Benefits we receive from MBA can be truly subtle and almost unnoticed at times.
It’s been a few weeks since I entered the “real world” after MBA classes and I have noticed one striking difference in attitude in comparison to pre-MBA days. I’m absolutely at ease at having supposedly “novel” ideas rejected. Come to think of it… if these ideas were rejected 2 years back, behind my smile would be hidden an absolute remorse about the hierarchical structure of firms and I would have jumped to the conclusion that the whole organization has conspired against a brilliant employee for the fear of competition :)
Now, the reaction is completely different, when the Strategy Director says that the hypothesis is novel and well founded and the same hypothesis is rejected by the Managing director, my first reaction is that the Strategy directors’ leadership style is that of the “Good King” and the BU director is a “Warrior” type leader and therefore the presentation has to be customized. Exercises about how to communicate to different personality types was merely fun during the MBA and yet, they seem to gain unprecedented importance in this context, it really helps. The hypothesis was indeed accepted after alterations!
Also, looking at an issue from multiple points of view comes so naturally, an issue can be looked at from organizational design, measurement and attribution, economic theory of agency, competitive framework, management control, alignment of goals or a number of other ways… all relevant, some more than others… So if one of the hypotheses is rejected, the urge is to go work on an alternate hypothesis immediately and with ease… that reduces the need to defend the original idea for the fear of not being able to come up with any other remotely well founded hypothesis. The advantage of looking at the issue from different perspectives of course is that an issue which look like a huge wall, when looked at from a different POV appears merely as a thin facade… it simplifies complicated problems.
Finally, those dreaded conflict laden MBA case studies seem to add value most in the understanding of one specific aspect of firms: Competing priorities and conflicts. Even before presenting ideas, I begin to think about how it affects different stakeholders and how to tackle objections. Just the mere fact that I think about different stakeholders and realise that it is only natural to have objections irrespective of the solutions’ novelty has a significant (positive) impact on attitude!