Friday, 13 June 2008

Everything is going to be OK. I'm an MBA

No its not.
I've thought about this long and hard. And I'm finally going to say this, even at the risk of displeasing some friends and colleagues. I've never read any references that directly led me to this fact, nor seen any research findings whatsoever that establish a corelation, and nor do I attribute this to a pre-conceived notion arising out of professional jealousy. Yet it is more than a gut feeling, verified consistently throughout a period of the last 18 years. I'm going to say it, for the simple reason that it should be heard, discussed, criticized, thought about, and above all, ... out in the open.
Here it goes...

"An MBA graduate is undeniably an idiot"

That's it. There, I said it first. Doesn't matter where you got you're degree from. Doesn't matter if its a one or two year course, part-time or full-time. Doesn't matter if you're employed with a top firm and minting money as a result. Doesn't matter what you specialized in. Doesn't matter if you traveled abroad to do it. Doesn't matter if you consider you're lifestyle a notch above the rest and a flying success. Now before you get really cross with what I've just said, I'd like to point out that there are exceptions to every rule and fact - in this case however, the exceptions are far and few. Therefore, if you have an MBA credential, and think you are one of the exceptions, then you're probably wrong.

Then how do you determine whether you are not an idiot even though you have an MBA degree? If you were performing a role at your workplace, and realized that there were certain skills that you needed in order to effectively complete your assignment and those skills were something that was taught in B-schools, and this prompted you to upgrade your skills and seek new methodologies, then you are possibly an exception. If you did your MBA before it was fashionable to do so (I'm talking pre-90's here) then you're quite possibly an exception too. If you decided on an MBA credential for any other reason and in the past decade, then I'm afraid you're not.

I'm not going to try and provide all the reasons in a single post. Neither am I going to be unfair and mention that because President George W. Bush also has an MBA from Harvard, my statement is a simple corollary. Its suffice to say that the separation of personal ethics from professional ethics is what lies at the crux of the matter. If a B-School curriculum justifies that separation whether by imbibing or implying it, then there are definitely going to be more Enrons and Exxons for the world to expose.

If you disagree with this fact, its okay to let me know. If you agree with this I would really like you to drop me a comment - it would be relieving for me to know that there is hope.

As an end-note, lets play spot the MBA...

Person 1 says: The glass is half full
Person 2 says: The glass is half empty
Person 3 says: The glass is twice as large as it should be

Update: It has been widely rumored that the title of this blog post were the exact words uttered by Satyam's ex-chairmain minutes before he walked into his prison cell. Ramalinga Raju has an MBA from Ohio University, and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School.

Another update: Found an interesting paper the other day - The End of Business Schools - Less Success Than Meets the Eye by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina T. Fong. Worth a read.