My buddy Ray Schraff from Hyland Software pointed me to this site containing a comprehensive list of management theories. It is an “MBA in a page,” and I mean that in a pejorative way.
Here are some examples from the page: GE/McKinsey matrix, Kaizen philosophy, Capital Asset Pricing Model, Business Process Reengineering, and Scenario Planning.
You can use the page as a test: Anyone who knows all these theories is someone you shouldn’t hire.
This posting has generated a lot of anger. Many MBAs unsubscribed from my feed because of it (perhaps I can now raise my CPM—I’ll check with Federate Media). That said, today my feed count is the highest it’s ever been. Tomorrow I am going to post a Truemors promotion, so I expect even more people will unsubscribe.
I can’t believe you’re saying this … so you wouldn’t hire someone that’s persisted in learning theories that some of the best minds have created? Just because they’ve studied them or learned them, doesn’t mean they can’t apply them in a new, creative, or exploratory way. It doesn’t mean they can’t create incredible value for businesses. Unsubscribed.
A bit sensitive, are we?
The MBA Buzzwords Compressed
My favorite lesson about buzzwords was one I learned in my mid twenties, years before I even started the MBA degree. While I was a foreign correspondent in Mexico City I had the opportunity to take an around-the-world trip as
Not sensitive, just not interested in attention-grabbing, sensationalist, anti-education rhetoric. It doesn’t make sense to say what you’re saying here: even you liked the curriculum at UCLA’s MBA program. Did they not go through CAPM? I forget the el-jobso trumpets dropping out like it’s hot, so I guess I see you’re taking that approach as well. Just not interested in that on this end.
What is “MBA” ?
post-scriptum : just kidding.
Hi Guy : Thank you so much for making my day! I tell you : with such a wonderful sense of humor, you should be French ;-)
ps : how about a post on your own views on Sun Tzu’s Art Of War, the only management theory that really matters ?
I have an MBA. It’s clear I’m not appreciated here. Unsubscribed.
Trying to be funny, stir up a pot? You can’t seriously believe that “Anyone who knows all these theories is someone you shouldn’t hire.”
Of course, no one should think for a moment that an “MBA in a Box” is anywhere as useful as the real thing.
Web sites with “quickie MBA facts” are useful reminders of the Flood of Information, Theories, and Examples” that I poured sweat over in B-school.
How you run your own business is your unique choice. Most non-personality-based businesses would do well to have a few MBA’s at the con.
I went to business school for an MBA in Costa Rica in a Harvard created university, it took me more than two years to un-learn all these theories.
I believe are worthless except for the McKinsey of the world who wrap them up nicely and sell to the big corporations when they get lost.
What I understand that Guy says about not hiring someone with these knowledge is not about having the knowledge per se. It is about to leverage your performance in this theories instead having common sense.
Ha-ha! Guys, you are definetely quite sensitive here.
Let me guess… Since Guy Kawasaki also knows all that stuff, probably nobody should hire him as well 8).
You can use the page as a test: Anyone who knows all these theories is someone you shouldn’t hire.
the best one that I’ve found was the BCG matrix
Marc: MBA = Mediocre But Arrogant ;-)
presumably you meant “pejorative”
Guy – nice controversial post and I’m sure it’s more than a little ‘tongue in cheek’, no?
Some people come hot out of b-school with this powerful array of tools at their disposal – and then want to use them all at once regardless of the situation. If the kid next door got a whole box of brand new titanium wrenches as used on the space shuttle, would you let him loose on the new Lear? I think not…
The other problem is that the more complex tools are often brought into play because, well, they’re smarter looking. And who’s going to argue, unless they know better? Meanwhile, that trusty old tool, SWOT, is unused in the bottom of the managers tool chest because: “I did my SWOT, it told me nothing, so I need to use a smarter tool”.
Every tool has its place. Sometimes that place is occupying the painted shape on the wallboard which shows where it belongs.
Not in the glove box of the Lear.
Let them all learn to use the more basic management tools properly, I say. Master those first, before aspiring to the more complex ideas that may never gain a grip in real-world organisations.
It’s pejorative, not “perjorative.”
Actually, I suspect anyone who knows all of these theories is a management consultant – although why you would pay someone gobs of money when they don’t understand that a 2×2 plot is NOT the same thing as a ‘matrix’ is beyond me!!
As for not hiring MBA’s…I’m a physicist with an MBA, during my masters I studied business-to-business and high-tech marketing as well as entrepreneurship and business plan development – then went on to work with organisations like NASA and the European Space Agency helping them to commercialise technologies. While an MBA isn’t for everyone, why are you so down on MBA’s as a whole???
I don’t think it’s “…attention-grabbing, sensationalist, anti-education rhetoric…” it’s just a point of view.
actually that is a GREAT site.
