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Taking our Education into our Own Hands

May 22, 2011

A theme running throughout these posts will no doubt be

How do we supplement our formal education as we continue to grow with – or in some cases,
out of – our chosen fields.

Self-education is something many of us have engaged in since the advent of the internet.

Nay, the book.

And it is also something our emerging talent continue to take part in due to the economy
and the ongoing devaluation of the diploma.

One such evidence of this is last year’s DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, where Anya Kamenetz takes-on
the U.S. higher education system, explores fallacies concerning the value of a higher education and the flawed economic models that underpin higher education.

Along the way, she identifies alternatives available to students, from community colleges to online learning.

This movement is perhaps best personified in Josh Kaufman’s magnum opus, The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business

Where he argues that those interested in business would be better served by skipping the MBA and focusing instead on concepts that really make or break a
business.

Some graduates of top MBA programs have read the book and agree.

For me what is missing in The Personal MBA – despite being subtitled Master the Art of Business, and itself being a well-designed book –
is an emphasis on design.

Or on design strategy.

In its nearly 400 pages, there’s barely any mention of it. A missed opportunity, especially in the section on Value Creation.

Another excellent new book, one that I recommend to higher education programs that I work with to help
redesign, is Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads.

Rethinking the MBA asks whether business education is becoming more like the liberal arts, where – as Dan Pink
and others have noted –  the MFA is the New MBA.

Increasingly, managers and recruiters are questioning conventional business education.

Their concerns?

Among other things, MBA programs aren’t giving students the heightened cultural
awareness and global perspectives they need. Newly minted MBAs lack essential
leadership skills.

Creative and critical thinking demand far more attention.

Three Harvard Business School educators, Srikant M.Data, David A. Garvin and Patrick
G. Cullen, discuss in Rethinking the MBA the MBA programs of top twenty US MBA programs.

They describe how the top MBA programs are using innovative approaches to address eight social and
business concerns:

1. Gaining a global perspective

2. Developing leadership skills

3. Honing integrative skills

4. Recognizing organizational realities and implementing effectively

5. Acting creatively and innovatively

6. Thinking critically and communicating clearly

7. Understanding the role, responsibilities, and purpose of business

8. Understanding the limits of models and markets

Read a Q&A with the authors here.

The Personal MBA, while still valuable – without an emphasis on where MBA programs are
headed and the considerable adjustments they are making to their curricula – is
and incomplete business education.

Waiting for someone else to write Rethinking the Personal MBA might just be fruitless.

I may just have to do it myself. Call it DIM U.

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