.

Also, after 25 yrs out of a top tier school, I find them mostly finishing schools for Chicago School Friedman ideology, rather than real critical thinking about applying economics to real life. The problem solving is really kind of linear and the models are too simplistic now that we live in a world acknowledging chaos theory, and systems bio.

The Public Policy courses I took during MBA school were better to induce non-linear thinking, systemic thinking, and actually more about what eventually became 'behavioural economics' after the Santa Fe Institute finally busted through all the adolescent econ theories. This has been real important to me in building out business propositions, models and really understanding what it is going to take to 'start a movement' around my new product. That didn't come from MBA school, few people really have it which is great for me, but really bad for our national economy.

And organizational development courses now in a few grad schools that focus on Use of Self for Change are useful useful for entrepreneurs, because it is all about your own affect on a 'client system'. These are not available in traditional Bschools, but I hope they do become so.

Bschools I don't think teach too well what it takes to launch a 'culture product'. One that is more about capturing the imagination of influentials and trend-setters to set off a trend. These are the greatest source of wealth creation in Japan now, since their ten year bust in the 1990s, and increasingly here. They have been that way in Europe for a long time which we know because of all the luxury goods from there. A dismissal of all of this in US education may also explain why so many Brits and Europeans are running culture businesses in the US in media, fashion, entertainment, music, advertising, research, etc.  In new media and social media, these kinds of inspiration products are increasingly important, yet Bschool people really have no skill here, and can actually destroy value or potential for innovation by dogmatically applying their bschool 'knowledge'. You can see this just by looking at the faculties of these places. This is probably the driver behind the new maxim "the MFA is the new MBA".

I think of it more as 'information' and a few frameworks now more than real 'knowledge'.

Anyway, it was a great experience those few years, heady,  as is any time in one's life when one can focus on learning, and one's own growth and development..removed from the real world, and certainly focusing on the triumphant aspects of American exported culture.

They do break you down to build you up, but they do pump you up before you leave, cause your self-image is their brand and fundraising future, and you've got to perform well at interviews cause that is their major metric!

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