Seth posted an interesting article a few days ago on his blog suggesting that it may be better to read a right set of books instead of attending an MBA program. So many people wanted to know the answer to the million dollar question – “What are those right set of books?” No one right answer, of course!
This initiated a set of posts by a few others and all of them were interesting.
There were even listings of books that could substitute an MBA program on variety of topics. The lists were great and were worth taking a look.
a) The Josh Kaufman Personal MBA program
b) The 30 Book MBA in entrepreneurship
This made me think about the whole thing – to invest in an MBA or to not invest in an MBA.
However, the consultant in me says the answer is “It depends” and, I also question the question itself. I think we are asking the wrong question.
I have seen people with MBAs making the most out of what they got out of it and I have seen people with MBAs almost working as if it added zero value to them and there are folks that are in between.
The same applies to reading books. I have seen people reading a few books and applying what they learnt very well and I have seen people reading a ton of books and not appplying a thing that they learnt out of them and there are folks that are in between.
I have also seen people with MBAs and read a lot and you know all the combinations by now.
The keyword for me is leverage. MBA can be an education that someone can greatly leverage. Some of the things that immediately come to mind:
b) Access to brilliant minds (through lectures and other events)
c) Awareness – Well, we may not use everything that we learn there but it’s good for us to know that these things exist
d) Seal of approval – It’s an entry criteria in many places
e) Structured thinking – as compared to “on the job learning”
d) Resources to test things out in a controlled environment
One could argue that everything above could also be achieved by reading a few books. We know that – that may be stretching a bit. There was also an argument about losing time. I don’t agree with that either. What about opportunities and possibilities that may be created because you are with a diverse set of folks during your MBA. During these discussions there may be sparks of creativity that might lead you to create something huge (like Yahoo! or Google!)
The point is not to get carried away on a point of view of whether an MBA is required or not required. The key is to see whether we are leveraging all our resources to the maximum possible. MBA is one such resource? The right question is not whether you have it or not. The question should be – if you do have an MBA, do you know how to leverage it right? What good is a great network if we don’t know how to leverage it well?
Same with reading. What good is reading if we don’t apply what we learn from it?
Coming back to time saving (2 years) instead of an MBA, do you know how to make the most of those two years? If you don’t, I would argue that MBA may be good. May be that will fill in some gaps. Who knows?
In life there are moments that present an opportunity with or without MBA. Are we ready for those moments and do we know to how to identify them and leaverage them when they present themselves?
What about success with or without MBA. A quick scan will show that people have succeeded without an MBA.Would their success be bigger with an MBA. No right answer. Whatever be the answer, my question would be “How do we know?”
Take Azim Premji, of Wipro (no MBA) an Indian IT giant who took over Wipro when he was 21 and grew it to a $1.76 Billion corporation. Could an MBA have made a bigger difference? May be OR may be not!!
Comments are welcome.