In five minutes you will know more than the management consultant your company hired, and certainly more than your boss. First meeting you just toss out a few key phrases, and you’re for the re-management du jour.
I agree: the site is great. Anyone who knows all the buzzwords, however, isn’t. :-)
It’s far from worthless to know all these theories, constructs, models, et al. It’s incredibly useful to know how to apply them judiciously and in the appropriate context — and best of all, to know when *not* to apply them, which is probably most of the time.
Is it worth simply discarding a variety of potentially valuable models because many MBA grads apply them indiscriminately and not within the proper contexts?
Best of all — knowing which ones to use in which contexts can help you coach a smart MBA grad into using them at the right time and place, or when using them would cause more harm than good.
I’m not sure if Guy has disdain for all MBAs or if he simply believes that an MBA is a waste of time and money if you are an entrepreneur.
I just found this interview that confirms my assumption that he does not think all MBAs are bad. Like the gentleman who commented earlier said, those MBAs who started in technical fields are the candidates who get the most value out of an MBA degree.
So, Guy makes fun of MBAs. Oh well. I have an MBA, but at least I can claim that I never started a business or website as cheesy and as sorry as Truemors. Truemors is definitely a low point in Guy’s career. That is not only my opinion, but also the opinion of many others who also thought Guy was the man after he wrote Art of the Start.
Please read this:
Have you looked at Truemors lately or are you assuming the blogosphere is infallibull?
Have all the readers here had a sense of humour bypass? Looks like it.
Including me, many here have MBAs. But we do not feel offended or upset. It may be because we are secure in our identities and our capabilities beyond our degrees. Those of you who sought to redefine yourselves with a TLA of a degree are obviously unsure of why you did it in the first place.
And no, not all of us think Truemors is the lowest point in Guy’s career and at any rate, he has already achieved more than any of you has done.
Get over your sensitivities, you sissy people.
And no, I am not a personal friend of Guy, I have met him just once some 9 years ago and yes, I am posting anonymously because I do not want you trolls on my blog.
Now as the Eagles said: Get Over It! And if you had doubts as to the message, look up the lyrics.
Well, I personally think MBA’s are for building contact networks and go deep in some subjects we already learned in college when we were too young to understand them, or read about them in a book without paying much attention.
Former MBA students feel offended by your post probably because they still have doubts about the value they are getting from spending two years’ salary (or four, if you take into account CAPM) in building a contact network and have some brilliant professors make you think a bit. Actually I think it’s on each person to get the value out of it, and a lot of people do.
Maybe one day I will enroll in an MBA program myself. Just kidding ;)
I have an MBA (finance emphasis), and have found you really get out of it what you put in. There are many “passengers” in any program, just loking for the letters as some sort of right of passage.
Practically speaking, from my personal experience only, i do not feel my companies would have succeeded, if i did not have this education. The ability to value companies, secure appropriate financing, negotiate acquisitions etc.. all internally without having to bring in the I-bankers, leaves you with a bit of money at the end of the day. If you have to wear a lot of hats it is invaluable, with that being said most people that graduate with an MBA still do not understand a discount rate or the difference between Free Cash Flow and EBITDA.
I was in an investment bank office one day – a $10 million check on the table. It was pulled away because the CEO of my main competitor was a Harvard MBA. The investor thought that was a more important qualification than my Caltech PhD and significantly greater understanding of the issue both companies addressed. Kleiner Perkins felt the same way.
So Guy, are telling me that you would have given us the money? Are you saying that you don’t invest when too many MBAs are involved?
I see this as kind of hypocritical. You speak disdain for the MBA but your herd gives it more weight than almost any other criteria.
Let me be subtle. All things being equal, any VC who picks a Harvard MBA over a CalTech PhD for a tech company is someone you don’t want money from.
Why do you link-love these theories while disparaging the institution which houses? Seems hypocritical to me as well.
Usually disparaging remarks about MBAs are made by the ignorant and jealous. Surely, with your resume, you are not in that category… are you?
I like to keep things positive. I think MBA’s are generally the most intelligent and evolved humans on the planet. Kindness and generosity are two words that spring to mind. Clearly, knowledge of theories is important. If not, what would there be to talk about?
Business school fosters fortitude. How else can someone sit though a fifty-slide PowerPoint presentation and still live? This is the sort of tough treatment that business school meats out.
Some say negative things about MBA’s. I would never do that. Some say that business school should practice academic birth control and there are just too many of them. But how would ritualistic corporate meetings survive if it were not for such elite training?
If you haven’t been to business school, then you may not understand the need for meeting after meeting. You may expect action. But education shows us that talk is better than actually doing anything.
