Executive Education is Useless


I got an email from INSEAD’s Leadership Programme for Senior Indian Executives (ILPSIE) on LinkedIn today. Their well-intentioned mail was to..see quote below

ILPSIE is aimed exclusively at Indian managers with an average of 14-15 years of experience. ILPSIE primarily seeks to improve fast growing Indian companies’ “bench strength” of skilled general managers, thereby enabling them to successfully capitalize on growth opportunities.

bench strength“..what the ****?! And “skilled general managers“?? I have nothing against INSEAD by the way.

I feel this is standard for the Indian/old world mindset, the ignorant belief that an MBA endows you with superpowers. Once that is done one could sail into clouds of senior management. Or get a coveted role within the financial industry. Or deal with rigors of managing any business in reality.

It used to be true when life was lot simpler but not true anymore.

An MBA teaches you basic heuristics and patterns of rational thinking. Anyone with 2 ounces of motivation and 1 ounce of opportunity can get the same thing, for lower cost and possibly faster, using books plus contacts in the old world and getting online in the new world. The value that society attached to degrees will cease being relevant. Old world HR departments, who cannot judge your technical skill, will still want to know if you have a degree and how much marks you got. Ignore companies with such HR folks and think in this fashion, there culture would be messed up anyway.

Knowledge can be gained if you have the interest for it. iTunesU is worth more than every average professor you have had.

Corporate sponsorship of MBA programs is another route where old world power brokers render favors to the devout. Forget it, you can make or learn way more if you will work for it.

A piece of paper that declares what you know is crap..what you reveal, share and deliver everyday is what matters. Over a 15 year career I have known folks with MBAs from prestigious institutions and got laid off because they were clueless for anything beyond college, textbook, or routine corporate scenarios.

The world is getting complex. The Dark Age, or Kali Yuga, the ancient Hindu equivalent of “Winter is coming” already here.

What should you do? Forget MBA. Learn how to program, understand basics of finance and launch a business..you will learn as much, if not more, as an MBA teaches you.

Photo Credit: Poster Boy via Compfight

The Bogeyman Called Corporate Standards

A corporation exists by virtue of being a logical unit of functioning. However diverse its operations, they all serve a single purpose. The individual and group relegates their distinct ideas to the background to ensure the main purpose is served.

But behind this idea lies a great evil. It is often deemed right to sacrifice the smaller aspirations for the larger good. This instinct to merge and blend in with the overall trend often kills what might turn out to be beneficial to the larger good.

Standards do serve to forge a single identity, a single theme to present a unified face to the external world. But in a time of change the tendency to merge is stifling to perspectives that are different.

Standards of behavior and ethics, equal opportunity, standards of conduct should be adhered to and I have no doubt on that.

But I see standards as a marker for how low a certain function can go. They are not the yardstick with which every superior effort is beaten down lower. Standards for productivity, usability and technological progress exist to be broken by better and superior functions.

The way I have dealt with resistance to what is new, different and unfamiliar to the larger organization is by relentlessly selling the benefits, overlooking the resistances and steam rolling my way through. Until something or someone really high up the chain stops the effort.

Remember that standards are tombstones for dead ideas. That which is living and evolving will have no such markers.

[Note: All mentions of the word standard in this post refer to corporate standard.]