For 100 days I am posting 100 ways that we could rethink and reimagine the MBA, to transform it into a tool for creating the sustainable leaders that our organizations and the planet need.
I’ll explore all aspects of the MBA, ranging from curriculum and research to partnerships and campus activities. Some ideas could be put into practice tomorrow while others would require a complete rethinking of the way we view the MBA.
This brainstorming of ideas is meant to encourage discussion, so please share your thoughts and comments and elaborate on the ideas you find the most interesting.
Day 36: From competition to collaboration
Today’s business and world challenges are too complex for one organization to tackle alone. Because of this businesses that use to be just competitors are now also partners, collaborating on projects that will enable both parties to move forward with their respective sustainability strategies.
This new course would focus on how to collaborate, how to work with other businesses on a range of different initiatives whether they be research projects, working with competitors, working with businesses from a range of different industries, or working on voluntary initiatives.
Day 37: No classes
Could you train the next generation of business leaders without them ever having to attend a class? What if the MBA had no classes, no book, and no curriculum?
Instead students accepted into this MBA would learn by working in teams to solve a series of local, national, regional and international challenges. These challenges, which would be set by a range of organizations, businesses, NGOs and governments, would be ones that they were currently dealing with around a range of sustainability topics. One challenge could be to develop an alternative to GDP, another could be around creating a new business model or a new product, while another could be how to change an unsustainable behaviour in the community. All of these challenges would be ones that these organizations are currently grappling with, and where solutions would help make an impact.
Students accepted into the program would have access to a building with different work spaces and tools to enable them to work on these challenges, as well as to create and test out prototype solutions. There would be access to a range of interdisciplinary resources and experts based on the assigned task. There would be no tuition, rather it would be funded via the businesses and organizations that sponsor projects as well as alumni.
Day 38: Meditation
In an environment where individuals are constantly bombarded with information how can future leaders be trained to focus and be more effective?
Meditation and business school are not two words that are usually heard together. That being said a growing number of studies show that meditation can change the structure of the brain leading to a boost in intelligence, that it helps people stay on tasks longer with few distractions, improves data retention, reduces stress, increases working memory and fosters creativity.
The Future MBA will integrate a range of meditation experiences and opportunities within the program, to assist students in using this or other related techniques to focus and become more effective.
Day 39: Facilitators in the classroom
Faculty are experts in their respective fields, but that doesn’t necessarily make them effective teachers. What is taught in the classroom is important, but how it is taught is crucial.
In the future certain MBA classes will be led by facilitators rather than faculty. These individuals will be responsible for bringing out and sharing learning’s around a specific topic between faculty and the diverse student body who all have their own lessons to share based on their experiences.
Day 40: No energy needed
University campuses are complex environments that require a large amount of energy for lighting, computers, technology, air conditioning and heating. The Future MBA will be energy self-sufficient. It will not only generate enough energy for its uses on campus but will also be able to support other businesses located nearby.
Schools will continue to become more energy efficient by minimizing energy use and through using leading edge technologies. In order to support their energy needs at this point they will tap into a range of renewable energy options depending on their location including but not limited to wind, solar or geothermal. Flooring across campus will collect kinetic energy of students and staff walking, running, dancing and walking up the stairs across campus to be used. Gym equipment such as bike use will help to generate power to run the gym or revolving doors in front of the cafeteria will collect energy for the cafeteria.
Students and staff will be actively engaged in exploring possible options and putting them into practice.
Day 41: Genius bar
Business schools around the world are home to some of great minds, individuals who have spent their life studying a particular topic. They have an incredible amount of knowledge but very few people get the opportunity to learn from these individuals unless you attend one of their classes, or read their book. How could we create a Business School where professors are available to share their expertise to a wider community?
The Future MBA could have a range of “Genius Bar”( inspired by Apple Flagship stores). Professors and subject matter experts, or “Geniuses”, will be available for short periods of time (maybe 20 minutes) to meet with any student, staff, or other individual from the wider community so they can ask questions, discuss their topic, or ask for advice. These short meetings would take place through the MBA Flagship Store (Day 46), or Pop up Shops (Day 3), online platforms or on campus meetings.
For the local community this means the opportunity to interact and learn from specialists they usually don’t have access to and for the professors engaged in the program it will mean opportunities to explore the broader implications and reach of their work and research.
Top illustration by SONCHAI JONGPOR via Shutterstock.