And when it comes to talk, you need education to be able to speak in jargon. People give MBA’s a rough time. They think they speak like idiots. How can we “language” that, one may ask. You may have learned that language is a noun. And those who haven’t been to business school are stuck with proletarian words like “speak”, as in how can we speak about that. Clarity is suspect. And plain speaking is to be shunned. If a thing isn’t world class, or excellent, or renown, then it’s not worth bothering about. I like MBA’s. People simply don’t understand that if you train to work in an institution, then having an institutionalized mind is a plus.
Our MBA’s are a national, and international, treasure. We need to protect them and wish them well.
Thanks Guy for posting the link to the management theories. It is a great resource. These are only tools and frameworks, not straight-jackets. It is what people make out of them that matters and that is what is taught in all MBA classes.
If I had an MBA I might have written read this post over before I posted it. I should have said, “business school metes out”, as is dole out, rather that the anti-vegetarian word. Apologies.
Although I think you are jesting, from the tone of your post it seems like you really dislike generic MBAs.
Those theories are more of a tool than anything; they should not be used as the backbone of every decision. However, anyone who knows all these theories is bogging themselves down with unnecessary jargon and models, when I’d hire someone specialized for the job. That said, I’ve only graduated from an undergraduate business program so my viewpoint may be incorrect amongst business veterans.
Boo hoo I have an MBA and I have been personally offended by Guy Kawasaki. Guy, I want to take this opportunity to publicly denounce you and let you know that I am removing your blog from my RSS reader. I am going to tell my biz friends to do the same. I’ll even say that you are a mean-spirited person in my Facebook truemors .. oh, wait.
Guy you are an evil person – why didn’t you tone down your blog post. Us MBA folks have feelings and always need to feel validated by our expensive degree and acronym nun chucks. Didn’t you get that memo?
We can’t be expected to deal with tongue-in-cheek stereotypical blanket criticism because we didn’t learn an acronym and chart for it.
I don’t think it is fair to say these theories are wrong. I don’t want to talk about the mba importance, but more about the value of these theories. To me, they are still actual even though they are not enough to market. I must admit I don’t use these theories on a daily basis, but to understand them can help you out getting some ideas and understanding the market. Depending on the information you have and your problematic, you can use these theories to clarify your situation on the market, and to point out problematics.
Thanks for the link, I think it is pretty useful, especially for students who sometimes don’t understand these concepts.
An MBA for an MBA sake, to learn/memorize all the theories is, in fact, garbage. How many management consultants have you encountered with MBAs that simply spout off page after page of buzz word theory without having actual practical application in their past?
I believe an MBA can help people learn how to think and give them access to others from other walks of life, other industries, and other opinions that is invaluable…IF…you participate in the right program with the right students.
Students right out of college just don’t have the experience to make the program valuable to the other students.
I’d hire someone with an MBA, but I’d look closely at why they wanted the MBA, and how they think.
MBA in a Page
By: Guy Kawasaki My buddy Ray Schraff from Hyland Software pointed me to this site containing a comprehensive list of management theories. It is an MBA in a page, and I mean that in a pejorative way….
I have an MBA and I agree with you 100%. What you are saying is a bit subtle, and does require some real-world business experience, savvy, maturity, whatever you call it. Seems like many did not quite understand that it is not about the content of the page and the body of knowledge it represents, but about someone who has nothing better to do in life (or business) than to diligently (compulsively?) learn all the terms. Those that know all of this crap, or close to it, I usually find that they lack good intuition, common sense, and ability to think on their own.
Now don’t ask me how I found the time to read and respond to something that however true, I would have never expect it to stir so many reactions… or is it your magic that makes people obsessively read whatever you write? :-)
Good habits: adapt, learn. Pay attention to your environment, define a plan, prioritize, execute. Understand Guy is not criticizing having an MBA, but specific parrot-like behavior…
Bad habits: misallocate your most precious resource-time- in memorizing 200 “theories” and see neither the trees nor the forest…
I have an MBA, and enjoyed working in McKinsey. Yet, I found the list in that website both scary and funny…
To the people who are unsubscribing from Guy’s RSS: please contrast the person who knows all those “theories” with the wisdom and pattern recognition displayed by Bill Gates in his Harvard speech this year, and maybe you’ll see the light…
Reading through these comments reminds me of when I sold cars shortly after I graduated college. One day I was sitting around talking to a fellow salesman, mid-40s, non-graduate, who went on and on about how useless college was and anybody could get a degree handed to them. I am now in computers. He is still selling cars.
Funny one, Guy. On the one hand, you say “don’t hire the MBAs”. On the other, only an MBA can answer the sort of questions that you VC types like to throw at startups. You can’t have it both ways.
An MBA just teaches you a perspective and gives you a set of tools. How you use the tools is the important thing. Tools for the sake of knowing tools doesn’t really help a start up. But then having too many MBAs in a start up can be detrimental, especially if they come from Stanford.
“Only an MBA can answer the sort of questions you VCs like to throw out…” How silly on its face.
