Here’s my advice: Don’t!
For starters, it is a waste of money for the majority of students. As Dale Stephens writes in this piece (“A Smart Investor Would Skip the M.B.A.), your time would be better spent taking free online courses and using the savings to instead pursue unique training and networking experiences. As Stephens goes on to say, “When you’re competing against 3.5 billion people it pays to to be different.” Business schools don’t teach students to be different.
Second, as David Heinemeier Hansson–the creator of Ruby on Rails web development–explains in this hour-long talk Unlearn Your M.B.A., his MBA education actually worked against him by calcifying his thinking.
And lest you doubt Hansson’s experience, I’ve always enjoyed this quote from Wim Elfrink, Cisco’s chief globalization officer, who reports that in India if they find an executive has an MBA they will say, “unlearn and observe.”
These sentiments properly focus our attention in the right direction. Too many students–not to mention far too many MBA professors–believe there is a correct “answer” to the myriad of issues confronting modern business.
This is asinine.
The world is moving at warp speed and every day new customer expectations, competitors and business models emerge unexpectedly. The answer to dealing with this magnitude of change is not to stuff your brain full of ever more MBA-approved “answers” that can be slung at every new found problem but focus instead on emptying your mind so you’re free of biases and preconceived notions of how the world works and, thus, capable of asking the right question at the right time.
And, to do this, you don’t need an MBA. You need only curiosity, courage and an openness to unlearning.
Interested in some related posts from “Chief Unlearning Officer” Jack Uldrich? Check out these past posts: