It’s Funny Because It’s True

Although it seems that all I’ve been doing the last week is linking to Seth Godin blog entries (which may well be true), this post from today was too good not to comment on. Talking about the 119 Harvard Business School applicants rejected because they “hacked” a website to find the status of their application, Seth takes a refreshingly different perspective:

Plenty of hand-wringing about the ethics or lack thereof in this case (the media loves the turmoil) but I think a more interesting discussion is what a gift these 119 people got. An MBA has become a two-part time machine. First, the students are taught everything they need to know to manage a company from 1990, and second, they are taken out of the real world for two years while the rest of us race as fast as we possibly can.

When I read this, I almost fell out of my chair because I was laughing so hard. I wrote something in the same vain last week about a MBA marketing class I took several semesters ago. I couldn’t agree more – I’ve been feeling the exact same way recently. Now don’t get me wrong – I love the University of North Dakota and like and respect the professors of my MBA classes. I think the problem is systemic in most of this country’s business schools. Things are changing so fast in the world of business, I have no idea of what colleges can do, if anything, to turn themselves around so they are actually turning out graduates prepared for this scary new world.

I began my MBA classes in the fall of 2002 not because I needed an MBA degree to advance or to get a new job, but because I was curious and interested in learning. At the time, I was about a year into my job with EduTech, and I was a solid information technology guy. I got my undergrad degree in Information Systems in 2001, I loved computers and technology, and I had no desire to do anything else. That was the case until my “awakening” late last spring. While I had been reading blogs for about a year and a half before then, they were mostly war and political blogs. I started reading the weekly Carnival of the Capitalists and then began regularly reading several business blogs. Then, one day, on one of them I read a blurb about a new book coming out by a guy named Seth Godin called Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea. I found it at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore, took it home, and loved every second of it. I realized I really enjoyed this new perspective on business and wanted to hear more. Next I found a book at the library called Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, and read it over Memorial Day weekend. I was hooked.

In the ten months since then, I’ve read a ton of business books in my spare time, gotten a subscription to Fast Company, increased the number of business blogs I read, and started listening to Audible business books and Brain Brew on NPR. I firmly believe I have learned more by doing those things than I have in all of my MBA classes. I do have one class coming up after spring break, however, which I believe will be the single best college class I will ever take. It’s called Creativity in Innovation, and will be taught by Dr. Jeffrey Stamp, the idea guru who created Baked Lays, among other things. I had a chance to hear him speak a couple of times several weeks ago and found him fascinating. I don’t know what UND did to get him on staff, but I can’t wait to learn from him!