Reading these comments has been the highlight of my day!
What’s with the thin skin guys? Did something said touch a nerve? Be confident in those MBA’s you possess, I’m sure Guy wasn’t personally referring to you…
Thanks for the humor and link to a nice site Guy!
Guy – was it on your blog that I recall reading something like the following?
MBAs, consultants, i-bankers, etc. believe coming up with brilliant business solutions is incredibly difficult while implementing them is relatively easy. However, in a startup, the exact opposite is true. The solutions are relatively easy to spot, but implementation is hard. That is often why the above types of people are such poor fits within startup companies.
You whining, unsubscribing MBAs should consider this post in the context of the above. Sheer brainpower and work ethic will win over static management theories in nearly all situations, particularly in a startup environment. And to the person who said you need an MBA to answer the questions VCs ask… you really think you need an MBA to answer fundamental questions about your own company? Wow.
The whiners here should seek employment in executive training programs at F500 corporations and leave the startup world for another life. And fortunately, the corporate firewalls at those big, bureaucratic organizations will probably block you from reading such worthless blogs as Guy’s. A win, win ;-)
I don’t remember if I said that, but I agree with it. And I would have said it. :-)
Maybe Starbucks was closed this morning all around the world so the MBAs were cranky.
> You can use the page as a test: Anyone who knows all these theories is
> someone you shouldn’t hire.
Is there _anyone_ on this planet who actually knows _all_ these theories?
Nutty Guy! Are you now playing with bloggers’ psyche? You studied psychology, didn’t you?
Yes, it was the easiest major I could find.
As far as I am concerned, MBA or not, as long as people can subscribe with a click or two, you will be just fine.
I am not an MBA if anyone’s curious. I still have yet to finish my first degree which I started over 14 years ago.
I am more interested in what Guy has to say, an open mind is a learning mind.
This is hilarious! People get their panties in a bunch over the stupidest thing.
I have an MBA. I am not the least bit offended by the comment. Anyone that has time to study all those management concepts (and the list is long if you noticed) could not possibly have experience in all of them. Therefore, why would I hire them? If they say they have experience in all of them, I call bullshit.
As someone stated below, the right tool for the right job. Find your problem, then the right solution for the problem. Not the other way around!
Great post Guy!
They’re not “panties.” They are “Generally Approved Antecedents for Pants.”
And another thing for all you “unsubscribers” out there…
How do you think all these “tools” came to be? By people deciding that the curren tools did not fix their problem. They were not so tied into theory that they could actually think on their own and come up with a NEW theory.
Give back you MBA….you don’t deserve it!
Guy – I’m an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler with start-up experience/aspirations and I completely agree with your sentiment. An MBA student would probably be the last person I would seek to hire in an early-stage start-up.
This is great.
In fact, we could create an exam based on a subset of these theories and test people we consider successful (in the MBA-sense of success, obviously)…
Assuming MBA graduates get a good score at these theories (which is, in fact, just a theory), we would know the real value of MBA’s (not that of comparing the salaries of MBAs to non-MBAs, which is biased).
I could make it even simpler. Get all the candidates in a room. Read off a few of these theories. Ask all the people who know what they are to go to one side of the room. Ask those who don’t to go to the other side. Then hire the people who don’t know the theories.
A cheeky way of making a good point Guy – that’s why I love this blog!
I’m trying to build and launch a start-up and to be honest most of the formal strategic mgt methods I learned back in my MBA days have been nothing but a distraction (and a source of irritation for my guru developer business partner).
Build a product, a good product, figure out how to make money from it and the rest will follow. Smart money looks for smart products and not clever people alone.
Great link Guy! The smartest and richest people I know don’t have MBAs. Arrogance substituting for knowledge gets us the kind of software and applications we see in the market today. It also gets us lead in kids toys, or maybe that’s just greed. Anyway, with all of these MBAs developing sophisticated methods to make things work better, why are so many things getting worse? Invest in the person with vision, passion, and the drive to make it happen. These traits aren’t taught, but they are infectious.
Oddly enough, I contacted my university just a few days ago inquiring about doing an online MBA… just for the hell of it. Long story made short, I told the university I will wait till they award me an honorary one ;-)
So far in my business experience, the worst sales person I ever had work for me was a MBA, not to say all MBAs are bad, there are some damn outstanding ones out there!
There are also other resources which are as valuable.
Also, in one page, there is Periodic Table of Visualization Methods for Management:
Guy Kawasaki Is Facing Reader Backlash… But Higher Feed Count??
