The Agile MBA

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“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

Will Durant (1885 – 1981)

 

I’ve thought about getting an MBA from time to time throughout my professional career. It was always a hard thing for me to justify for a few reasons. First, an MBA is very expensive and you never know if you will get that money back in terms of earnings afterward. The graduate schools certainly want you to think so, but when I look around, there are a disturbing number of MBA’s that aren’t working in management. It seems P.T. Barnum may have been right, there’s one born every minute. Second, getting another degree, MBA or not, requires an enormous expenditure of energy. This is energy that I could be applying to improving my existing career, or perhaps starting my own business, or drinking beer – I just can’t decide. Why go to school to burn energy that might be better spent elsewhere? Finally, an MBA is boring. I mean really boring. I’ve seen the curriculum and thought to myself, “Why would I do that to myself?” Honestly, I’m really not a very good student. I know myself well enough to recognize that if I’m not terribly passionate about something, odds are that I will get bored and then perform poorly. When I look at the average business school curriculum, it’s really hard to give a damn.So getting an MBA has been something I’ve personally found hard to approach.

Of course, these reasons are easily and reasonably countered. I certainly don’t discount that there is value in an MBA, but the question is, “is there value for me?” Everyone has to answer that question for themselves. I can afford the expense, so while the costs are daunting, they aren’t prohibitive. And as far as energy expenditure is concerned, that probably isn’t a problem either. If you can build a boat, you can probably manage an MBA. But what about the boring curriculum? What can I do about that? With existing programs, probably not much. But what if I could make my own curriculum? What if I could customize an MBA to focus on areas that I’m really passionate about? What about an Agile MBA?

It’s probably a silly idea. I’m quite sure that it’s not an original idea either, but I’ve yet to find anything like it. I’ve found this: https://leanmba.wordpress.com and it’s certainly a lot of what I was thinking about (it’s really good), but I think there is more to an MBA. It makes me wonder, what would an Agile MBA be like? What would the curriculum be like? What would the classroom interactions be like? What would the overall experience be like? How could we build this program?

These are all good questions. Let’s start with the curriculum. Let’s take a peek at a few traditional MBA curriculum’s and see what we need to cover (from an agile perspective):

1. Finance
2. Microeconomics
3. Statistics/Data Analysis
2. Leadership
3. Marketing
4. Technology & Operations Management
5. Strategy
6. Communication
7. Problem Solving
8. Ethics
9. Economics
10. Innovation/Entrepeneurship

…or something like that. That’s what I came up with after a brief survey of a few MBA programs. They all look pretty much the same. Yawn.

So I guess this is a starting point. Looking at the list above, I have to wonder, what would an Agile version of this curriculum look like? What books would I recommend? What courses, classes, or certifications would I require? Looking at this list, I think I just might be able to do that. We’ll take these one at a time over the next few weeks.

3 Responses to The Agile MBA

  1. Parminder says:

    Really like the idea. I will do more research on it. I might become a student of Agile MBA.

  2. […] as I thought about my earlier post on the idea of an Agile MBA, I realized that there is a whole lot that goes into putting together […]

  3. Brent says:

    I am of the belief that If it were for the academic value of a Master degree in a traditional environment had any value . It sure isn’t worth what they are asking lately. My education was at graduate level, but like you I am addicted to learning. I find that if you are going to be building a curriculum on Agile based methods you need to look at the communication (organizational). This was important. I was learning this under GSA management processing not the PMI(civilian) system. All of the academic versions of this miss this area that seemed to give us problems in the public sector.
    SCRUM and later agile were very much what we use in our facilities. We called it something else but the methods were a mirror and existed a long time. Boot camps touch on it but an MBA without it would serve no real purpose.
    Your Idea is outstanding especially if it could be compressed for the use of active managers. I had to leave practice both times I tooled up.

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