The Future MBA, week 5: consult 9 major stakeholder groups

Future MBA

The Future MBA, week 5: consult 9 major stakeholder groups

Consulting stakeholders

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 29: From Shareholders to Stakeholders

During the first Earth Summit in 1992, nine major stakeholder groups were identified that to this day are still consulted in meetings of the United Nations. These are Children and Youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, NGOs and the Scientific and Technological Community. The ninth group is Business and Industry. These are the world’s shareholders and they each have a say in how we move forward.

At the same time businesses themselves also have a range of stakeholders that affect them and are affected by them. This includes employees and their families, the community, the media, international organizations, government, educational institutions, business partners etc.

A key skill of graduates moving forward will be to able to identify, communicate and work with these different groups as they are a key part of businesses ability to do business. This new class would introduce students to these different groups, how to identify them, how to better understand their perspectives, how each communicates and the language that they use and how to work and collaborate with them.

Day 30: Flipped

Not a day goes by without some mention of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and how they are taking over business education. These open courses which are given to unlimited numbers of students simultaneously online, are often mentioned in discussions about what the Future MBA will look like.

The Future MBA could see students learning business basics via online lectures and courses in the evening through MOOCs and other online platforms. This would then free up the day to attend a range of courses that focus on bringing this information to life, clarifying what the concepts mean, discussing them and questioning them, exploring how to apply them and working on a projects that give students the chance to put these lessons into practice.

The future leaders that we need will not be created by sitting in front of a computer. While MOOCs might have their place, we need individuals who have a range of skills and experiences that no online course can provide.

Day 31: Making an Impact

What if every time a student was learning about a world challenge they were also helping to solve that challenge?

For the past 10 years the international community has been focused on reaching the Millennium Development Goals. As the goals are set to expire in 2015, the international community, including the business community is working on creating a new set of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals.

Few MBA students have heard of these but they should as they will be working for organizations that will be part of reaching the goals or will be affected by the issues included in them. The Future MBA will incorporate the business school into the work being done in the international community on development and sustainability issues. These topics will not just come up in assignments, courses, readings but in consulting projects, research agendas, partnerships, making business schools and their students and staff key partners in working with communities at the local, national and international level to reach these crucial goals.

Day 32: The Ultimate Library

A library is a place for discovery. But libraries in schools are often filled with dusty books and journals and are more popular as a space to study than a place to learn and discover. How can we change business school libraries into powerful learning opportunities for students and not just a space with a lot of old books (that you can find online anyways)?

The Future MBA library will be a central part of the MBA experience for students, not just as a space to take out books or to study quietly, but more importantly as a space to learn how to discover and to have conversations on a variety of topics. Courses will take place in the library teaching students how to find and filter information in an environment that is increasingly overflowing with it. Collections will be brought to life, curated by students themselves, faculty, guest business leaders and the community to feature certain topics, themes or educate about current events. The library will include event spaces, writing areas, conversation areas and becomes the place where students go when they aren’t in class.

Books will be taken out of the shelves, spread on tables covers exposed to encourage students to take one, sit down and flick through it. Platforms will help students explore online information in more focused ways. The Librarians will become the best known individuals on the campus, not only knowledgeable about how to help you find information you are looking for, but gifted at introducing students to information they never knew they needed.

The world is feeling the loss of brick and mortar book stores. Perhaps by exploring how to create an engaging space of discovery in business schools, these schools can play a role in bringing back the love of libraries and book stores, and shift the perceptions of the thousands of business managers and leaders that graduate every year.

Day 33: Campus Harvest

Business school campuses are often beautifully landscaped with a range of, hopefully native, plants and flowers. But what if the campus land was used as an opportunity to teach, engage, and feed, the university community?

The Future MBA campus will be planted with native fruit trees and other edible plants. Yearly harvest time will be a festival which sees students, staff and alumni come back to campus to pick the fruits. All produce will be used on campus, sold at local markets creating a fund to help support the management of the campus farm. All that is harvested will be used; over ripened fruit may be used to create jams and other products. Waste will be turned into compost and used on campus or sold. The campus may also have bee hives which provide not just the pollinators but a regular supply of high quality MBA honey to be sold or used as school gifts to visitors. Some schools may take this even further and have animals grazing in common areas or planting crops on the football field over the summer holidays. Designated areas will be divided into small plots that students and staff can borrow for one or several school terms to try their hand at planting fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are endless.

Day 34: Accessible to All

The MBA is an expensive degree, especially when you add in living and ‘networking’ expenses. This undoubtedly precludes many prospective students from benefiting from completing one. Graduates usually end up with higher salaries when they’re finished. But not all students benefit from this and this debt often forces students to choose certain jobs over others and filters the kind of students that apply in the first place.

If the Future MBA is a program where students are trained and prepared to be the sustainable leaders that organizations and the world needs today and tomorrow, they will play a crucial role in society. If this is the case, then society as a whole may be able to help cover some, or all of the costs of such a program. How exactly this may happen will have to be explored (undoubtedly in upcoming days) but could be covered for example through a tax on the business sector or might involve students working on specific consulting project throughout their degree to help cover costs.

Education is key to a healthy society and organizations and as such should be accessible to all, especially if it is a degree program that becomes focused on making a sustainable future more attainable.

Day 35: The Slow MBA

Everything is getting faster. Cars go faster, time goes faster, businesses rise up and fall down faster. The MBA is a roller coaster ride. Students are thrown more work than they can possibly finish properly, more opportunities to learn than they could ever really take advantage of. This is what the business environment is like. But should it be and will it be in the future? Studies show that the ‘more and faster is better’ approach to work is not true at all, and that in fact more hours of work does not make us more productive.

The Slow Food movement was founded to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and peoples dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Perhaps what we need is a Slow MBA movement, founded to celebrate management education and engage schools to provide time for students to linger on topics and lessons that interest them, space to think about the implications of their actions, guidance to plan and ponder the impact that they want to have on the world around them. Maybe we just all need to slow down

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