Guy Kawasaki wrote a post that slightly upset some of his readers and caused them to unsubscribe from his feed. But why, then, are his feed subscriptions at their highest level ever (75,556)? The issue: Guy posted that one should
Learnin your bizspeak (or not)
Guy Kawasaki points to MBA in a Page a list of management theories and explanations of them. As usual he does not miss the opportunity to take a shot at those in/with MBAs. While I agree that if you know
Thank you for the link to Marty’s story and sorry for my comment about you Truemors being a low point for you. I guess I was a bit salty after loading the Facebook book app the other day and having to uninstall the stealth Truemors wideget that came with it. I wasn’t too happy about that but I can see why would would try to package it that way.
I did check out Truemors when it first launched and looked over the site again today.
I’m still not a fan of Truemors, but I am still a fan of Art of the Start and will continue to recommend that book to anyone I know who is looking to start a business, even though you rip MBAs as though all MBAs were mindless drones that lacked any ounce of creativity.
You would be surprised at how many MBA grads these days are now becoming social entrepreneurs and working for non-profits rather than the traditional route of strategy consulting or i-banking. Check out my blog “Green is Good” sometime if you want to get an idea of what a recent MBA graduate is up to.
Can I subscribe twice ?
I’m laughing with you. Why are so many of you not laughing?
And no joke, I’m not sure what MBA stands for. Me?
A laborer in water/sewer maint./construction for over 20 years. I’m still at it. MBA’s pass me every single day. I wear a hardhat and orange vest waving your vehicles past our job site or in the trench hand-digging to locate utility lines as heavy equipment operators stand by or tagging back cement trucks as we prepare for a pour. I wonder if you see me? The MBA’s who catch a glimpse driving through? I’ll tell you true and they will too….I’m smiling and laughing! It’s the construction season! You who have unsubscripted? Next time you find yourselves stuck in a traffic back-up due to road work ahead? Slow down and take a look around…look past the sweat, the dirt and sun-baked skin and you’ll see what is missing from so many of the MBA comments. You’ll see humor. It’s everywhere! We are laughing. Big belly laughing. A benefit earned. A part of the job description. Maybe you’ll laugh your way back? Laugh all the way back here, to this post page? I miss you already.
I found Guy last week at Think map Visual Thesaurus. 13 years ago, Guy found me breaking through. The strong wind that carried me then, today waves a banner with my purpose. To take on the challenges and help pay the great debt I owe to those who went before me and suffered through. I have no misgivings, I do not lack confidence and my courage does not falter when I am called upon to put up the good fight. I know how so many strongly lean upon the triumph of this cause.
I’ll never surrender. And I’ll never stop laughing.
I’m a just final year marketing student, I did well for all my units EXCEPT for an elective which I chose as an interest – Technological entrepreneurship.
Instead of being bombarded with theories, models and researches. I was placed in a situation where I had to unlearn my thought process groomed by my previous experiences. Maybe it’s just me – I find that I failed to spot the most simple, significant details/solutions critical to my business plan and was practically hurling models and theories at the problems.
My takeaway was: it’s about using your common sense to assess the situation then consider the best tools to leverage. Not throwing everything u have that you assumed is best for the situation.
If I can, I’ll still do MBA to learn more and network. :)
I’m not taking sides but just want to share my little experience.
Mattel Recall – Where Are the Outraged Bloggers?
If word of mouth marketing is so strong – where are all of the 150 powerful mommy and daddy bloggers? The know-it-all MBAs that challenge Guy Kawasakis right to speak his mind ? The thousands of bloggers who claim to…
you are all wrong.. it all depends on the situation.
for instance, if i wanted to sell a $500M company, i would probably want an mba to be able help value and sell it. if i wanted to invest $100K in a startup, i might get Guy’s opinion.
if i was starting a new web company that helps huge companies with inventory management issues, i would rather get an mba who can apply all the theories, vs Guy or an entrepreneur who would know very little about the situation.
if i wanted to expand a retail chain operation, i would probably want to get an mba who can do the real estate analysis in picking the best locations. if i wanted to expand a little dinky web app (like tumors), Guy would be really good at that.
in others words, there are some areas that an mba would be a better fit for and there are instances where a hard-working entrepreneur with a good gut is better.
At the end of the day, business is about only one thing : the customer. So, anything you do is aimed at keeping & growing this guy with you. No MBA or HEC diploma (the French disease) required to understand that.
Because the whole stuff is just damn simple: make this guy happy by making his life (at work) easier. The methods, the tools, the processes here are pretty simple too : it’s called human relationships.
And nobody’s going to teach you those at a MBA (or at HEC ;-)
@Mark : do you think Neanderthals had MBAs when they invented their tools ?
Didn’t know that Guy was writing for Private Eye. I think they would approve. Where can I cancel my subscription?
Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
(1) congratulations! keep your unique insight is what attracted me to the website.
(2) I thought all the MBA with leadership training would be capable of taking different point of view into consideration. Not just turn its back=sign off (at least put on some facts indicated the successful use of the theory). I guess I was wrong.
