Is Harvard Business School Relevant

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 24, 2008 1:37:47 PM

Many entrepreneurs have wondered about the relevancy of the good, old MBA.  Talking about such relevance in business is often the equivalent of talking religion or politics at a dinner party or Mac vs. Windows at an IT convention.

It appears (from an email I received via my subscription to Harvard Business Review) that now, so is Harvard Business School.

I give Harvard credit for reevaluating the basis of their program.  It's admirable, wise, and it may even work.  What strikes me, however, is the comment, "plot its directions for the next 100 years."

Are they kidding?  A business school is going to determine how it will remain relevant for 100 years?  I'm all for long-term planning, but if 100 years is how Harvard is going to look at itself - remind me not to hire any of the people who graduate from the business school.

I don't mean to be brash, but if we've learned anything over the last 20 years is that there are no more 100 year plans.  The world moves to fast, and any growth manager (let alone fast growth manager) must remain flexible and open.  While I'm a fan of Jim Collins book, Built to Last; "lasting" is not a prerequisite for business.

This is symptomatic of one of the major flaws in business - the illusion of certainty.  It sounds good to talk about 100 years; it may even feel good.  However, I think it's great if you can focus on five.

Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy