What is Wrong with MBA’s

Two interesting posts from Compound Thinking: What is Management? [the broken link was removed – this is one of many examples of a good blog’s domain lapsing and being bought by someone to promote unrelated items.]:

Management is helping others become great.

Well said. As Deming would say management’s responsibility is to work on improving the system (to allow everyone in the system to do great work). This encompasses a wide variety of things, including:

  • creating sensible hiring processes
  • designing systems that allow people to do great work and take pride in what they do
  • providing a system of education and training

What’s wrong with MBAs? [the broken link was removed]:

MBA graduates generally aren’t the kind of people dedicated to helping other people achieve greatness.

Instead, they want to achieve greatness on their own — which can be a worthy goal. It’s just a terrible goal for a manager. Good managers are relentlessly focused on helping the people they work for perform at their best.

There certainly is something about MBA graduates that they often focus on measuring how important they are and how much they should be paid. I believe his statement that “managers should be dedicated to helping others achieve greatness.” This can run counter to performance appraisals schemes where people have to claim responsibility for successes in order to get more cash.

It is hard enough to create and sustain great management systems without adding more challenges to achieving success. When the management system results in having credit for each success fought over (to allocate credit to whoever convinces others they deserve the credit) it is much harder.

Related: Joel’s MBADeming’s 14 obligations of managementposts about respect for peopleSeven Deadly Diseases

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4 Responses to What is Wrong with MBA’s

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  3. Josh Hohman says:

    Unfortunately, I tend to agree with your assessment of (most) MBAs (I'm a 2005 grad from the Stanford GSB). Of course, it is hasty to make generalizations based on MBA's as a whole.

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