(3) Well, you get rid of >80% of IQ group (most of guys pass the GMAT appear to be “high IQ”). you just got stuck with left over somone like silly me (lower IQ for sure).
I know more people with MBA’s that lack an understanding of the customer. Producing spreadsheets and power point presentations is intertainng to look at, but the customer is King. It’s not what you know, but that you can take care of your customers. Of course cash is the bigest king, and it takes dedication to insure customer satisfaction. Maybe someone with an MBA can do this job, but some of the best are high school drop outs. I am not promoting to not seek education, as you can never know to much, but the best busiess people don’t need an MBA to succeed.
Guy, how about this for your next post? Why does the apple i-Phone not have a thumb keyboard? Answer: Because Steve Jobs see’s the future without it. My comment would be, that thumbing your life away is short lived. When you port Unix to a phone with a development platform on your computer, then voice recognition and text to speech is around the corner. Hello i-phone talk to me!
Another potential post: What does the computer of the future look like. Answer: First off, Microsoft will push Windows on the Mac hardware because it is a controled architecture and insures windows runs the most nimble and efficient. The ISA architecture or whatever it is called today will just be built for people running Unix, and the open source community will continue to make it rock.
Buy Apple stock as it’s the future’s Big Thing.
Where’s all the anger? I was expecting more than a couple posts and unsubscribes, but most are fully supportive of Guy. Count me in the camp of MBAs who love him. But let’s get more than a love fest going…
I wonder how many times Guy has invested in a company that used some kind of “matrix” on its business plan or 10-slide powerpoint presentation in order to visually depict a business opportunity? Should anyone who uses a strategic framework be discounted?
The magic of these models is that is helps us dumb down complex issues for ourselves, our investors and our clients.
I think my biggest MBA takeaway was an exposure to hundreds of types of companies, industries, issues and business opportunities – especially via case study. These helped me turbo charge my understanding of business in a way that sticking with a single company for two more years would not. Of course diverse real world experience remains my foundation and continuing education, but the MBA is part of why I’m successful today.
Let’s not forget George Bush has an MBA!
Let’s send all MBAs to the countryside to be re-educated!
Oh wait…. I’m doing an MBA. Sssh! Or, should that be $$$$h?!
They may unsubscribe (won’t be able to comment) but they will still be reading you every day!
I’ve got an MBA from a pretty good school, and I enjoyed the experience and think it contributed to my career and my life in general – but I’m not “an MBA” – i.e. having an MBA is not what defines me. I suppose that the people who unsubscribed because of this post lost their sense of humor (if they ever had it) long before gaining their MBA.
Let’s face it – we’re lucky. Lawyer and engineer jokes are far worse than MBA jokes.
Having an MBA is not much different than alcohol abuse in this regard: An asshole who is also an alcoholic is simply a bigger asshole when drunk.
Like any other segment of the population, there are MBAs who are upstanding folks (and hey, even a few lawyers!) and assets to their communities and their companies.
And then there are the other ones. You don’t know who you are. But your co-workers do.
I see MBA based principles and theories as essential building blocks for anyone in business. However, “principles without practices” take you nowhere.
Unfortunately I see too many “book smart” individuals passing themselves off as Business Coaches and advisors who can’t (or don’t) apply what they learn to real life scenarios while their clients pay the freight. It’s all about application, accountability and results!
Taking offense and unsubscribing is a sure sign of one’s insecurity. My track record does my talking…
Actually, my statement isn’t all that silly on the face of it.
Take for example, the following quote:
Here’s what a business plan should address: Executive Summary (1), Problem (1), Solution (1), Business Model (1), Underlying Magic (1), Marketing and Sales (1), Competition (1), Team (1), Projections (1), Status and Timeline (1), and Conclusion (1).
That’s from this post:
Ok, so let’s pick it apart.
Problem/Solution: You don’t need an MBA for that, most entrepreneurs can get their head around that.
Business Model:I suppose someone can simply say “we are going to emulate _____ as a business model.” But when the hard questions start about whether the model is viable, then what?
Underlying Magic: That’s a wash.
Marketing/Sales/Projections: Referring to
There are a lot of assumptions and tough questions surrounding these areas, and this is where the MBA earns their keep. I’m not saying that they aren’t as susceptible to the lies as a non-MBA, but the marketing plan, the numbers, are the story. A VC wants to know that you have a plan to market, that you have realistic projections, and that they are going to see a return on their investment. The tools that an MBA gains help sell that story.
Timeline: I think this can go either way. In a pitch, however, you would probably get grilled on what assumptions underly the Timeline, including anything that seems to be dependent on “underlying magic”, infusion of capital, or time to market. I would want this checked by someone that had some skill in operations management, at the very least.
If I am an entrepreneur, I want someone that can help me answer the sort of questions that will help me obtain funding, not simply come in and be at the mercy of some MBA trained VC.
