Posted On: Friday, 22 April 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Of all the MBA's I've worked with I respect a handful of them and find the rest of the majority hugely amusing. If you've ever sat there and wondered what it is that those business schools out there really do to suck empathy and common sense out of people, you are in good company.


David Heinemeier Hansson at 37ignals and the writer of RoR goes expresses his thoughts on MBA students gives wise advice to young and budding MBA students at Stanford:

Before you can even get started I think the most important thing for you to realize is that you have to unlearn your MBA. And I am treating MBA here as a sort of a general grab bag for business school management theories. I spent three years and Copenhagen business school and I would probably say that according to my estimations 96.7 percent of the time was completely wasted. It has NOTHING to do with what I actually do today and it has NO impact on what I actually work with everyday.

In fact, I came out slightly damaged. I came out with a head that had been soaking in management theory for three years and it was actually a little off. It was not very well suited for the real world of just building a product, pleasing customers and making profits as a business because that's really not what you learn and you have to just sort of readjust and recalibrate when you come out of school to that reality.

Nobody cares about a 20 page report on five forces. It just doesn't matter. There is none of your customers that's going to think, "Oh well did you do your five forces for this setup? No? Alright then we're not going to buy your product. So all of these tools that you've learnt are only for you. They are not going to impress anybody else when you start your own business. And what you learn is, when you are starting your own business.... and all businesses start small.... is that none of it is relevant.

The context of the talk resolves around fundamental flaw of business schools which are all about teaching students everything that is big and clunky. Big words, big reports and big documents, big plans, big clients, big projects, big teams.

When these students end up starting a business which has to start small or joining a small yet innovative organization they invariably find themselves fumble and going round and round in circles too proud to admit that they are fumbling.

David's advice is sound: before you start your own business, do yourself a favor and unlearn your MBA.

But then the real question you have to ask yourself is, do you see yourself running a small yet effective organization that makes a dent in the universe or do you see yourself working for the big blue?

If your answer is the former and if years of business school management theories often make you delusional and dysfunctional when it comes to running a small kickass profitable organization, why enroll to begin with?

Just a little something to think about.

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