The Future MBA, week 11: Courses across cultures

Future MBA

The Future MBA, week 11: Courses across cultures

Moscow school of Management.

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 71: Chief Opportunity Officer

Business Schools are so busy working on day-to-day issues that often there are not enough opportunities to stand back and look at the bigger picture. How can business schools ensure that they take advantage of and respond to opportunities and challenges presented by the outside business and non-business world around sustainability issues?

In the Future MBA, every school will have a Chief Opportunity Officer. They will be responsible for exploring these opportunities, so that the school can move forward both within and outside of the school. They will have a strong understanding of the work different faculty and researchers are doing on campus as well as the community, entrepreneurial and business environment surrounding the school to be able to make connections between these groups that will strengthen the school as a whole. They will work to identify and facilitate cross disciplinary opportunities and operate across the silos that exist within business schools to be able to explore ways for the school to learn, change, evolve and adapt to the changing world around it.

Day 72: Long Term Thinking

Increasingly much of business and business teaching is focused on short-term measures of value, often at the expense of long-term thinking that can create stronger and more sustainable organizations. How can we ensure that business school graduates put proper emphasis on long-term thinking and planning, and understand how to balance this with the medium and short term?

The Future MBA will have a course specifically focused on Long Term Thinking. This course will explore how to think and plan long term in a business environment that is increasingly focused on the short term. It will explore what long-term thinking and goals look like including visionary goals and how to plan these and eventually reach them. It will explore and encourage students to create new business models and products that focus and succeed based on long-term thinking. The course also will look at how to balance short-term expectations with long-term goals, and the different incentive structures present in terms of behaviors and organizational cultures that promote short-term thinking and what could be done to change these.

Day 73: Skill Sharing

Many students in the MBA say that they learn just as much from their peers as they do from the structured MBA program. How could an MBA facilitate more learning from peers as a way to develop a deeper and more personalized program?

The Future MBA will provide students, staff and faculty as well as alumni the opportunity to make a note in their profiles of a limited number of special skills they have that they are willing to share. This could be basic skills which are useful during the MBA such as how to create complex Excel spreadsheets, public speaking, budgeting, creating a website or time management. It could be more specialized expertise such as how to scale up business ideas, provide legal and tax advice or hiring employees. The skills could be around career options such as careers in consulting, finance or NGOs. The skills could even be non-business skills such as how to grow a vegetable garden, preparing for a baby or how to brew your own beer. In this way those in the school community who have a question about a particular topic or are interested in building their skill and knowledge base can approach specific individuals or group of individuals willing to share their expertise.

Day 74: Ph.D

In the same way that we need to strengthen the MBA to be able to create the next generation of sustainable managers and leaders that the world needs, even more important perhaps is the need to strengthen the Ph.D programs that create the next generation of professors and researchers that teach these students and support business schools.

The Ph.D program in the Future MBA will require candidates to take a range of courses and projects similar to those taken by MBA students, including a placement working in an organization focused on the topic of their research. Research will need to be based on and will be judged in part by its relevance and impact on the business world, both in the short and long term. They will be required to have both a good general knowledge and understanding of the business environment today as well as more specialized knowledge in a topic of their choosing. Ph.D students will be given training in teaching and communicating effectively and their teaching experience and abilities will be just as important in their graduation as their research. They also will be required to translate their research into language understandable and usable by a range of audiences and presented in nonacademic venues.

If we change the next generation of Ph.Ds, perhaps they in turn can tackle the challenges that are limiting our ability to really move forward in many ways. This in itself requires another 100 days/100 ideas.

Day 75: Global MBA

Future leaders need to have a global view, to enable them to understand and work across countries and cultures around the world. How do we ensure graduates have these skills?

Rather than be based at one school in one city, the Future MBA will take place across several locations around the world. Students will start in one location and every term throughout the degree they will move around to a different city around the world. By the end of the degree they will have spent time on all continents — North America, South America, Europe, Africa and across Asia and Oceania. In each location, students will take a range of foundation and additional courses that will introduce them to business realities in that region. Students also will visit and work with local businesses and organizations in each location. This will give students exposure not just to different business environments but also different customs and cultures.

Day 76: Living

How do you facilitate connections between students from a variety of disciplines at a different level than what is happening during classes?

The Future MBA will have a special university residence where students can live. The building would be self-sufficient and use all the latest green building technologies including the use of small community gardens at the ground level and on the roof. A variety of types of living accommodation would be available from dorm style to more private suites for singles, couples or even families. The rooms will be organized in a way that will allow the spaces to be reconfigured and shifted based on needs and changing circumstances. The residents would be students as well as a handful of recent alumni and would be a mix of both business students as well as students from other disciplines. Mixed throughout would be a range of large common areas set up to encourage the sharing of ideas and collaboration on projects. These projects could be related to the residence themselves or starting new businesses including a resource space with access to advisors 24 hours a day.

Day 77: Working on Campus

How do you strengthen every part of the school while also getting students more engaged and giving them a range of unique experiences and viewpoints they likely will not get during their careers, while also keeping them humble?

In the Future MBA, every student admitted with be allocated a job on campus. These jobs are randomly distributed and are not based on the student’s strengths, background or skills, but more likely some of their weaknesses. The jobs could be working on the school's transportation strategy, coordinating the cleaning of meeting rooms, serving coffee in the café on campus or coordinating the ordering of textbooks at the campus bookstore. The jobs will rotate during the school year or students can stay in the same job if they desire.

The jobs will expose students to some of the inner workings of the school, let them as a class be more accountable for the environment around them and give them the opportunity to leave a mark. They will have a chance to innovate, to learn new skills, to collaborate and to use the school itself as a sort of a test lab for new ideas.

Top image of Congres-hall at the Moscow School of Management by Pavel L Photo and Video via Shutterstock.