If I am passionate about what I am doing, then I would expect nothing less.
If THE MBA PROGRAM was so special we would be reading and learning daily on blogs the methods and process mba’s learn and use, unfortunately we don’t.
MBA’s don’t create new business they’re there to clutter board rooms.
Guy, an interesting follow-up to how your barb at MBAs got so easily under the skin of some MBA folks would be revisiting all those oh-so-smart MBAs at Enron. There was a fascinating article someone wrote on how Enron wonks would get to do whatever projects they wanted without regard for past success, but rather how smart they were on paper. If only I could possibly find that again…
And BTW I have an MBA. I got it to engineer a successful career change, not as a testiment to show off to people as if to say “ooh, look how smart I am!”
Reminder: George W. Bush, aka Puppet-In-Chief, aka King George, aka Chimpy McFlightsuit, aka Worst President Ever…
…has an MBA.
Yes! I found the article – plenty of ammo in support of Guy’s disdain of “look at me I’m smarter than you” MBAs…many of whom had jobs at a company called Enron:
Guy, the orgy of anti-MBA postings here show less intelligence than the two people who were offended and unsubscribed.
I hope you are just being too subtle and your point is to criticize the wrong attitude for a start up environment, not foster a blanket indictment of MBAs. You well know that it is the person who makes the difference, not what school they attended nor the degree(s) they possess.
The general anti-MBA stuff here smacks of the same brand of idiocy that brings us class warfare and partisan politics.
Why is everything always so black and white. There is no such thing as a good MBA or a bad MBA…being an MBA is not a profession like being a doctor or lawyer, or construction worker for that matter. Having an MBA doesn’t make someone arrogant, nor does not having an MBA inoculate someone against arrogance.
When considering new hires we should evaluate each individual candidate’s suitability for the job we are trying to fill (education and previous experience/accomplishment are as important as personality and ‘fit’) and not make blanket statements about people with certain educational backgrounds.
All the MBA bashing smells just a bit too much like self-justification and insecurity. Of course, the MBAs who unsubscribed seem a bit insecure themselves.
Lest we forget, Guy (you know, the one who’s thoughts we all like to read each day in this blog) has his MBA as well (from UCLA Anderson if I’m not mistaken). Should we bash him too?
Find me a person who knows and can apply all of those business theories on that page and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t care at all about your dinky little startup.
It’s Web 2.0 blatherheads, not MBA’s, that are creating the next bubble. Every single entrepreneur presentation you witness online = “we have no business model and never will”. Every single VC presentation = “show me the money”. Sounds to me like a few MBA’s in that mix would be a good thing.
When a site as basic as HotorNot.com pastes the entire overhyped and codercentric Web 2.0 field with respect to business model innovation, don’t tell me that my MBA is irrelevant.
Guy, you’re just too old to read that small font. Get some glasses, roll up your sleeves and dive in. That page rules; frameworks are the source code of business thinking and the info here can help you hack it. This page is full of great information, and it is a crackup seeing Valley ego balloons totally whiff the basics. If the companies that you are part of don’t get cracking and learn how to apply these frameworks, tell them to prepare to be Friendsterized by someone who does.
Not to mention – that page has a very clear set of business models that no Facebook app will soon match – attract business users and show business-related ads that are bidded up in value by serious businesses. Nice job valuebasedmanagement, and good luck without those frameworks all y’all haters.
I have an MBA earned in the late 70s and run a niche-product manufacturing business we started in the early 80s. My original reason for getting an MBA education was to get 10 years business experience in two years. Like several posters have stated, the opportunity to study case histories of business successes/failures and to get a feel for various aspects like organizational design, behavioral cause & effect stuff has been useful. Regarding MBAs noting being good salespeople, having people skills, yadda, yadda, yadda, it is usually not the degree or education that made them into being poorly suited for whatever endeavor they are attempting (or not attempting) to do. Rather, the MBA’s stumbling block is usually caused his/her innate personality and attitude orientation. Its not the MBA degree that creates the narcissistic jerk, rather it is the narcissistic personality plus the MBA that creates/yields the jerk.
“For those who major in business with the aim of making pots of money, there is little scope to discover one’s own talents, develop one’s own values or learn about a world wider than school or college.”
and again this article highlighting the jaw-dropping excesses at Enron, fueled by “I’m SO smart MBA types” is MUST reading for ALL:
I withdrew my applications to 4 MBA schools and will refocus my talents to make a social networking site.
This is a fantastic resource, despite Guy’s aversion to MBAs. Asking the right question is harder than answering the wrong one; and frameworks assist with asking the right question.
I first learned about this site when I started working in strategy consulting. I go there infrequently, but find it’s a good way to stimulate alternative approaches to problems.
