The MBA is not what it used to be. At least you will regularly come across that idea if you’re the kind of person who likes to scan LinkedIn articles. Bloggers opine at length that the degree is too costly, not innovative, and simply obsolete. Entrepreneurs are increasingly shunning traditional approaches to growth that are typically associated with MBAs. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need an MBA, and neither do you.
Unfortunately, it takes a rare mind (like Zuckerberg’s) to master technology, design, and business all at once—a trait that is shared among today’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. In fact, graduate-level business education is actually more essential than ever. We just need a new type of business education. As Todd Tauber points out, this is true for two reasons:
1.Low costs to entry advocated by the “lean start-up” movement are making it increasingly difficult to create and maintain sustainable advantages, much less develop new barriers to entry for competitors. Successful entrepreneurs will be those that can utilize sound strategic and management capabilities, the types of tools provided by graduate school business degrees.
2.Accelerators and incubators, as helpful as they might be, cannot teach all the necessary skills for a successful career in business. For those of us that aren’t an intellectual hybrid of George Washington, Marissa Meyer, and Warren Buffet, business schools still provide valuable and necessary skills (such as effective leadership and the ability to establish clear value propositions).
Graduate business schools must adjust their focus to produce professionals who can provide answers to unclear questions in rapidly changing environments; the market demands it. At EMH, we employ a creative problem solving process to develop unique solutions for companies or organizations struggling with ambiguous or undefined issues. As Tauber notes, this sort of approach to problem solving is what will allow the most successful companies to reach their potential in today’s world of business. MBAs are not worthless; they, like all things, simply need to adapt.
Dr. Ralph Maurer, EMH Principal and Executive Director of Tulane University’s Levy-Rosenblum Center for Entrepreneurship, is at the head of designing innovative business degrees that place more focus on entrepreneurship and building successful ventures in today’s fast-changing world of business. Through the Freeman Ventures program, Ralph and his colleagues at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business are providing students with the chance to create, grow, and finance real businesses. These types of programs, which focus less on writing business plans and more on actively launching companies, will increasingly be a common trait of the most relevant (and valuable) business degrees.