We can think of the growth stages of a company as follows:
Each of these stages has its own characteristics and more importantly, they are in tension with each other.
The mature stage is interested in efficiency or refining processes. Isn’t this the appropriate stage for the MBA, and not be creative. I am thinking that creativity is generative and innovation is more about refining something already in existence.
Brilliant! I have really enjoyed reading the comments.
As I have studied anthropology, international politics and business, the most valuable thing I have picked up is from anthropology. Understand what your tribe/customers are thinking. When you have figured out what it is that triggers them and fullfills their needs, not yours as a business person, you’ve figured out the most valuable thing for your start-up.
Guy, fantastic post as always. And I’m one semester away from my MBA. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, what’s the point? I’m certainly not unsubscribing. =)
The art and science of Management started with real-world practitioners noting down what works in the field, and what doesnt. Somewhere down the line, academicians took over!
Doesn’t still mean knowing a theory or two diminishes your networth. In-fact it helps when you do not have real world experience in that area. All said and done, MBAs run all of the billion dollar firms, and college-dropout CEOs having made their moolah by stroke of luck once, often miss the next upcoming wave, and conviniently blame it on their staff! What say.
I am an MBA, and been trying to undo it. In my neck of the woods, we have what is called a “BBA” also, and unfortunately this is where I started off as an 18-year old. Apparently, MBA after a work experience, and a different bachelor’s degree isn’t that bad. But BBA + MBA is horrid.
What I found problematic with MBA was its total lack of concern for any of the values that I held important. It was all about learning this or that tool or technique – and one couldn’t even see as far as to where and how the technique was to be applied? There were plenty of specific examples – yes – but no UNIVERSAL WISDOM. More tragic still is the mindset that this list of theories and tools creates: that before taking action, one must run through a mental list of the tools and theories. Action-oriented MBAs are usually those who are able to bypass this mental checklist. They were usually the “back-bencher” folks, as I’ve observed.
The Economist, on May 10, published an article + backgrounder about revamping business education. http://tinyurl.com/yoxq3x
There is now an NGO called MBAs Without Borders that puts MBA degrees in a better perspective than orientation with a cut-throat mentality – which isn’t there on the paper, but in the aura of MBAs.
MBAs aren’t “bad people.” It’s the b-schools and the curricula that suck. Personally, I got by through spending more time in the library issuing books on ecology, games, learning, etc. that interested me – and never opening the suggested texts. “Beyond Gray Pinstripes” was also an inspiration. In short, I learned the theories in schools, and went about on my own to get wiser about the PURPOSE of learning it all.
myself i don’t have a MBA and anyway i was regarded to betoo short to play basketball well.
when defining business strenth i always look at far more simplistic way, money in the bank = strong. no money = weak. to get money in the bank you need to sell something and spend less.
Management Methods, Models and Theories
Following up on the last post, Guy Kawasaki also points us to this site on Management Methods, Models and Theories.
Guy also says: Anyone who knows all these theories is someone you shouldn’t hire. Guy, youre such a funny guy
A students teach.
B students work for C students.
Look at any list of prominent business owners in the US…most of them didn’t finish college, and some didn’t finish high school.
A business degree will sometimes help you get a job, but often won’t do what it’s supposed to do: help you create a successful business of your own. If you want a job, an MBA just might do the trick. If you want a successful business, it might be smarter to take the same money and time and invest it in yourself.
as a close relative of the species of mba, i am pretty glad to meet all of you in this topic, and hear your points of view on mba or not, and related. while I am currently doing an interesting “project” related to Guy’s post and the argument from all of you, I’d like to recommend you now to have a look at this funny clip on youtube:
I AM AN MBA
I am a would be MBA and I found this post really interesting partly because I can get an idea about the things I am supposed to know and things I shouldn’t be wasting my time on. I agree that nothing substitutes the common sense and you just can’t teach that in Business school.
Nine Ways to Disengage your Employees
Employee engagement has been all the rage for so long that we sometimes forget the value of employee disengagement.
Want your best and brightest to flee? Want rumors and grumbling at all-time highs? Want lower productivity and increased sick time and …
Turn Your MBA Green
I am so happy to see this. The green MBA. It is about time. I caught it this morning on the Huffington Post, which referred me to a wire service story by Michelle Locke, which referred me to the GreenMBA
MBA’s have done more to destroy this country than any other group. They don’t create anything, other than an intangible “maximization of shareholder value,” unconstrained by time, and through useless, three-letter-acronym-encrusted bizspeak, know only how to bilk investors out of their dollars – thus proving once again that the two most-common elements in the universe remain hydrogen and stupidity. Damn them all for giving us such wonderful terms as outsourcing, downsizing, Six Sigma, TQM, and other ineffective shell-gaming phrases, designed to hide the fact that they will never abide by true ethics, character, integrity, and excellence.